We took our first real trip this weekend. I had a car show I signed up for months ago and the weather had a possibility of some rain. So we decided to load the car on the bus and take it that way. I also wanted to check out Big River State Park and overnight there.
Of course, we had no idea what all we needed for the trip. We packed everything we thought we'd need, but inevitably we forgot stuff. Also being our first trip, we had no plan for where or how things should be stored. I left that up to her and we failed miserably. We filled every orifice on that bus and still needed more. We have a few ideas to remedy the space issue, but the packing and organizing is going to take time and planning.
I kept most of my tools in the garage section in case they were needed, luckily they weren't.
We arrived in Peoria late (as expected) so I had to park on the absolute far end of the parking lot in order to get a spot I knew I could get out of.
Gotta look hard and squint to see it way back in the back just left of center.
I think I was parked in the spectator parking lot.
So by the time I was parked and chocked, It started to drizzle. It was already colder than I expected. The fog on the way had me bummed, the bus struggled to climb the hills to get here, we're late, and now this. I decided to open up the garage and wait.
Pretty soon I realized the car would have fit right in, but the bus was actually a bigger attraction.
Pretty soon (word of mouth spreads quickly) mobs of folks were all around the bus asking question, wanting to see the interior, asking how it was built, by whom, telling stories of other conversions they'd seen. After an hour, I decided to just leave the car in it and enjoy the show. We locked the garage door, locked the front door and walked around and enjoyed seeing the other cars, truck, and bikes in attendance.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of a bumper sticker I want for the bus:
I may need this when we start boondocking long-term in any given place.
And we both drooled all over this COE truck:
By noon the show was over. We walked across the street and had lunch. Got back to the bus, buttoned it up, and set off for the next 90 miles to Big River.
Even without the Spring colors, Big River State Park is pretty nice. There are a variety of locations (by the river, by the road, way back in the woods, a couple group sites, a playground, several buildings throughout (I saw one marked as a "warming station"). We went to the office but they posted a sign "Out in the Area" and couldn't find anyone to take our money. We waited an hour and decided to find a spot and let them come to us.
We setup in a nice spot by the road thinking if the staff ever came back to the office, they'd be able to see us from the office and come over.... they never did. We knocked, we called, we left a note.... if that's not due diligence screw it our night there was free (and OBTW, our phones had no signal, but my WiFi extender was able to pick up a signal from the office so we had that).
The night in the park was nice. I think we were both guilty of overcompensating to insure the night went smoothly. I stayed up front while she hopped from couch to dinette to her nav seat looking to get a feel for the accommodations. The bathroom surprised her at its efficiency, convenience, and surprise, surprise it worked as advertised - no smell, no mess, no issues. What we hadn't anticipated was the temps dropped rapidly after sunset. By 10PM, it was below freezing outside and it was getting chilly inside. So I broke the cardinal rule of boondocking - I fired up the generator and turned on some heat. I know ... kick me later.
Bed time was another learning experience. She stored the bedding below the dinette. I opened the couch before it was retrieved and we both realized the open couch made the storage under the dinette inaccessible. So we had to put the couch back upright, get the stuff out and do it again. The bathroom is not enough room for dressing so we've decided to create a dressing room by curtaining the bathroom across to the fridge. The slide-in decorative panels of the fridge are going to have to be replaced with a mirror-like surface for this dressing room. The couch was fairly comfortable to sleep on. The console to the right of the driver's seat made a perfect bedside table. Next time I want to lower both the couch and the dinette and sleep over there so I'll know what a guest is going to have to deal with.
Sunday morning was glorious. I warmed up faster than I expected outside so we opened a few windows and listened to the birds and the river. PJ cooked breakfast in our tiny kitchen with no problems. We ate at the table with a spectacular view. Then explored the area and loitered about till we just couldn't stay any longer if we wanted to get home before nightfall. We slowly packed everything away and headed for home.
The trip home started out slower than expected. There weren't any really steep hills but I couldn't get above 47MPH for the first hour. We stopped a few times along the way because my "Engine Overspeed" light was on, but I knew that wasn't the case. Eventually, we got up to 55MPH on flat land so we just drove it on home. The last 30 miles was on the interstate and ET got up to 65MPH for a while.
Overall, PJ's happy, I'm happy, she wants to do it again (YEAH!), and I didn't need a tow truck - success. 435 miles, appx 7MPG, and no breakdown. A mile or 2 before we got home, I filled the tank and had ET weighed at Flying J. Max GVW on the bus is 23.6K the scale with a full tank and the car in the back was 22.1K ... I could add another thousand pounds and still be under my max, whoopie.
I still have a lot of little tasks and the motor and tranny probably both need to be rebuilt, but I'll get it done. I'm really motivated right now to get things done. More storage space will go in this week. The bathroom vanity and dressing room curtain and mirrors will be her job. I think this is going to work for us.