A week ago today we were parked on the north side of Horseshoe Lake with a herd of curious Charolais cattle surrounding us. I think the last time I was at Horseshoe Lake was when Grandma & I drove out there one fall to take pictures and pick flowers. Grandma has been dead for over 20 years now so it had been a long time.
We left that idyllic spot and almost immediately the real world set in again. Before we got 20 miles down the road to Davidson we noticed an increase in noise and heat from the big Detroit. That turned out to be a piece of flex hose that had fallen off the exhaust. As a result the port side exhaust was blowing directly out from the manifold.
I was worried that carrying on to Regina might result in setting the bus on fire although in hindsight I have to wonder at the wisdom of avoiding that potential outcome. So we spent the night in a parking lot in Davidson and drove into Regina the next morning in the Exploder. We both had meetings in Regina. Once I got my visit out of the way I went up to Traction and picked up a short piece of flex exhaust and two step clamps. When we got back to the bus it only took a few minutes to put everything back together and we were on our way again. I immediately noticed that we had very little or no turbo boost. I’ve noticed lately that we weren’t getting full boost and I knew that I should be getting the turbo rebuilt but I simply hadn’t got around to it.
Shortly after we left Davidson I said to Marilyn that when we got back to Buchanan I thought we should list the bus for some lowball price and get on with the next phase of our life. We’re both getting increasingly frustrated with the seeming endless list of repairs that it demands. Owning a bus is a great idea IF YOU TRAVEL CONSTANTLY, which we don’t anymore. In the last couple of years we have become occasional travellers. That means that the bus sits for extended periods and then we try to use it for short intense periods of time and that simply doesn’t work. As it turned out, the bus made the decision for us.
It was a really hot afternoon and it wasn’t long before the hot engine light came on so I backed out of the throttle a bit and everything seemed OK. A while later the engine light came on again and again I backed out of the throttle. The next time that happened when I backed out the engine died. Not good and to make a long story short, the more I learned the worse it got. The overflow tank on the rad was empty and after I had poured 6 gallons of water into it I pulled the dipstick to find the crankcase overflowing. Really really not good.
Much later we came home to Buchanan on the back of this big guy. And here we sit.
Initially we were just sickened by the experience and couldn’t really think straight. Now I think I can probably salvage some value by stuffing a takeout engine into the bus and selling it for the lowball price we initially had in mind but that won’t happen quickly and neither of us cares anymore. Sitting here beside the house in Buchanan the bus is just as good accommodation as it ever was. So nothing has changed in that regard. We know this house will never be a satisfactory place to live so we have been looking hard all summer and considering where we might like to land permanently.
We’ve been looking for an F250 Powerstroke to replace the Exploder so now we’ll also look for an older 5th wheel to go behind the big Ford. That combination will be more than adequate for the summer weekend campers that we have become. As it turns out this winter is a great time to buy a used pickup because there is a record crop coming off in SK right now. One hard and fast rule for SK farmers is “when you take off a good crop you go buy a new truck.” I stopped in at Cypress Ford in Swift Current last week and they had 8 new King Ranch diesels lined up side by side. They run $60,000++ so it looks to me like at least that dealership is ready for a big sales season which means by Jan/Feb they’ll be trying to move some nice trade-ins.
We both really like Buchanan and wouldn’t mind dying here. Don’t get me wrong – we’re neither of us in any rush to take that final step but in the meantime its a really friendly safe community. We have paved streets, city water, low taxes, good neighbours and the town mows the grass when we’re not here so there’s a lot worse places to live. We have been giving serious thoughts to demolishing the house we have and moving a house onto this property. Another option is to buy a different property in town but there’s surprisingly few places for sale. This may be a dying town but its a town that has survived years of NDP neglect in the province and its still here for the recovery. There’s some really nice houses in town and relatively few real wrecks, despite the fact that the house we own is definitely in the wreck category.
A third option is to buy a quarter or half section of farmland with a yardsite but we are reluctant to do that because then right away we’re back to maintaining a well and farm septic system. Here all we have to do is turn on a tap and the (treated) water comes out. Or we fire up the shit pump and the sewer runs away. QED as father used to say. SWMBO has a romantic memory of farm life but I clearly remember hauling the shit pump on Christmas Eve and fighting with iron bacteria in the well.