Yuma to Milwaukee.
Oh the irony of a perfect bus! We would have flown/driven anywhere in the US to pick this thing up, but it appeared 30 miles from my sister Sharon’s house. My sissy sweetly picked us up at the airport, gave us a ride home, fed us, and insisted we sleep in her bed while she and Gordy took the guest bedroom. I tried my best to talk her out of it. The next morning we intended to rent a car but she insisted we use hers for the weekend. And how about this – on this weekend, Enterprise Rent-A-Car costs $200 per day from the airport, or $30 per day if you rent from elsewhere in the city.
Mequon Wi to Sheboygan, Wi – 25 mi
We drive north from Mequon to meet Mark (“Cruzer”) and his wife Leann at their lovely home in Sheboygan, on Lake Michigan. The fall trees are at their spectacular best. Weathered old farms and fancy new ones dot I-43 along the way. When we turn the corner onto his dead end street, we see our bus down at the other end, facing us, surrounded by golden fall foliage. It is a beautiful sight.
Mark, Leann, and their 100-pound German Shepherd, Dakota, greet us warmly.
Mark is a nationally known RV expert. He did many upgrades to this bus over the years, and blogged about it thoroughly at www.rvcruzer.com. Because we had seen so many pictures of it, and knew the upgrades to it, and Mark’s reputation, we felt we knew this bus head to toe. This is the only bus in the country we would have or could have ever bought sight unseen.
As soon as the handshakes are over, and before I can even peek inside my new home, Steve and Mark begin reviewing the outside of the bus. Mark thoughtfully gives me a movie camera so I can follow along and record every aspect of owning and managing this bus. How brilliant was that!
During this shakedown tour, we encounter many more lovely “fringe benefits” we didn’t know about, such as a Corian backsplash added to the wall behind the bathroom sink, which had been wood before. I whisper to Steve, “Seventh heaven!” We go inside to sign the paperwork. The bus is ours. They hand us the keys to drive it home. But there’s a catch. We need driving insurance. We called Blue Sky on Thursday and didn’t hear back from them while we were flying on Friday. On Saturday they were closed. Now it’s Sunday. We tell Cruzer we must go back home without our bus and return Monday morning. We’re not sad after all because we’ve been pretty much in shock this whole time, and driving off with it would be just too much. They send us off with a loaf of freshly baked bread hand made by Leann with non GMO Einkorn wheat from Europe. It was the best bread I’ve ever had in my life. Leann grinds the wheat herself. Amazing, Leann!
Quck! Get some insurance!
We leap out of bed (just kidding) and secure the insurance within 30 minutes. Got big plans today! We figure out that we must email it to my sister so she can print it out for us. She drives us back to Sheboygan to fetch our BessyBus 2. It was good to have an extra person along to make a picture of the four of us. I was so shook up when we left Yuma at dawn that I forgot my good Canon camera. I have nothing but my Samsung phone to record the moment. Waaah!
Steve starts up the bus and off we go. The sellers stand in their yard, waving and shedding a tear.
We are looking out this gynormous picture window at glorious yellow red orange Wisconsin fall foliage, something we have not seen in twenty years while living in Oklahoma and Arizona.
We formerly parked our 40’ bus on sister Sharon’s grassy front yard. But last time we tried, we barely made the turn into the driveway without falling into a ditch. We know with this new 42’ bus that we can never park here again. We get permission from the pastor at Trinity Evan. Lutheran Church on Cedarburg Road to park in his paved lot for a few weekdays. We need to stock this totally empty bus with a few supplies for the 2,027 mile trip home. Leann has thoughtfully given us one roll of toilet paper. What a peach! (In actuality, we drove 2,252.2 miles.)
I remembered to put kitchen towels and four pillows in our suitcase, but that was about all. We had to buy sheets and a blanket, one plate and one glass. We joked that Steve used the left half of the plate and I used the right. It was confusing to be in a home that looks and feels like your normal home, but is not. For example, we bought wine but had no opener. We bought hamburger but had no frying pan. I gave myself a silly challenge – don’t spend more than $1.98 each for the little stuff – a paring knive, a fork, a scissors, a waste basket. Some food and paper towels. Our biggest investment was a $39 Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker from Wal-Mart, to stand in for our nice Breville Espresso Maker back home. The $39 machine was a wild animal that liked to explode milk all over the kitchen. We did not tame it or have a decent cup of coffee until we were halfway home. (One espresso maker for sale, cheap.)
Mon night, 10-20
First night in our new home
Our first night in our new home, sleeping on a new mattress. The temp drops to 35 in Milwaukee. I wore two sweat shirts and two pairs of pants to go with the skinny Yuma-style blanket I had bought. I froze to DEATH and woke up sick the next morning. The idea of turning the heat up never entered my mind. I’m a danger to myself. The next night we borrowed a quilt from my sister.
Mequon, Wi to Secor, Il – 216 miles
Goodbye loving family. Day One on the road to Yuma in our new 42’ Allegro Bus. Steve always does all the driving (which is another topic for later). He is using the new in-dash Garmin GPS, which is part of a Kenwood Stereo system, installed by the seller in place of regular AM/FM. I always navigate from the passenger seat with my Samsung phone on Google maps, which gives us the big picture. You cannot have too much help when knowing which lane to get in for turns.
As Oklahoma residents, we have to get a bus tag in Oklahoma. Luckily it is right on the way to Yuma, and we will also get to spend time with our son Stephen and family.
We are trying to make it to the Bloomington, Il Wal-Mart before dusk but can’t. Steve cannot see well after dark. Luckily we find the Hickory Hill RV Campground east of town and arrive in the nick of twilight. Night One on the road. RVer’s can tell many funny stories of arriving after dark, only to find out the next morning that they are parked dead in the middle of the roadway instead of in a site.
Secor, Il to Washington, Mo – 257 mi
Today we will skirt around St. Louis via Hwy 50/I-255. We are avoiding the downtown bottleneck near the arch. Because we don’t have a tow car behind our bus, we cannot go to McDonalds or Albertsons or any small parking lot. The only place we can set this puppy down is in a huge parking lot. In spite of everything Wal-Mart may do wrong, they are very kind (“smart”) to RVer’s. They allow us to park and stay overnight free. We always park in the far corner along the grassy perimeter so we can put one bedroom slide out after dark. (Otherwise you have to climb over your bed to reach your clothes closet.) Then we walk to Wal-Mart to restock our overstocked refrigerator.
It works great. There was a Wal-Mart right on I-44 but Steve drove me an extra 10 miles north to a bigger Wal-Mart that has a mani-pedi department. Guess who got a gel pedicure tonight! Oh look – there’s also a steak restaurant, Colton’s, here in the parking lot. How convenient.
Washington, Mo to Claremore, Ok – 334 mi
We’re tracking down I-44 to Norman but have some dear friends parked near Tulsa. It’s right on our way – How could we not stop! We became close friends when parked at the fairgrounds in Norman but didn’t think we’d cross paths again for five years. They were flabbergasted when I texted and said, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?” Kevin and Keri travel all over the country in an RV for Kevin’s job as an ironworker, supervising the installation of huge machines for W.R. Grace, Tulsa. Sometimes they have to take the roof off the building to get the machine in. We park next to them at the KOA campground attached to Cherokee Casino and Will Rogers Downs, a new race track. The quarter horses run right past our RV.
We have a lovely burger barbecue and visit. They are shopping for a new bus, so are combing over the details of our purchase.
Claremore, Ok to Norman, Ok – 153 mi
We say goodbye at noon and hike down I-44, to Hwy 177, to I-40, stopping at Choctaw road exit to show our new bus to our old friends. Guy and Cindy. They bring us a fresh warm loaf of banana bread. Thank you Cindy! Also we meet up with Wayne and Barbara, photographer friends who are loaning me, and trusting me with, their expensive Canon camera so I can make baby pictures this week. We drive on down Sooner Road to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman, Ok, our old stomping ground, arriving at 3 pm. We find only ONE spot open and it has our name on it. Ironically, this space only opened up because the couple that WAS parked here just left for Tulsa to visit guess who – our mutual friends Kevin and Keri! There is severe shortage of RV parking in Norman since Wal-Mart bought out our only park to build another store. Because of the giant tornado in Moore, Ok in 2013, this area is also overrun with construction workers from all over the U.S. We don’t have a car here so our dear ex-sister-in-law Dee picks us up for dinner. Tomorrow we will see our son Stephen. He is sore and exhausted from a 3-day weekend riding Razor ATV’s with buddies at Little Sahara State Park in western Oklahoma.
END CHAPTER 5
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