Today was a very trying day on the road. Living and traveling in a rennovated School Bus certainly presents us with unique challenges, a literal roller coaster ride of emotions. The mental highs and lows mimic the drastic elevation changes in the landscape surrounding us. We left Florida 23 days ago, and now find ourselves 3,800 miles West, California marking our 16th state. The Tiny Living Festival was an absolute success, and now we are roaming around before we head to the event "Descend on Bend," still looking for work and a place to park long term.
Before heading to bed last night, I walked outside and looked at my front end, noticing the front tire was looking low. So I started thinking about possible scenarios of how the morning might go. We were luckily parked at a KOA campground, at the northern end of the Redwoods National Park in California. So a bit after waking up, I walked to the front desk and asked Kevin if he had a hose I could use to plug into my air-brake tank to fill my tire; he said he'll have the maintenance fellow come over with an air compressor. He came over shortly before the 11am check out time and filled up my drivers side front tire.
We drove 5 miles into Crescent City and found a Les Schwab. The last one we visited was at the border of Oregon and California when we turned onto the 101 heading South. The gentleman that filled all my tires said they were down only a couple pounds of air, due to the temperature change along our route. What I think happened was that my valve stem was slowly leaking after I left that Les Schwab, or it rattled open along the drive.
It had been about 3 hours since the fill up at the campground and the pressure stayed the same. Once the gentleman at this Les Schwab took a look at the tire, we figured out it was a gunky and worn out valve stem insert. He screwed in a new one and checked the air on all my other tires. No charge and we were back on the road. More good luck than sense!
After driving around a couple blocks, I bought some stuff at AutoZone, most importantly clamps for the coolant leak I've been having. I parked in the Home Depot lot and tried to work on the original clamp at the bottom of the radiator to try and replace it, when all of a sudden the coolant came gushing out from all sides of the hose. Oh shit!! No no no!
It was quite horrible. From a slow dribble now and again, now I really had a coolant LEAK. I told Mary to call around for a mechanic while I tried to tighten the clamp as tight as I could to be able to drive it. I can find my way around tools (and build a bus with help) but I am not a mechanic by any means. This was too much with my limited everything. She found a Napa Mechanic two blocks away.
At the Napa, they took a look after a short wait and replaced the old rusty clamp with 2 new ones, which completely stopped the leak. 2 clamps and $38 later and we are operational again. Two major incidents today, fixed for less than $50 Whew! I was so glad and overjoyed that I did not need a new tire, and the leak was not more serious.
We also took the opportunity during this town visit to shop at the grocery store, have food stocked for the next couple days as we take our time through the massvie Redwoods.
It was an absolutely incredible drive south along the coast. Mountainous forest lakes on the left side of the road, and the Pacific Ocean on the right. As we drove through a tight patch of road with limited shoulder, I look over to my right and see a group of Elk walking into the water, and the next mile up people were stopped all over to watch the Elk in the middle of the road. Mary saw a whale breaching the water. We stopped at a beach for a bit and walked through the driftwood.
We drove further south, seeing lots of signs for "No overnight Camping or Parking" which is a definite no-no. So we thought about parking at a Casino parking lot we passed, but decided to head on and we found ourselves parked off the highway at a rest stop. We drove though the biggest set of trees I have ever seen. Wow!
So today was a lot of ups and downs. Never knowing when a small problem might turn into a big problem, or when all those scary and fearful thoughts about flat tires and broken engines become a reality and could mean the end of savings and our trip. Life's little detours end up being the reason to stay in town longer and meet genuine people, such as the diesel expert at AutoZone or the mechanics at the Napa store. And I always know I'll sleep in the bus, but the uncertainty of where we're parking and spending the night, well, that's what Bus Life is all about. #Adventure #NeverBored
Safe journey everyone. It's never as bad as we think it is.