Category Archives: Hugmobile

Hugmobile seeking Mechanic

My 83 Winnebego (Chevy 454 engine) has a tough-to-diagnose problem. Possibly vapor lock.

I have additional diagnostic $$ set aside and will joyfull reward the mechanic that has the time & energy to figure it out and fix.

The Hugmobile


In 2010, Hugmobile had a complete engine replacement.
Since then, it has run great…except:
It does an odd overheat thing when driven over an hour or 2 – specifically on the way to summer festivals in the heat.
Before it dies completely, it occasionally surges and feels like it is having problems delivering fuel. i.e. the gas pedal is pushed farther down but no additional power.

The dials all show no overheating issues.
Some have guessed “Vapour lock.”
When it has broken down with this problem it usually is able to re-start after cooling off for 3-5 hours. But then after driving a little while (30 min or so?), the condition happens again.

UPDATE 4/16/12:
Here’s what happened on the April trip to Santa Barbara:
-Drove there in 2 shifts during cool days, each 2.5 hours. Kept it around 55. Kept the tank mostly full. NO PROBLEMS!

-Drove home during a much warmer day in 1 shift.
– After 2 hours, while going up a hill, it started to do a little of the sputter thing. I made it up the hill and pulled into the next gas station. It was at 1/4 tank.
– I turned it off for 15 minutes and filled the tank.
-It drove fine for the next 2 hours – including several hills.
-When I got off the freeway and started to go up the (steep) hill to B’s house, it started to sputter. It was at 1/2 tank.
-Luckily, it made it into her parking lot where I let it cool over an hour.
-After that hour+ later, while driving it downhill during sunset, it *seemed* to exhibit the same the sputtering (meaning that the cooling did not help?) It required minimal gas to go downhill, but I tried to force it and it seemed to not be getting all the gas it should.
-Before getting back on the freeway, I filled the tank again.
-With the full tank, it made it the next 30 minutes home (including hills) with no problems!

Could it be something to do with the fuel? I could have sworn that I have driven it with much less gas with no problems – but never while so hot.
Maybe something to do with fuel level AND heat? Could filling the tank cool down the overall fuel temp? (I am clueless, obviously)
One theory is that there is water in the fuel tank?

replace fuel line
“what you need to do it crawl under huggie and look for anywhere that the fuel line gets close to anything that would be hot.”
“We had the same problem what it was the gas line was ran to close to the manifold and the gas would vaporize when the engine got hot.”
“Look at the gas line if it is running next to the manifold that is the prob. What happen’s is the engine get’s hot not over-heating but hot like it should when the gas line get’s hot the gas will bubble and vaporize. And it will act like it is not getting any fuel and it’s not it’s getting vapors.”

“This sounds exactly like the issue I had with my Chevy, everything would be fine except in summer (I live in AZ) and would drive a while. Suddenly everything would just die, not overheated but dead. It would cool then it would run fine. We were told it was all kinds of things and it took 3 years to chase it down. It ended up being that the fuel pump had been replaced with a generic fuel pump. It just so happens the Chevy engine needs higher fuel pressure than normal, the fuel pump was fine except when it was warm and the pressure was not maintaining where it needed to be. Got a new factory not generic fuel pump… never had an issue again. So check out the fuel pump pressure.”


Install an inline , electric fuel pump.
“You may be able to run on your mechanical until it locks up then hit the switch for the electric one to take over .”

” electric fuel pump…….jus do it….it’ll save you headache down the road…..fifty bucks…max…….an….if it ever fails……’ll still have the mechanical one still pumpen………as you will leave it in place…….backup”

“Check your distributor cap and wires.”

more suggestions (from John W.):

After reading that I am beginning to suspect an ignition problem, and it’s an easy fix. I assume it has the HEI distributor, and my question is: when they replaced the engine was it a long block that all the accessories had to be moved over to? Sometimes they don’t come with a new distributor and you swap the old one in. If so I suspect an old coil or module giving up the ghost. Pop your doghouse and put a chair on the floor, the distributor is right on the back of the engine and easy to get to. If *you* are doing this number your wires and take a picture. Basically the HEI distributor contains everything in one spot under one big cap, coil and all the electronics. It gets hot in there, and at the back of the engine right under the back of the doghouse there isn’t a better recipe for thermal failure. It could be any of three parts in there: the pickup coil, the module, or the spark coil. Sometimes you can get a rebuild kit with all the parts cheaper than buying each one. None of which require any kind of massive expertise to swap out, especially if you snap a pic or two before taking out the screws.

I do not personally suspect vapor lock as Winnebago is a well respected maker of motorhomes so one would assume they did their homework and routed all the fuel lines appropriately. Although if over the years part of the fuel line was replaced it is possible the replacement is getting soft in the heat and collapsing, like kinking a garden hose.

I don’t suspect a weak fuel pump as that would show up sooner and whenever you needed a lot of power out of the engine, like up major hills. You could put in a remote fuel pressure gauge to rule it out completely if you wish. Putting in an electric pump is extra insurance, it should be mounted on the frame as close to the tank as possible and it needs be on a relay and wired so it cannot be on if the ignition is off. My family vacationed in an ’86 Winnie about the same size with no issues. Though my father did rebuild the HEI when we got it, we never had to put in an electric pump. In fact we sprayed the underside of the doghouse with expanding foam for extra soundproofing and to help keep the heat out of the interior. And we towed a jeep to use as a runabout too.

Festivals 2012

With so many people unable to attend “Burning Man” this year, I wanted to share the other love-filled places I (& hopefully Pink Heart) will be participating and bringing Hug Nation this year.

{ KEY }
(*) = hopefully
(**) = tiny chance
(!) = sold out

++ Burner Brunch (@ my place)March 4 (& every 1st Sat.)

++SD BM Film Fest – March 10

++Fuente Eterno (!) – Baja Mexico March 23

++Lucidity – Santa Barbara April 13-15
($ ask me about a discount code)

++ IgNight Fire Flow Celebration – Joshua Tree April 27-29

(**) Symbiosis May 17-22
(*) Flip Side May 27-29
(**) Lightning In A Bottle May 27-29

(**) June 10-12

(**) Aug 10-13

++Burning Man (!) – BRC Aug 27-sept 3

++SD Decom – LJ Indian Res. TBD?


Burning Man 2011

This was my 14th Burn. Here are my reflections.

more sticker designs


This year’s journey started perfectly for me – with my RV breaking down.
The Hugmobile was sidelined with vapor lock just blocks from where it met the same fate last year. San Bernardino is apparently the Pink Bermuda Triangle.

But as dedicated students of Surrender, we rolled with it. We spent the day parked outside a drug dealers house and sweat through a 110 degree afternoon that was far hotter than anything Black Rock City would muster up later in the week. (To be fair, I’m making an assumption about his occupation based on the frequency of short, drive-up visits.)

Brandi gently mocked me as she fanned herself, “I saw a video last week where someone said that Burning Man starts the minute you get in the car.” Yep, nothing quite like getting your own words thrown back at you.

At one point the home owner came outside, eyes glazed and paranoid – to ask us for ID. I don’t blame him. I’ve seen enough TV shows to know that when a weird van parks in front of your house for an extended time, you are probably under surveillance. But by the time we had pulled away we had shared a six pack and been invited in for dinner. Burning Man had indeed begun.

When nightfall hit, we tried the 83 Winibego, again. Unsuccessfully. So AAA towed us back to San Diego. The exact same tow truck driver. The exact same 3 hour route. Exactly 1 year later. “Happy Anniversary!”


This year, there were no cargo vans available for rent in San Diego. So our crew of 4 scrambled to find a solution. We ended up sending our bikes up with friends and squashed what we could fit into (and strapped to the top of) 2 SUV’s. There is something
poetic about taking all of the items you’ve painstakingly organized into RV drawers, shelves and closets and then sweeping them roughly into black plastic bags. It’s like a organizational dust storm to jolt loose any last hold on expectations.

We drove all day, stayed the night in Reno, loaded up on supplies, and made it to Black Rock City one day behind schedule. But we were in good spirits. Saturday arrival is still well within the “Early Entry” period for large camp & art setup.


When we arrived at our address at 9:30 & Esplanade, I was reminded that our actual journey began months ago. The shade structures had been assembled by our first arrivals, but our plot of land looked like a hurricane path. Boxes, bins, tarps, clips, lights, sculptures, and all manor of materials lay strewn about – ready for assembly. We had spent months planning, buying, and creating pieces of our pink oasis. Now it was time to see if the pieces would fit together.

It would be misleading to describe the setup process as “work.” It is more like setting the table for the dinner party of your life. You know the food will be amazing. You know the guests will be delighted. You can barely contain the excitement in anticipation of it all coming together. It is a shame that so many people show up for only the last few days of Burning Man… because it it the first few days – when everything is being built – that is the most magic for me.

Screen shot 2011-09-10 at 2.17.13 PM

While the city is being built, there is a special camaraderie. There is a pride as we all give our skills and brawn to create Utopia out of the barren desert. But there is also a humility – we are all of service to the larger ideal. We are all small pieces of something great.



This was the second year of Pink Heart. While there are many groups of friends among the 85 of us, we are a diverse group. Most of us were drawn to the idea of the camp, rather than the group itself. Many of us met for the first time on the Playa. One of the mandatory camp requirements (in addition to financial dues and 2 pink pillows for the dome) is to write a heartfelt & vulnerable introduction. We all share who we really are. Not what we do – but who we ARE. And who we are becoming. It makes the road to Burning Man one of heart opening and connection. By the time we meet each other in the flesh, we already have a bond of the heart. Of all the things that I did as camp leader, this is the thing I am most proud of.

HUG by Dylan Akre

We came from England & all over the US. We were white, black, gay, straight, rich, poor, vegan activists & bacon lovers.

We spent much more energy this year on our private space & camp kitchen – with a mattress, couches, and tons of seating. It was almost always full of dusty smiles and drooling nappers. Often it was more active than our Esplanade public space. The camp meals were new this year and far more bonding than I expected. Seeing loving bonds grow between campmates as the week wore on was a beauty beyond description.

We had a 200×300 foot plot, and our gift to Burning Man was our frontage. We had huge pink shade structures. A plush-filled pink dome. Pink fur couches. Spires. Metal sculpture. A Water Bar with iced cucumber water…and until we ran out, coconut milk ice cream.

The camp mission was to facilitate an environment for heart opening-moments for the people of Black Rock city. Shade, comfortable seating, a view of the playa – and simple gifts of cold nourishment during the hot days. We wanted to be a lighthouse for body, mind and spirit. A place to recalibrate physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Burning Man 2011 - Rites of Passage

From the reactions of visitors, I think we did an amazing job. I know I felt wonderful in our fuchsia oasis.
Not only was the camp plan realized beautifully, but the individual efforts of Pink Hearters added to the magic in unexpected ways. Christian’s efforts to get the coconut milk ice cream were inspiring. Shawn and her husband made beautiful wooden heart pendant necklaces that delighted so many. And Rob’s remote controlled “Robot Drinking Fountain” was, quite simply, spectacular.



My year was much less about wandering into adventures, and more about executing plans. (Or at least as much a “plans” can exist in Black Rock City.)
The camp, itself, was a big one. But so was my Tuesday night performance, a legal wedding, a Hug Nation & the Pink Ride.

Cocoon performance

On Tuesday night I performed “Cocoon.” My first every attempt at producing, choreographing, and dancing in a public performance. I always talk about how Burning Man is such a supportive environment that it allows you to express your quieted creative impulses. This experience allowed me to walk the talk – and stretch into some uncomfortable – but beautiful – places. Having a partner who encourages fantasies to be expressed, not to mention help them manifest, is one of the greatest gifts I can imagine.
Brandi & I rehearsed once in the default world, but the whole performance had a single rehearsal – on the night of the performance. I am truly blessed to have such amazing friends who brought their talents – and calming energy – to performance night. This was truly a rite of passage for me and I am forever in debt to everyone who – literally – made a dream come true.

Paul & Jawan's wedding

The Friday wedding was gorgeous. We arranged camp chairs into rows so that Jawan could walk the “aisle” in her gorgeous gown (with trail.) The guests, including the groom’s parents and favorite aunt, hummed “Here comes the bride” as we all stood.
Their vows brought me to tears. The groom’s mother shared loving words. But the highlight of the ceremony was when it was disrupted. Twice I had to stop the service because loud art cars were rumbling past with blaring beats. And twice the ENTIRE congregation stood and danced during the “disruption.” This was the moment I will remember most from this year’s Burn. A young couple, about to start a life together, stood nervous and excited. And when faced with a huge obstacle in their plan, they embraced it. They didn’t furrow their brow and wish things were different. They rolled with it and danced. May we all live like this…happily every after.


Tuesday’s HugNation and Thursday’s Pink Ride were highlights – not just of the week – but of my life. I felt so connected. So in the Flow. I took my time and shared stories. I cried. I opened my heart. I received so much love back. I probably had more hugs than any other days in my life. I missed the “Who What Where” cutoff, so my events were not publicized. Everyone in attendance had to know about it in advance or make significant effort to be a part. The crowds were large, intimate, and amazing. After I spoke on thursday, as we all got on our bikes, I addressed the pink-clad crowd. I told everyone to say or think loving words and compliments at everyone we passed on the way to center camp. That ride was indescribable. I looked behind me to see 50? 100? more maybe? Tons of people dressed in pink, showering compliments. There was a visual and spiritual ripple of love trailing behind us. I had the thought, “I could die right now,” without a trace of morbidity.



Surrender is always a huge part of my Burning Man learning. While many lamented the car trouble of the Hugmobile, I saw it as a bon voyage gift from Grandpa. “Before you get to the Playa, let me make sure you REALLY understand the importance of surrender.” So many of my well-made plans evaporated with the vapor lock. I was in “float more” mode long before hitting the dust. Couldn’t be more perfectly timed.

I heard the term, “FOMA” (Fear Of Missing Out) lots this year. I had to face that fear quickly and decided that much of my energy this year would go into the camp needs, hosting the camp, and connecting with visitors. I could have been a better delegator, but in the end, I couldn’t have been happier with my choices. I missed out on more than ever. But I received in the most profound ways, too.


“You can’t be liked by everyone.” I know this intellectually to be true, but it was the hardest lesson to embrace this year. Although 99% of my interactions this year were filled with gratitude and Love, I fixated on a few people’s perceptions that were less-than-favorable. I heard 3rd person that I was called arrogant & selfish by some and accused of creating a “cult of John” by another. Unfortunately, I never found out who in my camp was sharing those thoughts. I became self conscious in my camp’s private area – never knowing who of my campmates harbored negativity towards me. The knowledge affected my experience more than I would have liked. I doubt I would have changed my behavior much. I was deeply connected to my role of Service, and if that path rubbed people wrong I was – at least intellectually- okay with it. When a different person shared their frustrations to my face I was deeply grateful. They said, “I don’t want to make you feel bad, but….” I thought about their feedback, considered my motivations, and replied sincerely. “I don’t feel bad. Thank you.”


Finally, I was encouraged & inspired. Such a huge part of my life consists of isolation and interaction via a digital terminal. I get emails with wonderful words, but the energetic jolt from a hug and eye contact is infinitely more powerful. I met people who not only read my book, but loved it! People that had bought many copies as gifts and one firefighter who read a little every night before bed. I met people who credited me with bringing them to burning man…which had then transformed their life. I met met people who felt their lives were happier and more joyful because of my influence. I met people who said I saved their lives. As I type this, I realize they are all just words, again. But something clicked for me. My work & passion had touched people in significant ways. I heard people speak about me as I have spoken about my most significant teachers. If my life of joyful service can have that impact, then my path is right. Then my insecurity and small thinking is not just a personal issue – it is impeding the divine that flows through me. I feel inspired to write more. To reach higher. To connect on a grander scale. But not as a quest for fame – from a role of service.

andie grace

Jake & I have about 3 Terabytes of video footage and audio interviews from the week to go through. I fluctuate between immense excitement and being overwhelmed. I have a vague idea of what I wanted to create… but the Playa circumstances allowed what it allowed. Perhaps all this footage is just the beginning. Perhaps it was just a learning exercise. Or maybe I’ll find a way to tell the stories I want to tell and share the magic that has transformed me. That continues to transform me. At the very least, I hope I can convey the gratitude. Gratitude for every participant who is a part of the magic. Gratitude for the circumstances that allow me to participate in body, mind, and spirit. And gratitude to everyone who receives and supports my personal path of growth, expression and connection.

Thank you. I love you. Namaste.


p.s. I’m also excited about the future because of the beta launch of a new social network I co-founded, Anybeat. It is built on Burning Man principles and lessons of community learned on the Playa. It is a huge project with huge potential. If you read this far, you can use this special invite code.) See you at Home.

Anybeat Bio

HelllloooOO, San Diego!

This was a big week for local press.
Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 8.04.54 PM

After 15 years of being mentioned in various publications around the world, I finally got some local press…TWICE…in the same week…for different things.

On the KUSI morning news talking with Brad Perry about “Hugging Day” and the latest “Help The Homeless” efforts. (He even wore my Burner jacket for the segment.)


An awesome profile in San Diego City Beat by Kinsee Morlan

Wow…quite a week!

Moments of Kindness – Observations on 1st Saturday


In big letters on the side of the Hugmobile it reads, “The world would rather hug you than hurt you.” Occasionally someone will confront me and mock my naiveté. They will start making an argument that the world is harsh or cruel or dangerous.
Be careful how you define the world.
You can find evidence to support whatever you believe…so be very careful what you believe. Here are some of the moments of kindness I observed last Saturday…that help define my world.

  • Jason discovered a huge bag of new chap stick tubes on his desk at work last week. While these are awesome gifts for homeless, their cost has made it cost-prohibitive to include them in our care packs. He asked all around the office, but nobody would admit to bringing them.
  • A friend of Merek’s mom wanted to help out. So she made sandwiches with the most expensive kosher brisket she could find.
  • John & the K Pound crew decided to skip a Friday night of partying and use the money and time they would have spent to make 160 sandwiches for the Homeless.
  • A woman and her 9 month old baby girl took a bunch of donated kids clothes and toddler toys. She said that she had all her baby’s no-longer-fitting baby clothes washed and folded and wanted to donate them.
  • A homeless woman tried on a near-new leather jacked that was among the donations. A volunteer chimed in with a smile, “That’s a great jacket!” The homeless woman took it off and offered it to the volunteer. (This happens a lot.)
  • For the 10th month in a row, friends and neighbors have spent their Friday eve and Sat day in joyful service to their brothers & sisters in need.

Nov. 9, 2010

5000 Reasons to Believe

2 weeks ago, my beloved RV broke down.
I didn’t let it get me down. I smiled and embraced the obstacle like an adventure.

A few days later, I learned that the engine was destroyed and repairs would run at least $5000.
THAT got me down.

Most mechanics suggested I consider scrapping it and investing in a newer motor home, “…unless you are strongly attached to this specific vehicle.”

I realized that the test from the Universe had just begun with the breakdown. The real coursework involved dealing with this financial challenge – not just the challenge of finding the money, but the deeper and more important work required to change my beliefs about my relationship to resources in the world.

I have been writing lots about work & money lately. It has been 3 months since my consulting gig ended and I have been dedicated to a non-corporate life path. In that time the HelpTheHomeless project was born, my burning man camp has come to life, I’ve added a Happy Hour Hug Nation, & my writing has progressed tremendously (I even had a rough copy of a book printed up.)
But none of these projects generates income.

For years I subsidized HugNation and my other creative ventures through consulting gigs. For many years I was on retainer for a European porn company. And the last year I worked for (I’ll let your personal values decide which is sleazier.)
When I stopped the consulting a few months ago, I decided I would give myself a year to live off savings and surrender to faith.

For the previous decade my motto was “Love more, fear less.” This new chapter is about, “Float more, steer less.” In this non-income state, I wanted to allow the cosmic current to take me where I was supposed to go. Basically, I’ve been working on being of service. And then having faith that acting in integrity & Love will take me where I am supposed to go.
This has been difficult.

But even as my mind fights to let go of it’s old beliefs about work and sacrifice, I have been receiving more and more signs that I am on the right path. Internally and externally, I am getting re-enforcement that regardless of money, my “work” is valuable.

The test came in the form of the broken down RV. As soon as I shared my troubles, people suggested posting a Pay-Pal donation link. It took me several days to do so. I was afraid. I was afraid that all the love I get from sharing what I share would be diminished if I asked for financial support. I was afraid that my “work” would no longer be seen as a gift. I was afraid of saying, “I deserve resources to do what I do.”

But I sat with the fear. I made a video. And I asked for donations to help me repair my precious Hugmobile.

Over the next week, 60 people chipped in and yesterday my PayPal balance broke $5000. The Hugmobile will rise again.


Actually, that is a poor word choice. Last week, this would have been unbelievable to me. But now it is Truth.

I wish I had a minute or two with each of those 60 people to hold them and whisper “thank you” in their ears. Not just for the financial support – but for the far more valuable gift of showing me what is possible.

Personally, I have a monthly budget for supporting people and art that I believe in. And I guess I thought that some day I would be deserving of that kind of support from others. But my inner “discourager” voice always had a list of things I needed to do first: Write a book, get a PHd, meditate, do more yoga, eat raw, etc..
It took this massive mechanic bill to get me to a place where I allowed other people to believe in me. And support me.

The critical distinction is that I am not asking people to support the ego whims of “me.” I am asking for assistance so that I can continue to be of service to whatever the Universe asks me to do as I “Float more.”

I see now that this challenge was necessary. The breakdown wasn’t enough. I needed to fall hard enough that I was forced to ask for help.
I was afraid that asking for support would diminish the good of what I was doing. But the effect is infinitely better: It now becomes the good that WE are doing.

(photo by Mike Hedge)

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
June 17, 2010