Mid-week jumps are not ideal. Since Billy records all day long, not only does he have to stop working, but it’s kind of a pain to pack everything up. Most things in the bus are permanently secure, but there is still a fair amount of stuff that needs adjusting before we take off each time.
For example, here is Billy’s desk. If we drove with everything like this, it would all be toast.
The large monitor is bolted to the wall, so we don’t have to worry about that. We pack his laptop in his clothes drawer to travel, since it’s nice and padded. His keyboard, mouse, and other editing equipment goes in the baskets on the bookshelf. His chair gets moved over near the others under the table and then they all get tied down with a large ratchet strap. We also have to throw a rope through the items on the top four shelves.
It isn’t bad, but it does take some time to get ready. This is the sadness that happens when you forget to bungee the upper left kitchen cabinet:
It was a two hour drive, which really means about 3 1/2 hours in the bus. We chose Lake Fairfax in Reston, thinking it would make a good basecamp for finding a tow vehicle.
The first spot we were directed to was wooded and had yellow jackets and dog poop everywhere. Ew! A nice passerby suggested we move up to higher ground, since it was due to rain for the next two days. The kids found the skate park, and I was instantly the bad guy who made them leave their skateboards behind. (Oh please, I didn’t think they would use them!)
Once we got hooked up and settled in, the car hunt began. We needed something that could be hooked up easily. We primarily focused on Jeeps, since they’re known for being easy and quick to hook up. Even with Jeeps though, only some of them can be towed. We started looking at Commanders, because they have a third row and could therefore seat 7, but we were also open to five seaters, because the smaller size was appealing. Cars with manual transmissions are, for the most part, towable, and we also liked the idea of having a stickshift car for the kids to learn on down the road. In the end, we found a manual Jeep Patriot in Leesburg, and after some hard bargaining (including driving away, because we’re so hardcore), she was ours!
We were SO GLAD that the hunt was over. I hate car shopping. Shortly thereafter we got the aforementioned rain. It turned the skate park into a splash park!
Billy’s brother lives in Vienna, so we met him and my sister-in-law and my two nieces for dinner.
Billy and the kids first drove up to Linden to get Billy’s dad, then met us at the restaurant so he could drive our Explorer back to his house. Bam! Car business done!
Except not really done done. Our little Jeep didn’t come ready to tow. For it to become tow-worthy, we would not only need the baseplate and hitch installed, but also a bike rack since it didn’t come with one of those either. A few calls to some local hitch places left us feeling bummed, because the cost ranged anywhere from $3500 to a whopping $6000. On a whim we decided to call the guys in Christiansburg at B & K Truck Accessories who fabricated the hitch for the bus, and they were WAY more reasonable. We also trust them, and they know our bus. We were really anxious to begin our trek north to Maine, but decided it was worth the savings, not to mention peace of mind, to backtrack and go get the work done by our trusted friends. We would need to wait a whole week because of their schedule, but it’s not that big of a deal when your house is on wheels! We quickly made a plan to drive halfway and stay near Harrisonburg, VA for the week, and then spend the following week near Christiansburg, VA getting the work done on the Jeep.
Oh and if you’re wondering, driving stickshift again is like riding a bicycle. It comes back to you! I was nervous at first, and I had to reach far back into my brain and pluck out a file from year 15, but I did, and now it’s as easy as pie 🙂