Tattoos Page and the first tattoo of the trip!

I’ve built a new page where I’ll be documenting all the tattoos I get during the trip. You can see that from either clicking the ‘Tattoos‘ link above, or going to .

I took too many of these shots.
I took too many of these shots.

We had a close call today.

Dan, Jake, Dave, and I were sitting on Dave’s porch watching all the Louisville (pronounced Lewwww-vuuuuuh) fans stream past the house from Rupp Arena when I noticed a huge tow truck. I chuckled and commented to the guys, “That’s one big tow truck, that’s the kind of thing they use to tow semi’s that have a full load…” and at that moment it struck me. It being the realization that the tow truck was most likely headed to pull our bus away from Maxwell Street. Maxwell street, the street where my buddy lives. The street where we were lucky to find a parking spot a couple of blocks from Dave’s place. The street where an impending pain in our collective asses was about to occur. The street this monster tow truck was driving down and likely hooking up the bus and heading to a police impound and thereby bending us over and fucking us in the ass with fines and costs.

I quickly voiced my concerns to everyone and everyone was in agreeance. I started jogging up the street in the hopes that the tow truck had not started hooking up the bus to be pulled away into a land of costly fuckery. As I arrived, huffing and puffing, I was heartened to see that the tow truck had just started getting into place but no actual work to hook up the bus had been done. The red and blues of Lexington’s finest were strobing in the lane next to the Big Bomber. In between sucking in air, I explained to Mr. Policeman the situation… namely, That’s My Bus and Please Don’t Fuck Me. Mr. Policeman conferred with (and deferred the decision to) the tow truck driver and as luck would have it, Mr. Tow Truck Man wasn’t in a punitive mood to make a buck at my expense. God Bless Louisville for coming up with a win, or Mr. Tow Truck Man’s significant other for waking him up the right way, or Mr. Tow Truck Man’s kind soul, or whatever circumstance came to play in my favor today. For that, I thank you unknown circumstances.

Mr. Policeman, who had a cadet (whatever a copper in training is called) shadowing him, explained that we would have to pay a $15 fine and told me that I would just have to move the bus every 24 hours. A minor pain in the ass but compared to the alternative, clearly preferable. I thanked him for not fucking me and he and his retinue fled the scene. Before he left he made an odd observation to us, namely, “Someone called and complained, you’ve got those Florida plates and that Detroit on the front and you know it gets people worried…” which at the time didn’t seem that odd as I was just happy to not get shit on. The most I can gather from that statement is: You’re not from here, so you got lucky I didn’t fuck you on that basis. Duly noted Mr. Policeman, however I will not be covering up the DETROIT lettering I spray painted onto the bumper.

Prior to all of this happening, Dan had put a slice of pizza in the oven to reheat. While running an electric oven that you’re not directly monitoring isn’t that big of a deal, doing so with a gas oven is foolhardy. Dave has a gas oven. An old gas oven. An old gas oven that occasionally gives off a faint odor of natural gas. So, Dan’s slice of pizza cooked away while we parked the bus and Dave picked us up. Dan had mentioned this while we were driving to find a spot but we were all so shocked into stupidity at the moment that we didn’t immediately call Dave and ask him to go turn off the oven. By the time we piled into Dave’s car and I mentioned this to him, perhaps 30 minutes had passed. We had a collective “Oh Shit” moment and rushed to back to the house.

The short end of the story is that Dan’s pizza was alright albeit a little bit burnt, but otherwise edible. I’ll call today a Win as we didn’t blow up Dave’s house and we didn’t get the bus impounded. Here’s to barely not fucking up. Who needs a nap?

PS~ Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the event, I was a bit too frazzled to snap photos… also I had left my phone in the house.

PPS~ I’m dumping the photos I’ve taken between the last update and now. We went to a undergrad college bar down the street called Two Keys. They have a couple of beer pong tables, and that night they raced what appeared to be guppies (folks kept insisting they were gold fish, but we have our doubts that they were gold fish). The other pictures are from last night when we went out to Dave’s buddy Erik’s apartment to watch the Minnesota v UCLA game. ‘Sota won, also we had to climb through a hole in the fence.

Charlie Brown and quick video

Just dropping in a quick update; We went out to a bar called Charlie Brown. They had a good selection of beers and a solid vibe. If you’re in Lexington it’s worth checking out (the address is: 816 E Euclid Ave Lexington, KY 40502).

Also, at the request of a friend here’s a quick video of the bus ‘finished’ (with this kind of project I feel like you’re never really ‘done’ with it):

Sock choices

I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to Red Wings wool socks. I bought a pair right before the trip and these things have been tremendous. I had no idea how awesome wool socks were. Seriously, if you’ll be wearing boots for any period of time, you should buy at least 1 pair of wool socks.

First few days in Lexington, KY

Michigan was really great to us on the day we were leaving and left us with 4 inches of snow. Thanks for the cold embrace Mitten! We still had a fair amount of packing to do, as well as a bit of work so it was kind of a bummer to do it while tracking snow everywhere. In the gallery you can see the fancy down-turned tailpipe I made using HVAC piping, some self tapping metal screws, and duct tape. Other than having a great view of Cincinnati at night, the drive from Detroit to Lexington was fairly uneventful.

Our friend Dave is getting his Ph.D (finishing his masters at the moment) at University of Kentucky and is letting us stay in his place (his roommate, Ian, is also getting his Masters and is a pretty rad guy as well) while also showing us around town. He’s located in the heart of campus which is great for us to be able to walk around and see things. My current view:
the view

My impression so far of Lexington is that of “College Town, USA.” Walking around town feels like I could be in East Lansing, or Ann Arbor. A lot of young people walking to classes, a large number of bars and eateries, and a couple lawns here and there scattered with spent beer cans. On the first night of getting into KY we went out on the town for a drink at a college bar… it’s a bit surreal going to bar where most of the patrons are freshly turned 21 year-olds as I’m reaching the near side of 30 (we wanted to go to an Irish bar, but seeing as it was ‘fake’ St Patty’s day we figured it would be a shit show). It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, it’s that there is a huge gap of experience between myself and that kid who is going to a bar for the first time. Maybe as that gap widens that relationship will become more interesting to me, but right now it’s just amusing when some cheesy macho man is mean-mugging me because I’m talking to his girlfriend (as part of that story: ran into fraternal twin girls, who were really cute, so Dan and I were chatting them up. Apparently while we were asking them deep probing questions like, “If you get punched, does she feel it?” and cackling, the dudes they were with were just eyeballin’ us. That information coming from Jacob and Dave. You know what I say to those ‘tuded up brehs? Deal with it.)

An astute observation from Jacob: When it rains, college girls here dress like Harriet the Spy.
We’re awaiting photo evidence to share (we’ve seen a couple good examples, but they were a bit too far to snap a creeper photo to share).
Harriet the spy

I’ll post again when I have more to share.

Oh yeah, before I forget:

Packing. Batteries installed. Leaving.

Matt and I went out and spent the money on batteries and some 2/0 gauge cable. 25ft of that shit is not cheap. We learned how to make battery cables which was cool. The bus is finally an autonomous unit. Tested the generator to the inverter charger.Tested the AC to the invert. Tested the batteries.

We ran into issues initially when trying to charge the batteries from AC power and the generator. The inverter would ramp up and then shut off. Ramp up. Shut off. We were both really worried that the inverter had issues. We ended up grabbing a network cable and hooking up our xanbus control panel. I had read a review that the inverter tries to pull 150amps to charge the batteries. I turned the charge rate to 40% and lo and behold the inverter is able to charge the batteries!

All of the big items were basically done after that. We finished our propane hookup. Dragged the trailer over. More finish work. I have limited pictures, but I’m sure we’ll have more to come. Jacob showed up today (Friday) and we started really packing things into the bus. Clothes, music gear, bikes, tools, food.

For those that don’t know, we’re leaving this Saturday to travel the US and stay with friends and check out as much as possible and work from the road. It all seems unreal with it this close.  We’ll update from the road and try to take as many pictures as possible.

On a side notes, I cleaned up the cabling a bunch. Still need to clean the bus up some more.

Painting, and mounting the Tank.

Nothing like starting off a day of hard work with a mild hangover! Our friend Chris came over from Lansing for an evening out in Metro Detroit and we also met up with a new friend, Sera, who we met through Josh (who now lives in San Fran). I’ve added a couple bad photo’s I took from the night prior for reference 😉

Dan, my Dad, and our buddy Jake all took part in working on the bus this Sunday and the affects of that work are visible on all of us. Jake has a couple of burns, he’s covered in PVC cement, dirt and sweat. Dan is sore in the shoulders, back and abs from essentially doing crunches all day to paint POR-15 our new storage boxes that our Uncle Greg built. My Dad, as per usual, didn’t come out unscathed with some cuts on his hands, dirt mixed into the remaining hair he has, and I’m sure a body that will ache all day tomorrow. My Mom, who didn’t help on the bus today, is laid up with the Flu. I think I got off the easiest with my shoes, pants, and hands covered in paint and a couple of scrapes on my shins and hands. There are still vestiges of green paint on my hands from freshening up the wheels on the bus.

Today wasn’t an easy day in terms of getting work done, but we did accomplish a lot and for Michigan in early March it was gorgeous. The sun was shining on us and the temperature climbed just north of 60 degrees. My Pops designed the basic concepts for attaching the grey water tank, but as we worked on it and encountered new issues the original plan got modified (of course). The boxes that will house our battery bank, the generator, and the propane tank are all coated in POR-15. The wheels have been cleaned and repainted in a vibrant new ninja-turtle green. The PVC has been run to finish setting up the sink/shower water to the grey water (the waste valve still needs to be installed, and the PVC needs to actually be joined to the tank. The armored electrical has been placed in the generator box, and the hole for the propane line is drilled and ready to install the propane tank.

POR-15’ing the storage and building the grey water tank mount were the really involved tasks, but they’ve been completed!