Letters From a Bus
May 2007: Our New Bus
3rd letter for May
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Living in a Complicated, Highly Technical, Motor Home

Huntsville, AL, Bankston Motor Homes, in our Allegro Bus

Saturday, May 19, 2007 — Day Four in our new home

Every day we learn more about how to live on this bus.  It is like operating our own city.  We control our own water, electricity, gas, heating and cooling, and garbage.  All our utilities are in the basement of the bus — underneath the floor where we live.  It is like living in a highly technical satellite in space.  It is so much more sophisticated than our little house on Frontero Ave. that was built in the fifties.  We have to learn about amps and fuses and batteries.  We have to change filters and check coolant levels.

We have something called AquaHot that provides us with hot water.  Inside, the coach has a thermostat that controls three zones: one in the living area, one in the hall/bath area and one in the bedroom.  There are settings for each zone.  For example I can set the LR to 72 degrees and the BR to 69 degrees if I want.  And there are modes.  Do you want OFF, or heat or cool by electricity, or heat or cool by gas and electricity?  We had no A/C at Frontero and we had one thermostat that controlled the heat for a 3BR 1.5BA house.  There were two zones: the LR was cold, cold, cold and the BRs were hot, hot, hot.  And the forced air was very noisy.  This system is so quiet you don't know it is running.

Yesterday we walked across the street to sit with Ray Cyree and we signed the paperwork.  Now we officially own our forty-two foot Allegro Bus.  We went out to dinner — at the Red Lobster again, but this time we celebrated properly with a touristy lobster and shrimp dinner.

The sold sign was on the windshield of our bus when we first saw it. 5/16/07
On Friday, May 18th, Ray went over the paperwork and we officially owned our bus. Dennis made me write a check for the balance of our downpayment, $44,000. I was so nervous I misspelled and wrote fourty-four. So much for the English Lit. major.... Bankston Sales Office, Huntsville, AL 5/18/07
Back to the Red Lobster. More fancy drinks. But this time we are less tired and ready to celebrate with the full lobster dinner. We signed the papers a few hours ago. 5/18/07

The next day we looked at the briefcase of papers we must study to manage these behemoth. There are all these controls that tell us about our tanks.  Do we have enough in the fresh water tank?  (You want this to be full.) Is the gray water (used, soapy) tank full?  Is the black water (you know what) tank full?  (You want these to be not full.) Learning how to dump and clean these last two tanks is quite an operation.  We have automatic awnings that go over the patio area and we have a keyless (code) entry and we have storage on pull-out slides in the basement.  On the roof is a King Dome in-motion satellite dish (for TV) and two solar panels.  (One keeps the battery charged for the residential refrigerator and the other helps to charge the other batteries.)

 I was asked about our Internet system.  Dennis has a Dell laptop that is wireless.  We have a wireless Canon printer.  We have a Novatel Air Card supported by Verizon and a Kyocera router that supports the air card so that we are both wireless to it.  I have an Apple AirPort wi-fi card installed in my G5.  In effect, we have our own wireless system.  We named it "The Bus."  (We don't have to park near a Starbucks to get on the Internet.)

We are now completely unpacked and settled in.  All systems are go and all my worries have been set aside.  The shower is excellent.  The toilet is fine.  The washer and dryer are terrific.  There is enough room for my clothes.  I can still see my TV programs and I still have my computer and Internet access.  We've made breakfast and used the propane stove burner and the microwave. In short — we are comfortable. 

Dennis has a ton of homework to study. This could take months! 5/19/07 Hmmm. Think I'll walk the dogs.... Bankston Trailer Lot, 5/19/07

But life doesn't slow down.  On Saturday, May 19th we went to a Huntsville Honda dealer and made a deal to trade in Dennis's Ford 250 diesel truck for a new Honda CRV, EX-L.  Our sales rep, Ann Lawrence, will look for one that is fully loaded with all the bells and whistles — GPS system and moon window, 4-wheel drive, etc.  (The bus is black and gray with some dark black-brown (taupe?) so of course we must have a silver Honda.  By the middle of next week we should be set with our tow car.

A word about Huntsville and/or Alabama.  Wow.  I love southern hospitality.  These folks are on a different planet from California.  They walk slow and they talk slow.  All waiters and waitresses stop to chit-chat with the people at their tables.  They search for commonality or tell stories.  Everyone says sir or ma'am to everyone else all the time.  Young people LEAP to open doors.  One apologized for not getting there soon enough.  Ray Cyree has made us feel very welcome and so has Bankston Motor Homes.  I am flabbergasted.  Yes, the food is fattening and everyone here agrees that most people are overweight.  But here's an odd thing.  Old men and women who look like they should be cranky — aren't.  They walk slow and smile and look — pleasant!  What's in the water here?

We are happy and excited.  Mikey likes it.  We would like to make time to see more of the Tennessee Valley and the mountains also.  But first, off to St. Augustine, FL.  My brother Jerry is recovering from open heart surgery and we are anxious to visit him and his wife, Marsha.

Elsa Walton — Huntsville, AL, 5/19/07

First fuel fill-up - $450 gift from Bankston at Texaco, Jordan Lane, Huntsville, AL 5/21/07
Passenger side view of our new bus parked in the Bankston Trailer Sales Lot. The jacks are down. The slides are out and the door is open. You can see Rudi looking out. Curtains are pulled across the front window to keep the bus cool and for privacy. The awnings could be out but are not. Huntsville, AL Sunday, 5/20/07
Elsa Walton, Bankston Motorhomes, Huntsville, AL, Thursday, May 20, 2007