Watson Mill Bridge

While we did get the bus back after nearly two weeks of floating between various hotels and Corrinne’s parents house, we still weren’t quite ready to hit the road. The bus was running much better, but I still wanted to replace the carburetor and get new wheels and tires before we left. Both of those things involved ordering parts and — my least favorite thing — waiting.

We tried to get back out to Fort Yargo, but the campground was booked up the Friday night we were trying to leave, so we ended up on the other side of Athens at Watson Mill Bridge State Park.

It’s a place we’ve been quite a few times for the day, but never overnight. But it has a river for the kids to play in and a small campground that no one seems to use — we slid in around dinner time on a Friday and there were plenty of spots still available after we parked.

chopping fire wood photographed by luxagraf
Chopping fire wood the old fashioned way.

The first night was a continuation of our “tent camping in an RV” routine. We still had no city water lines, no hot water tank and no propane inside the bus. I spent the next couple of days taking care of all that and quite a few other projects on the list. By the time we left a week later the bus was actually something like a real RV, with cushy features like running water (still just cold) and a working stove (the gas pressure is a bit low for my tastes, haven’t fully figured that one out, love to hear ideas beyond mine — that the regulator is a cheap piece of crap).

half finished bus photographed by luxagraf
Seats? We don’t need no stinking seats.

Not that all we did was work. There was a river to play in after all. And a massive covered bridge to walk through. There were not, unfortunately, any paddle boats though. They’re apparently just too stuck in the mud for anyone to bother getting rid of them.

There is however, s stretch of rock to the far side of the river, about 50 yards down from the falls where you can, if your butt is up for it, slide down slick mossy granite at speed that, toward the end, becomes moderately alarming. The impact at the bottom is jarring, but it’s a fun ride and jarring or no, I couldn’t say no to the kids so up and down we went well past the point where my butt was sore.

After a few days the wheels and tires were in and I drove into town and got rid of the split ring rims that have served the bus since 1969. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I hate fixing things that aren’t broken and the rims were technically not broken. However, it’s nearly impossible to get tires for them in this country and our current plans don’t have us in Mexico until at least a year from now, which is further than I wanted to go given the dry rot on the old tires.

On the plus side, the 195 R19.5 tires I put on add about 2-3 inches of more tread to every wheel and I absolutely feel it. The ride is rougher with the radials, but much more solid with the bus feeling more like it’s stuck the road and significantly less floaty. And that’s with the horribly blown out shocks we’ve got, I can’t wait to see how it rides with a nice fresh set of shocks too.

The carburetor story is significantly shorter and less happy. I got sick of calling to see if it had come in. No one at the shop ever called me and so we just blew it off. The current carb, while after market and basically a piece of crap, does, technically, nevertheless work. Most of the time anyway.

We were frustrated with the delays and tired of hanging around for empty false promises, so after a couple nights in a hotel in Athens, during one of which I nearly lost my mind stressing out about the condition of the engine and transmission, we decided to say screw it, let’s hit the road and figure it out as we go. And so we did.


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