Mar. 5th, 2016

sparr: (cellular automata)
Our trip continues! I am writing this post as we cross Nebraska and Colorado, approaching Denver for a morning hotel stop. A friend of mine from Atlanta met us in Chicago so now we have three drivers. This has led to more night-time driving and making up some lost time. We now have three hammocks hanging up, and have been time-sharing the queen size bed that *perfectly* fits across the front six seats (the inwards facing ones that fold up for wheelchair parking). We picked up the last of our furniture deliveries near Chicago as well, and the first dropoff isn't until Nevada, so our obligated travel is taking a ~2 day break.

We are considering a short detour to Arches National Park, which I saw on my previous trip and recommended for this one. We are slightly considering a longer detour to Zion National Park, which would be more appealing if there were more highways around here rather than having to drive the wrong direction for an hour to backtrack. I'm sure we'll pack a few more stops into the CO/UT/NV section of the trip as well. I'd like to make Eureka NV on Sunday morning, and get to SF on Sunday night, and that's feeling very doable at this point.

In the last few days we've stopped at a bird sanctuary, a gorge full of devonian fossils, a whirlyball court, some botanical gardens, and a couple of other places that have slipped my mind. I took some photos, but haven't posted any (including to go with my previous journal entries) due to mostly having little to no data service on my phone on this trip. Photo uploads will come next week when I'm in San Francisco.

We stopped at a big truck stop with a first-time-free tire inflation service. Their machine couldn't reach two of our six, but it let us know the other four were around 102-117 PSI. I asked to have them all inflated/deflated to 115, and I'll investigate the ideal pressure later (labeled max is 120 cold). Their shop had to get the last two by hand, due to the outer rear tires having their valve stems pointing inwards(!?). I also paid to have us weighed. We're at about ten tons on the back axle and four on the front. I look forward to unloading all my junk and re-weighing it empty; I might have two tons of stuff in here right now between all my books and board games, along with wooden furniture including my own and the stuff we're shipping.

We've continued to fight the air drafts. Even though we are finally reaching some comfy daytime temperatures, the nights are still dangerously chilly, and we'd like it to be comfortable inside rather than alternating hot heater air and freezing drafts, as well as losing less warm air overnight. A few more windows are taped shut, and we've gotten a little better at covering the holes around the doors, but there are still spaces that cold air just blows right in. Any solutions to those problems are just temporary; they will be permanently fixed when I get around to working on the doors and windows more seriously, including weatherstripping, double panes, etc. I did throw together a shop vac hose and some tape to get some heated air down to the driver's feet, which has been the most problematic area.

I got a call back from the company that made the advertising decals covering the bus. Sadly just from someone in sales, who told me to call them back next week to speak to an engineer who knows how to remove them. The spine art is pretty cool, and I'll probably keep it for a while, but the text has to go. Whether that means removing it or putting vinyl or paint over it depends on how hard and/or expensive each of those options will be.

I got an email back from Luminator about paying them to reprogram the sign or for hardware/software to do it myself. They forgot to include the price sheet, though. Hopefully I'll get that soon. I might end up hunting down someone who already has the hardware/software and getting them to do it for me.

I've started to brainstorm how to add locks to the doors, ignition, fuel tank, etc. It's a bit tricky given the existing hardware designs. I'll probably do that roughly quickly, with plans to revisit it later in a prettier fashion. Security against break-ins will also be electronic, in the form of an audible alarm that also sends me text messages. I've got the system, I just need to get a SIM card for it and add a solar charger for the battery so I can keep it running indefinitely.

Someone pointed me towards an expired auction on EBay in Canada for an operators manual for a bus model very similar to mine (1 year newer, different engine from the same manufacturer). I've sent a message to the seller to see if I can get it from them. Even though the engine part will be partially inapplicable, a lot of the other details should be the same. Fingers crossed on that. At least I know what the book looks like now!

We have now driven through enough of a snowstorm to solidly cover the windshield outside of the wiper zone with slush/ice. It behaved just fine, except that the driver's view of the passenger side mirrors is blocked, outside of the wiper zone. That's a serious design wtf, and I'll be considering how to address it for the future. Also some of the front light housings collected enough slush to dim the lights. The headlights kept their housings melted just fine, but the high beams and turn signals were covered due to not being on constantly. Relatedly, the windows are all huge and flat, making them tedious but not difficult to wash and squeegee.

We passed the 2000 mile mark of the trip, bought our fifth tank of fuel, and I finally put my fuel receipts into a spreadsheet. We're doing a little better than 6.5MPG, and I think we've mostly been doing 55-60MPH. Since we're in a hurry I don't want to try it right now, but I'll put a full tank through at 50MPH next time I make a trip and see how that works out. For now, I'm happy with 6.5 on the highway. I don't look forward to finding out just how bad it gets in the city, though. I definitely won't be driving this beast around as much as I did the ambulance, even ignoring the parking concerns.

That's all for now. Next post will probably come Sunday night after we get to SF and I deliver all my passengers to their destinations. At that point I'll have delivered 1-2 of the 3 pieces of furniture we're carrying, with 1-2 left as well as my own stuff to unload into storage. That's probably a job for Monday evening, if I can find a few extra hands and a bigger and more easily accessible storage unit than I have now.

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Sparr

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