Shake Down Trip #1

Published by on October 16, 2016 at 11:34 am

Since we have finished the construction on our bus and our departure date isn’t until the end of the year, Zack and I have been trying to use the weekends to do small ‘shake down’ trips to find and fix any issues we have before hitting the road. And don’t you worry, we have found plenty in only a few outings.

Based on the things we have discovered, I highly recommend doing these kinds of trips. When something did go wrong, we were close enough to family/friends that someone could come help us out (thanks a million Cory!!!). We have also gotten a better feel for the space and have a better idea of the things we need… and the things we don’t.

Trip #1

The first trip was one that I never intended to go on. Zack took the bus and went to Sam’s Throne for the weekend to take photographs and hang out with his friends. Friday night I got a call from Zack.

“Hey, a belt broke in the bus. I’m going to need you to come get us in the morning. Don’t worry though, we limped it into the campsite.” Apparently a big trash bag got sucked under the bus and wrapped up in the belt, tearing it off.


The offending belt

Uhhhh, ok. So early Saturday morning I set off with a partially charged phone and some general directions from Zack to get everybody. Oh yeah, and on my way out the door, my parents told me that my sister is going into labor. This, I could tell, was going to be a long day. I only made it 70 miles before our Jeep appeared to be having issues as well. With my phone almost dead, the car making grinding noises, and the good ol’ check engine light on, I stopped and called Zack in a panic.

He couldn’t really do anything for me as he was stuck in Township, AR.  I tried to call Zack’s dad, as he was the closest, but he didn’t answer and my parents were at the hospital. In the end, Cory to the rescue!!! Zack’s soon to be brother in law was going to come rescue us. But unfortunately he was coming from Hot Springs, an extra 50 miles south of Little Rock.

Zack originally had the plan that I would pick him up and get everyone back home. We would order the belt and then go retrieve the bus next weekend. I wasn’t too thrilled with leaving the bus abandoned for a week but I had no other ideas. When Cory heard that it was the belt that broke, he decided to call around and see if he could find one so we didn’t have to leave the bus. While I sat stranded and phoneless in the Dollar General parking lot in Pottsville, AR, Cory saved the day. A few hours after the Jeep broke down, I was surprised and very very happy to see Cory, with a belt in hand.


Unrelated to the story. We have a lack of pictures for this post, as I was freaking out all day and Zack & Lola were having a photo shoot.

As we drove the last 60 miles to get Zack, Cory proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t find a belt for the bus, but he found a lawnmower belt in the same size that we could try. I quickly lost my optimism but at least I wasn’t stranded anymore. A few wrong turns later, we finally made it to Sam’s Throne and found the guys. We quickly got the temporary belt on and packed up to leave. Cory took off to head back to Hot Springs and we drove back to where I had parked the Jeep. Driving (or really riding, in my case) a bus with a lawnmower belt was a little nerve wracking but we made it back to Pottsville, where the Jeep was.

Zack gave the Jeep a once over and we decided to drive it as far back as possible. If we were going to have to tow it, the closer to Conway we were, the better. So I hopped in the Jeep to take off, and Zack in the bus. My phone was still dead, but if I had to pull over in the Jeep, the bus would be close behind. The bus had made it so far on the lawn mower belt, we weren’t too worried about it anymore.

I finally made it back to Conway and was glad to have made it all the way back. I was getting out of the car at Zack’s parents house when his mom yelled over to me: “Zack wants you to call him. The belt melted off and the bus is stuck in Morrilton.”

Holy shit, you have to be kidding me.  My phone was dead so he couldn’t call me to turn around. So thankfully, they called a friend’s wife to come pick them up. When Zack finally made it home, we started talking about what to do. It was sooo close to being back and we didn’t want to leave it at a busy truck stop without good security on the bus. So he set out to find the same lawnmower belt that Cory found. If it made it 75 miles on one belt, a new one would be able to make it the last 20 to Conway. Thankfully the O’Reilly’s in Conway had some that would work. They even found that they had the belt we really needed at the store in North Little Rock. Score.

Suffice it to say, we bought another lawnmower belt to get us home and the next day we went to get the real thing. I left Little Rock at 7am to get Zack and we didn’t make it back to Conway with the bus until about 8:30 at night. I don’t know that I have ever been so glad that a day was over.

Lessons learned:

  1. We need to carry spare belts and other parts that could easily break. Not to worry. We now have the correct belt on the bus, a spare one, and a backup lawnmower belt…if all else fails.
  2. We need to take the Jeep with us as a tow vehicle. Many times over the last year we have debated whether we will really need the Jeep. Up until this trip, we had decided not to tow it. After this trip, we will definitely be towing it. Our intentions are to travel on back roads. We want to be on the interstate as little as possible. With this being said, if we were to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, an extra vehicle will come in handy to travel to the nearest city, etc.
  3. Cory is the best!!

Oh, and here is baby Leo. After 24 hours of labor, he wasn’t born until early the next morning.


Oh, hai everybody

This was all too much to relive in one blog post, so trip #2 is coming soon.


A born and raised Arkansan, Annie has always had the desire to get out and travel. To explore new places and experience new things. It wasn't until she was in college that she really discovered her love for the outdoors: biking, hiking, kayaking. Growing restless with her 8-5 job in a cubicle she and Zack were looking for ways to get more fulfillment out of their lives and to do what they really loved. So what better way than to buy a school bus and travel the country!

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