Time to remove the pink eye infested seats from the bus.

If there's one thing you'll learn about me it's I think I'm a lot funnier than I am. But hell, you can't take life too seriously right? Seats were the first thing that I needed to remove to get some elbow room to work in the bus. Little did I know how much of a pain they would be to remove. I started out with a battery powered angle grinder and soon learned that one battery would make it through maybe one bolt. Why not use a couple of wrenches you may ask? The bolts and nuts have been in the salt and elements for 13 years in New York so they weren't moving even after a heavy layer of PB Blaster. I switched to a corded grinder and things went a lot smoother minus blowing through a metal disc every 2 1/2 bolts.

I removed all the seats and took them apart to save the steel for undercarriage storage compartments, wood for the interior build and foam for added insulation in the bus. Of course I found a couple of hidden gems in the seat of which I set aside. The best was a note from a kid's mom and some funny money.

Take em' out!

Disassembly of the seats.

Seats removed!

My next big issue was the large amounts of rust under the bus and on the chassis that I needed to grind off and take care of. A heavy coat of Rust-oleum would do the trick if I could get it down to bare metal.

If the kids had left band equipment on the bus we would have had rusty trombones... 

More rust.

 

 

It's always nice to meet other road trippers on epic adventures.

While we were grabbing coffee in Durango, backing up footage and filming a little bit out front we were approached by a young lady and her mother. They were curious if we were road tripping in the bus of which we both grinned and said "Yes". They too were on a long road trip and had started out in Bellingham, WA where they live on a boat. They gave us a hot tip about a website called Road Trippers which gives you all sorts of great things to do and see while on the road. We parted ways and made our way to Mesa Verde National Park to see some of the ancient cave houses that Ancestral Pueblo people used to live in when the water resources were more available.

 

 

 

Amazing what you can do with just the resources around you.

The little kids above didn't like how long it took me to get this shot. They were waiting.

Photo of a photo.

As we were walking back to the bus and passing one of the park buildings we saw a young man and his dog with a sign that read "UTAH PLEASE". Enter Flick and Blackie. I inquired about where in Utah he was trying to get to and he mentioned that he had never been to Moab and would like to check it out. Moab was right on our way so I offered to give him and Blackie a ride. I explained we were traveling in a short school bus so we had plenty of room. He thought about it for a second and decided to jump aboard with us. Ryan and Flick sat on the school bus seats like a couple of kids and talked about Flick's upbringing in the swamps of Florida and how he started traveling the US with Blackie a few years back. He doesn't have much and doesn't need much as he's found the kindness of strangers is far richer than any money in the world.

Almost home.

We got to Moab and took a short drive through Arches National Park with Flick sitting in a camp chair up front by me in the bus. We was intrigued by the red rock and different formations throughout the park. He expressed that he didn't realize how desolate Moab was and I could tell he was thinking about where to camp, gather water and how many miles through the desert he'd have to travel if he didn't get a ride. I offered to take him all the way to Park City if he wished. He decided that would be a better plan and we set off into the sun towards home.

Flick enjoying the view just like when he was a kid.

Last fuel stop before we pushed the last 300+ miles home.

With hardly any sleep from the night before it was a rough one making it to Wichita only a few hours away.

My best friend from high school currently lives in Wichita, KS so it was a good place to stop and crash for a couple hours before pushing on. We took a tour of the air force base, had some killer BBQ and checked out the "Keeper of the Plains" which is a giant statue of an Indian Chief that is lit up each night.

The fuel planes. Big boys.

No comment.

Keeper Of The Plains

After some much needed rest, a cold brew and BBQ we hit the asphalt again heading towards CO. Before we crossed the border we came across a small town that I had been through before and remembered an old man that had all sorts of metal artwork. We came across his property again to find double the amount of artwork as when I was there last.

Take the side roads. You won't regret it.

I wonder if this guy listens to Metal while making metal artwork? Megadeth perhaps?

Wonder how Laura Bush got her head stuck up her ass?

We ended up meeting the old man who let us watch him weld a heart.

He also has the worlds largest coffee mug collection. Room 1 of 10. Think he has a favorite?

We continued on and crossed into Colorado. The desert country side that holds a special place in my heart began to roll into view and we took an old road I've never been on. Over the next 4 hours we passed maybe two cars and no gas stations. Thankfully Bruce was getting great gas mileage and drove until we saw gas. It was getting close to sunset and we had Wolf Creek Pass ahead of us before we reached Durango for the night. It was the first mountain pass I had attempted in the bus and Bruce handled it like a champ. We saw yet another mind blowing sunset at the top of the pass and stopped to take some photos. If there's one thing I've been getting better at it's pulling over or turning around when you see something worth taking a photo of. You'll be glad you did. Again, what's the rush if you got time?

Can't wait to hit this resort in the winter with Bruce.

Durango city lights came into view as I rounded the last mountain curve. The local brewery was still open so we stopped in for a pint and some food. The brewery allowed you to write in chalk on the floor so we took the opportunity to write out Instagram handles everywhere (@buslifeadventure @brockbutterfield @bregantephoto). On the way back to the bus I had the idea to also write it on the sidewalk. Before I could finish I caught a vehicle out of the corner of my eye come to a screeching hault. Cops. Again.

Now I've had my fair share of run-ins with the law dog and I usually don't care for their attitude. However, this chap ended up being the best law enforcement officer I've ever met. After we explained what Instagram was he suggested we may not want to write that on city property anymore. He then inquired about the bus and was fascinated. He gave us some advice on where to park for the night where we wouldn't be hassled. It ended up being one of my favorite camp spots of the trip. The stars where bright and the Milk Way was unbelievable. Ryan set up for a couple shots of which became some of my favorite from the trip.

The universe is a fascinating thing isn't it?

 

It wouldn't be a road trip if something didn't go wrong.

A bit later start then I would have liked to when we left the farm but we had good straight roads for the most part to Wichita so we put the pedal to the floor and cruised at a mellow 65 mph. We were getting close to crossing the Misssissippi river when Bruce started making a terrible "thunking" and "whoomp, whoomp, whoomp" noise. I pulled over immediately and popped the hood to see what was making all the noise. A half blown serpentine belt. Part of it had got caught on a hose clamp and shredded the belt to pieces. I crawled underneath the bus and started pulling parts of the serpentine belt out from the motor. I had barely any bars of service and no data whatsoever in the area so I called my good friend Penny to Google the nearest auto store. We were in luck. Just 5 miles away on the other side of the Mississippi river was the town of Hannibal, MI with a parts store. After I got off the phone I felt something crawling on my leg and reached down to find two ticks trying to make a home. I pulled both of them off and tossed them out the window.

Well here's the problem.

Being that I had half a belt left I limped Bruce along at 3 MPH and crossed the bridge over the Mississippi river right at sunset. This actually made for some great sunset shots and reminded me that sometimes you just have to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey and forget the destination. As we rolled into Hannibal we learned that it was Mark Twain's home town. It seemed fitting that we broke down in a town where stories of boys on an adventures were created. We were on an adventure of our own.

One of the most memorable sunsets to date considering the circumstances.

Thankfully the Auto Zone was still open for 10 more minutes and they had the belt I needed. Another plus to buying a school bus built on a GMC Savana chassis. Parts are easy to come by. It took me a second to read the belt diagram and understand the belt flow before installing it but I had it on and running in 20 minutes.

Get in the Zone. Auto Zone...

We hit the road again with about 4-5 hours ahead of us. I slammed more coffee and popped some sunflower seeds in as we pushed into the night. About 30 minutes down the road Ryan's phone began to blow up with severe tornado warnings. Awesome. I pulled off at the next exit and Ryan ran into the gas station to ask a local about how severe it actually was. The lady let us know that two tornadoes had already touched down just north of us and golf ball size hail was expected any moment in the area. Out came the road map as I planned an alternative route around the storm. It was going to set us back a couple hours but I was all for it.

Driving into the storm.

Right around Kansas City I was too tired to push any further. It was around 2:30 AM and I was exhausted. We pulled off the freeway and into a hotel parking lot. It was hot and muggy so we cracked the windows on the bus and slept shirtless. Not more than 20 minutes went by when someone with a flash light was shining us in the eyes. I was borderline delerious and started shouting to get the light out my face. The person started shouting to open up the door of which I replied "Who the f*ck are you?" Come to find out it's the police. Someone had called in seeing a man taking his shirt off in a school bus and there were concerned for the children... After we got everything smoothed out I crashed on the air mattress only to wake back up around 4:30 AM and start driving again. 

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