Saturday, 5 May 2012


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After a long wait (and in very different weather from when we last saw him ) we have been reunited with Rocky. Leaving Long Beach on the 25th March, he arrived into Tilbury docks on the 30th April, and a few days later he finally arrived home .
We were very glad to see Rocky again (Named Rocky by the children as it was in the Rocky mountains that we got stuck in the snow !). We were not so happy tho to discover a stow away ....
This Female Black Widow spider had been very busy laying eggs during Rocky's journey, and decided to come out to say hello as we started to unload the spare doors from the back of the bus ! I'm not sure if she or I were more supprised by the encounter, but introductions were fairly short - and terminal !

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Monday 5th / Tuesday 6th - The last couple of days.

In the morning the bus was still there :-). Lucky that nobody would want to steal such a fine vehicle. With the dissapointment of the last few days we had opted to stay in a slightly nicer hotel. Great for the swimming pool and breakfast - not so good when you have to walk through the posh reception area taking the portable toilet up to the room for emptying!!! !
The rest of the day was spent running about getting the Bus ready for shipping and collecting a pair of doors to replace the incorrect ones we had been carrying for the last three weeks Oh, and checking out all the cool stuff that was waiting to be shipped !!
Tuesday we checked out for the last time !!
Then went to say goodbye to the Bus before cramming in a last bit of sight seeing.
All that remained was one last visit to the beach !! Then it was off to the Airport and the end of our little adventure. And we might be biased - but the flight home with Virgin was far nicer than the trip out. The crew were brilliant and looked after us really well. Such a nice way to end the journey- If only the rain that welcomed us home hadn't been quite so heavy or cold .............

Sunday 4th - The end of the road !

The good advice from the guys on the Samba forum was "Join AAA". And wow are we glad we did.
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The Tow was just over a hundred miles, but apparently would have cost us about $900 if we had not have had a recovery policy !Ouch ! With the Bus loaded we set off for LA. Initially to pick up a hire car, then drop off the Bus at the shipping company. Unfortunately it was Sunday so the place was closed. It felt very emotional, leaving our home for the last month, abandoned outside a closed warehouse on an empty industrial estate! With no other choice we headed off to find a hotel, hoping that the Bus would be there in the morning. We finally checked in at about 8 and crashed out exhausted after a very eventful day !

Sunday 4th - A few choice words for the man who "rebuilt the brakes"!!!

There are advantages of only planning to cover 60 miles a day!! Not leaving the campsite until noon makes for a nice leisurly start to the day (breakfast in bed next)! .....
... and plenty of time for digging those holes on the beach !!
Or just annoying your brother ! Leaving the campsite at noon, we stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch. Today the brakes seemed ok and the bus was running well.
View Larger Map Unfortunately that feeling was short lived. We had stopped for about half an hour for our picnic lunch, and then got back on the freeway to continue South. Very quickly it became apparent that things were far from good. The Bus was really lacking power and the smell of brakes was really strong. With the Bus barely able to maintain 25-30 mph we pulled onto the hard shoulder to inspect. The Brakes were so hot they were smoking but we couldn't stay there. The Hard shoulder was very narrow and the freeway busy, the trucks rocked the bus as they roared past, and we felt very vunerable. We had to drive on to the next exit and off the freeway. A few choice words were said about the quality of the brake rebuild as we crawled along praying that nothing hit us.
At last we made it to the off ramp - at the top of which was a very welcome McDonalds!! We celebrated being alive with ice cream all round while the sad call was made to the tow company.

Saturday 3rd - Heading for LA

We were dissapointed, but the sun was shining and the landscape reminded us all of home, so we set off South!
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Taking things easy, and with frequent stops....
.... we arrived back at our favourite campsite, Refugio.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Friday 2nd - Working on the bus

The day started with Todd treating us to waffles and sausages washed down with plenty of coffee. It was then off to work on the bus in the glorious California sunshine.... While everybody else relaxed
By Lunchtime Todd had worked his magic as best he could on the tired old Bus. The Poptop was secure again and the engine ran without cutting out all the time. Unfortunately there was was still something not quite right with the engine, but this would have to wait for a proper strip down and refurb back home. So, with repairs complete it was time for lunch ...
... and one last look at a decent engine that works ! (part of Todd's 1971 fleet!!) Then we were on our way again !! And THANKYOU Todd. We cannot thank you enough for the way you welcomed us with an open house (and fridge) and offer of help - It was a true highlight of the trip to meet such a genuine and helpful person. Thankyou.
View Larger Map By now it was mid afternoon. The Big Sur was our aim for that night which would mean a couple of hours driving but we thought it was possible if we pushed on. WRONG !! A few miles down the road we stopped for petrol to be confronted by the smell of hot brakes. Both front brakes were abnormally warm. Dissapointed, we decided to drive (gently) to the nearest campsite and asses from there. This was to be Pismo beach - but we missed the turning ! However the brakes were now behaving so we pressed on up the coast towards Morro Bay.
And what a find ! A beautiful site with very friendly camp hosts that offered any help we needed for the sick bus. The kids had the job of buying firewood for the firepit, and were chuffed to be given exta wood because they were the only people to arrive in "an old camper bus!" Meanwhile a thorough inspection of the front brake calipers showed no obvious cause of the overheating (with or without the engine running). That evening we sat around the fire (with a cold beer or two!) to consider our options. The conclusion was a hard one to accept, but we decided not to carry on North and turn back to LA and the shipping port. This way we could reduce the daily driving distance to about 60 miles and hopefully manage any further engine or brake problems.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Thursday 1st March - Breakfast guest

Not a bad location to wake up ! ...
...our breakfast guest seemed to quite like the place too !
After more hole digging, and lunch on the beach, it was back on the road again. Our journey today was up to the house of good samaritain "Todd" who had very kindly offered us a bed and some spanner weilding time to try and resolve our bus issues !
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By now the wind was blowing again and emergency repairs were required, using good old bodge tape, to hold the roof on !. Arriving at Todd's just before dark gave us time for a plesant evening of beer and VW chat!! Before a good nights sleep ready to attack the bus's ailments the next day !

The missing Days ! from Wednesday 29th

Tuesday night was spent in a motel just inland of Ventura.
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Woke up Wednesday to glorious Sunshine, so we headed off to the coast. The area around Ventura was covered in fields of strawberries - so what better choice for breakfast !
The Bus was running pretty bad by now but the scenary made up for it! First stop was on Emma state beach for a quick paddle in the surf !
For lunch we moved up the coast to Carpenteria beach. The wind had really picked up by now so what better way to keep warm than dig big holes ?! Santa Barbara was georgeous but time was against us by now so all we managed was a walk on the pier before heading up the coast to the beach campsite of Refugio. This was one of the highlights of the trip. A beautiful site, right on the beach and virtually empty. Just time to make camp before dark, and then go to sleep to the sound of crashing waves and a canvas of stars !

Sunday, 4 March 2012

89 miles short !!!

Just south of Santa Barbara it all came to an end with the smell of over heating brakes !! Its been a long day and a dissapointing way to end the trip, so its time to console ourselves with a couple of cold Coronas and see how things look in the morning !

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Life without WIFI !!!

View Larger Map Lots to tell but no WIFI ! Just updating from McDonalds carpark ! Got a few bus troubles so we have got as far north as we can and now heading back to LA and the Container port !! More to follow soon !

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Route 66 ends and the PCH begins

Los Angeles to Malibu
View Larger Map So we arrived the day after the Oscars ready for sunshine,but the forecast was for more snow!! However Nathaniel had spied the pool and prayed for blue skies and sunshine - so by 9am we were swimming (locals thought we were mad, it was a bit chilly).
The van wasn't running too smoothly today so we had to abandon the tour of L.A. streets -Azusa St. Beverly Hills and Hollywood :-(.
Changing the fuel filter hadn't helped with the engine problem, but the bus was ok once up to speed, so we headed for the freeway out of town.... To the Santa Monica pier and the end of our journey on Route 66 !!
The beaches were very inviting, but ...
First stop on the Pacific Coast Highway was at the Malibu Seafood Cafe for Fish & Chips - DELICIOUS !
Then spent a really pleasant day on the beaches along Highway 1 - Malibu, Leo Carrillo. Off to explore Santa Barbara tomorrow.............

Monday, 27 February 2012

Where has the sun gone !!

View Larger Map The forcast was for blustery showers and they weren't kidding. Heading down into LA was really quite scary. Driving in heavy rain and being blown all over the road was not our idea of fun !!.
Just after this picture a massive gust almost turned us into a convertible ! The hinge mechanism for the pop top on the passenger side will need some repairs now - but at least the top stayed attached !! JUST !! We pulled off the freeway and sat out the worst of the shower, then headed down into LA on the old route 66. The plan had been to drive the old 66 to the coast at Santa Monica, but the bus was struggling. The engine would die everytime we stopped at a junction or lights. A quick inspection revealed a very dirty fuel filter. This may well be the problem, but we didnt fancy experimenting in the atrocious weather. Instead, returning to the freeway, we limped into Pasedena where the Sheraton hotel kindly honoured the Virgin Atlantic crew rate! We did feel like tramps though as we checked in at the same time an immaculate crew checked out for their flight back to London !! Still, the feeling didn't last beyond the first beer, as we chilled watching the oscars highlights and reminisced over our battle with the elements !!!!