Today, at about 4pm, exactly 4 hours AFTER I said we'd be leaving "For Sure", we did it. Pulled out of the driveway. Our kind neighbor Karin came by, probably sensing the impending departure with her mother senses on high alert since we had been trying to leave for about 6-7 days..... She offered to help, and got saddled with a trip to the dump and recycling- and it made us stop stalling and get out of town! (Thanks Karin)

Backing out of the driveway for the last time.

Descending the hill to find a level spot to connect the van to the back of the bus.

The first day, where do I start?

We rolled away from the house as if against a clock, the same clock that had been counting down past our original departure date that had passed by over w week. Why so frantic to leave today? A combination of things: Bruce the neighbor is teasing me that he gets up in the morning and looks out the window before announcing that "The bus is still here!". Today our daughter Lauren asked Kelly if she should start unloading the bus- because she had loaded all of her stuff, and it looked like we were going to be another day later. THAT did it for me. Even if we had driven 2 miles before setting up camp, we were going to be leaving no matter what.

So our destination is Los Angeles. There, we will have the windows replaced, the differential checked and probably welded, the air valve or air bag replaced in the front end, and etc etc I'm sure. (Etc, etc is code for 'additional expensive items not yet revealed).

Towing the van is worth a mention. Kelly offered to drive it down the mountain canyon (to get some peace and quiet), and I assured her that we would want to get the experience of having it tagging along to see how the brakes and everything holds up with a full cargo and people and fluid load.

No problems with the mountainous descent.

It was the ascent up Interstate 70 outside of Denver that caused the emergency evacuation.

The van weighs about 6800 pounds, the bus weighs about 46,500 pounds. Going up a 6-7% grade on a hot afternoon, it would have been a safe bet to say things were going to get warm at least.

About 5 miles up the Mount Vernon Canyon, a new indicator light went on. It was red, and featured an image that resembled a sun rise. Half circle at  the bottom, topped by 3 rays reaching upward. I took note of it as I was watching the temperature gauge hover in the 210 range, but not going above, and dropping a little here and there with shifting and slowing etc.

After about a mile of the new RED indicator light coming on, I asked Kelly to pull out the Operators Manual and tell me what exactly that meant, and what would happen if it stayed on.

From previous experience (yesterday) I know that the engine is SO smart, it will shut itself off if it deems such action necessary. (A coolant probe was the culprit yesterday). Chalk 'coolant probe cleaning' up to experience.

I was afraid that the engine might decide to shut itself off, and I wanted to be prepared.

Kelly looked and looked and finally read about our new illuminated lamp with enthusiasm: "This indicates a possible FIRE or overtemperature condition in the engine compartment. The bus should be stopped immediately, and the passengers should be evacuated until the fire or cause of the warning can be verified".

I didn't SEE any smoke trailing us.

I didn't SMELL anything burning.

... but I was almost stopped on the side of the road as she finished her sentence, and we took a quick look.

I should mention that the temperature gauge was indicating a falling temperature during this discovery, so it all came together OK.

Now, about the van.

Going over the plan after we determined there was no fire, but we needed to jump start the van.

We decided without much discussion to disengage the van, and Kelly would drive it along behind the poor old bus for the rest of the long ascent to Vail Pass (6-7% grades up and down for miles, including the Eisenhower Tunnel).

Now was a pretty good time for the battery to back out of it's responsibilities to start the van, so it did.

Probably was partially my fault for the way we set up up the power for the towing equipment (from the van battery). Although a minor draw, leaving the key in the ACC position to allow the wheels to track also kept some electrical equipment ON in the van, and took all the energy it had.

Pushing the van into a positon that we could jump it with one of the bus's batteries. I pulled off to take a picture, Trevor pulled off to avoid the picture, and Ethan muscled it into place.

We did discuss Kelly driving all the way to Glenwood Springs and meeting there to spend the night. We stopped at the summit of Vail Pass and got a snack for everyone in lieu of actual dinner, then tucked in the little kids. Kelly took her PBJ and caffeinated soda to the van and we took off. On the way, Lauren peeled off to brush her teeth and go to bed, and Trevor took a hot shower, then sat up front and chatted for a bit before he too went down.

Arriving in Glenwood Springs, we made a couple of laps and found a few "No Overnight Camping" signs, and ended up at the High School lot. In order: internet connection check (found free wifi), then input local police freqs into scanner to get the heads up if they were coming for us, then the school schedule to see if they had started school and would be arriving early (we are taking up a few faculty spots), and finally, to update you all on the first official day of this great trip.

230 miles down.

When we first started looking at buses, we considered Bluebird Wanderlodges. They are cool looking! We passed it going uphill and he passed us going downhill about 4 or 5 times each.

Now, 115 am, it's time for me to hit the hay, and be ready to head to the parts store in the morning, to rewire a few things and replace the battery.

Kelly mentioned heading over the the 'locals' hot springs spot- located adjacent to the I-70 on-ramp. (When I say adjacent, I mean almost in the lane of traffic kind of close).

It will be another fun adventure.