Made it Home

(Note: The beginning of this story arc starts here, you should probably go back and read this if you haven’t already.)

Well, I made it back home, and I’m typing this blog entry up now, rather than hand-writing it in my notebook. I was going to sit in the bus and hand-write it before I came upstairs, but by the time I got home it was already getting dark, the mosquitoes were coming out, and I was tiiiiired! It’s been a long drive, and a long day; but I guess I should start at the beginning.

I got started this morning at around 8:00 or so. I knew I needed to get up early to get started so last night, before I went to bed, I made a promise with myself that I would get up and around as soon as I got up to pee, assuming that it was light out when I did. Now that’s not a 100% accurate alarm, but it does put my rise time within a pretty defined window, I’d say between 6:00 and 8:00. Anyway, I got up, did my aforementioned business, then packed up all my loose ends, brought down the top and hit the road.

Now, let me turn the page back to yesterday (so to speak) when I put the valve cover back on. The gasket, you know, the one that was warped and slightly misshapen? It turns out warped and slightly misshapen gaskets don’t seal so well. So where, before, I had a “pretty bad leak” in the left valve cover, now I’ve managed to upgrade it to “if you drive like that, you’re crazy” status. We all know I’m crazy.

So, I said before that the Bus was “hemorrhaging oil,” but that was before I knew what a real hemorrhage looked like. My first stop this morning was in Paradise so I could buy a couple quarts of (very expensive) SAE 30 oil. I also topped off the oil (most of the first quart) and advanced the timing a little bit. I drove through the U.P. with one eye on the oil light and the other on the road, but didn’t have any complaint from the light.

Second stop: Java Joe’s in St. Ignace. It’s become a traditional stop on the trip home because of their great coffee, great food, and great atmosphere. Oh, and Joe’s pretty great too. While there I pulled out my neat and nifty new smart phone and ordered $500 worth of parts, shipped 2-day so they’ll arrive on Monday. It’s amazing how quickly you can go through money ordering car parts. After an expectedly sensational breakfast (and 3 cups of coffee!), I went out to the Bus to survey the oil situation. I added a little over 3/4qt. of oil and headed on my way toward Da Bridge.

I crossed Da Bridge without too much incident and kept rolling South. The going was a little rough, but through trial and error the Bus and I managed to work out a speed we both liked, somewhere around 55-60MPH; that’s where it seemed to run the smoothest, anyway. All this driving at speed and still no complaints from the oil light. I decided, though, that it’d be smart to stop often (every 50 miles or so) to check the oil and let her cool down.

I made it to the Gaylord Meijer, about 60 miles from Java Joe’s, and went in and bought 5 quarts of Meijer brand SAE 30; they were about $3/qt. cheaper than the oil I bought in Paradise. I put in another 3/4qt. of oil and I also filled her up with gas, premium gas! I figured that if I was asking those two nearly-dead cylinders to put out, I’d better give them something a little more explode-y to work with.

My next stop was in Prudenville. It was here that I formed the ritual that became so familiar today: stop, make a phone call and chit-chat for 20 minutes or so, check the oil, add about 3/4qt., drive off. And that’s precisely what I did in Prudenville, then 50 miles later in Pinconning, then 50 miles later in Birch Run, and one last time in Brighton.

There’s something about driving a trip in 50 mile chunks that’s really different from what I’m used to. It seems like it broke it up a little, and made it more memorable in a way. Instead of a long, unending slab of concrete, I have these distinct points of interest (though none of them were very interesting) that turned one long trip into a bunch of short trips. Nonetheless, it /was/ a long trip!

I pulled into the driveway a little after 9:00PM, pulled her around back, drained the cooler water, brought in my pillows and the cooler, and put away my groceries and leftover beer; I’ll unpack the rest of it tomorrow. I have all day tomorrow to get the engine out and get the head off, and that’s all I can do tomorrow because the replacements don’t get here until Monday. I’m just glad we made it home in one piece, I need to make a personal apology to 1st gear, it got a real thrashing today.

More news tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll get time to actually put this all up on a new blog somewhere so you can actually read it! Now, I’m gonna’ go take a nice, hot, modern shower!

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