The work on the bus was going slow. The desire to hit the road was growing strong. So just like the typical voter, we suspended reason and took a leap. No, the plumbing wasn’t done. No, the electrical hadn’t been completely finished. But we could live with the small inconveniences those things presented and just work on things as we went. The first few stops on the trip were going to be parking outside different family members homes, so the few odds and ends that weren’t done would be no problem. Everything was going to work out fine and we were going to live happily ever after, roaming the roads, meeting new people, and hopefully networking with other like minded individuals and groups. And also, just maybe, Obamaney would be the President of the USA and world peace would reign supreme. Just suspend reason and everything will be just fine.
We hadn’t registered the bus yet either. For years I had gone with no drivers license, no insurance, no registered vehicles but hitting the road full time would be a pain in the ass if every time we got pulled over and asked for “our papers please” we didn’t have government permission to be on the roads, it would make for a hell of a problem. Experience has shown that it is always a very expensive problem too. I have had cars towed away by the police, not to mention being thrown in the back of cop cars for various stupid excuses that they like to throw in the mix when I interact with the cops. So I secured the stuff on the bus and hit the road, bound for the DMV.
The dread of dealing with government officials was the only thing on my mind as I started down the long dirt road that led to our house. That is until smoke started pouring out of the dash and the bus died. For a few seconds I just sit there as a wire from the ignition to the solenoid smoked and bubbled and fizzled into nothingness. Being the eternal pessimist I began to see all my plans go up in smoke. We were going to be stuck forever in the box, trying to scrape by and hoping to make it through another winter in the high deserts of New Mexico.
Once the immediate feeling of panic passed, I got down to the business of replacing the wire that had burnt. At least, replacing the obvious wire that had burnt. I did a quick trace of the ones around it and replaced or repaired them as I found them and when I thought they were all fixed up I fired up the bus and started down the road. There was a whistling sound coming from under the dash and it didn’t take me long to realize that one of the hoses running to the air brakes had been burnt through too. Now back to panic mode. If I missed that, what else did I miss? Just a couple more miles down the road the bus died again. No smoke this time, just no fire to the plugs. And this time, instead of breaking down on a nice wide open stretch of road where everyone could see me, I was broke down in a blind curve on a back road where everyone thinks the speed limit is 80 instead of 35.
When we first moved to this area we had big plans. We had ideas for a couple of small businesses that would allow us to spend time together and pay the bills. We left Albuquerque for this country setting, were we thought people would be easier to get along with and a person might be able to spread their wings a little bit without too much interference. A place were the friendly locals would welcome organic farming and massage therapy. We had talked with a landlord in town and he had a house we could move into on Monday, and so we left the big city on Friday with plans to camp for the weekend out in the National Forrest and move into our new house after a fun weekend in the mountains. The weekend was fun, but come Monday the landlord had already rented the house to someone else. So, homeless, we returned to our camping spot out in the woods to try and figure out what our next move would be. The place we were camping is a rugged place. There are no kind of amenities there, other than an outhouse type bathroom. Despite the misleading name of “Water Canyon” this is no water there, not even in the campsites. No running water of any kind. The nearest place to get water was 15 miles away and you better be prepared to pay out the nose for it. One day we asked someone who owns a hotel there if we could fill up an empty gallon jug with their water hose. You would think we had asked to eat their children, and they looked at us like that might have been our real intention. With a pound of disdain in her voice the lady told us that water was too expensive to spare any. Should have been a sign. And to top off all of that, you are only allowed to stay in those campsites for fourteen days. We knew we had to get out of the forest but we still needed somewhere stay. By this point the money we had set aside to get into a new house was near the zero mark. We packed up our camp and started into Socorro to see what we could find out.
On the edge of Socorro there is a little “town” called Escondida. And in Escondida there is a little pond that they call a lake. And on the edge of that “lake” there is a small campground. We pulled in there and met the lone worker at this county owned facility, Gilbert. He showed us to a camp spot and asked us if we needed anything and then helped us set up our tent. That tent, on the edge of that lake, became our home for the next two months as we started the process of saving up what little money we got in and working towards getting into a house before the cold desert winter hit. Incredibly it was one of the best times of our lives. It also planted the seed that maybe, just maybe, we could live on the road. And maybe, just maybe, we could do that in a bus.
Nearly two years later, I am sitting in a broke down bus, in a blind curve, across the field from Escondida Lake. And too the rescue comes Gilbert. He towed the bus to the campground, asked if we needed anything, and sat and reassured us that everything was going to work out.
So, here we sit. Right back were we started in this area, but a little better off then when we got here maybe. Still broke and broke down, but eventually getting there. Although, I still haven’t found the short in the electrical, we did get the brake lines fixed and can at least get the bus started, now we just have to get more money in the coffers to try and start out again.