Author Archives: puckpuck


I moved this past July.  Earlier in the month, I had the worst plane travel experience ever.  Here we talk about the wild ride I embarked on with a friend to cross the country from the beautiful bay area of California to the super friendly area of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Not sure what I did? Stop reading now, go to and figure it out yourself.

The trip started the faithful morning of Saturday July 27th.  Now in natural PuckPuck style, there’s no way we are doing this in a direct straight line route… that would be too easy.  I had to criss-cross the sites, see everything, and make my truck pay dearly for the miles I was about to put it through.  We were going from the San Francisco Bay Area to Windsor.  A quick look of any map will tell you I-80 to the Chicago area, get on I-94 and cross the border in Detroit and boom you are there.  Yeah fucking right!  That way is for pansies.

Joining me for the ride was the delightful Leigh Anne.  Yes she’s a girl, in fact she’s my wife’s best friend, and yes she sat next to me for 5 entire days, even slept in the same room with me.  But alas she wasn’t interested in what I had to offer, so no “whoopie” was performed.

The trip started by waking up with a nasty hang-over, about an hour late.  Good way to start if you ask me.  So next let’s get driving, by going west (see: the wrong way) on I-580, across the bay bridge, through San Francisco, and north over the most pictured bridge in the world, the Golden Gate.  So at this point, I have made negative progress.  My destination was east, and here I am about 60 miles west of my departure.

Straight to Napa we go.  Not because we wanted wine.  I have a friend whom lives there, and agreed to let me park my U-Haul trailer there while I continued on the next leg of my journey.  Huh?!?! leave the trailer behind?!?!

The next leg of the journey was the redwood forest.  I wanted to drive through a tree, and on my last day possible I was going to fucking do it.  Willits, California.  The Gateway to the redwood forest.  The land of rednecks, and cops whom pull me over.  Cue the music getting stopped at a party with a scratch.  Yes I got pulled over just a few hours into our trip.

Back to the trip in a paragraph.  About 6 weeks prior the stickers on my vehicle plates were due, but in the wonderfully expensive state of California, the DMV wouldn’t allow me to renew for just a month.  Since registration fees for our vehicles were about $1000 together I said: “fuck it, I’ll take the risk”.  Fast forward to about 2 weeks before the trip, where I’m in Los Angeles at a company event, losing my mind, money and driver’s license in a bar.

Back to the trip, where this cop was following me with lights blasting for at least 5 minutes, unbeknownst to me.  You see the SUV is full of stuff, so the rear-view mirror is essentially blocked and useless.  If it weren’t for Leigh Anne spilling pop all over her lap, and noticing the cop in the side mirror as she was scrambling from keeping the cool liquid out of her crotch, I wouldn’t of pulled over.

He walks over, and says he’s pulling me over because my front windows are tinted.  Wait a second here.  I lived in California for 2.5 years, never had a problem, and on the day I’m leaving you tell me my car is illegal?  WTF?!?!  Okay, now comes the fun stuff (think 2 paragraphs back).  I hand over my registration, insurance, and an expired California driver’s license.  He leaves returns, makes a few comments about my vehicle, and the amazing odor it was emitting.  Leaves, comes back, reminds me I don’t have a license, my plates are expired, my vehicle window tint is illegal, the odor emitting from my car is also sketchy, then he proceeds to hand me back my stuff, slaps the roof my the SUV and says: “Have a nice day!”

“Have a nice day!”

Umm excuse me while I attempt to un-pucker my ass cheeks.   Did he just really tell me to have a nice day, instead of throwing the fucking book and pedestal at me?  Did that really happen?

An hour later I drove through that tree, and an hour later back through Willits, where my butt cheeks puckered again.  I didn’t think I could hold my breath that long.  It felt like hours.

We get back to Sonoma county, on our way to Napa where I stop for gas.  That day, was some kind of racing event at Infineon raceway.  Lots of cool looking cars at the gas station.  My SUV, has the fuel tank on the right side of the vehicle.  I fill it up, checking out the cars, wishing I could enjoy some of the weed that the driver just finished (or maybe still was) smoking.  Check the oil, go in the gas station for a restroom break, back to the truck, start it up, put it in drive and leave.  About 3 feet later I hear a big crash and bang.  Stop real quick, and look back to a hole in my window, noticing the gas pump was still in the SUV.  YES!! I was that guy. You know the one that they have pictures of at gas stations for driving away with the gas pump still in the vehicle.

I’m not even 12 hours into my trip, and I managed to get pulled over, and destroy the right rear window on my SUV.  Fucking Lovely!  This trip is going to be a blast.  Luckily I didn’t break the actual gas pump.  Unluckily, my window is smashed, and I don’t have an actual house or time to fix it.

MacGyver time. I’m moving, so I have boxes, scissors and packing tape.  I also have a really cool looking brown non-see through window.

Get to Napa, get my trailer, and finally I can start heading east. About 12 hours after it started, I finally started to make positive progress towards on my trip.  Stopped at a Michael’s along the way to buy black cardboard so my non-see through window could at least be the same color as my SUV.  Just beyond Sacramento, still in California, we take a hotel and call it a day.  Drink some Jameson, get a little drunk go to bed, and get ready for another day.

Woo hoo new day, new tank full of gas (this time leaving gas pump at the station), and off we go.  First stop, Lake Tahoe.  Now on this trip, I had a requirement for the passenger.  You have to tea-bag Lake Tahoe.  Only problem is Leigh Anne isn’t exactly equipped for tea-bagging.  So I grabbed a couple of tea bags (the kind you drink with hot water), gave her a belt and some tape, had her strap it around her waist, and get going.  As she walked into the ice cold lake, she proudly dipped her bags, for a fine photo opp.

Climb the mountain go back down the other side, stop midway down because I can smell burning brakes, and we decide being able to stop is important when hauling a trailer.  Get down the Sierras, and welcome to the wasteland, also known as Nevada.  Straight roads, boring sights, red dirt, boring sights, bright sun, boring sights, and like 5 cars on a major highway.  Did I mention this part was boring?

A few hours and firework purchase later we get to Utah. Next stop the Bonneville Speedway at the Salt Flats. All I can say is no picture does this place justice. All you can see is white, then it’s like the earth just falls off and there’s nothing. We get on the main access road, and all I can see is well… nothing but white.  Stop, get golf clubs out.. FORE!!!!  Now in a few years if you hear about a car at the salt flats that rolled and crashed because it hit a golf ball… I didn’t do it. Seriously this place was very very cool, and I would love to return with more time to just drive around and be in a salty place.

Back on I-80 we go, towards the great Salt Lake City.  As we approach the city, we can see the great salt lake out in the distance to our left.  This is where Utah just went from “meh” to “the most eerie place on earth”.  Rising from the lake we can see a cloud.  Nothing too abnormal, this is what happens in the world.  Sun heats water, water evaporates, forms a cloud, and clouds rain water back to earth.  But this cloud was a cloud from the salt lake… the EVIL salt lake.

As we continued to drive on I-80, the cloud started to float over the highway.  And this is when lightning started to flash.  Then a rainbow formed, but this rainbow was in front of lots of lightning, and a cloud getting darker by the second.  As we drove under the rainbow, like it was a gateway, the cloud came down on us.  It was raining from above, left, right, heck even the road was bubbling up water from the cracks.  There was water coming from everywhere.  I can only explain it like this: “I was driving in the fucking salt lake on I-80″.  Sun is shining, lighting glistening, thunder cracking, rainbows glowing, even the fucking birds were flying… in the middle of a storm.  It was like an episode from the twilight zone, and we were the main characters.

We finally break through this storm, and approach the last mountain range before Salt Lake City.  Stop for gas (again doing good for not leaving with the pump in the truck), and go around this last mountain range.  This is where I finally understood what rainbows are for.

We have been lied to.  All this time, rainbows are synonymous with happiness, butterflies, pretty.  Well fuck that shit.  I have pictures to prove, that rainbows are actually the gateway to hell.  There, forming end to end, I seen the biggest rainbow I have ever seen.  And just beyond it, the darkest, scariest, lighting filled cloud I never wanted to see.  The rainbow was the gateway to death and I wasn’t going to be a part of it… so we turned left and drove north on I-15.

Enter Idaho.  About 2 miles in, darkness fell, look up and stars.  Stars everywhere.  Stop get out (next to a corn field of course), and just amaze in a sight I have never seen before.  The night sky is something that you only see in pictures from the best photographers.  It was gorgeous.  The milky way was there in full glory.  Simply amazing.  But this stop has to be short, cause it’s late and we are still an hour (or more) away from Idaho Falls where our hotel was.

As we are driving, yet another storm is brewing.  You hear about blue, red and green lighting.  You think people are hallucinating.  Maybe we were, maybe we shouldn’t of eaten those mushrooms for dinner, but man, there was some pretty cool, all colors in the (death) rainbow, lighting going off.

Get to our hotel, which felt like was in the middle of the ghetto.  Easily the worst hotel I have stayed in (besides that place you could rent by the hour).  The next morning when I awoke, I seen a man wearing his underwear standing on his front porch, with a woman popping a zit off his back.  Yup!  Made me want bacon and eggs.

Back on the road.  Yellowknife park here we come.  Now I planned this road trip.  Somehow I missed the fact that we were going to drive through Montana (even if it was only for like 10 miles).  Anyhow seen a really quaint town that belonged in the movies at the gateway to the park.

Get in the park, drive straight towards old faithful.  We got lucky.  We pulled up, walked over to the geyser, where a crowd was gathered,  Overhead someone saying “its time”, so we quickly found the best view angle, pulled out our cameras, watched the eruption, and 5 minutes after arriving we were on our way out of there.

Yellowstone park is beautiful.  Gorgeous scenery everywhere.  One point we seen this pond with orange water in it (likely some sulfur reaction from all the seismic activity).  Hey lets check it out.  Pull over, get out and got for a trail walk.  Take some pictures, relax for a few minutes, head back and… well… I lost my key to the SUV.  FUCK!!!!

We’re in the middle of nowhere, no cell reception, windows are rolled down, sunroof open, and no fucking keys!!! I keep my key chain to a minimal.  Meaning all that I lost was the actual key and key fob.  Nothing else.  Nothing really shinny that would reflect light, just a black key, and black key fob… lost in the middle of nowhere, in Yellowstone park.  DOUBLE FUCK!!!  After having what I can only assume is 3 consecutive heart attacks, Leigh Anne finds it and we can breath a sigh of relief.

As soon as we left the park, heart still beating a thousand beats a minute, we see a local watering hole.  Time to stop, breath, and do what anyone would do in this situation.  Whiskey on the rocks please!  A little bit of food to wash that down, nerves back to normal, lets continue to drive.

At this point we “thought” we were done mountain driving, and La Bamba (I named my SUV) would be fine.  I also thought my truck was legal in California 2 days prior.  You see the road I planned to drive on, also happened to be the Big Horn Pass.

Big Horn pass, was an awesome super duper narrow, twisted, falling rocks everywhere road.  Eventually we get to 9000 feet, and start the eventual descent back to reality.  Lots of cool wildlife, finally got to see a moose, as well as other creatures that I would rather keep my distance from.

Clear the pass, get on I-90.  One would think I-90 in the middle of summer would be a well travelled, major interstate in the United States.  One would also be wrong.  I have never seen a road darker, and more desolate (remember we were in Idaho the night before).  We could drive for miles over miles without seeing a single car or light.  We pulled over at this “pull off parking” area.  It’s like an off-ramp, short parking area, on-ramp.  No building, just a spot to stop and park, and maybe take a nap.  And this is where we notice the VW micro bus with a peace sign.  The same one we seen the day before just outside the salt flats in Utah on I-80.  Just now we are far more east, and a few hours north.

Get to Cedar Rapids Iowa for the night.  Got to bed (after a few drinks of course), and wake up to go see a bunch of faces carved into the side of a mountain.  On our way there, that VW micro bus was also coming along as well.  Took some pictures, and back to the road we go.

Ok, now we are exhausted, and if you made it this far in reading, you should be as well.  At this point, excitement is a store called Wall Drug, and this weird artsy thing we seen in the middle of a corn field.  I had visions of really bad horror movies.

Did you know that after 180 something you’ll likely just lose count of what you were doing (counting corn fields).  After a long boring corn field filled day of driving, we arrive at Des Moines to spend the night.

Finally the home stretch.  I’ve done most of this part of the drive many times before.  Across the top of the Mississippi, and 4 hours into the day of driving I was back in familiar territory of the Chicago area.  We drive through the windy city, around lake Michigan, and set our sights on Detroit.

Around 9:30pm at night, we arrived in Canuck territory, without even having to declare that trailer full of goods I was hauling (yes Canada customs is super strict).  Maybe the border agent was too busy thinking that her igloo was melting, and how she would care for her pet beaver. or maybe she just looked at me and thought I already had enough excitement for a while.  Either case, she couldn’t be bothered to ask what I was doing, or why I had a dual axle U-haul trailer behind me.Side Note: Unfortunately for me, since I didn’t get pulled into secondary inspection at customs, I never got to properly import my vehicle, and had to deal with incompetent customs officers whom screwed up my paperwork 2X before I could legally import my Canadian vehicle, back into Canada.  When we returned the second time to get the paperwork straightened out, the customs officer insisted she did it right, and even brought her supervisor over to explain it to us.  Supervisor looked at what we were trying to do, looked at the customs officer and said, you need to do it the way they (my wife and I) are describing, not the way you previously did.

We arrived, celebrated that we just did an awesome road trip, and made it to our destination with the truck (mostly) in one piece, and our bodies intact… although I’m pretty confident my mind is still somewhere in Wyoming.

You think your plane ride was rough?

Recently moved from California to Canada.  No easy task.  This one is about the plane ride that will make your worse plane ride feel like a dream cruise.

Early morning of Saturday July 6th.  Wake the kids, feed the cats some drugs to make them sleepy, order a car cause we have too many passengers and luggage to fit in our SUV, and lets go to the San Francisco airport.

We are 6+2 in all.  That’s 3 kids, 3 adults, and 2 cats.  8 checked bags, a stroller, 6 carry-ons, and 2 cat carriers.  That’s alot of luggage when standing in line to check-in.  Delta was awesome and got us a porter to help us out with our Mt. Everest of luggage.

Security time.  I (not sure why) decide that I don’t want to take my big fat 20+ pound cat out of his carrier, and therefore am subject to a private check.  Fine.  Only issue is the cat fur fucks up the explosive testing machine, and they think I’m laced in C4.  10 minutes or so later in a private room, they determine I’m not a terrorist looking to blow up a plane (and my 2 cats) and thus let me go.

Get to the gate in time, my wife goes to the coffee/breakfast kiosk and gets everyone something to munch on… but me of course.  Even though I’m the one that handed her money to buy everyone something.  I’m sure she still loves me… I think.

Board the plane.  Since we have small kids (and cats) we get to board first.  Yippee.  Get settled in, get the kids setup with whatever they need to be entertained, sit down, buckle up and wait.  This is where the fun really starts.

You see the time is about 11:25am, on Saturday July 6th, at San Francisco airport.  We just pushed off the gate, everything seems fine.  My son looking out the window,  amazed by all the planes and equipment says: “Look dad a firetruck!  A green firetruck!”.  Now this doesn’t really faze me.  I travel often.  Airports are my second office, and seeing a firetruck on the tarmac isn’t anything out of the ordinary… or so I thought.  This firetruck was doing something out of the ordinary.  This firetruck was on its way to end of runway 28L.

Here’s a picture I took from my phone of what that firetruck was doing.

Are you fucking kidding me?!?! There’s like 10000 flights a day in and out of the US, there hasn’t been a major airline incident in the US in years, and this happens – on the day I’m moving on what is potentially going to be the hardest flight of my life (and I fly alot – like stupid lots).

Delta Airlines, were good in this case. We sat on the tarmac for maybe 20 minutes, before the pilot pulled us back in to let us off our about to be cancelled flight.  Because I fly so much, I’m also a member of Delta Sky Clubs.  So off to the Sky Club we go to relax, figure out what’s going on and try to keep our tempers down.  Of course the Sky Club has CNN on full blare on every TV.  My son, looks at a TV and says: “That plane is broken!”.  Cute.  Seeing all the kids in there, my wife pulls out my laptop, puts on Cars 2, and the next thing you know, my laptop is being used as a movie theatre screen.  After about 2 hours, I look out on the tarmac, and as you would know it, there sits 2 United Airlines planes. 2 Hours later… still fucking there.  Really?!?!  Seriously United, THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE YOUR AIRLINE!  Put the customer first!  You maxed out your 3 hour tarmac period for what exactly?  To piss off the passengers whom were helplessly held, likely against their will, so you can “hope” that the airport will re-open after a fucking plane just crash landed at it?  Seriously, United Airlines get the fuck out… you’re drunk!

After a while I got the awesome Delta agent to rebook us all on a flight leaving Monday morning (getting us all to sit together was a challenge).  So next we are off to get our luggage, call up a car and go back to my empty house.  Small problem.  Since the airport was closed, they weren’t letting anyone in.  So we put the kids and cats in my SUV, packed it with as much luggage as we could, and I drove them home, while my wife took public transit back home with her friend.

So we get back home, only now it’s empty, as in the fridge is empty.  You see for the week prior, we only bought food that would of been consumed by that Saturday.  Well now we return and there is no food, and well it’s not exactly easy to buy food that isn’t called junk for 1.5 more days of living.

Fast forward to Monday the 8th.  We pack our bags, call that car again, rinse and repeat to the airport.  All is well, we get to security.  This time I decide not to get raped in a private room, and decide to take my big fat pata-poof of a cat out of his carrier to go through security.  The way you can silence a noisy security area with a cat that is larger than most dogs is quite entertaining.  We had a collective jaw dropping of everyone in presence.

Get to the gate, and this time I’m buying food.  I, of course make sure everyone gets something to eat and drink.  Board the plane, get seated, and off we go, without any hitch…. yeah right.  This wouldn’t be the fucking plane trip from hell if it was that easy.

We’re about 20 minutes from landing, when the pilot comes on the PA system to let us know there is a ground halt at Detroit Metro airport due to weather, and we will be circling for about 20 minutes.  Sure enough 20 minutes later the pilot gets back on the PA system, and says traffic control still has the ground halt, and it will be another 20 minutes.  Wait another 20 minute, and now the pilot says: “They still haven’t lifted the ground halt, we’re about to run out of fuel, so we’re going to Chicago”.  Wait, What?!?!  FUCK!!!

Ok, so we land at Chicago O’Hare, and taxi to some holding area on the tarmac, so we can get fuel.  We were flying in a very common plane.  A Boeing 767.  You would think the fucking ground crew at one of the world’s busiest airports, would know what kind of fucking fuel a Boeing 767 takes.  You would also be wrong in thinking that.  Eventually they bring the correct fuel truck, fuel us up, and about 1.5 hours later we are off.

Get to Detroit.  Get to our luggage, and get going to our home in Canada.  All that is left is crossing a border…. easy right?

I came prepared.  I read the website, got all my import paperwork in order, and we actually breeze through the import process quite well.  Then my wife comes running in and says: “We need to start the citizenship process for Sawyer” (our youngest son – whom happens to be a yankee).  So we do that, only thing is, the computer program that does this, is running on a toaster oven somewhere in bum fucking no where, powered by a hamster, with the same processing capacity of a withered tulip.  Seriously, if the government wanted to save money, you can pay less overtime in hourly wages to border agents, and take that money saved and buy a real fucking computer to run your immigration software with.

Eventually we arrive, something like 13 hours later.  That glass of Scotch on the rocks at my lightly-famous bar was well deserved.

I got to sleep for 4 hours on a simple air mattress, to wake at 5:30am so I can catch a flight back to California (original schedule had me returning Tuesday morning).

The next time you say you had a bad flight or travel experience just remember.  You weren’t the Tessier family flying with 3 kids and 2 cats, on that weekend in July 2013.

PS: Thank You Leigh Anne!  You’re the best.

Missing Links

This is the 2nd blog in about a major change in my family’s life.  This is the first one.

Moving to California certainly has its benefits. The weather is always great, you feel like you are in the center of everything, the weather is always great, wine country is around the corner, the weather is always great, there’s just so much fun stuff to do, oh, and did I mention the weather is always great?

The problem with moving is just that… moving. Just over 2 years ago, we built our dream home, an entertaining and family friendly environment. If you have never seen my home before, well that’s too bad for you. I certainly like to brag about it; after all I did design the entire basement, which would pass as a top nightclub in many cities. We were ready to settle in and retire. Then I came up with this crazy notion of picking up, leaving it all behind and doing it all again.

But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the friends and family whom I will only get to enjoy their company in very limited doses for as long as I’m a California resident. Sure I can call them, but not having their company is tough. I’m gonna miss going for a “DC” with Q, Montana with his crazy sports antics, and Squirrel for being the fuel of the fire. I often think about what I’m leaving behind, and often second guessing if it’s worth it. Life’s decisions are never easy, and this one was certainly the hardest to make.

Before the move, I made sure to spend extra time with them, and I really appreciate it. The cross country road trip with Dave was awesome! I got to spend a lot of time with him, reminiscing, and having fun. Seeing the country, and crossing the desert with him, is certainly one of the most treasured times, and best experiences I have ever had. I’m gonna miss you guys… a lot.

Poker nights will be a thing of the past. The occasional party where standard board games for kids, turn into drinking games will certainly be something I’ll want to repeat, but it won’t be the same doing it with people I barely know. I had an awesome group of friends, and will miss every single one of them.

This isn’t just about my friends either. We had great neighbors as well. The best we could ask for. To the people whom will eventually live in my old home, you will be pleasantly surprised at how nice and awesome they can be.

So things aren’t always happy go lucky. It’s tough, but I know I must persevere and push through it. I now will have an increased dependence on technology (as if I didn’t before). Facebook and FaceTime will certainly become part of my daily life as I try to stay in touch. All you people back in Windsor remember I will always have a couple missing links, and will always miss you.

The Dream

I wanted to blog about what is going on with my life. Many changes, many things happening, mostly for the good, but with the good does come some sacrifice. Although I’d love to write everything into a single blog, given our society’s short attention span, I decided to break it into multiple parts. Here’s part 1 of 2.

Summer of 2009, I’m at a company event, doing what I do. I have a good position with this company; I do what many call “magic”, while I call it my job. I have always been good at what I do, but I constantly set expectations high (where I can), and over deliver. Maybe that’s a sales trait, but I have been doing it before I joined a sales organization. Confidence is what I like to call it, sometimes cocky, but never with people I’m unfamiliar with.

At this company event, I win an award. It’s not like I haven’t won these before, but this one was followed by a slightly drunken conversation with a co-worker, and finally it clicked. I need to quit being so fucking damn humble.Stand up and proclaim “yes I can, yes I will, now move the fuck over and let me get it done.” My co-workers have always instilled confidence in me, but it took this person to make me realize, that this isn’t a freak accident, or a seldom occurrence. Many of my works turn out into some type of success. It was time to take my career to the next level.

The following week, I flew my wife into California, to vacation. This was the best spontaneous vacation I ever had.We spent 7 nights in 6 different sleeping accommodations. We toured the bay area, like I have never toured before, and had an absolute blast.Within 24 hours of landing, and experiencing the wonders of the bay area, my wife, already mentioned how it wouldn’t be so bad living there. On the last night there, I just happened to run into my company CEO, mentioned this to him, and his eyes lit up like fire: “We can make that happen”.

Fast forward a year, to the 2010 company event. Having endured another year of successful work with my company, where I won an internal competition, and was in line for even more awards, even making the CEO’s “party invite list”. I had dinner the first night with some staff from senior and executive management, where I proclaimed I was ready for a move to the bay area. After kicking his chair out, and asking “are you serious”, I knew I had sponsorship from the executives.

For the next few weeks, I worked my wife into understanding the benefits of living in California. We were 32 years old, and already achieved all previous life goals. We were living the dream, but not in a dream location. It was time to make it Awesome! She’s still not convinced, but we already moved, and committed for at least 18 months. Hopefully by then, she will be fully supportive, as my new life goals have become staggering, and the new dream is something that will take lots of work, blood, sweat, and I’m sure some tears. I believe in myself, and my friends and colleagues, whom I am close to and work with me all agree; one day I can, and will be a Chief Technology Officer. That’s my dream, my goal, and moving to California was the first step in realizing it.

Is it lofty? Yes. But if you don’t set the bar high, you will never try harder. I don’t need to be a CTO tomorrow, nor the next year. But I do want to strive to become one. With time, experience, maturity, and exposure to the right people, I will ultimately achieve the dream.

Mind you not achieving this goal will not make my life a failure; I’ve already achieved everything I wanted to do, and it was time for a new dream.

And this line is for a co-worker and friend whom I have much confidence in, listen to attentively, and heed his advice every time we are together.

Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

Actuate Bus Party from Hell

So this day started off like any other Actuate sales kick off day…. tired and possibly still drunk from the night before. Gathered around in the hotel lobby, waiting for the bus to take us to Lake Tahoe, out comes Pete, Heinekens in tow, it must be afternoon somewhere. Upon entering the bus, the signs begin to emerge immediately. For some reason we are unable to make the 4600 combined watts of amplifier power, turn on more than 2 speakers, nor could we get the A/C system working. Eventually we get these seemingly small issues resolved, and get on our way with packed coolers and a merry tone. Bottles were popping, glasses filling, even jello decided to make an appearance.

It becomes quite clear within minutes, that charter buses can induce motion sickness. Mixed in with stop and go traffic, a bus driver whom is clearly clueless (more on this later), and you have a recipe to stop in Vallejo for some Dramamine and more booze of course. Back on our way we go, more stop and go traffic, and more of a bus driver whom refuses to slow down well in advance and would rather come to abrupt stops as the passengers are getting their drink on. Nothing like spilling mimosas and red wine on white clothing.

Given that the night before I was tormented by my roommate’s constant desire to snore, I partied and received little sleep. Eventually my eyes became heavy, and I dozed off, waking frequently to the sudden jerks and stops from our incredibly talented bus driver. One of these such jerks, was the driver’s desire to pull off at an exit, only to drive through it, because the water temp of the engine was rising. I understand your concerns, but if you are going to signal like you need to stop, fucking do it, and don’t keep going instead… fucktard.

After a while, I shake the heavy eyes, pop up again, and head straight for jello. Booze is still flowing, my boss is trying to get me to do shots of sipping tequila (I proudly refuse), and all seems well… kinda. Besides the smell of something burning near the back of the bus, the toilet was also nearing capacity. When the booze is flowing, the pisser is filling. We stop at a rest stop, about 75% of the way through the trip. Then it all started to come together, or undone, depending on how you look at it. The back of the bus was covered in oil.

This is when the competency level of our bus driver sets new lows. First we watch him struggle for a few minutes to open the back hatch (bus engines are in the rear), then he realizes, he should open the side hatch, and hit the lever to unlock the back hatch. Ok. So now what, its open, and its obvious, there’s oil… everywhere. The look of “duh” on the driver’s face was priceless. Now imagine a bunch of drunk men, looking at a diesel bus engine, covered in oil at a truck stop. After a few minutes of this, we realize that our problem is the result of someone forgetting to put the oil fill cap back on, or put it on incorrectly. Last I checked, since emissions became popular, it was a bad thing to have a large 2″ hole coming from any a tube in the engine bay. After confirming with the stickers indicating oil fill location, out comes the dipstick, and sure enough we are low on oil. This would also explain the rise in engine temps.

Christina, tall, blond, and bountiful, walks over to a truck driver and persuades him to give up some lubrication. We top off the engine oil in our bus. One last issue, we don’t have an oil filler cap. Out comes a rag, and some duct tape. The fix is perfect, done MacGyver style… created by a bunch of drunk men. Just when you think we are all in the clear, the idiot bus driver forgets how to start his own bus. I’m not kidding. We sat there for about five minutes while he read the owner’s manual, trying to figure out how to start the bus… the same one that he picked us up in, and apparently drives for a living. Again, I’m not kidding.

Finally the engine starts and on our way we go. Eventually we crest the Sierra mountains, and yes even more can happen. You see this bus, well it seemed pretty new. Sure the radio didn’t work, and the oil cap wasn’t on, but the jack brake system was also not working. Jack brakes are used to help slow down large diesel vehicles, without using the normal brakes. Once we crested the mountains, all we had to slow the bus down, were the standard brakes, and by the time we got to Lake Tahoe, the left rear brakes were s..s..s..smoking. So at this point, we can continue the 10 minute ride around the lake to our hotel, and risk falling into the lake due to faulty brakes, or wait a few minutes to let the brakes cool.

After another nearly blown stop light (maybe our driver was drunk?) and a few more jerky turns, we finally arrive at our hotel, ate dinner, drank some booze, and laughed and lived to tell the story about the Actuate Lake Tahoe Bus Party from Hell.

Pure Craziness.

PS: The growing conspiracy theory is that Pete planned this entire set of mishaps, to bring the attendees closer together in real life problem solving situations…. hmmm