- it's a fundraise for the Sebastopol schools
- the site is built, and the event is staffed, by parents and volunteers
- the focus is education, not beer-and-boobs
- the participants' emphasis is authenticity and performance
- there's an educational program for kids (sort of a scavenger hunt)
- My Wife is the Director of Education.
Well, it's a Big Deal to us.
The Sherwood Glen is the space for the Dame School, the Craftsmen-in-Residence, and the lecture hall, and we need some big tents for it. Since renting them would be expensive, our performance director arranged to borrow some large pavilions from another renfaire guild.
'John', they said, 'we need someone to drive a truck up from Vallejo. You can drive stick, right?'
I've been driving manual transmissions since I was seventeen, this is not a big deal. OK, we'll go out Friday morning, pick up the truck, and head for Sebastopol. About a hundred miles and some, no biggie. I do not realize I am about to meet a legend...
Well, we find the house of the truck owner. This man, call him PJ, is a serious bachelor. I don't think his yard's seen a lawnmower since the millenium. And the interior is jammed with ... projects. Let's be kind and call all the junk 'projects'.
OK, where's the truck? Oh, I park it at an RV Storage in American Canyon, it's too big with the trailer to keep here.
So, we'll head up to American Canyon, and the RV storage, go in, and find the truck.
It's a 3.5 ton moving truck. This critter is probably my age. It used to belong to the U-Haul people, and they were relieved when someone took it off their hands. There's a great mucking trailer on the back, the size of a horse trailer.
PJ gets in. There are sounds of conflict and carnage, and the truck starts up.
"There's a lag between when you step on the gas and when the engine responds. I replaced the fuel pump, but I think I need to work on the fuel line filter. I'll take care of it this winter. Oh, and the lights on the trailer don't work, if you get a ticket just ignore it. The gas gauge doesn't work, but you should be able to get there and back on a full tank. I'm planning on working on that this winter, too."
Loki's corn plasters, I'm going to drive another man's hobby.
So, let's get in and get rolling.
Sweet God, it's a zoo in here. Aside from the spoor of ancient meals scattered about the floor of the cavern, this thing farts like a hippo, steers like a rhino, turns like a pregnant whale and needs a gorilla to handle. The gearshift is over a yard long, and the traverse between gears is close to a foot and a half.
STOMP on the clutch...
RAM into first...
SQUEEZE on the gas and pray it doesn't stall...
ease off the clutch...
LURCH into motion...
STOMP on the clutch,
RAM into second...
meanwhile dragging on the wheel for dear life, missing a $50,000 RV by an eyelash...
and we're out of the parking slip. A hundred miles to go.
Spider Robinson wrote of an ancient truck that the engine howled like Kong in his wrath, the transmission screamed like Fay Wray, and the tires howled like someone forced to sit through the DeLaurentis remake. That describes this truck. I dub it Boneshaker.
Boneshaker and I wrestle each other over the hills of Napa and Sonoma. We get up to 65 once, downhill. I look behind me and see a long line of cars that would dearly love to pass this derelict and get where they're going today, but there's nowhere to pull over and no passing lanes.
Sebastopol is an old California town, and there is no logic to the streets. Somehow, Boneshaker and I manage to get around corners and through the low-hanging trees (sorry about that) to the site.
Boneshaker's asthmatic roar has been heard from afar. "Is that PJ's truck? Oh my GOD! Who did they get to drive it?" I am the object of wonder and pity. "You know, that truck breaks down every year on the way to SLO?" No, I didn't know that, thanks very much.
"You came here in that? You're braver than I thought." - Princess Leia.
We unload the tentage, and I find a place to drop off Boneshaker for the weekend. For the next three nights, I have bad dreams. I do not tell My Wife, but the brake warning light is on, which tells me I am going to die in a fiery wreck on the way home.
The Fair is a huge success. Look up 'Much Ado About Sebastopol' on the web or on Facebook. The actors being Elizabeth, Leicester, Shakespeare, Walsingham, etc. are superb. The craftsmen are mobbed by kids and parents. Only one drunk has to be ejected.
Then came Monday morning, Let us draw a veil of merciful silence over the return odyssey. I lived, Boneshaker is back in its slip, and I don't have to go near it again. Until next year.
Next year, though, I intend to have my thumper and maker hooks ready. If I'm going to ride Shai-halud, I want the right equipment.