Desert Bound copyright Bernadette Mae 2019
We were both anxious leaving home. Some was good anxiety from the anticipation of the trip; on the other hand, some anxiety was from thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong. The best way to get over it was to hit the road. The bus was set and ready anyway. There was nothing left to do but go.
Worries started to fade as we hit the road, but soon after we got out of town the tach was running a muck and the bus seemed to be misfiring. At the last rest stop before we headed over the Cascades we stopped and pulled the out the tool box. As expected, the points needed to be adjusted, and after a little roadside maintenance we were back off again. That first hiccup proved to rid us of the last of our stress. There was no stopping us now - we have all the tools and all the extra parts we might need.
It took the entire afternoon to get over the Cascades, though Detroit toward Bend. We've been city slickers for too long both of our eyes got wide once we got into the woods. Winding roads up the mountain with little waterfalls along the road. It was a good thing we waited for the bad flooding to pass before we took off or we wouldn't have been able to make it though some of those roads.
Soon it stated to get chilly. Then we started seeing snow on the side of the road. I never thought I would see Sherman excited to see snow (but then again, we were just passing through and didn’t have to shovel it).
Snow covered Cascades. copyright Bernadette Mae 2019
Our first off road excursion took us down an unmarked forest road through the trees to a cinder pit. The bus climbed up to the top and there was a bit of a view. I thought the cinder pit was more for off roading, but it was littered with shotgun shells and junk used for target practice from kids having fun.
It started to get late as we got through Bend, so as soon as we got into Deschutes National Forest we looked for a place to camp. By the time we got to a forest road it was a dark so used our flashlights to find an established camp site to pull into. (We may not have upgraded to fancy modern headlights, but we sure have a killer heating system!) I made us sandwiches for dinner without even getting out of the bus and we fell asleep right after.
The heating was so worth it - when we woke up we saw a pile of snow on the ground that still hadn’t melted. We took our time drinking coffee and walking Bucky though the trees. Before heading out of Deschutes we tried to find the trailhead for the Lava Cast Forest. I must of had the wrong directions because we ended up on a road that isn’t even on the map. We were close though - there was lots of lava rocks on either side of us. While trying to traverse the incorrect road we drove up a steep incline and heard a smack on the bus. He was running fine so we didn’t think anything of it, but still decided to head back to the highway.
Evergreens and desert shrubs. copyright Bernadette Mae 2019
Out of the Cascades and into the desert we went. First, the forest got less dense, then small desert shrubs started popping up in between. Soon we were going through a desert valley. In Brothers we stopped to stretch our legs. Bucky saw his first new critter: a prairie dog - boy did he want to catch that!
Bucky looking for a prairie dog. copyright Bernadette Mae 2019
Eventually as we wound through some low mountains the exhaust started roaring. We pulled over in some kind of dirt fill off the road and let the engine cool down. So we could investigate. Sherm popped his head under the bus and found the cause: the exhaust was hanging by one bolt! It seems the bump that morning was actually a rock and dented the muffler with enough force to crack the bolts off two of the joining pipes. The high temp adhesive on the gaskets managed to keep it together for a couple hours, but it finally came loose - thank goodness there was one bolt still or we would have been looking down the sides of mountains for our elbow pipe. Sherm looked for any more damage and found everything else was ok. It seems we were in the Car Gods' favor that day.