Wow, look at this a monthly report that is within a week of the end of the reported month.
The Distance: 873 miles. Which for us is a pretty good pace considering we only had The Big Kahuna fully operational for 12 of the 31 days! In that time we cruised from Colorado slightly north and then east through nearly the full length of Nebraska, across the border into Iowa, back into Nebraska and then south into Kansas. This is all part of our newly planned route back to Florida, which has already changed somewhat.
The Places: We finished our stay with my Mom and Stepdad in Wilimington, took Loki the rest of the way back across the country to Colorado, spent another ten days in hotels in Greeley and Loveland before finally picking up the The Big Kahuna. Then it was four days in Greeley RV Park to get him and ourselves in order before starting north and eastward to Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing, Sunny Meadows RV Park, and the dirt lot across the street from Flatwater Repair in Overton. We had three days of very affordable partial hook ups at Hitchcock Nature Center, then four days free parking at Interstate Powersystems in Omaha. Finally back on the road finished out the month at Clinton State Park in Kansas. We stayed with family for two days, in hotels for thirteen, had full hook ups at private RV parks for seven, partial hook ups at public (county and state owned) parks for four, and spent five nights basically drycamping/overnighting in repair shop parking lots.
The Budget: What to say? Using the admittedly artificial budget calculation method we used for most of this year, we were still 50% over the monthly budget. A 500 computer repair, 13 days paying cash vice points in hotels, and having to fill the huge diesel tank twice this month accounted for 55% of the expenditures. As mentioned above this is an artificial budget that does not include mechanical repairs and upgrades, using the shifty logic that those come out of a separate holding fund. That fund now completely depleted, and we need to start counting those costs. If we do, then we blew the budget in an almost unfathomable way.
This week we sat down and assessed our finances: not wanting to draw anything from our retirement funds we will need to crack down on expenses for the rest of the year, hope that we have finally gotten Kahuna’s major problems sorted out, and once back in Florida slow the pace of travel for the winter. If we can claw our way back to a solid footing by March then we can look at loosening the purse strings a bit.
The Drama: Oh so much drama, again. Working with B&G in Greeley we tried to time it such that Kahuna was ready to go upon our arrival, but alas we got there 13 days too soon since the transmission was again delayed during repair and shipment, and once installed put up a fight. Once on the road we quickly realized that B&G had not quite gotten everything back in working order; we had significant leaks and the speedometer and odometer no longer worked.
As that is clearly not enough to deal with, a week after we picked him up from B&G The Big Kahuna simply refused to start when we were getting ready to leave a one night stopover park in Elm Creek, Nebraska. A mobile mechanic got us up and running, his local shop then did some electrical improvements to the starter cable connections, but sent us to Omaha to take care of the real underlying fuel-air leak problem. We spent four days at Interstate Powersystems where they fixed the core issue and the speedo/odo, but then found that the transmission repair work had some really inept jury rigged fixes to a big transmission leak, further delaying our departure. At least in the nearly five hundred miles since Interstate fixed us, we have not had any drama. Fingers crossed.
The Improvements: Other than the new leak and speedo/odo problem, the transmission is working better than it ever has. The transition between gears is incredibly smooth, and even with the extra weight towing Loki we no longer have the problem getting Kahuna to shift into overdrive that we have had since we bought the bus.
Just as critically, the alternator/generator finally works! We are now able to charge up our starter batteries while driving rather than having to use a trickle charger at each stop, which was barely sufficient to get our two huge bus batteries up to voltage. In addition to resolving the new transmission leaks, Interstate Powersystems fixed a couple of long standing oil leaks as well. Finally, our parking/hand brake now works correctly.