Monday, April 25, 2011

Bus Blog 26: Last Minute

It was a few weeks after the big storm that blasted the midwest, depositing as much as 21 inches of snow in  some areas.  It was so bad that drivers stuck on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago were forced to abandon their cars, to walk away as the steel bodies turned to marshmallow silhouettes.

We were ready for snow, we could handle snow by the ton.  If a blizzard happened, we could stop, and let it happen.  We were insulated, the cupboards were stocked with food, we had extra water and any spare room in the back was filled with firewood.

A trip to Pick n' Pull gave us a few sets of Ford lap belts (Ford Bus, matching is key) which were bolted into the raised seating area behind the newly installed U Bolts which the boys' car seats would clip into. The computer was bolted to the desktop and accessories were secured using velcro tabs.  Everything in the rear shop area was secured with bungees and ratchet straps so tight they sounded with a high pitched "Poing" if plucked.

Last minute tasks were completed.  The alternator was checked and found to be putting out only 12 Volts, so I pulled it and after pricing a new one at $600, decided to have it rebuilt.  While that was happening I donated a ton more stuff, took a mattress to the dump and had my friend Jesse Henderson hang onto several boxes of shop equipment for me. (Thanks Jesse, you're a good man)  His small shop is now considerably smaller.

The weather maps I had been checking obsessively showed that there would be a short window of nice weather heading across Canada and into the States, at around the same speed the bus would be traveling.  I decided we were leaving then, and hauled ass getting the last few jobs taken care of.  The in-laws watched the kids as Kirstin loaded the last of her belongings into the bus and I installed the rebuilt alternator.  I checked the lights, the tires, everything.

We left a day later than I had hoped.  But we left.

After a round of goodbyes and well wishes, moments before snow began to gently drift from the sky, we headed East, out of town.  The kids were strapped in, watching a movie on the computer, Kirstin looked over a gossip magazine which she affectionately calls "Smut", while on the other side of the wall, I gritted my teeth, held the pedal down and checked my mirrors, jerking my head around much the way nervous prey might if suddenly surrounded by a marching band in the middle of a peaceful forest.

We were finally on the road.  My feelings were a mix of excitement, nervous tension and something further away, disbelief but more like laughter.

1599 miles to Illinois.  How crazy was this?