So the bus continued to smoke thick white smoke, unlike many rational people out there I decided it would be a lot of fun to take a week off work and take the bus down to the redwoods for my college buddies spring break. I disregarded the smoke and packed the bus! I did change some coolant too. I called all of my best mates and luckily only a few decided to come along. If anymore came we probably wouldn’t of had any more space!
So we drove down from Seattle down to Portland and about half way (around Kelso) I pulled over at a rest stop to see how the engine was doing and it was just covered in diesel and was sweating hard. I had some cold feet but was far too committed to turn back. So we kept going. A little south of Portland the air compressor belt snapped so we pulled over in a shopping mall, in the process of trying to fix it I snapped the alternator and power steering belts. We slept in the bus/parking lot that night. (this was before the above picture was taken) The next morning a good mate nearby came to replace our belts with us. We went to a nearby O’rileys (I absoluately hate O’rileys- I’ll get into this later) and got replacement belts for the power steering, alternator and air compressor so we’d be ready if this were to happen again. We then drove down to Eugene OR to meet up with my buddies down there. After we loaded the bus we took the above picture. Then we drove down 99. After the first hour and 10 plumes of smoke, my friends acclimated to the bus’s smokey nature and disregarded it from that point on.
Our first night together the driving got a little hairy and we didn’t make the progress we intended, so we ended up sleeping at a rest stop right around the Oregon/California Border. It was awesome! The great thing about a rest stop and a schoolbus is that rest stops don’t want you leaving your car, why would we want to? Well anyway maybe I didn’t mention this but the bus had a LOT of leaks at the time, maybe I neglected to mention this to my friends as well. Anyway some of us took it better than others, some of our clothes, pillows and belongings got soaked. It was an interesting first night for our guests.
The second day we made it to the redwoods!
Funny story about that that white plastic bag sticking out the left side, there was a 2 inch hole there and I used that to keep the rain out (for about two years). Anyway I missed the turn off from 99 and I was going to do some sketchy driving maneuvers except I saw a cop which lead me taking the bus for a scenic detour. An older gentlemen pulled me over and his first words were “you’re in trouble”-yeah a little disconcerting I know. Anyway he proceeded to inform me that my bus is followed by huge smoke clouds and that it’s illegal to put a towel in the gas tank (which he mistook the plastic bag in an empty hole) . I assured him that everything is fine and we went on our merry way. At the time I took this as a bad omen, looking back it still seems like a bad omen. Anyway back to the redwoods, here are some more pictures including the above picture without a filter.
What a nice moment we had there. So we drove the bus to the convenience store in Hiouchi about a mile away for some firewood. We loaded the bus with some wood and drove the bus towards our camp site at the redwoods. Half a mile down the road the bus stopped pulling itself. I pulled over and we proceeded to try many failed attempts at getting it going.
All of us consulting our phones for solutions. It’s good to note that I got a great deal on some beer and brought about 3000 ounces (about 240 12oz bottles) of microbrew with us. We were not short on beer(see rogue on bottom right). I found a AAA towing company willing to tow the bus but AAA refused to cover the bus towing, this is why I no longer like AAA. We ultimately towed our bus with and the NAPA in crescent city agreed to work on her. It was a big step for our dead bus. Given the distance that the bus was towed, I was very pleased that they brought 6 people over and towed her 10 miles for $300.
The convenience store down the street was kind enough to loan us some shopping carts.
2 evenings prior to this we went to Winco and purchased a few hundred dollars worth of food. We packed none of this into our shopping carts. We checked into our hotel and waited ambiguously for the bus to get fixed. The first night or two we burned some wood and had some fun.
Turns out without a vehicle the redwoods actually aren’t that accessible during the early spring. We did find a hike, but it involved a sketchy walk along the 50mph road with very slim shoulders and blind corners in some areas.
For the sake of condensing this story, we were here for 3 or 4 days. We made friends with a really chill local who brought us fish jerky, treated us as family and offered his services selflessly. On the 2nd or 3rd day we were given hopes that the bus may be fixed by the end of the day. My buddy Jac devised a plan to get to the bus by cutting through some of the redwoods via 7 mile hike through then winging it from there to figure out a way to get to Napa before they closed at 5 (or 6). All together we would go on the first half of the hike together, and Jac and I were to split off on our own once our party decided to turn around. For all of us who are pretty out of shape this was a pretty bold plan, but we also were bored and restless enough that it would be worthwhile. Our worst case scenario involved picking up a cooler which had all of our food in it. We had the common sense to explain this plan to the Napa people.
About an hour after our groups parted ways the Napa people called me to tell me I was out of luck. Shortly after we got out to the other side of the woods! Shortly after we had our first hitchhiking experience where we were picked up by a really nice family who drove us all the way to Napa. We picked up the cooler in a disclosed location and hauled this awkward heavy cooler about a mile and a half to a nearby starbucks where we loitered there, composed a plan, and waited for the only available taxi to arrive to take us out to Hiouchi where the lady explained to us that we were lucky she was heading in that direction to pick up an odd customer. We thanked her profusely and crammed a giant cooler on our laps so we could all fit in the car. We came home triumphantly and ate the best crappy camping food we had.
Above you see our kitchen setup at our hotel.
The next day when the bus still wasn’t fixed, our friends found an alternate ride out and it was just myself and Nana. The next morning the bus was fixed! I made myself a crescent city sign and hitchhiked my way out. I was picked up by a lovely lady appropriately named Angel. I then drove the bus back!
What was broken with it? Well fuel delivery problems. The Napa said it just needed a new fuel line as well as a new starter (not quite right, but that’s okay). Ultimately if I replaced all the fuses I probably could’ve kept driving her. Live and learn right?
Here we have the bus returned, what a great sight! Thus begins our long drive back.
Not long after we crossed the border (around goldbeach) I saw a familiar bothersome sight of the air compressor not charging air. I pulled over at a beautiful view point and the (one week old O’Rileys) air compressor belt came off, in the process of trying to put it back on I snapped the (also one week old O’Rileys) alternator and (one week old O’Rileys) power steering belt. Oh balls.. But I have replacement belts!! I get to work when I realize that the Alternator belts O’Rileys sold me are different lengths despite the same packaging. I will try not to go deep into this rant, but EVERY time I go to O’Rileys I have really similar experiences to this. I have not purchased anything from O’Rileys in the past two years, I really despise them. I could always return the belt and complain but that O’Rileys is nowhere near where I was. Sigh so my wife and I hitchhiked.back. What happened next was surreal.
We were picked up by a pious gentlemen in a mid 90’s economy car. He drove us to his uncle’s carquest and we purchased the belts, he then took us by his house where he left his car running (with us in it), ran into his house and brought back burritos for us to eat that his wife made. He then drove us back and replaced the belts for us in the pouring rain. I felt guilty standing inside the bus while watching this life saver do the work I should be doing, so I stood outside and held tools for him while he went to work. you can’t really see him in this picture but he’s the black silhouette on the other side of the windshield. He refused to take any sort of compensation and left me with two bibles. I’m not really a Christian, but this was one of the memorable benevolent gestures I’ve experienced in my life. This man opened my eyes, and since then I have had a whole new respect for religion. I promised myself that I would go to church atleast once after this, I still haven’t.. : /
From here the rest of the drive went by smoothly. I even found a switch that turns on my brights, which I REALLY wish I found earlier. Ultimately it was a great memorable trip with a lot of unexpected surprises.
Prologue: A week or two later we took the bus for a drive where she broke down again in Tukwila WA. I got her towed again about 2 miles for $250. The mechanic replaced the fuel pump and the bus hasn’t had any problems since. I also learned my lesson, maybe. O’Rileys is probably one of the worst auto shops I have ever been to, I have heard good things about Eastcoast O’Rileys but I hate the stores I’ve been to over here. Napa on the other hand has been great. They are a little expensive but their products have much better quality to them, their employees also seem to know what they are talking about. I can assure you that when I realized that O’rileys sold me bad belts of different lengths IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, the contempt towards O’Rileys was intense.
I do not like O’Rileys, end of story.