Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Revising the last update - Tuesday night in SLC, Utah

Well, perhaps we won't be getting too cozy here in the parking lot at the Flying J. Our new mechanic friend also has 12 children (11 girls and one boy) and is taking an interest in helping us out with our brakes and loose belts.

While that is going on, I tried calling the tire shop, which is well past closed, and a sympathetic man answered the phone! I told him our story and he took my number and said he'd call me back. So, he called, and has our tire, and is offering to throw it in the back of his pickup and drive it out to us, since we are right here at a shop already, to spare us the charge for a service call!

So there is the possibility we could make it further tonight. Will keep you posted!

Praising the LORD for safety!

Had a tire blowout on the inside rear dually (non-driver side) as we were driving about 55 mph on level ground 20 miles west of Salt Lake City. We drove back to the truck stop, hoping to get it repaired, to discover we have a non-standard size tire. We got the address to a shop in downtown SLC, but they closed before we could figure out the directions. So it looks like we'll be here for the night.

A man saw us parked in the lot at the truck stop and is helping us to get the flap of tread off of the flat tire, so it doesn't cause damage to our air brake line or other things underneath. We had driven about 20 miles with it like that so far.

Fortunately, it happened in very light traffic and while Dave was driving! We just pulled over and thought maybe we had lost a holding tank. Earlier today, with Dave asleep in the back, I was driving down the 6% grade descending to Salt Lake City!

Well, more later as we find out what's going on. This will affect our arrival at Lake Almanor of course! I guess we have to be flexible!

As we drove by the shore of the Great Salt Lake, Noah exclaimed, "Look at the dried water!"


For a brief moment we hit 60mph going dowhhill on
Interstate 80 West near Evanston, Wyoming!

It is very bad cell reception here.

Radiator runs cold to warm, lots of white exhaust as
we coast down the mountain after climbing.

Sammy wakes every morning saying he wants to go home.

Dave drove till 5:30am, then I took over, but had to
pull over 2 hours later. We rested and now Dave is
perky and driving AGAIN!

Burning the midnight diesel

Dave is outside fueling up at the Flying J in
Rawlins, Wyoming. We have a WiFi subscription with
Flying J for a month. Its 2:30am, Mountain time. I
have been snoozing with Baby Gideon, who wakes
occas�onally with coughing fits. No fever, praise the

I listen for the sound of Dave slapping his own face
as a clue that he's getting tired. So far, no

We opted to take I 25 to I 80, and now we're on I 80!
Still much road to cover. Rain is gone, and no more

The bus is running great,
and we are keeping it running, since the switch they
installed in Madison doesn't seem to work. That was
the problem when we called AAA. When you turn the
key, you get nothing, even though the battery has
juice. The switch that tells the engine it's in
neutral (so you don't accidentally roll over school
children) isn't working. After repeated tries, it may
finally start, but we don't want to age our starter.
But leaving it idle would make it start overheating!
Now, its better (the overheating), praise the LORD.

Before our dinner tonight of crackers, Wisconsin
summer sausage, cheese & veggies, Dave positioned
himself in a front dinnette seat (while I drove), took
the megaphone (Christmas, 2003) in hand, and read a
biography to us. We got this book, and several
others, from our friends, the Conjurskes, in
Rhinelander. It is called "Jimmie Moore of Bucktown"
, and it is our current "secret documents," only Daddy
is permitted to read it.

The kids went to bed at about 9pm. They love bedtime
in the bus. The boys breakdown the dinette into beds
and put bedding and pillows on them. The girls set up
toothbrushing. Ben has the job of setting up Dad &
Mom's airbed, which goes on the two first row
dinettes, across the aisle. This helps obviate the
Taco/Culvert bed issues, but also is better because
Dad & Mom are right near front door if we have
visitors come knocking.

We are learning alot of good lessons being in close
quarters all day long. We are trying to remember to
pass items front to back, or vice versa, instead of
shove our way through. The aisle is narrow.

Well, we'll be back on the road soon, Lord willing!
Good night!

Monday, May 30, 2005

To build a sandwitch

Howdy from Casper the friendly town, Wyoming.
We wanted to get something warm for lunch, since it
was so cold in the bus. Too early for rotisserie
chicken at the store. So we found some fresh hot
French bread. I split it open to make a big sandwitch
for the tribe, and enyoyed a few seconds of warm
fingers before filling the loaf with lunch meat &

But, praise the Lord, we discovered the bus heater,
which we had modified to fit our remodeling, still
works! It is a long system of hot water hoses from
the RADIATOR (hello?) that goes along the driver's
side wall. We had shortened it while fixing up the
bathroom, and assumed it didn't work, but we tested it
out and its working great! It probably will help our
engine to stay cooler, too.

Also, praise the Lord, no exhaust in the bus for

Our road, Interstate 25, starts heading south East
here, as it heads towards I 80. Not sure if Wyo 220
would work better. It seems more direct, but not
sure if it's a steeper grade.

Noah's cough is worse, Suby's is better, Giddy's the
same. We have lots of blankies but are thankful for

Favorite sign today from the Hole in the Wall c-store,
Kaycee, Wyo: "Please do not be embarassed to
discipline your children in this store!"

Morecraft, Wyoming

Our radiator started heating up on our way to Reptile Gardens yesterday, so we changed our plans and kept west. Once out of Rapid City, SD, it ran okay, but a bit warmer uphill.

We had diesel exhaust in the bus last night and pulled
over in a parking area for the night. In the morning, our engine switch problem was back. AAA got us rolling. Our generator doesn't run while we drive, so we can't run the heater when
driving. We're so thankful for it running nearly all night
when pulled over --toasty warm!

We had rotisserie chicken tacos for dinner last night
after hitting a Walmart. Got enough stuff for
breakfast too.

We mistakenly took this route which keeps us north
longer than we wanted. We take 90 to Buffalo, Wyo.
and catch 25 south, which backtracks east a bit! So
we are looking to hit Lake Almanor on Wednesday, the
Lord willing.

The cold seems to be a blessing for the radiator
situation. It does not seem low on water, but
overheats on inclines.

We are praying the exhaust situation improves so we
don't need windows open for fresh air! Its around 40,
cloudy, drizzle.

Girls are cuddling on rear top bunk, Zak's strumming,
Dave's getting gas for the generator. If it would run
while driving, it would be nice, as it draws fresh

So, shooting for Almanor on Wednesday-ish.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Yes, for about an hour, on Interstate 90 west, at a
maximum speed of near 55mph. We prayed for safety and
humility and wisdom before Zak blasted off. Mommy was
nestled at his side, sitting on the ice chest,
pontificating about various techniques--stuff I
learned from Dave. Zak did fine. He needs to learn
to avoid drifting to the left, and is making progress.
Air braking has been surprisingly smooth. Our
panoramic pupil-view mirror, a potential distraction
to new drivers, was disabled. Debbie was fairly
relaxed after recalling the many hours Zak has spent
behind the wheel on MS Flight Simulator. Really, he
hardly ever crashed.

Life went on as normal in the back. Certain parties
never exclaimed, "We're all gonna die!" as previously

The fuel line to the generator is leaking, so we are
unable to run our heater, because air gets in the
line. Dave is looking for JB Water Weld compound to
fix it. Its about 62 degrees in the bus now, as we
cruise through the Black Hills and the Badlands. Its
cloudy and cool and Mountain Time!

This is day 11 on the road. We have only eaten out
once. We are enjoying lots of normal food, cereal,
sandwitches, fruit and veggies. This afternoon, we
also enjoyed a favorite Minnesota treat: Old Dutch
Authentic Restaurante Nacho Blasts. Susanna loves
being stewardess. Bekah loves peeling veggies.

We thought of a most excellent idea to enclose the
base of each bus bench. Each bench is already hinged,
and lifts up like a toybox. That would be much better
than finding plastic boxes that fit.

Its a beautiful day, and we are enjoying the view of
the slow-motion mid-western spring through our peanut
butter smeared windows. God is worthy of all praise.

It looks like we will pop into Reptile Gardens while
Dave works in the parked, less bumpy, bus.

That's all for now.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Leaving Minnesota

Just a quick note that we have departed Minnesota
after a great day with Luejthes! Juhls, and Tauberts!!
Praise the Lord, our radiator seems all but leak
free! Pacific Time Zone, here we come!

I can't drive 55

We left Madison yesterday (Friday) at 2PM or so. Dave had worked all Thursday night, until Friday morning, in a last ditch effort to get enough information to keep him humming after he left. After Thursday night's marmallow roasting, we had taken him back to the office. He had enough blood sugar accumulated to keep him running from Thursday night late to Friday morning at 11 AM, though he noticed that he still had some marshmallowy spots on his slacks from some of the sticky fingers.

So, since we didn't have to leave early to drop him off at work on Friday morning, since he was already AT work, we spent the morning working on reorganizing the RV. During this process, our overhead shelving, which is a long stretch of white wire closet shelving, began to steadily collapse before our eyes. At times like this, you really appreciate having a dozen or so hands to help support it while you unload the shelves. We propped that up temporarily, since it required hardware that we did not bring. Then we worked on the Taco Bell bed, so that when we picked up Dave, he would have a nice place to get cozy and snooze. By repositioning some cargo, we transformed it from a taco bed into more of a gently sloping "culvert" bed. It looks similar to the taco, but if you laid on your side, both the anterior and posterior planes of your body no longer touch the mattress surface at the same time.

However, the dynamics of the back end of a school bus is not unlike the dynamics of a diving board. So instead of "magic fingers" you get "magic rollingpins" as you bounce down the highway. The mattress being suspended by the woven ropes helps absorb some of the bounce, so its rare that we "catch air" as we did in the early days of our bus travelling.

Before leaving the campground, we RVers have to visit the dump station. Solomon John handles the waste tank process flawlessly. Zak says "I have no idea how to do that". Zak smiles when he says that, btw. Ben handles hooking up the water to fill the fresh water tank. Hannah handles the valve inside that controls not letting the water spill all over the bus when the tank is full. She closes it and yells to shut off the water.

So we got all that done and rolled up and drove downtown in the house to get Dave. He proceeded immediately to the rear of the bus, to his private suite. He never commented on the magic rollingpins, he was zonked out.

After getting Dave tucked in, from 12:30 to 2:30 PM, we were back at the Ford shop in Madison, because the brake light they repaired was not living up to its name. After that, we stopped to fill the generator with fuel, so Dave could enjoy the fan which Zak had rigged up near the bed for him. There we met David and Linda Johnson's new son in law, who happened to notice our "The Klein Family" logo on the bus! I will fill in his name when Linda emails me, as I am totally forgetting. He is the soon-to-be-father of the first grandchild in the Johnson family!

The radiator seems to be somewhat improved after the Stop-Leak stuff they put into it; it does leak less and doesn't seem to heat up as much now.

We stopped at Reedsburg, WI where there was a WalMart and HomeDepot (no place like HOME) at the same plaza. Zak got the hardware he needed and repaired that shelf in the parking lot. He brought just enough tools to handle most things we will need.

So we drove and drove and drove, because the 8 hours stretch from Madison to Luverne is longer when you can only drive 53 mph. We stopped for the night in Austin, Minnesota, home of the world famous Spam Museum (latest PR slogan: Spam: Its more than meat.), and finally made it to the home of Brian and Debbie Taubert around 11ish in the morning. There we enjoyed a great lunch with our friends Jim Juhl and Brenda Winter, and children Em, Joe and Kate (in house, we refer to them as the "Frosty Diamonds" Get it? Winter / Juhls -- Frosty / Diamonds..). The Luethje family was unavailable for a personal visit, but we got to chat on the phone for a while, and they know they haven't seen the last of us.

Now we will load up the Taubert and Klein families and go for a drive, and I hear talk of cooking out and ice cream...and more marshmallows. We expect to depart this evening from Beaver Creek ("crick"). We will be aimed towards Almanor, CA, but it will probably take a few days to get there. We'll write more at the first Flying J we come to. Bye for now.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Radiators, Laundry and Marshmallows

Today we spent about 7.5 hours in the RV, in the big truck bay, at Kayser Ford on the west side of Madison. We had a 9:30 am appointment, and thought if we arrived a little early, we'd get out a little sooner. However, we seem to have a somewhat exclusive type of engine. After Grandpa Bill graciously offered to talk to the mechanic, we figured our radiator was in a bad
way. Its the kind of thing that you might just go out and get a whole new radiator. And they don't grow on trees, and especially on any trees here in badgerland. Also an option was getting seals replaced by sending it to a shop...but the service guy couldn't even find a part number for our particular radiator's seals. Also, you could buy a whole lotta Pampers for the price of this radiator. So, they patched up our old radiator with the hope that we'd find better options
for repair or replacement in the golden state...perhaps tracking one down in advance so it
would be ready to install when we get to Sacramento. Perhaps we could find one on eBay.

Speaking of ebay, our 2003 Ford E350 sold last week to the highest/lowest/first/last/only bidder, a small homeschooling family with 9 children. This was especially exciting for us, as we were seriously thinking we'd have to curtail our 7 week trip by 6 or so weeks if it did not sell. Our dear friends the Bradfords, are handling the transaction for us back at the border.

Today, then, we took the house and dropped off Dave at work, and then stayed at the Ford shop. We busied ourselves with correspondence and cleaning. Zak did some maintenance/repair stuff. Debbie installed weather stripping around the bathroom door, which is just a piece of plywood cut out of the bathroom wall, and certain childen are very concerned about modesty
issues, which has led to a great depletion of toilet paper, which is crammed in the spaces, along with a commensorate increase of time the stall is occupied during the peek-proofing process. This evening, Debbie noticed much of the weatherstripping removed, as certain children evidently felt it got in the way of the tp they were cramming in.

So after a very long day of waiting and wondering, and inventing contingency plans, we left Ford, started laundry at the laundromat, picked up Dave, dropped off Dave at the market with helpers, and proceeded to pick up laundry and then (sigh) pick up Dave, children, groceries. Of special note was Dave's purchase of about 600 marshmallows, which Debbie fully supported.

We met our patient friends, Mark and Lauren Baxter and their five children. They are expecting baby 6 in 4 weeks! We met them at our campground, which is kinda near their home. By then it was near 7:30pm. It was cloudy and cool, and by the time we set up our sandwich fixins, a cold front pounded us with 40 mph winds. We proceeded to the bus in great haste! It was great! Later, the wind died down, and the pyro-marshmallow festivities began.
Remember, 600, give or take a few, which got tracked in on our shoes and frosted our black rubber floor! A lasting remembrance of a very fun evening.
Auntie Susie Yearwood, of Lake Almanor, California, wanted to be included in the blog, so here is her moment! She sent me the sweetest mother's day card this year; it made me cry!
Hope to see you soon, Sis!!! Also, if you're really good, I'll let you clean my room, okay?

Sometime tomorrow we are hoping to head towards Luverne, MN for an all too brief visit with the gang out there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Itenerary update!

Our loosely sketched interary is undergoing some tentative revisions that I wanted to briefly toss on the internet, but I don't know if they will stick.

We are now looking at leaving Madison Friday afternoon-ish. We are ditching the Luverne, Minnesota -- Blue Mound State park idea, as they have no availability for the Memorial Day weekend, and we are arriving later in the week than we'd had reservations. So without reservation, we are hoping to be leaching electricity off the LUETHJE family, as we think its their turn to, uh, HOST us. If that works out for them. If not, we can try the Pamida parking lot or something.

So, if we leave Friday-ish, and if we drive all night, that would call for our leaching to begin about Saturday the 28th of May, but we could wimp and do that sleep thang, which would make us arrive even later Saturday.

I think we'd be in Luverne a full 24 hours, and that is subject to change, but don't quote me, okay?

Thanks for watching this blog! Much love from Madison!

Say Cheese!

Day 3 in Madison, Wisconsin, the land of beef and cheese. It is good to be here. Had a wonderful time with Debbie Jones and her sweet growing children yesterday.

Dave is enjoying his commute to the Office of the Commisioner of Insurance for the state of Wisconsin...about 15 footsteps. Last night, we picked him up. He entered the bus to the melodious voices of most of the children, calling "Daddy's home!"

Recapping our Monday: Rhinlander was a wonderful time. We intended to get there for Sunday church, then hopefully Sunday night -- late. But our little bus can't go much past 50 mph, Debbie couldn't drive that late at night. I have become quite lethargic from long days in the bus, I guess, and just keep drifting off to sleep! Poor Dave was even more zonked from driving ALOT, so we parked on the roadside and snuggled up in our bus, as it was chilly. Rhinelander is in a very sparsely populated area, its a region of dense forests. Hey, we even saw a MOOSE! So, we just found a roadside, as there were no Walmarts or anything. But it was fine. Debbie woke up at about 4:30 AM, fed baby Giddy-Doo, and we were rolling, even though nearly everyone was still snoozing in their cozy beds.

So, we finally arrived at Rhinelander early Monday morning! Sharon and most of her family was there to greet us and make us a wonderful breakfast. We had a nice visit. Her husband, Glenn, went to be with the LORD in 2001, and we had first met him through listening to a few of his prolific sermons on tape. Providentially, through our brief time in Madison, Wis (where their family once lived) we actually know some of the same people! So we had a wonderful visit. Glenn had a wonderful collection of old books he had accumlated over the years, including hymnals. We enjoyed looking at some of the wonderful hymns he had gleaned from these, and REALLY enjoyed hearing his children sing a couple that he had written! Here are some verses from a favorite of ours:

The Son of God has bled and died,
In grief and pain was crucified,
A full salvation to provide
For every creature

He left to us a plain command:
Rise up, go forth to every land,
The gospel preach on every hand
To every creature

The messengers that first he sent
Went forth to spend and to be spent
Through tears and blood and fire they went
To every creature

A host has followed in their train,
Through hardship, poverty and pain
To preach the Lamb for sinners slain
To every creature

And can we dwell in careless ease?
And can we live ourselves to please?
Nay-- rise and follow after these
To every creature

Go forth, and bear the Savior's name
And spread abroad his healing fame
Redeeming love and grace proclaim
To every creature

Wow. What a powerful song! What a legacy to leave to your children!

Anyway, we were pretty zonked and didn't cover Rhinelander that well. It was well worth the drive!

So yesterday we enjoyed the great outdoors with the Jones and today we are hoping to hook up with folks.

Wednesday night (tonight) meal at Madison Grace Fellowship and Bible study.

Thursday night - hoping to hook up with the Baxter tribe??

We are hoping to have Zak drive the bus soon. We will practice air braking techniques in the parking lot soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In Madison!

We had a nice day yesterday in Rhinelander, and made it here last night. We need to research a radiator leak and try to see folks here.

More later hopefully.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Iowa, Iowa, it's off to Wisconsin we go!

We continue our trek north on I35, currently at a rest
spot which has free internet...another reason to visit
Iowa, huh?

We slept a bit on the roadside last night. It was
cozy. Our hope is to just drive without stopping.
But we are worn out.

We are racking up misc. repair jobs/leaks/etc for
later on, when we will hopefully exploit the expertise
of certain male relatives.

People seem to be accepting us as an RV. Other RVers
park near us. But other school buses too...

Glad to be movin'. Hope to hit Rhinelander this
evening, Madison Monday night, Lord willing!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Hitherto the Lord has helped us

We are at a truck stop in Iowa, where they have internet access. We just woke Zak to have him scramble up onto the roof of the bus because we forgot that we had caulked around the toilet vent pipe. I was getting diesel when I noticed it was starting to rain hard, so I parked us under the canopy in the pumping area. It was nice to have a false alarm!

Our bus starting problem this morning was fairly simple: a switch that tells the ignition system that you are in neutral, thus allowing you to start the bus. That way, you don’t accidentally hit a child, presumably. So the mechanic checked it out and it seemed like just maybe a simple wire connection. He made it so that it starts in any gear, so we just have to be careful. We are very used to having it in neutral to start it, so hopefully that will be all we need to do.

Our bus has a Ford engine, which apparently is unusual. Fortunately, the big truck places, which also work on RVs, don’t mind working on ours. The problem is, they don’t stock Ford parts. So it was nice they could do a quick fix for us. They also showed Zak and Dave a special emergency way to start it, should this happen on the road.

Today was hot. The bus really heats up and if we had all the windows open, it wouldn’t be so bad, because you’d have lots of airflow. But where we live, the humidity would really be bad news for the interior of the vehicle. However, one AC doesn’t seem sufficient. We have not yet tried quartering off the back half with blankets or something, so we aren’t blowing cold air back there. That would surely help a bit.

Storage places have been a problem. Lots of the kids cargo (personal items other than clothes) are bagged and stowed in sleeping areas during the day. Clothes are in individual plastic drawers kept on overhead shelving in the sitting area. We have had to make adjustments and everyone doesn’t have lots of legroom. Joanna got to sleep on the middle bunk, deemed the “water-melon-bed” because we brought lots of watermelons with us.

Dave has done most of the driving. Zak has not yet gotten behind the wheel. Tomorrow may be the big day.

We hope to make it up to Rhinelander, Wisconsin by tomorrow afternoon, LORD willing. That would only be if we can drive most of the night, or get up really early. Its nice, because to leave really early, we don’t have to get everyone up and dressed.

Zak did the church bulletin today, and so we stopped here to use the internet and email it back to Alamo, so they can copy it tomorrow morning.

We are still coughing a lot, but not much to speak of. Dave’s cough has improved. He is out gassing up the generator. The bus is diesel, but the generator is gas. It seems like it goes through a tank in several hours. A few times we ran out of gas before we noticed we needed more. It is running GREAT. Another great ebay deal!

The other day, during a possession-sharing opportunity, Noah exclaimed, “Why is it that whenever someone gets something on their birthday, its only THEIRS????”

Very thankful to be rolling, but very tired….the Kleins

On the road

We are at the Flying J truck stop, using a keyboard that feels like a big pushbutton phone. We left Alamo about 11 PM on Thursday and drove all night and morning and night. We hit Dodge City, Kansas, about 11 PM. We are driving I-70, about 200 something miles from Kansas City. There we head north.

The bus is working well. One mirror fell off. Also, the kitchen sink leaks out the bottom under the sink. It has worked really well. Nothing has fallen off. We also learned one of our brake lights wasn't working.

We are pretty tired and its driving slow. We had a brief period of excitement yesterday driving through the Flint Hills when we got to 56 mph! What a feeling!

Welp, we will keep in touch as we can! We are thinking we are getting to Rhinelander really late at this point.

Oh, new news: the bus is dead and won't start. More later.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


This is Dave here, so nothing cute or creative. We are finally ready to go. The bus packed, plumbed and wired and watered. Tonight we will drive all night and see how far we get. We hope to be in Wisconsin by Saturday evening. But we'll see what the Lord has in mind.

Hoping soon to get going...

Dave ran to Walmart to get a few things and we are going to scramble. We got a good night's sleep.

We noticed our radiator was leaking while parked, so we will be watching that and adding stuff to it until we can get it fixed. It does not overheat, but the warning noises go on until we add stuff to it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

So, that's why they call it HOME Depot!

It sure feels like "home" at Home Depot! Dave's been spending of lot of time and stuff there.

Today we blitzed through major home construction projects, but we are not able to take off today as planned, as we are wiped out! Things went really good though and hopefully we can be ready for a mid-day departure tomorrow. This will make us a little later to Rhinelander, and later to Madison, but after that, we are still loosely clinging to our tentative schedule for Luverne and forward.

Today was hot. We have our RV air conditioner running from and extension cord, as we have to reconnect the generator, and of course, we are parked. The metal gas can we have modified for the generator's external gas tank took a flying leap off the most excellent steel "back porch" a couple of days ago, when it was windy. Zak was building the outbuilding to house the generator, but it does not shelter the gas can. So he moved the can over a bit (normally its chained down), and when the back "emergency door" flew open with the wind, it must have gone airborne. I (Debbie) smelled gasoline and noticed the gas can and fuel line laying in the dirt. Since nobody saw it happen, it looked like someone had done it on purpose. But its all reconnected (the generator wasn't running, as we only run it when its all safely bolted down).

Late last night we glued the formica on the counter where the sink will go, and Dave cut out the hole for the sink. A couple of corners were cut too wide and will need to be caulked, but over all, it looks pretty rad. Zak got the supports all even and level, which is really tricky since the bus is rarely level. He also slapped together a work surface for Daddy to use while we travel. Eventually, we'll put formica on that too, but not this trip.

Now, the dual full size bunk bed project was a big deal today! Basically, after getting this monster bed frame in the back of the bus, by climbing over Uncle Bob's most excellent steel "back porch" and un-bolting the big beams, and tightening up the ropes which hold the mattresses up, we had a 3x3 foot space through which to cram our rolled up full size mattresses. This was a team effort. The mattresses had be pre-rolled, I should state, because the kids have been propping them up against a wall and sliding down. So they already have creases. Ben got the ropes as tight he could, and when the mattresses were installed, we found we have two human taco stands. Because the ropes all go across the beams one way, side to side (not head to foot). So when you get in, you're, um, nestled. Fortunately, we can pack in the little girls going across the bed, and it will be more hammock style for them. For Mommy and Daddy, it will be a Taco Bell Grande bed.

Hopefully more tomorrow, prior to departure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Burning the midnight hallogen

"Sarah, Sarah, look! I found a two inch cockroach!" Hannah exclaimed.

"Did you get 'em?" Abi asked.

The girls are tracking down the roach under the fridge, and the older three boys are working with Daddy in the carport, putting in the counter. They still have a zillion things to do. Joanna is drawing some away to pursue the cockroach. Sammy and Noah are asleep, recharging for tomorrow. We are always looking for jobs for them.

Dave had an innovative, new timesaving idea to vent both the black water and fresh water tanks with one vent. We talked it through and it seemed foolproof. Fortunately, before plumbing it, he realized one purpose for the freshwater vent was to replace the water used with fresh AIR. THAT's why we never read about anyone else doing it that way! Thank you LORD for that insight! Whew!

We had the back end of the bus raised about 2 inches, which seems insignificant, except for when you are on rough road. Perhaps it will make a difference.

Solomon and Mommy shingled the "outbuilding" on the back end of the bus where the generator is. We used leftover shingles from our roof project. We made so many mistakes on it, forgetting all the lessons we learned from our roofing career, but we fixed most of them, and it REALLY looks classy.

After dinner, we all gathered around the patio, holding up boards to support the back room bunk beds (which will hold full size mattresses). Ben and Solomon drilled holes through the mattress support boards and wove rope through, to make a Mexican style "rope" bed. The netting supports our mattresses, but for our triple bunks, we used snow fence (you can take the family out of Minnesota...). This is ideal for when you have night time accidents or sickness, because there is no MATTRESS to clean! Actually, in Mexico, we slept on a rawhide bed, but we are not that authentic for now.

So, we all held the frame up, which Zak had cut to fit the back dimensions of the bus. We have storage space under the bottom bed. While we held it up, Zak drilled in the bolt holes and bolts, and then we realized it was all reversed, so we had to stand a little longer.

Bekah cleaned the interior windows and the windshield. She climbed on the hood, and it looks much better. Hannah helped install the remaining curtains with velcro tape and is trying to finish the last panel, which lacks a few velcro spots.

So we are hoping to get out the door tomorrow sometime, but don't quote us... Some of the stuff we will bring with and work on it in Wisconsin.

We are starting to get emails now from folks who got our post cards. Thanks for your understanding.

Night night!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Two days till departure?

Today the bus is in a different shop to get the back end raised up a few inches. Hopefully it will be a one day job. We need to do this so we won't bottom out on the road to Guayameo. However, Dave says that as long as we have picks and shovels, we should be able to get out of any tight spots.

Personally, I think it would make a great picture, our great big bus suspended over a big dip in the road with all 6 wheels spinning, and the front and back bumpers holding the thing up. I guess all the wheels wouldn't spin.

Dave has got the fresh water hooked up and next will plumb the bathroom and kitchen sink. But we have zillions of things to do yet.

God is good and we are thankful.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Our working itenerary

First, we will give you the tentative working details, but they aren't set in stone...

  • Wednesday, May 18, sometime: leave Edinburg with our family and a few members of the Navarro family.
  • Drop off the Navarros in Kansas.
  • Keep driving north at or near 55 mph to Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
  • Late Thursday, May 19 to Early Friday, May 20: Arrive Rhinelander. If it is late, Sharon, we will just sleep in the bus and not disturb you all!
  • Saturday, May 21, evening: drive to Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Sunday, May 22, morning: breaking bread with Madison Grace Fellowship.
  • Stay in Madison while Dave works during the days; we will stay at a KOA if they don't mind wacky school bus conversions.
  • Wednesday, May 25, evening: head west to Luverne, Minnesota, arrive late, camp at BLUE MOUND STATE PARK.
  • Thursday, May 26: hopefully our friends can come out to the park for a brat BBQ or something...bring guitars....
  • Friday, May 27, afternoon: leave Luverne and drive west to Lake Almanor, California.
  • Around Monday, May 30 to Tuesday May 31: arrive at Mike and Susie's pad.
  • Thursday, June 2: Sarah's 12th birthday, Uncle Eddie's 39th birthday. Try to leave for Sacramento in time to get there to crash Uncle Eddie's house or something?
  • Friday, June 3 through Sunday,June 5: Visit in Sacramento
  • Monday, June 6: Leave for Los Angeles, arrive evening?
  • Thursday, June 9, afternoon: leave for Desert Hot Springs to visit Grandma Eunice
  • Friday, June 10, morning: head for the Mexican border at El Paso, Tejas.
  • From here we'll be heading to Torreon, Coahuila.
  • Next to Guayameo, Guerrero
  • Then on to Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca
  • Back to Edinburg, with stops along the way as the Lord directs.

Well, we're tired now, and we haven't even left! We got our bus back from Freightliner yesterday and she's looking good. Now we are doing plumbing and stuff, and trying to get ready for Wednesday departure, Lord willing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Here I am on the email

Just another testing post.  Nothing new.

Now we're getting somewhere

We heard back from our friends at Freightliner, and we are on for tomorrow morning to get our blown gasket fixed! It is a bittersweet moment, as having it in the shop means we cannot work on it. We are still working on the following freshwater tank hook up
  • kitchen sink plumbing
  • bathroom sink plumbing
  • putting in the toilet
  • connecting the "black" (waste) tank.
  • finishing the master suite (actually a full size bed bunk bed)
  • putting in the kitchen counter (gluing down formica, etc.)
  • sheltering the generator on the back end.

Zak is doing a great job and we expect to be up all night if we are able, to keep working on this stuff.

Joanna and Hannah are finishing sewing velcro tabs on the rest of the curtains. We need curtains for insulation and privacy. Oh we have loads to talk about, but hopefully we'll let the children fill you in as the wheels roll on down the line!

We are pretty sure we are putting off our departure from Saturday the 15th afternoon, to Monday, the 16th PM late (or Tuesday morning). We have still to post our itenerary. Bookmark this site!

--Debbie, Edinburg

We will post some photos soon, so you'll be able to spot us when you see us!

Just checking

This is just to see if my blog is still working, nothing new here.


Well, we are still here in Edinburg, about 7 or something days from departure. We are all coughing up a storm. The weather has been humid, but mercifully cool, which has been a big blessing. The bus is grounded, as it "blew a gasket" (something like the "oil cooling engine thing" in techinical lingo). So while we wait to hear on the part we need, we still can work on in out on the street here.

It's painted and all, but its still a school bus. Our neighbors seem to love it and we never hear complaints. We were hoping to host an "open bus" for them, but we are always so busy...

Dave was supposed to be on jury duty all week, and then scrambling to do programming and bus work in the evenings, but the judge didn't need him and advised him to check caller id before answering the phone, in case they called him later (if he didn't answer, they couldn't get him back!). But they haven't called. That has been an unexpected blessing!

Zak does alot of the grunt work and has been putting in alot of the hardware and shelves and stuff. Dave does design work. We are packing, sewing curtains, doing laundry, painting bus walls, and waiting for the bus repair folks to call.

Another thing we need done is to have the rear springs removed and some blocks of steel put in. Then the springs go back in, and the rear end of the bus is elevated a few inches. That may be crucial so we don't bottom out in some of the bad stretches of road in Mexico. We have found a place eager to do the job, but we need to get this oil leak repaired too...

We had to scramble last week to get Zak's driver's permit too, so he could help drive, as this thing only goes 55 with the wind on your back, down hill. So we need to keep driving 24/7 during the long stretches. So he studied and passed the test without any problems, though we almost didn't meet their qualifications for homeschool curriculum or something.

Well, we are getting ready for our morning devotions now. Dave went to take Zak to the parking lot for a driving lesson. Everyone is feeling kind of congested. Dave's chest hurts when he coughs.

I guess that's all! Oh, welcome to the blog! Hopefully we can keep thing going throughout our trip so you will know when and where we are!

-- Debbie, Edinburg, Texas