I took the bus to Montreal on Wednesday afternoon and was a the train for New Brunswick with time to spare. We headed onto the train and then finally left a bit late just after 7pm. I was sitting next to a couple and we talked for a couple hours while we went through a part of Quebec and got further and further from home.
I slept uncomfortably but was able to at least rest for a few hours and I knew that I had a long day ahead so I tried my best to get as much rest as I could.
I woke up early in the morning and we were stopped just before leaving Quebec while a few cars of the train were separated to go another direction. A couple hours later we were pulling into the Bathurst station. Strangely, I had no idea who I was looking for but finally I found Mike, the guy selling the bus.
We headed to Caraquet, about 45 min away and then I was there. Next to the bus and realizing even more how I would have to be driving it home. We went over the bus and went over a few details, filled out a few things and then headed to NB services to make the transfer. I choose to get a 24 hour transit which I thought would be enough time to get home. Maybe I was a bit too hopeful.
Our bus is a 1992 Bluebird Coach style bus that for most of its service was in the military. Mike bought it six years ago at auction in Alberta and then came across the country with it using it to move their stuff and pull their car. Her registered it as an RV in Alberta when he bought it and took out all of the seat. Since then, it had been sitting mostly in his driveway with him moving it once in a while. He had done a few things on it over the years including changing the fuel line from the tank to the motor, opening the back wall of the “garage” and a few other things.
After transferring the bus, I then took it for a ride with him and then I drove it back and dropped him off and went on my way. It was so weird making that first turn. Having the wheels in back of you means that turns need to be much wider then you are used to and you feel so strange suspended over a ditch while you think of where your wheels are as you make the turn. All in a fraction of a second of course. First stop was the gas station. As I came out of the bus, two trucks arrived and the guy in the one behind me offered to do the gas. I accepted saying that I had never done it before and then the attendant came and took over. She put the hose in and had not noticed the big warning saying to go slowly as there is a long nozzle to the tank. Diesel flew out of the nozzle all over her. I felt so bad for her but so happy that it was not me. I realized that I was not dressed to be driving and fueling a bus. I closed the door behind me on the way to pay and when I came back, I couldn’t get the door open again. I didn’t understand completely how the door worked. With two people coming to the rescue we finally realized how to open it again about ten minutes later. Yeah. Ten minutes.
I got into the bus and started down the road. Within minutes a light came on and I found a place to park and I realized that something was wrong. Great. I called Mike and he came and met me and realized that I was leaking fuel. He found the problem and tried to patch it up but it wasn’t going to be enough.
We headed to a parts store where he knew where he could get the line and the mechanic there replaced a part of the line though he could not see where the line went into the tank. Mike paid for the repair saying that it should have been done before. Nothing was leaking but I had a feeling that if the line was that volatile and cracked around the engine that it would not be much different the rest of the way to the gas tank. I decided that another 24 hour transit would be a good idea to give me just a bit more time in case I encountered more problems. I left again this time a bit more nervous then the first time. I made a stop at the grocery store picking up a few things and spending the co-op money that I had gotten while getting gas.
Soon after leaving, the Engine light came on again and a buzzer came with it that could make you easily go mad. I stopped again and nothing was leaking. The bus was driving well and nothing indicated anything else was wrong besides the light. The next diesel mechanic however was over an hour away and after talking to a few people over the phone explaining the problem the light and buzzer could easily be the result of a sensor. So I decided to drive and hoped to make it to at least to Bathurst. The drive was absolutely beautiful though the warning light had me a bit on edge and the buzzer was already driving me mad. I turned on the fan that was pointed at me and drowned out the noise slightly. After about 40 min, just as I was approaching Bathurst, the light and buzzer turned off. I decided to try to make it to try to make it a bit further. As I passed Bathurst the light and buzzer came back on, and again I tried to drown the noise, and just keep going as everything was operating fine. I stopped just outside of Dalhousie next, a bit more then 150km from where I started and checked under the bus again. There was nothing so I decided to keep on going and get as far as I can.
After Campbellton I took the road south instead of north. If you look on the map it looks like it would be longer and going in the wrong direction but I had been told that the road going north into Quebec was rough and being so new to driving the beast and a bit nervous, I decided that the slightly longer route would be better. However, for the next 100km, there was nothing except for a few houses, endless trees and the occasional moose. I saw four of them including one that took his time crossing the road in front of me and then when I finally got my phone to take a picture, he ran the rest of the way and down the hill.
It was dark by the time that I was approaching the next town and the buzzing sound of the warning light was still blaring and my brain was about to explode and I was starting to get tired. I decided that I should stop and rest and saw a few trucks parked behind a Tim Hortons. I was in St-Quentin and there was a big Western festival that closed the downtown core and I could hear music in the distance. I thought the bus was big but as I pulled up next to the trucks I felt tiny. I should have taken a few pictures but I was too tired and it was dark. I had a pillow and a blanket but I hadn’t really thought about it enough and it was much colder then I thought it would be and I didn’t want to get a motel room so I tried to relax in the bus.
There were two options: Sleep on a box spring that had been left in the back of the bus or sleep on a bench. Neither were comfortable.
I went from one to the other and slept for about 3 hours and woke up tired and needing to go to the bathroom. I headed to the Tim Hortons and debated on if I should leave then as I was quite awake. But it was still in the middle of the night and I decided to try to sleep a bit more. I tried to get comfortable again but it was nearly impossible but I was tired enough to sleep so I slept for another couple of hours waking up shivering from the cold. It was 4:30 (well 3:30 in Quebec time) and decided to head to the bathroom again and get some coffee. There were truckers there getting ready for their day and there were partyers coming in from their night. I asked on the of truckers where I could find the next mechanic and one of them told me to follow him to where he works out of and told me that they could help me there. When I got there though the light stopped and he said that I could wait until they opened or I could just keep on going. I decided to take the road again and head to Edmonston and a few minutes after I left the light and buzzer made their appearance again.
I chose the cold air of the fan even if I was freezing over the sound of the buzzer.
An hour later, just before Edmunston, I stopped to find a garage. I found one and I parked in an Arena parking lot. As I got out of the bus I realized that I was leaking fuel. There was line that was trailing my path and I could see it it dripping right at the place that the line had been repaired. I found the mechanic alone and busy and he told me he could not help me but gave me a number of someone who could. I called my insurance’s road side assistance number for a towing service and was told that my account had not been activated in their system. I called the mechanic and he told me that he could send someone at 8 which was 2 hours later. I called home. The mechanic that said he could not help came and put a bucket under the line that was leaking and I walked around a bit and found an internet connection and waited. I called the other mechanic again and they said they don’t take take insurance for towing anyway so I asked them to come get me explaining that I had a bus and that it was leaking fuel. They told me that they could not bing me if I was leaking fuel but they had a service truck that could do things on the spot and sent that to me.
When the guy arrived he was able to fix part of the line that was leaking but I mentioned that the rest of the line might be as rotten and sure enough, the rest of the line also had small leaks. He had repaired it enough however for me to follow him to the shop a bit past Edmunston. It was about nearly 11:30 by the time the bus pulled into the shop. He started looking at what he had to do and then left for lunch at 12 and someone replaced him at 1pm. they needed a new line and someone went out and got one and came back with the wrong one. Then someone else left with the wrong one and again came back with the another wrong one. Finally by 2:30pm the right line was picked up and they began to work on it. The only other thing they saw was that it was in need of a bit more prestone/water in the radiator. It didn’t take long for them to finish and I asked about the light/buzzer again. They said if it started again to come back and see them. Sigh. While I was waiting for them to finish up I decided to call Bluebird and left a message with the service department. When I left, instead of heading home though I went the opposite way so that I could ride a bit and that I could loop around when the buzzing started again. Which it did. And, By the time got back to the garage, Bluebird called me Back. Good news, because the 92 Bluebird has no computer and is only mechanical, the light and buzzer could only be one of 4 things. Engine heat, which was perfectly fine. Oil PSI which was also fine. Radiator fluid which was low and was added, or a sensor. I asked what I could do about the sound and he said to deconnect the buzzer. It wasn’t where he said it was going to be so the guys at the garage ended up taking off the dash to find it and after about 15min, they finally found it.
It was then 4:30 pm and I could finally head home.
I got on the road and a few minutes later I looked down and I realized that my odometer was no longer working. It was a construction zone so there was no where to pull off so I had to wait until I found a place which was a little further down the road in a rest area. I called the Garage again and said that they must have disconnected it while they were looking for the buzzer. They wanted me to head back but there was no way I was going back again and they sent the person that had found the buzzer with the service truck to come check. About 16 min later he got there and he at first he could not find anything. It was hot. It was 5pm. I was still nearly 500km from home. I was tired. I was crampy and I had had enough and I went inside the tourist center I was parked in front of and broke down crying. After a few minutes and a few deep breaths I saw him motion for me to come back and it was fixed.
And that was it. I got in the bus and then headed to Quebec. After a few mountain passes and steep hills that I had not noticed when I was by car in the past, I stopped for some food. It was just about 6pm or then 5pm Quebec time and my first food of the day.
I got on the road and drove. 100km per hour seems to be the bus’s sweet spot and I cruised at that speed for the next couple of hours. I finally figured out how the radio works (and had fun trying the PA system) and just drove. About an hour from home I made my first and only stop of the leg of the drive. I had to get out and move around because I was starting to lose feeling in my legs and needed a bathroom break. I got back in the bus and then got home a bit more then an hour later and parked in the street for the night. My head was buzzing and my legs were sore. I was tired and stiff and I desperately needed a shower. I headed to the shower first and then laid down in bed with Wilhelmina and cuddled and nursed her to sleep and then I was out. But it wasn’t done. My whole night was filed with dreams of backing up into the driveway. Driving the bus is no problem but backing it up into the tight space of the driveway was something that was scary to me. I woke up bright and early and jumped right to it. I had a few people guiding me but it went much more smoothly then I would have thought. And there it sits now… Waiting for us to start working on it.
The adventure has begun!