Today I am feeling the frustration. There’s no two ways about it. I am ready to get moving, however, my grand plans for driving off into the sunset with our diesel engine chugging away still aren’t going anywhere.
As I sit here typing, Loops is waiting patiently at the garage for Belle’s brakes to be re-fixed. That’s right; they are being fixed for a second time. Why, I hear you cry? Because apparently when we had the work done last week (at rather fricking great expense I might add), the mechanic apparently fitted the wrong parts on the bus. Despite being a garage that works on motorhomes, trucks and buses, they somehow managed to fit completely the wrong brake parts. Not only that, when Loops went to complete the oil change just after the work was initially done, he and his friend Ryan discovered the left front brake wasn’t working at all. It wasn’t even touching the wheel to be able to stop it.
I am becoming very jaded about people in the mechanical industry over here, and once again feel this just confirms the sort of luck that Loops and I possess.
However, despite this current setback, since my last update we have been working to finish up the final jobs that have delayed us from heading off. I can now report we now have two new working fans in the bathroom (electrics installed by Loops and the roofing dicored by me – I’m considering taking this up as my new profession), a freshly installed washing machine (including hilarious scenes of me being sprayed several times in the face by leaking pipes and my arm being stuck in the dryer vent while trying to fit the machine) and fully working windows throughout the bus (my biggest fear is being trapped inside during a fire and not being able to open the windows to get out – ours happened to be welded shut by 20 years worth of grime comprising of general dirt and dust, human skin cells and a number of small cockroaches. Nice).
In addition to this, Loops has changed the oil in the engine and the generator, fiddled with some gauges and pipes and fitted a new air governor and dryer. If I knew what any of those things were or what they did I would happily explain this to you, but I don’t, so here are some pictures of the work we’ve been up to instead….
Our final job we need to complete before we get underway is to source a tow vehicle. For those of you who might be unaware, or might not give it any thought because you have more important things in life to worry about, even though the roads in America are insanely wide and long, not all will cope with the 43ft motorhome we will be driving around in. For a start, in order to park Belle, we take up the equivalent of three long cars parked end to end. This makes trying to squeeze it into a city car park or a grocery store a little bit of a nightmare, never mind trying to take a tight corner, say goodbye to any road signs! As a result, most full timers have a tow vehicle to hitch onto the back of their motorhome, which they can then use once they park up, for getting around in to do chores or to visit places. All told, with the bus, hitch and vehicle, we should be nearing 60 feet in total length.
However, as with everything, there is a complication. Not all vehicles are towable.
As we’ve come to discover there is a very limited range of vehicles we can hitch up and drive around in. For a start, we need something we can tow four wheels down. That means not having an extra trailer for the car to sit on; it will simply be dragged along happily behind us, sightseeing as it goes. Only cars with a certain type of transmission can be towed in this fashion and Loops’ current car isn’t one of them.
Furthermore, those cars which can be towed each have their own certain specifications to follow. Some can be an automatic, others must be a manual transmission. A number of them can only be four wheel drive, not two. Others have a special routine you must go through each time before you set off, very much akin to an old Nintendo controller (you know – up, down, left, left, up, start, right, to get to the secret level type thing), where you have to run it through its gears, turn the key back and forth and then let it run for five minutes before it’s happy to move.
After several frustrating weeks of searching, we have now tried to make our lives as simple as possible by focusing on one brand of car – the 2008-2010 Ford Edge. It’s an SUV so will have room for bikes, groceries and hiking equipment and is solidly in our price range. We have now viewed enough of them that after the initial introduction process we have the review time down to 3 minutes and 27 seconds (not including the test drive). It was decided after a few awkward visits where Loops vehemently refused to be dragged inside any building to have his details taken, that I should be the talker (honestly it got to the stage where he would simply stand there and say point blank ‘Look, do you have this car or not?’ His straightforward approach seemed to completely bemuse the sales people who were trying to be all friendly and smiley and offer him copious bottles of water, like this would make the difference to him buying a car or not).
It is at this point in time I have come to realise two things – one, Loops hates car shopping with a passion and two, I am now a savant in the requirements of car towing for any vehicle make between the years of 2005 to 2016.
I can only keep my fingers crossed that this week shall bring us some luck, and a car we wish to buy.
I would at this point like to say that we do spend some of our time doing things other than slogging away at the RV. For instance, I had enough spare time to photograph this toad and this lizard last week.
I also had time to view the morning convoy of UPS trucks leaving the local depot, a total of 17 vans in one go before a car interrupted the line. What a very American sight.
Probably most interesting spare time activity though was my recent trip to the Tampa Gun Show. Yes, that’s right. I went to a big building filled with guns and people crazy enough to own those guns. For it is only here in the USA that you would find it normal to see these two things for sale, side by side – a Pistol Rug (a comfy home for your trusty gun) and chocolate for the kids.
Not only are you able to purchase a handgun in any shape or size you’d like…
…but firearms right up to the size of this bazooka…
Yes, apparently this is a requirement for homes, or so the American public feel.
And just so you are clear what you should be aiming these firearms at…no, it’s not for hunting game for meat but rather….
America scares me. In many ways. But mostly for things like this. For this is a culture I do not understand.
But I feel I might leave that for another blog, my next one in fact. I feel it’s about time for some observations about land I currently reside in, now that I’ve been here almost two months. So let me ponder and I’ll be back with you shortly.
Have a great week!
AJ – I can’t wait for the skype tour of the new house!
Bunny – looking forward to seeing you this week, finally!
Jo – have a wonderful and not too sweaty holiday in Asia 🙂
Mum – just to say I love you, cause I do x