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JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/9/20 7:51 p.m.

In reply to Greg Smith :

That got a good laugh from my wife. That's her 2009 Rav4. She hit a coyote on the interstate and obliterated the plastic bumper, so I tabbed up a new bumper out of 3/16 steel and leftover roll bar tubing.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/9/20 8:00 p.m.

Okay, battery is getting slim, but here goes.

Day 1: Home to Cobb Creek campground southeast of Springfield MO. Left midday, discovered the coolant leak east of Ottawa KS. Found a bump big enough to unload everything that was on the front overhead shelf into my lap at highway speed. Better driving in MO. Wife picked the campsite, was way too short and narrow and angled to get the bus into easily, had to do a three point turn to get in. Also didn't realize this is a dirtbike and ATV trail camp, on a race weekend, on the first warm Saturday night of the year. She is no longer allowed to pick campsites.

First hot meal, fried egg sammicges.

And our campsite, in the light of the next morning:

Greg Smith
Greg Smith Dork
3/9/20 8:22 p.m.
JohnInKansas said:

In reply to Greg Smith :

That got a good laugh from my wife. That's her 2009 Rav4. She hit a coyote on the interstate and obliterated the plastic bumper, so I tabbed up a new bumper out of 3/16 steel and leftover roll bar tubing.

I LOVE it!

Greg Smith
Greg Smith Dork
3/9/20 8:24 p.m.

...And some cargo netting in front of your shelves might not be amiss...

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
3/9/20 9:00 p.m.

If you haven't worked out a door that can secure better than the standard bus door, saw this on the interwebs. 

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/10/20 12:41 a.m.

Glad things a going smooth... Enough! Welcome to TN. Check out your map - instead of cutting the corner down to B'ham, if ya want a good place to fix shocks and coolant leak, Shaffer Diesel and Machine in Linden TN is about an hour before Nasville. He'll do ya right. Tell Lawrence that Dan, the nuke guy, sent ya! Same exit as Loretta Lynn's place, except ya head south about 14 miles. I think its Rt 13.  Great BBQ joint on N. side of that exit too. 

I hope y'all are enjoying the trip, and give me a call if ya need anything. 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/10/20 9:21 a.m.

Day two we ran south from Cobb Creek to Fifty-Six AR on lovely back roads.

Not making good time, but having a good time. Beautiful morning, not trying to drive too fast, nice roads with lovely vistas, almost no traffic (Sunday morning).

Come upon a sign: "trucks over 20T not permitted on the ferry"

Wife was on point, saw the sign and pulled over quick to make sure she had read that correctly. We talked about that for a moment, decided nothing on the sign ruled us out. High adventure.

Climbing some of the hills in the Ozarks proved a handful for the old 5.9. Maximum effort at 20mph and getting warm by the crest.

Stopped briefly at the Buffalo Natl. River crossing for a stretch and a photo op.

Then on to Blanchard Springs and the North Sylamore Campground (cannot recommend this highly enough, have been before, will go again).

Brownies and baked mac-n-cheese. Stove works, had to make some minor adjustments.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/10/20 10:02 a.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

Water crossing! Your bus is basically a rally car now. 

golfduke
golfduke HalfDork
3/10/20 7:39 p.m.

Looks awesome!  I've been following along for a while now, and am really impressed with your resourcefulness.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/11/20 7:00 p.m.

Well, nuts.

Rear brake Bendix quick release valve failed open, so the rear brakes stuck on in rush hour traffic on I-180 at Phenix City. Managed to haul her carcass into the steep uphill entrance to Taco Bell, threatening to overheat and brakes smoking. New valve for under $20, but wont be here til morning. Working on getting a tow to the closest flat, dry parking lot that won't call the cops on us.

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/11/20 7:14 p.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

Anyone nearby?

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/20 7:14 p.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

So the nearest Walmart?

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 8:49 a.m.

$300 for the tow uphill to the flat, dry Taco Bell parking lot, shift guard duty overnight staving off vagrants, $16 of valve and we're functional. 

90 minutes from our destination. I'll catch everybody up this evening.

Greg Smith
Greg Smith Dork
3/12/20 9:29 a.m.

Hopefully, you didn't damage the brakes. 

I recall a time when we loaned out a minivan and the lendee didn't everr use a parking brake. So she didn't release the one we had set. Told us on her return that the brake light was on. It glazed the drums and ruined the brake shoes. 

But you didn't travel nearly as far... so I'm hoping that things clean up OK. 

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/12/20 11:31 a.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

Glad it worked out.  Was just thinking if it’s worth to have a spare parts kit handy for stuff like that. 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 7:51 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

I don't know. I'd like to say it would be, but there's an awful lot of parts that could fail. I may develop something as I get more familiar with the drivetrain.

The parts houses seem to be able to cross reference and get parts for this model of Bluebird, though, so honestly that's a fantastic start. Even if they don't have parts in stock, an overnight fix is a pretty good deal.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 8:16 p.m.

So the last update was getting from Cobb Creek ATV area to Blanchard Springs, AR. 

Monday morning we got up early and went for a hike around the park. There's a lovely spring-fed lake and we spent the better part of the morning exploring it.

Packed up and headed east. Drizzle, miserably bumpy roads, and Monday traffic were a bit of a bummer. Took county two lane roads pretty much all the way to the interstate outside Memphis, then 30 minutes of Fury Road theme song in my head with the throttle matted trying my best to keep pace with traffic. Out the north side of Memphis to Newman-Shelby State Forest. Lovely park, stately trees with very little undergrowth in the camping area, just short grass and bright green moss. 

Rained most of the evening. Decided we'd better go find something tasty to eat while we were in town, so we laid a towel out under the very slowly leaking skylight (less than an ounce total through the night) and headed downtown (in the car). 

Crawfish boil from the Flying Fish. Bugs were a little on the small side, but that may just be the season. Tasty though.

We decided to sticker-bomb the metal dash with decals from parks we've been to, so this is the first (we'll order Ozark Natl Forest and Blanchard Springs to cover our bases).

Recon1342
Recon1342 HalfDork
3/12/20 8:23 p.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

Sticker bombs are awesome!!!

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 8:39 p.m.

We wanted to drag our feet long enough to avoid rush hour as much as possible, so we made a trip to Wally World (more coolant and some other minor incidentals) and stopped at the local country store for a late breakfast. Pretty tasty food, and genuinely friendly people on both sides of the counter.

Took the ring road around the northeast side. Had a tense 10 or 15 minutes with the gas gauge dancing with E desperately hunting for a diesel station. Found one, finally, and when the pump clicked off: 43 gallons. Its a 60 gallon tank. Think we got some wiggle room there. 

Beautiful road headed east from Memphis, with the single exception of one really murderous bump/pothole combo early on that I'm fairly confident resulted in the front wheels leaving the pavement. 

South and east through Miss into Alabama. Somebody in Battleground, AL has a shop on the south side of the highway with some really fantastic old imports. Couple old round fendered Volvos and Amazons, an early Lotus, an Alfa GTV from what I could identify in passing.

Eventually made it to Bankhead National Forest and the Brushy Lake Recreation Area. No photos of the campsite, but we did some exploring and discovered its kind of a hidden gem.

Also reaffirmed that we are unable to take photos in which neither of us is being an ass.

Too damp for a fire, so we had an omelet on the stovetop and watched some Netflix before bed.

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/12/20 9:05 p.m.

Y'all are living the dream!

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/12/20 9:11 p.m.

That's a great adventure. 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 9:13 p.m.

Wednesday was a parade of E36 M3 luck.

Headed east toward Talladega National Forest, hoping to see some of the local waterfalls and stay at the Chief Ladiga Trail Campsite. 

Traffic coming through Gadsden was hellacious, and when we got out to the campsite, the roads were super narrow, bridges were sketchy, one bridge was out, and the bridge into the campground was a wooden covered bridge with low clearance and a sign that said "no RVs". Had to back the bus down about 1/4 mile of aforememtioned narrow access road to get extricated and then back out into traffic on the main road. Good times. And it tried to overheat getting back to town where we last had cell signal.

It was only noon, so we decided to press on south. We're kind of picky on campsites; we'd rather stay in a state or national park than at a privately owned campground, and more secluded is better. Nothing was meeting our criteria in northeast AL, so we opted to head to my old stomping ground, Fort Benning. Couple of my old cohorts are stationed or attending school there, so figured we'd link up with them for beers and good food and camp at the Army campsite south of base.

The ringleader called me as we were coming into north Columbus GA to tell me he was out of town for the next several weeks, and as I hung up with him, the bus started losing power. Struggling to get up the gentle hills. Getting warm. Smelling hot and smoky. Real heavy traffic, pinned in the center lane. 

Finally pulled the right-of-way-by-sheer-mass card and turned into the uphill driveway to Taco Bell and one of the local strip malls. Engine is hot by now and really struggling to make forward progress, so set the brake and shut it down. 

While I'm sitting there waiting for Wife to get out of traffic enough to turn around and get back, a gal pulled up and asked if I was okay, said she drove a school bus. While I was talking to her, she pointed across the road to where another car had stopped and said "he's a school bus mechanic". What are the berkeleying odds.

He helped me walk through diagnosis, arriving pretty quickly at the quick release valve for the rear brakes. I layed under the bus in the trickle of parkimg lot runoff from the rain earlier in the day and pulled the valve out. I rushed off to all the FLAPS that were still open at 6:30pm, and Advance got one on order for overnight delivery. Called around and got a heavy tow truck to haul us up the hill to the flat, dry parking lot and settled in for the night around midnight.

That's me looking decidedly defeated. Camera angle doesn't do justice to how steep the road was. Front of the bus was probably 6 feet higher than the back.

Wife stayed up most of the night on guard duty (she used to be a LEO on night shift), and I took over around 5am. She said there had been plenty of interest in the bus, but all were sufficiently deterred by the sudden appearance of someone inside the bus.

I took the opportunity to read up on troubleshooting air brakes before collecting the valve at 7:30. Salvaged the fittings from the old valve and hooked everything back up and it disengaged the brakes exactly as prescribed. 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
3/12/20 9:20 p.m.

Today's drive was gorgeous.

Snagged up some Dunkin coffee to get us out of town and headed south through Eufaula, Clayton, Louisville, Clio and Ozark. Beautiful day, pretty nice drive. Saw a bald eagle fly up from the roadside midmorning.

Made it to Rucker just after noon. Had a hot shower, toured base briefly, did some grocery shopping and came home. Chicken tacos for dinner, and an early bedtime.

I'll take some pictures of the campsite tomorrow and post them with a rundown on overall trip numbers.

03Panther
03Panther Reader
3/12/20 11:05 p.m.

Love the pictures! Glad y'all survived the "minor" glitches along the way, and made it to your new short term home. 

I'm off this weekend, so give us a call, and we'll make an official welcom to town!

java230
java230 UberDork
3/12/20 11:54 p.m.

Amazing adventure! Keep it up! 

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