It was a relatively quick drive from New Market to Salem, and we were grateful (especially the birthday-boy bus driver).  Dixie Caverns was smack in the middle between the shop where we had to get the hitch work done and my brother’s house, fifteen minutes away from each.  It could not have been more convenient.  (I will add that the location is about all it had going for it, the creep factor was high.)  To add to the awesomeness, my parents drove down for part of the weekend.

Seriously check out this cake that my mom made. Look at our bus!!!

The birthday celebrations didn’t stop there.  The following day my brother’s family came over along with their close friends, who have become good friends of ours over the years!  We grilled out, played cornhole, and had some seriously good dessert courtesy of said friends.

Getting burgers ready

Party time!

My nephew wants to drive

The rest of the week was packed.  First up was to get new front tires on the bus.  This ended up being a mini-fiasco.  More on that in a minute.

Big bus = big tires

We passed the time in nearby Blacksburg, stopping first at the Virginia Tech welcome center.  My best friend and her husband graduated as architects from VT and then her husband and his firm designed the building.


We then strolled around the downtown area and stopped to eat at a great little spot called Gillie’s.  When we finished up, the tire place called, and told us that the tires were on and they were done!  Oh yeah, and it turns out they actually cost twice as much as they had quoted us on the phone.

Un. Cool.

I nearly lost my mind.  We drove back, me silently preparing my speech.  I was polite.  I was kind.  I was also nearing hysteria.  They wanted us to pay almost one thousand dollars over the price we had agreed on.  He explained that their supplier had sent the newer version of the tire instead of the one he had ordered.  I showed him the text Billy had sent me with the price breakdown (oh my goodness, I was so glad he had sent that text).  I asked why they didn’t call before putting the tires on, to which he responded that he didn’t even open the invoice until they were installing them.  I said we were prepared to pay the amount he had quoted us, and no more.  He offered to take the tires off, for no charge.  I think at this point I just stared at him, trying not to scream in his face or burst into tears, my brain couldn’t decide.  Also at this point, some bug crawled down Ellie’s shirt and pants while she was waiting in the car, so she came inside freaking out and needing to run into the bathroom and strip off all her clothes.  (And then the boys, concerned for their sister, ran inside after her, but not before making sure all the windows were rolled up and the doors were locked.  With the keys still in the ignition.  Naturally.)  But through all of that, I stood my ground, and in the end they (in a very disgruntled way, I might add) declared they would need to honor the price they quoted me (how noble of you *eye roll*) since they were unable to get the supplier on the phone.  I was very happy to be parked back in our campsite with a glass of wine in my hands.  (Yes, I said hands, guzzle guzzle…)

My brother came to hang out

One of the last Haitian beers that we brought back! He’s special 🙂

Next up we had to buy and install a new toilet.  After living with the other crappy (ha) toilet for three months, it stopped flushing properly and Billy was happy to get rid of it.  I don’t know when we were deemed knowledgeable enough to install major plumbing fixtures, but there we were anyway, installing a potty.

Just checking out the height

It was smelly, and we had to deal with a broken floor flange (seriously it’s ridiculous that these terms are a part of my vocabulary now), but it was pretty straight forward and we got it done.

The next day we hit up the library.  Oh how I miss library day 🙁  Billy’s mom got each of the kids their own kindle before we left, so they’ve been able to keep reading which has been wonderful.  We also usually hit up the local library in each town, but of course we can’t bring any of those books home.  My sister-in-law was brave enough to let us check out books using her card.  And the rest of the day went like this:

Can you hear the crickets?

Midweek we hung out with our family and friends again, and they broke out an impressive display of fireworks.


Can you remember your dad always hollering at you to stand back from fireworks?  And not to touch them until you’re sure that they’re out?  But did anyone ever get hit by a firework?  Of course not.  Leave it to the Martins.

Ellie caught one in the ankle! It actually burnt her skin! Thank goodness she’s tough.

At the end of the week we took the Jeep to the hitch shop to get all the work done.  Bike rack, base plate, tow bar, braking system, it all turned out beautifully.

All hitched up!

And now, FINALLY, we can all travel in the bus together!!!

Testing those lights…

Please Lord, let it be back there when we arrive at the next stop!

Yes, that’s the bottom of the toilet box. We live on a bus. I have limited resources.

And off we went!  Goodbye, Virginia!  Next stop, Pennsylvania!!