For the third week in a row, I have been on the road in the vintage bus, driving it to the shop that will handle the next stage of its restoration. The only problem is that, for a good part of the week, I didn’t know where that shop would be. If the recent vintage bus saga is new to you, you might want to read the past two posts here on the blog where I describe the situation in detail. To make a long story short, though, my original plan was to drive the bus from Ft. Worth (where it got its engine/tranny worked on) to Nova Scotia (where the interior will be installed). This plan fell through in a big way. The bus will eventually get to Nova Scotia, but not anytime soon.
As of my last post, I was located in Columbus, Ohio, where I inspected a paint and body shop. I wasn’t impressed by the place so I made some additional appointments to visit shops in Elkhart, Indiana, which is pretty much the RV capitol of the U.S. I spent two days in Elkhart inspecting shops and getting quotes. None of the places really stuck out for me (for various reasons) so I decided to look at my other options. I was also getting pretty stressed out because I still had no official plan for where the bus would stay to get worked on and I HAD to be back at my current bus (the one I live on now) by Monday! I was literally racing the clock and trying to make sound decisions under a lot of pressure.
One of my options was a shop in Chattanooga, TN that was appealing for two reasons. First of all, I have friends who have had their buses worked on there and ended up being very happy with the place. Second, their shop rate is VERY reasonable and, considering the bill I’ve been racking up with the bus, reasonable rates are a BIG plus. I decided to head in that direction, knowing it would take me two days to get there. I was en route to my destination when I had my third breakdown since I started off in Ft. Worth. This time, it was due to a leak in the cooling system. It happened late at night, so I couldn’t get it looked at right away. Instead, I had to slowly make my way toward a shop I found, driving in very short increments at a time so the bus wouldn’t overheat. Luckily, the shop looked at it first thing in the morning and it turned out to be a simple fix. A coolant pipe had worked its way loose so they made a new gasket, filled it back up and sent me on my way. By the time I hit Nashville, however, the leak was back. The same company who worked on it sent out a truck to take care of the situation. It all worked out in the end, but it was a frustrating situation (like much of this trip has been).
I finally arrived in Chattanooga on Friday morning and brought it to the shop. I explained to the guys what needed to be done, one of the projects being the power steering system. Feeling pretty confident leaving the bus here for a while, I took a transit bus to Atlanta, where I spent the night with my great friend and photographer Eddie Tapp. On Saturday morning, I was on a flight back to California, where my current bus is located. Karen flies in today (she’s been visiting her family in NJ while I’ve been focused on the vintage bus) and we will head toward Page, Arizona where I’m teaching with the Digital Photo Workshop gang this weekend. More to come!