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THE GREAT BUS RACE

Aspen Meadows, New Mexico. Summer Solstice, 1969

Hugh Romney, who mustered this 1000 in this mountain pasture, is announcing the start of the Bus Race and that a couple named John and Mary are somewhere around and must be found because they have the bubonic plague and require inoculation immediately.  Everybody's pretty innoculated already; it's the spaciest part of the afternoon. The race was going to be one bus at a time against the clock, but Ken Kesey and others are maintaining that's a chicken shit race. It's got to be all at once.

The buses are Kesey's   renowned Further, with a skeleton crew of Farmsters aboard, and the Hog Farm's fleet:  Road Hog, Hospital Bus, Kitchen Bus, etc. The Motherfuckers' tight little bus is around but not in the race.

Everyone will go one trial run around the course: 1/4 mile up the meadow, around the flag, and back downhill to the starting line. Majestically the line of buses staggers up the course.   "I don't know about this," says Mike Hagen, "Further ain't got much brakes." The Hospital Bus is stalled half-way up the hill right where it's almost impossible to get around. Reportedly it also ran over a pup tent (unoccupied).

The survivors of the trial run line up. They're immense, these faded colorful wrecks filled with folly. People are climbing off, others are climbing on.  It's a test of passengers as much as drivers. The mood is pure:  fatalistic optimism.

And it's begun. Road Hog gets off first. Further is dragging. The air is filled with buses and exhaust and din. They wallow up the pasture like berserk pigs. As Further sways past the grounded Hospital Bus Kesey disappears over the windshield shouting orders to driver Bucavich. Over there in the bushes the Foot Swami from India is watching it all go by.

Further approaches the flag from the left. The Kitchen Bus with Romney on top is coming around the other way. They intersect, pass narrowly, and ram into opposite hillsides, then rev and back blindly toward each other.  Frantic shouting gets them forward again.  For a moment the entire solstice is tied -in a sweet mad knot at the top of the pasture.

Bucavich gets Further around. The Kitchen Bus is still hung with a rear bumper gouged in the creek bed.  Rocket, who's driving, surges again and gets it free. The buses swarm downhill. Hugh Romney's mouth is wide open, his toothless warning walling down the pasture, "BEEE CARRREFUULLLL.  At the finish line a thousand longhairs cheer and dodge.

Afterward, at the award-giving argument, Romney is saying, "A miracle. It's a pure miracle nobody was killed."  Kesey is saying, "Two minutes thirty-two seconds. It's something to think about for next year."
Further ain't got much brakes.

The Great Bus Race May Never End
In the pursuit of truth via participatory journalism our reporter at the Great Bus Race drank fluid from a Donald Duck glass.  Consequently he was too stoned to function and misrepresented some facts, such as:
*  The Kitchen Bus is really the Just Bus
*  The Hospital Bus is really the Us Bus (Just Us Buses)
*  The other bus besides Road Hog is The Queen's Midtown Tunnel of Love Bus, and was the one which broke down.
* Rocket wasn't driving the Just Bus, Bob Redhat (narcoleptic from Ann Arbor) was. *Bucovich isn't spelled Bucovich, it's spelled some other way.

Romney had lost his notes and was starting to makeup facts and the reporter sensed that once again truth was drifting. Here are some other accounts. Perhaps they converge.

And in Aspen Meadow above Santa Fe the Great Bus Further lost her silver bell to the Great Bus Road Hog in the First Annual Summer Solstice Great Bus Race.       

Ken Kesey 9 Aug 69 ROLLING STONE