We have not publish any new posts for about two months! We were so busy traveling in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada and traversing Great Planes of our very diverse country. We really loved dramatic sceneries of Nova Scotia with mountains growing from the cold severe northern Atlantic. We were so lucky to see moos in the forest, watched bold eagles family in the sky and saw great performance of the second large whale in the world – fin whale! After returning back to US we decided to drive west and south. The nights became cold and we have not install the salon heater yet… Coming from Florida we really did not think how cold could be in the skoolie at night! So, we traversed Great Plains in couple weeks – we drove through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas (the best BBQ in the world!!!) and Lincoln, Nebraska. Unfortunately, we did not explore enough all those places we passed by, but we noticed that people are very friendly and happy.
Today we left Cedar Key, FL and headed back out that 25 mile stretch of highway to get back to the nearest road going north out of Florida. CampTel where we stayed was one to write home about. The whole Cedar Key is one to write home about.
Camptel is has every make and model of Tiny Homes accounted for inside it’s perimeter. Container homes, Tiny Homes, RVs, DIY Homes and one Skoolie, ours.
We travelled north and made it to the panhandle of Florida. Tropical Storm Claudette was still lingering North and west of us, but that did not deter us. What we really wanted to see was Apalachicola. We have unforgettable memories of this place. These memories are from a different time in our lives. This was our first overnight sail, actually 2 nights. We were unprepared and inexperienced. Neglecting to look at the weather or understand the land layout in the ocean, we set sail from Panama City, FL to Clearwater, FL. It was an eventful night. While we were rounding Apalachicola cape the winds were racing around the cape, the waters shallowed up and the waves increased. We both remember looking at the knotmeter and reading 0.0 kph. It was a long night.
Nevertheless, we wanted to see it again but from a different vantage point. Much less terrifying being on land.
We drove along the outer islands of Alligator Point to San Blas Cape. Stopped along the way to enjoy the beach and coffee. Claudette did not forget to rain on us, but it was still nice. Why is it always raining when we are trying to find the bathrooms walking outside.
Off we go again, it’s early afternoon and we are headed another couple hours to our stop for the night. Traveling through Fort Walton Beach, FL and all seemed to be going well. Until a distinct odor of antifreeze/coolant filled the cab of the bus. Hmmm…that seems odd, maybe it’s someone in front of us. We continue to drive and monitor the temperature gauge. The smell does not subside and the temperature gauge starts to climb. Uh-oh. Houston, I think we have a problem. As the temperature gauge continues to climb, we don’t have much room for error on the temperature gauge, for the bus runs warm the way it normally runs. We quickly pull into an abandoned bank parking lot where someone is pulled in the one time drive through listening to the car radio really loud. That seems odd too.
Pop the hood and sure enough, our 3rd coolant hose has sprung a leak and we lost 6 gallons of coolant. Check for nearest auto parts store, 6 miles, too far to walk, call Uber, Marina waits with the bus while I Uber to the O’reily’s for a hose that this store does not carry. We will just have to find one that is close. An hour later and 6 gallons of coolant later we are back on the road. NASCAR would have been proud of our repair performance.
We made it to our RV Park before dark, but without planning ahead we were stuck with the choice of $100+/night or the $200+/night choices. We choose the prior. Albeit, it was a nice park
Concrete, level parking spaces, tree lined privacy from your neighbors, kids playing in the streets, oh our neighbors won the award for kindness. We were eating our dinner, chicken again, of course. Our neighbors spotted us and proceeded to offer us about 2 lbs of boiled shrimp, still warm, they just purchased. So peel and eat shrimp and curried chicken for dinner it was.
Six Goodyear tires are on, engine’s not smoking, drives straight down the street, ICP sensor replaced. twice, coolant leaks fixed, EGR hose that blew while the mechanic was driving is replaced, coolant reservoir replaced. All should be good, right? What could possibly go wrong now.
We spent the night at a hotel in Fort Pierce as we waited for our bus to get fixed. We didn’t have a car, so we walked from the mechanic to West Marine and then out to the hotel, about 5 miles. Luckily it was overcast. The next morning we walked back to the mechanic and got our bus. And off we were, or so we thought.
We had to go to St Lucie Tire and Battery and get the an alignment, for we just got new tires and that put everything out of align. So we went over there and they said they didn’t have time today to do it, but could get to it tomorrow. Oh Boy. We have to get Marina to Boston for her shots and her flight leaves tomorrow from Orlando. So..off we go again. Rent a car, drive to Orlando and get her on the plane for her monthly trip to Waltham, MA. I spent the night in Orlando waiting for her return the next night and we both stayed again at the AirBnB for the 3rd night.
Now it’s back to Fort Pierce to pick up the bus from the alignment shop. Of course it’s never just an alignment, we also had to replace a long arm metal arm that connects the front tires together and the tie rod ends. It’s only money.
We pick up the bus, drop off the rental car at Enterprise. Do we dare try again. Off we go.
We planed to finish our conversion by the end of the April, but that did not happen. We worked every day, including weekends, long hours, but.. we are behind. The weather in Florida is getting less bearable with every day. Temperature is steady 90s. It’s humid. The paint is not drying for 3 days. Our little apartment doesn’t have AC. We have to stay here for another month, May.
But we did a lot of interior and “under the bus” work. Our “skoolie” start looking like we can live there!
Our kitchen is almost ready – cabinets are done, the Unique fridge is installed and working, faucet and drain working, settees are done, bedroom cabinets are done, the ceiling is REdone and finally sturdy, shower drain installed and working, the air system is fixed and we feel confident about the breaks.
Dressed up in the “bunny suits” we created foamy disaster in our bus. We decided to apply foam insulation by our own, and save about $700. Yes, we saved those money. But, first 100 sq. feet were spent on figuring out “how to” apply this crazy foam. It definitely was not the best application of the expensive insulating chemical. Big amount of this insulation got stick to the floor, water heater, wires and such. The walls and ceiling got a good portion of insulation, but it definitely could be improved. Oh, well. We tried…
Since we don’t know the history of the maintenance of our skoolie, we decided just to change the oil. We were very happy that we did. Because the drained old oil was dark blackish brown color. It’s definitely was not good for the engine. The new oil is nice pinkish color.
How many lights do we really need? Life is not always about needs. Nevertheless, we are running enough wires to light the place up like a Christmas tree. On the last vessel that we owned, Chief Yoga guru used to turn all the lights on and go outside. With the added lights on this new machine it will take her a bit longer to turn on the lights on. My mom would not be a happy camper to if we did such a thing in our house growing up. To make matters worse, we can now turn on all the lights, the air conditioner, open the windows and then go outside.
There is lots of talk about the correct way to run wires. Don’t do this, do that. One rule is don’t run 12v and 120v wires parallel to each other. This is a tough rule to follow on a small bus.
We purchased electric panels from the Marine Connection Outlet in Fort Pierce. This store sells used boat parts. We spent about 2 hours in there “shopping”. We used to shop here for our boat supplies.
The electric continues. Maybe tomorrow we will install the distribution panels.
The first month of converting our shorty school bus past by very fast. Every day around 8 am, including weekends, we diligently driving to work on our project. On the way to work we stop either at the Home Depot, or Loves, or our local neighboring construction store. We missed only two days of work on the bus! What did we accomplish in the first month? We gutted it, installed trucks for solar panels, fixed the subfloor, skinned the windows, rubber seal painted, electrical – removed excess wires, rerouted exhaust, found the air tank problem, made under carriage mounts for tanks and propane, fixed the engine squeak, patched holes in the ceiling, framed ceiling and walls, and put floor insulation.