Saturday, November 6, 2010

The middle of nowhere

We waited out the weather in Buchanan.  It seemed like the snow was never going to leave, and it didn’t, but at least the roads got mostly cleared off.  We finally left about 9:30 on Tuesday morning.  We had planned a much earlier departure.

On Monday afternoon I got the truck pulled in behind the bus and hooked up.  We tidied up the yard and tried to leave everything so that the village can get on with mowing the grass because that is what we expect to be happening before we get back there.  We were up early Tuesday morning planning to be in Regina by mid-morning but it didn’t work out that way.  When I turned the key we got a distant “RRR” from the back of the bus and nothing more. 

It was my own fault – I’ve known for some time now that the batteries were on their last legs.  We bought the bus close to 7 years ago and the batteries weren’t new then so they really didn’t owe us anything.  We also really didn’t need the headache of dealing with them on Tuesday.  Two and a half hours later, with the assistance of battery blankets, battery charger, block heater and proheat we just barely got started.  Then I was afraid to shut it off, and with good reason.  When I finally did shut it off in the early afternoon in Regina it just barely started again so I knew it was time to do something.  I had visions of shutting it off at the customs shack and then not getting it started. 

We got to Swift Current about 5 minutes before 5:00 and pulled into the Cat dealer.  I figured that would be the most expensive place to buy batteries but that they would also likely have a pair of 8-Ds on the shelf.  They didn’t.  But the guy at the counter was super helpful and he immediately phoned some little auto parts shop in town.  They had a pair of batteries for about 1/3 of what I thought they would cost so he told them that we would be right over and they stayed open waiting for us. 

We didn’t bother trying to install the batteries Tuesday night because we were already late for supper with Al and Gail.  Al fed us very well when we finally arrived – thank you again Al – and then on Wednesday morning he and I stuffed the new batteries into the compartment on the frenchy-bus.  It sounded much happier when I turned the key that morning and even better when it started right up as we were leaving US Customs.  They were training a new girl so she had to come onboard and snoop through our fridge for salad supplies for their supper that night. 

After stocking up the customs fridge we headed straight south through Billings, Montana and Cody, Wyoming to here.

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Its pretty lonesome country.  We arrived about 9:00 and then wandered around in the dark looking for the place.  Nobody seems to have heard about putting their name or address on their mailbox and even the mailboxes are few and far between.  We finally ended up on a dead end trail that stopped at the gate of an Encana pumping facility.  As we were unhooking the night watchman showed up but he didn’t have a clue about who lived where.  He did very helpfully send us off in completely the wrong direction because he thought there were some ranches that way.  After about a half hour search in the little truck we stumbled on an unmarked lane, headed up it for about half a mile and then finally came to a sign for the ranch we were looking for.  Even then the sign was ambiguous enough that I kept on driving for another couple of miles just to make sure it was the right place.  Its a lot easier doing those reconnaissance trips in the micro-truck.  Along the way we had to dodge dozens of sleeping Angus cows because this is all open range country.  Fortunately they are big on Texas gates – some of them are a little narrow but evidently the ones we crossed were strong enough to carry a bus.

Once we found the yard then we had to find the bus again and get it moved to the ranch yard.  The owner is in Pennsylvania and his cell phone was dying when I talked to his wife late in the afternoon so we didn’t bother trying to phone them.  As it turned out there is actually a ranch hand living in the yard (with his border collie puppy named Stetson) but he didn’t hear us drive into the yard, drive around looking for a level spot, drive out, return with the bus and park the bus.  Stetson barked a couple of times but he’s a puppy so apparently Kevin didn’t pay any attention to him.  He’s a really cute puppy and a real cuddle bug too.  Once he figured out that we were friends he has been a regular guest.  He and George had words so now they just look at each other through the window.

1 comment:

Singing Land Cruiser said...

Well, Well, It's good to hear you are headed South at last. Your spot is waiting here for you in St. George, UT off the 15. Call me !-435-23seven-23two2
Michael & Christi