Like they say- when life gives you a flat tire, pick lemons! ... or something like that. Conveniently we pulled off the road for the flat at a beautiful lemon orchard.

You know how you get a feeling about something? Maybe you think about having meatloaf for dinner- then you get home and there’s meatloaf on the table? How about pulling away from the curb and thinking that you haven’t checked the tire pressure for a few days- then get rocked by an explosion a few miles later when the rear tire blows out? It was something like that. We have a handy-dandy tire pressure monitoring gauge right up front next to the captains chair that tells the pressure of all of the tires at a glance, and alarms when any of the tire pressures drop or increase remarkably. A case of trusting the electronics gone bad here; I pushed the thought of manually checking my tires as we rolled out, and trusted the readout. What did I learn? Check the tires manually before a big trip. We were on the way to the Peanut Patch in Yuma, and were going to get there right as the tour started, so not a minute to lose, and pulling away from a country intersection there was a shot. Like a guy fired off the Remington 870 12 ga shotgun right outside the door- accompanied by a dramatic blast of dust and debris out both sides and the back (as I would learn later from the kids in the van that were following us). It was a very convenient place to stop and take care of things- we pulled into a very generous pullout to assess what had happened. At first I was sure we’d blown out a front airbag, which I quickly calculated as I pulled over would run about half a million dollars to fix and we’d have to get a tow to Texas. But as we looked down the side of Bussie, it was clear (by the tire hanging off the rim) that we’d merely lost a tire. That made it easy to smile and say ‘no thanks’ to the Marine fuel tanker that stopped almost immediately to offer aid, and the motorcycle sheriff that asked a minute later. I knew we could call for roadside assistance on a tire without too much problem- we were well stocked on food, had fuel to run electric, were off the road safely and it would be like we had just stopped for the night at a new place. Trevor and I stayed behind to take care of things and Kelly pushed ahead to the tour that was set to begin in just minutes. The insurance folks came through and there was a tire repair guy on the scene within an hour. There was a little bit of head scratching at how we would be lifting the bus up high enough to swap out to our spare (the mans jack was too high), so I pulled out the firewood and he made a little ramp to drive onto and get us a couple of more inches, and successfully get high enough to raise the 30,000 pound rear end. While we were stopped waiting for the repair truck, a guy stopped just ahead of the bus, and popped out of his compact sedan. Well groomed kid about 20 years old, with a cell phone held to his ear continuously. He paced up one side of the road about 1/8 mile, then crossed the highway and shuffled back and went another 500 feet, apparently looking for something. When a couple of military trucks passed by he unsuccessfully tried to flag them down, then went back to looking, and talking on his phone. Finally, I had to ask him if he needed any help? He looked troubled. He replied with enthusiasm that he was looking for the thing that flew off of a military truck and hit his car, and left a big hole in it- and he really didn’t know what to do- and if he could find it he would know what it was. He was beside himself, but something seemed strange about it, and as much as I like to help people I don’t know- this one was one we were gonna pass on. He looked a few more minutes, then left in a cloud of dust.

This proves that the kids will be just fine with a pile of dirt and 2 sticks. Lemon orchard, sunny afternoon, nice day to be parked along the side of the road in Southern Yuma, AZ.

Kelly and the kids returned from the Peanut Patch, which turned out to be more of a processing center for products that they purchased and repackaged and shipped- although they did make a few products there. They used to grow peanuts on site, but now purchased them from California and Texas because of the white flies that had destroyed the peanut crops in AZ. When they returned to the bus, they wandered a bit through the adjacent lemon trees and recovered some fallen lemons for a quick glass of lemonade, and the repair was done and we got underway to our next stop- the tire repair shop. Options: new tire on tag axle $500., or move spare tire to good tire rim (shiny aluminum matching rim) and drive on the spare: $50. Seeming to be a safe economical bet, we took the $50 option and were on the way in about 90 minutes. Kelly had gone ahead to drop off some letters at the post office, and we were well on our way to catch up with her, when we had to stop again. We had to take the next exit and meander back around to the frontage road to get there, and I called Kelly to let her know we’d be a bit longer. She laughed and said that she had also seen where I stopped when she went by and hoped I would miss the sign. I did not miss it- since the banner was about 20 feet long and in 24” letters it was clearly legible from the highway “CB RADIO REPAIR”, hanging on the side of a well used camper adorned with antennas. I had been stymied by my CB radio ever since I put it in, and hadn’t been able to raise any good buddies or even listen in on the trucker chatter for the last 4 thousand miles! I decided in that split minute before we reached the exit that we would either get the radio to work, or pull it out.

What you can't see is this guys awesome banner- so simple, but effective- easily seen from the highway and it pulled our money in! But now, we're listening to skip and local chatter and putting out nearly 30 watts. I just don't have a good CB handle yet. Any ideas?

Turns out the CB guy spent lived in Fort Collins previously and knew where we came from (it’s about an hours drive from home), so with that connections- and that his first name was Kelly- I knew we were going to make this work. It did. We got back on the road and listened to our audio book across Arizona, arriving in Tucson at our new friend the Cracker Barrel. Sure enough, plenty of parking, free WiFi, and an In-N-Out burger down the street. Trevor and I were the only ones still awake, so we unhooked the van and got set up, picked up a late night snack and watched something on Hulu before settling in around 1230am.

Getting ready to pull out of last nights camping spot along I-10.

Wednesday morning, we’re up and at em headed to the free sewer dump at Merrigans Road Runner RV store just a few miles away and I noticed that the air gauge for the drive and steer axles are both losing air at the same rate, then building back up, then losing again- and I’m not applying the brakes. We made our deposit, and asked the man at the RV service place for a recommendation on bus/truck repair and headed there. I take full responsibility for this problem, and any others that may come up for saying on Monday (out loud) “Wow, it’s weird that nothing mechanical has gone wrong”.

Who needs an expensive ladder? After dark at the Tucson park we overnighted at while waiting for our service appointment, I had the chance to work on the antenna. Perfect fit. Puts us right at 15' high- like a curb feeler for bridges and overhead obstructions.

They couldn’t get to it until afternoon, so we settled into their lot and worked on school. They tracked down the problem to a faulty ABS air valve, which would take a couple of days to get here from Florida.

We made our appointment to come back Friday morning and see if it takes care of the problem. Now, breakfast and heading to the repair shop. Today will have to be a field trip day- maybe the PIMA air museum or Old Tucson movie set. More on our opinion about Tucson and this area once we’re gone. Hopefully enough time has elapsed since I made that dumb remark about no trouble, and things will get better.