& a Starving Student
I got started in the film business because a friend's mom who was working on a movie knew that I was working as a furniture mover for Starving Students and that I could load and drive trucks.
Since then I've driven all sorts of different trucks and vehicles, in all sorts of terrain, weather and circumstance.
Growing up I never imagined that things would turn out that way. I was the intellectual of the family after all.
Plus, I never really liked cars.
In fact, I tried to move to NYC because I disliked city driving and preferred public transportation.
It was Cindy who thought it would be a good idea for me to drive out with Circus Combustus/Funk Pirate Crew to Burning Man; mostly to not take our little Rav4 on yet another trek across the country. The little road warrior had just completed another transcontinental run the month before.
I, on the other hand knew that my familiarity with big trucks and comfort behind the wheel would probably come in handy, not to mention my penchant for truck loading.
We pulled out Sunday morning.
Saddie took the wheel, leaving me as but a passenger in the Penske. I could feel how heavy our load was.
As we hit our first curve of note, transitioning from the I-20 to I-75, the truck swayed back and forth, feeling a bit shifty and squirrelly.
Driving that beast was going to require constant attention and focus and be quite tiresome.
We rendezvoused with the last of our drivers and I took over for a spell.
I've driven trucks loaded up like this before and it was not so much fun. But such is the way things go.
After a few hours, I handed over the reigns to Bibi, the youngster of the group.
I had seen signs of an upcoming grade. I assumed it was uphill which would mean that the truck would slow to a crawl and be easy to handle.
So at least that would be working in her favor.
Bibi jumped in and I gave her a quick briefing of what to expect.
We pulled back onto the highway and headed downhill.
But she took it like a champ and before you knew it, was handling it like a real pro-trucker.
We would make it to St. Louis.
I would start the next day as a passenger in the ambulance.
And then, I would take my turn helming said ambulance and drive it to its demise.
We limped into the mechanics at such a slow speed that the butterfly that hit the radiator was only stunned, not killed.
The decision would be reached that the Penske and Keith's ride would soldier forward and Sadie and Ryan would get the Vambulance fixed and catch up with us, Pirate Ship en tow.
If only it were so simple.
The ambulance ended up in the shop a couple more times before finally being deemed road worthy.
The rest of us would have our own adventures as well.
For starters, we would have to start thinking for ourselves.
We had let Saddie and Ryan call the shots and gotten rather lax in regards to our "radical self-reliance"
The hardest part, as far as I could see with our new situation, was that we had to stuff three of us in the cab of the Penske.
That was more than a little uncomfortable.
But we pushed on.
We ran into some high winds, a gorgeous but somewhat unnerving thunderstorm.
While I did a lot of the driving in the Penske, I would have been a wreck without my fellow drivers, Bibi, Scott and Jacqueline.
I handed over the truck to Scott as we headed toward Salt Lake City.
It was his first time in a big truck and it happened to be on the longest series of down hill curves we'd come upon.
He kept it slow and steady and persevered.
As it turned to night, Bibi volunteered.
Her turn was no less sketchy, but she let off the brakes and went for it.
I kept looking over at the speedometer.
She was pushing 75 mph, in the dark on scary downhill curves in construction zones, several times with k-rail funneling us along with not a lot of room for error.
Honestly, I was more than a little nervous.
What I knew about this girl was that she enjoyed sky-diving as well as scuba-diving in rather extreme situations. And she was all of 22.
Oh the immortality of youth...
But she was holding her own and had slowed down in the right places, so who was I to judge. The night before I was slamming along at the same speeds but in a thunderstorm.
I would hold my tongue and go with my gut that was telling me we were in capable hands.
Before we left, I had made several copies of the Penske keys.
I'm paranoid when it comes to losing keys, so I always make copies.
The original was in the Vambulance, a couple states behind us.
I had a copy stowed in my purse, which I left in the cab when we went on our final shopping spree in Walmart in Fernley.
Scott had an extra copy and then there was the set we were driving with.
Somehow, even with all these precautions we managed to get locked out.
We tried a hacksaw.
Called AAA road-side service, only to find out they didn't deal with commercial vehicles.
Eventually we would resort to using a bolt-cutter on the side door; the padlock on the back was too much for the little bolt-cutter we found at the local Lowes. The next size up was all the way in Reno, which would do us no good whatsoever.
But we got in and Scott squeezed through, retrieved the keys and we were back in the thick of it.
Now we were in a race against the clock to get to Gerlach by 5 pm so we could fill up our water barrels.
According to our mapping estimates we were due to arrive by 4:45 as long as we didn't run into any problems like traffic.
What traffic could we hit?
We were in the middle of nowhere.
On a two-lane road, going to a festival with thousands of others, driving all sorts of "art cars", RVs, vans, trailers and other hippie-worthy vehicles.
This was going to come down to wire.
And with a little time to spare.
While there were no nearby stores where I could buy some beer, we did find a bar that didn't mind parting with a couple of six-packs.
We picked up some last minute supplies and Jacqueline almost convinced me to buy this super cool double belt bag/pocket thingy that cost much more money than I needed to spend but the vendor kept on saying that we could share it.
It was two belts after all. Although the cool thing about it was that it was two belts.
My better judgement for once ruled the day and I managed to somehow walk away.
We were hoping we wouldn't have to deal with much waiting in line because we had Early Entry Passes.
And by Burning Man standards, I suppose we didn't have to wait too long, even with a will-call ticket holder traveling with us.
I always wondered and was nervous about showing up with just a confirmation number; but it went off without any issues, besides taking a few minutes longer.
But after all we had been through it was barely worth mentioning.
We would manage to get the Penske positioned, as well as setting up the chill-space tent where we all ended up collapsing in a heap.
And that was just getting to Burning Man.
The Big Adventure lay ahead.