This morning, I woke up to the unfamiliar sound of nothing. For the first time in months, the whiny beep of my alarm clock did not signal the start of my week, and what an excellent change that was. Note to self: get a less whiny alarm clock.
At Pearson Airport, after putting me through the de-shoeing and baggage wipe process, the airport agent imposed an extra measure of security by giving my boarding pass to another passenger. On seeing the panic in my eyes, thankfully the agent then helped me to track down the man with my pass in a nearby coffee lounge. That left three minutes at the gate for a muffin chased with scalding coffee. One burnt palate later, I was on the way to Baltimore.
Driving into the city from Baltimore-Washington International, nothing could dampen my mood, not even the extra drive around town we did in order to drop off the other passenger in the cab-a complete stranger. The cab driver took us through what seemed to be the exotic dancing hub of the city before finally reaching the front doors of my destination, Club Sonar. There I got a first glimpse of my sleeping quarters for the next week-two massive buses humming beneath a highway overpass.
The last traces of my pre-trip anxiety vanished after just a few moments with my well-travelled friends. The greeting was exactly the kind to make me feel at home, a hug, a quick review of the bus rules (pee only), and then everybody relaxing as though I'd been there all along.
After finding my bunk, I surveyed the layout of the bus. The front compartment serves as the dining cab/lounge, complete with a full-sized fridge, café table, sofas and a BIG screen TV. Through one door, you reach the sleeping compartments (or, as Justin calls them, the coffins), which number twelve in total. Through another door, is the back den, where a wrap-around sofa faces another large screen, a stereo system, and a video game console. Only the faint whir of the fan hints that you're in a vessel.
Next, I was introduced to all the people I hadn't yet met, including the tour manager, David, who presented me with the golden key of documentation: the ALL ACCESS laminate. This pass got me backstage, side stage, onstage, on a ladder onstage and-well, you get the picture.