Getting BessyBus ready for First Big Trip to Omaha-Milwaukee-Seattle

 Thu June 23, 2011

Two days before D-Day (Departure Day)

Goodby Blacky Blazer, Hello No-Name Dodge Dakota

Our first destination is picked for us — luckily – otherwise we’re dazzled by too many choices.

 Our Seattle brother, Paul and Dee Dwyer, have a son getting married Aug. 20. Our special nephew, Patrick Dwyer, will wed Maria Cuenca. We decide to swing by Milwaukee to see Carol’s sister Sharon and family. Haven’t seen them in way too long! We also want to see Omaha so we will swing wide to the west on our way of Milwaukee.

 Steve has been working frantically all week to make BessyBus road ready. The generator had a stripped nut so we couldn’t replace the fuel filter. We had Cummins freight in Oklahoma City put in a new fuel line, water pump belt, filter, oil change. We also replaced the coolant recovery tank on the Cummins ISL400 engine, but Steve had to modify the new tank to fit. The old one had a crack by the cap and wasn’t holding pressure. We used our dear repair man, Gary Kjenshus RV Repair, to replace the awning topper on the driver side front. Gary also removed our obsolete KingDome tv antenna and replaced it with a WineGuard Travel’r SK3005. Now we’ll have HD programming! Yay!

We used to tow a black ’05 Chevy Trailblazer and Carol loved that frisky little, comfy riding thing. But sadly, we had to say goodbye to Blacky Blazer because it wasn’t big enough to hold Steve’s inflatable boat. He has a 10.5 ft Sea Eagle inflatable with a 5.5 hp Johnson antique motor. In order to stuff all this into the little Blazer, he had to put the boat in the back and then hang the motor on a receiver hitch carrier out back. There was no room left to put groceries or anything in the back. And we needed our back seat free for guests. RV dinners, you know. That’s a big thing.

My photo isn’t doesn’t show this very well, but take my word for it – the motor on the back of the Blazer looked like a wrapped dead body. The motor was lying on its back and covered with tarps and rope. It had a head, plus two feet sticking up, plus arms folded over like a corpse. It was creepy, but no one ever messed with our Blazer. 

We buy everything out of Craig’s List (or Ebay) so in May Steve flew to Detroit and brought a nice clean, 2008 Dodge Dakota back to Oklahoma. Steve is a Chevy man but he thought the Chevy Colorado was a little too small for his big 6’3″ body. The Dakota was 1000 pounds lighter than a full size truck, so he could keep his old hitch set up. With our new Dakota, both boat and motor fit neatly in the bed, and it’s protected by a locking cover. Next he had to convert his Dakota to a proper tow vehicle:

1) install new a tow bar on front. (Keep old tow bar on bus.)

2) install auxillary brakes.  We use M&G — an air hose runs from bus to toad and makes the durn thing apply its own brakes whenever big daddy applies bus brakes up front.

3) install Pressure Pro – this warning system tells you if any of your tires are getting low or flat. It monitors all 6 bus tires, plus all four tires on the tow. It is not a question of IF, but WHEN you will get a flat tire on your tow. Then you just keep dragging your vehicle down the road on its rims. The driver of a 16-ton bus cannot feel any resistance from a truck weighing two tons.

4) install system for remote turn signals and brake lights. So when momma bus turns left or right, or puts on her brakes, baby bus will do the exact same thing. Without this, we will be arrested or hit in the rear, whichever comes first.

Looks like we’ll be all ready to go by Saturday.

 

Misfortune causes 2 year delay; BessyBus Survives Winter of ’10

Wed June 22, 2011

Its three days before D-Day, the day we really, finally get to leave Meeker, OK and go traveling full time. We have been waiting for this day for three years, since January 30, 2008. That’s when we sold our house for the first time, but it didn’t stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 We held the note for the buyer, with both parents co-signing. The buyer did not pay. After $10,000 in legal fees and 18 months, we got our house back but buyer kept $85,000 worth of photo equipment and threw away 20 years worth of negatives. The court awarded us a judgment but buyer and both his parents declared bankruptcy so they would not have to pay a dime. Why, you ask, would we foolishly agree to hold the note? It’s because the buyer was self-employed and out-of-state, and we were eager to go.

  We knew the parents were financially stable and naively believed they wouldn’t declare bankruptcy with their stable pension income. Wrong!

The judge handed us back the key to our old house on December 8, 2009. We had sold it right before the big crash and got it back right after. Great timing! Sell low, buy high, we always say.

We could not move back inside the house as all our furniture was gone, and we didn’t want to live inside anyway. We were perfectly happy in our RV. But we had to park it in the back yard to protect the empty, 5,000 square foot house from vandalism until we found a second buyer. (This time we would be sure to get one with a regular bank loan.) We had a lot of work to do to get this house ready for market. 

We ended up living in the back yard on and off for 18 months. We had to get special dispensation from the city manager to park an RV long term in city limits. Our driveway was long, curved and tree lined. It was a horror getting the bus in there. We trimmed trees but still ripped scratches in the side of our bus. By a miracle of God, there was a city sewer manhole cover right in the back yard, so we could stay put once we squashed the bus back there. Without that sewer, we would have had to leave every seven days to dump. We ran a drain hose 15 feet to the manhole cover and propped it slightly open. We got our fresh water from a faucet in the corner of the yard. We invested in a long, expensive 50 amp electric cord and then had our electrician friend, Jim, install a 50 am plug on the side of the house. Then we went to work, painting and cleaning up the house, and listing it with a realtor.

BessyBus survives “Winter of ‘10” in Okie Blizzard

The winter of 09-10 was bitter cold with a couple blizzards. We learned a lot about how to stay warm in an RV. We had electric heat tape wrapped around our fresh water hose, but we still had to leave the kitchen and bathroom faucets dripping all night every night. That ran up our water bill, no doubt.

Our water hose still froze up on bitter cold nights but the next morning the sun would shine and by early afternoon the hose would thaw. Many times the hose was buried in a blanket of snow, and this actually insulated it from cold.

We had our bay (basement) thermostat set to 42 degrees. A couple times our fresh water froze at the faucet right inside the bus.  Steve discovered that cold air was sneaking into the bay through the sewer hose. It was just like an open door. So one of us (Steve) would have to trudge through the snow in his bathrobe to disconnect the sewer hose and cap off the plumbing pipe.  

During the day we could heat our bus with electric heat only from the Hydro-Hot. But at bedtime we had to pull out all our quilts and switch on the diesel boost. The diesel burner ran all night long to keep our bus around 65 degrees.  

Steve estimates we used 70 gallons of diesel over that winter. With a 150 gallon diesel tank, we had plenty left. It was a great blessing not to have to drive the bus out of there for more diesel fuel. Actually, our wheels were frozen in place and our driveway was a block long skating rink with deep drop-offs on both sides. We never could have made it. We love our Hydro-Hot, as compared to propane. 

Finally on April 29, 2011, we sold our house. Pinch us!  The albatross is gone! The chains are cut! The prisoners are set free! Now let’s get this bus out of the back yard before the new family moves in. We’ve killed all the grass under the bus. Must be time to hit the road, Jack! 

– carol ann dwyer