Ten Year Anniversary
Sunday morning March 6, 2016
No, not our anniversary – we are working on 52 this year.
Ten years ago today we headed out for our first trip in our 1985 Eagle bus conversion! And what a trip it was! To this day, I can’t believe what a gutsy (stupid?) decision it was to take the bus on this trip. We had a very tight schedule and had only driven the bus around the Evergreen area prior to this trip. I had just completed a major engine conversion and had not really had time to test the reliability of all the new systems. You can view the construction of the bus and the engine conversion here: /beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
I have said many times that I write these travelogues primarily so that we can go back and recall all of the fun times we have had. A bit later in this blog, I will post the first of several “blogs” that I wrote for this trip. In those days, the format was emails to the family and a few friends. Reading that travelogue really did bring back some fun memories!
Before I post the first blog of that trip, I thought I would update the statistics relating to our travels in the bus. We have spent 870 nights in our home away from home, traveled a bit over 79,000 miles and visited 28 states (see map on the right).
Now, here it the first of the posts from the inaugural trip.
Hello from Holtville CA.
Thursday morning March 9, 2006. First travelogue of this trip.
Boy, do I have a lot to write about!!
First of all, I was beginning to wonder if I would live long enough to travel in the bus!! I guess I made it, although my body is very tired from the big trash the last few weeks. We took some pictures of my mangled hands to record how bad they got towards the end. Too bad that a photo can’t be taken of my very sore body. For that matter, Pat is very sore as well, as she had to do the lion’s share of the loading, since I was tied up trying to get the bus ready for the trip. As you will read later in this travelogue it has all been worth it.
We ended up leaving Evergreen Monday afternoon (roughly 2 ½ days later than we planned). Lots of last minute items to get done and each fought me all of the way. The biggest was our water supply system valve body that leaked and then Mr. “if a little is good, a lot more is better” tightened up the fitting too much and broke the valve body housing. This caused a major leak and no water supply. The thought of living 6 weeks with no water just was not acceptable and I almost called off taking the bus. However, calmer minds prevailed the next day and I did some temporary repair work. That helped, and I did some more work on the system while we were on the road. I now have it to where it only leaks a little bit and I am ordering a new valve body to be shipped to the place the bus will be parked when we are on the cruise. The valve body is a great system, but it is sure not made very strong. I have broken the system once before and it hurts each time I order one ($100).
The trip down here went pretty darn well! We made it to Trinidad the first day (200 miles) and stayed at a Wal Mart. We then made it to Winslow AZ (500 miles) and again stayed at a Wal Mart. Yesterday we drove 480 miles to Holtville.
We are at a BLM campground which is adjacent to the Highline Hot Springs. There is some background to this stop. For Christmas I gave Pat some books on hot springs in various regions of the country. My thought was that this would be fun places to stop and would give Pat a chance to do some hot water exercises for her rheumatoid arthritis. These are fun books that describe all of the locations for hot springs in various regions of the country. This place was listed and so we decided to stop. The BLM charges $30 for 14 days of primitive camping and has no other fee option. The camp host was kind enough to let us stay the one night for free. The hot springs is very primitive. There are some small basic concrete “pools” that are fed by artesian wells. They are surrounded by Palm trees (and this is in the desert where no trees are to be found). There was no charge for the use of the hot springs. It sure felt good on my tired old body! Pat did a bit of exercising, but the pool was a bit hot for her.
The folks at the pool were very friendly. It turns out that over half the folks who stay here are Canadian (reportedly up to 80%). There is a “yearly” fee of $140 and that gives the “snowbirds” a very inexpensive place to stay for the winter. As noted above, this is primitive camping (no water/sewer/electrical). It looks like folks have gotten pretty inventive with their ways to “boondock”. Many of the women take gallon jugs to the hot springs and bring back warm water from the output of the well to wash the dishes.
We are about 150 miles from where we will park the bus at another bus-nut’s house. It sounds like it will be an adventure to get the bus into his place. We will have to unhook the Durango and I will then have to drive up what he describes as a steep drive way. I then have to back the bus down the driveway to leave. I have met the person at one of our trade shows. He responded to a posting I made on one of the bus bulletin boards and made the very kind offer.
There are lots of things to report about the trip down here. Our first (and only) “gut wrencher” occurred on Raton Pass. We were almost to the summit when were heard a loud pop and our engine power went to almost nothing. It turned out that a turbo charger hose had come loose (probably one I forgot to tighten). I got it all cinched up in a few minutes and we were on our way. It took longer for my nerves to settle down that it did to repair the connection.
In northern NM we came across a bus fire. It was close to a rest stop that I was going to use, so I walked back to the scene and took several pictures. The bus was fairly new and was a commercial transportation unit (not a conversion). The firemen were just putting the fire out. I did a search last night, and could not find anything about the fire, so apparently no one was hurt. My reason for taking the photos was to add to my collection of bus/motorhome fires for our business.
In Flagstaff yesterday, we ran into a huge snowstorm. The bus did fine, except I had disconnected the windshield wipers to do some work on them. They are driven by the bus air supply system and tend to leak. Anyway, I drove several miles with snow accumulating on the windshield. I finally pulled off and reconnected the wipers and then everything was fine.
During nearly the entire trip, we experienced very heavy gusting winds (a part of the big weather front that dumped some much needed snow on Denver). The bus did pretty darn good in even the worst of the wind conditions. I had to work the steering wheel pretty good at times, but it never approached the “white knuckles” driving of the motorhome.
Pat and I have been very happy with living in the bus. The systems have all functioned well (with the exception of the water problem). Even with the water problem, Pat was able to take a shower last night and said it sure felt good. Even more important, we have a large water supply and holding tanks, so we don’t have to be quite so careful of our water use. With our large inverter, we have 120V power all of the time and I don’t have to run the generator to make coffee or watch TV, or be on the internet; like we had to with the motorhome. The heat in this unit is hydronic and is very comfortable. Now that the carpet is in, it just feels like home. The only systems we have not tried are the washer and dryer. That will come later in the trip.
I have attached two photos. One is of me installing the very special eagle emblem that Pat gave to me for Christmas. The second one is of the bus and Durango at a rest stop in AZ.
Editorial note: that is the end of the first post. In days to come I will add additional posts from that trip.