(continued from Part 1)
We planned out our meals, assuming that there would be days when it would be too hot to want to cook over the fire, but leaving room for a hot meal too. My wife had shopped just before we left, and had looked for some steaks to take with us. The store, however, had some ribs that were on sale (50% off!) so those were what came, along with some hamburgers, luncheon meats, hummus, snacking vegetables, cheeses, frozen pizzas, bagels … The list went on.
Luckily, our fridge is pretty big, and everything we wanted to take that needed to be kept cold fit. We also had a bunch of canned goods, soups, beans, tomatoes, spam (of course), herring, you name it. I usually keep a stock of those on the bus, but we added in some more soups and things.
By 11:00 am, we were all packed up, the house was secure (after being locked and alarmed and then me realizing that ALL my directions were sitting on the kitchen table!) and we started off. It was a pretty nice day, and after a quick weekend trip to Sprague Brook Park the weekend before (as a sort of shakedown trip) I’d filled the tank, so we were all set.
Except that the inverter wasn’t working.
I didn’t think it was a big deal, and we just kept going. Along through New York on I-90, the speed limit was 65 mph, which is the top end for the bus, so that was fine. It was a hot day though, and the temperatures kept creeping up over 200, so I feathered things a little to watch that.
I was also watching the output from the backup camera that I had finally installed. It does a nice job, the static lines on the screen indicating about 1′, 3′, 5′, and 12′ from the rear bumper. It also has a large field of view as I mounted it just up above and to the side of the rear door. (It was a little odd at first though, as the 140 degree fish-eye picks up the break and signal lights!) The screen is nice, because if I turn the power to the camera off with a handy dash switch, it goes to sleep until it gets a signal form the camera.
But I had plenty of time to get used to the camera and watching temperature gauge along in New York. The I-90 through Pennsylvania, though, had sections of the 90 that had a 70 mph limit, which meant that I was holding some of the trucks back (especially on some of the steeper hills where we lost speed). I really felt badly about that, but we continued on into Ohio.
Which also had 70 mph speed limits.
And the hills got steeper, so our average speed dropped some more.
Many people don’t realize that there’s a major watershed divide in Ohio, and as we headed south from Cleveland, we were heading uphill toward that. Using a really cool website called www.flattestroute.com, I’ve been to find out the grades of the possible routes that we’ve looked at to travel on. The route from Buffalo to Cincinnati is interesting as we start out in Buffalo at about 600 feet above sea level, and end up at about 485 feet above sea level at Cincinnati, but hit altitudes of almost 1400 feet along the way.
Just for interest, the first peak on that altitude graph is just east of Erie, PA (1259′), with the next lowest point being just east of the Pennsylvania/Ohio state line (677′), followed by the low point at the I-90 and I-271 interchange (648′). The next high point was near Woodmere (1193′), but when we got to where 271 crosses the Cuyahoga Valley National Park it was lower (968′), only to rise again when we got to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River/Mississippi River Watershed boundary, just south of Medina, OH at about 1216 feet. Then it was down again near Burbank (920′), and finally up to the highest point of our trip near Lexington, at 1391 feet, before our next low point just south of Lou Berlinner Park in Columbus (707′). Another climb after we were out of the city brought us to the next high point at Exit 58 for Bowersville (1078′), then the next low near Mason, OH (762′), the next high point near Landon (871′), then finally the low of the Ridge Road Exit where we got off for the night (588′).
So, just looking at our starting and finishing altitude for our first day, we went down 12 feet, but if you look at even just the major high and low points along that day’s route, our ups and downs total some 5210 feet of altitude change!
And by the time we hit Jeffersonville, we were near a quarter tank of fuel, and decided to stop at a Love’s for fuel. As per all of the travel stops that I’ve been to, I expected that the diesel pumps to be set for easier access for large vehicles, and away from the gas pumps. Accordingly, Love’s has a banks of diesel pumps, and all the trucks are lined up right there, so I pull the bus in. We wait for 10-15 minutes for the trucks ahead to fill, clean their windshields, and finally move ahead, and try to run our cards in the automated pumps. Not a single one of them is accepted, they’re all declined.
I go through a minor panic, and my wife runs in to find out if there’s something wrong with the card reader. And she has to wait on line for several minutes to find out that ALL of the pumps in those banks only take corporate cards, not regular credit cards. If we want to use a regular card, we have to go to the one pump mixed in with the gas pumps that dispenses diesel. Which I was able to do. And finally we got filled up and were back on the road.
Anyhow, we have friends who live not far from the Ridge Road exit in Cincinnati, so we got to drive down some lovely quiet little streets to get to theirs. We had talked about parking in front of their house on their dead-end street, but there were too many cars, and the exhaust pipe of the bus scraped about half-way up the slope of the entrance to their driveway, so backing in there didn’t work either. So it was a multi-point turn (made much easier by the back-up camera) to turn around head the bus back out on their small street where we parked in the lot of a small apartment building at the end of the street that was in renovations (and our friends knew the manager who said it was okay).
We were treated to a great meal and a tour of their house (all the cabinets were hand-made by our friend Jeff, and they’ve stripped and refinished all the original woodwork, so it was great). The rain which had been forecast for our trip had been spotty as we got close to Cincinnati, but really let loose once we stopped. But at that point, it didn’t really matter, we were tired and ready to sleep.
Without the inverter running (and since I don’t have the LP plumbed for the fridge yet), our fridge was a big cooler. We had some worries, but there wasn’t much we could do right then, so we just left the doors closed.
The first day of the trip was done, and tomorrow would be a Kentucky day …
(continued in Part 3)