Taking a 22yr NC Bus through the CO mountains

How does that song or saying go…you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? The last few weeks of our trip have felt that way. The night we stayed at the mushroom farm in SC, our inverter stopped working!

The inverter serves to convert our battery power from DC to AC. Our fridge and the electrical outlets in the bus need the AC power to run.

Initially the issue seemed that the inverter was over heating so we did some simple things to try and resolve it. The first few days that the inverter was acting up, we could get it to work for several hours at a time before it would start throwing error codes.

One thing we did to try and help, was add more ventilation. Turns out that wasn’t the problem at all.

This shifted our plans and stopping points because without the inverter we needed to be plugged in at night to keep the fridge going. So we quickly readjusted and found a campground in Daniel Boone National Forest that had spots with power, where we could stay.

That next stretch of the trip to Northern IL was pretty straightforward; taking us through Louisville and Indianapolis. Audrey tried her hand at driving the bus for the first time since we’ve converted it and that was an experience; not really a break for Paul at all!

Headed to Northern IL; Chicago in our rear view.

We spent a long weekend in IL/WI visiting family before heading on to TX. The weather while we were there was a nice break from the heat of the south! We had some time to kill before getting to TX so we spent a few days parked at a campground near Ouachita Lake. The park was fun; close hiking and pretty views. Plus we cooked meals in the bus which doesn’t happen as much when we’re parked with friends and family.

The trip into TX was long and on mostly smaller back roads. They had the cheapest gas on our route thus far! We spent time with friends north of Houston and then west of San Antonio. Each area had pretty different terrain but both were very hot! It was 101 at one point on our drive through TX.

As we headed out of the state towards CO, we spent one night near Amarillo and stopped by the Cadillac Ranch.

Getting to CO was a nice break from the heat; but that’s when the engine started heating up as we began driving into the mountains. The engine had been great up until that point; we were barely over the state line when we had to pull over and let the bus cool down. It took about a day driving through the mountains, to get a hang of how to best manage the bus temps. The short story is drive really slow! We definitely have a new appreciation for truck drivers after that experience. The bus is now 27,000lb (give a little depending on the water tank) and we felt all of that going through the mountains!

One of the beautiful views on our drive through CO!

Our first stop was Buena Vista, Colorado and that first night was awesome! The temperature dropped to the 50’s and it was such comfortable sleeping weather.

Walking along the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, CO.

From BV we went to Montrose, CO, which meant we had to drive over Monarch Pass. The elevation of Monarch gets ups to 11,313 ft. We had to pull over once on the way up to let the engine cool and once on the way down to let the brakes cool but other than that, the bus did really well!

Looking out on the Gunnison River.
Had to stop and get a pic!

We spent a few days in Montrose with our friends, walking by the river, helping in their huge vegetable garden and doing a little work on the bus. Some of that bus work included getting the inverter straightened out. Paul had been going back and forth with the company to troubleshoot the issue and was able to get it running again! Getting the inverter working again was such a relief to not have to worry about finding a place to plug in or keeping all the food cold!

Our parking spot in Montrose.
Walking along the Uncompahgre River.

From Montrose we went one town over to meet up with a family we met in 2018 at our first tiny home festival. We spent several days at that festival talking with bus owners and had the chance to talk a lot with this family. It was fun to catch up with them and share stories about bus life!

The “fun” thing about Colorado is that lots of the towns we visited have dirt roads once you get off the main streets. Most of the dirt roads are pretty bumpy but the road we took to meet our friends was undeveloped. The bus shook so much on that road, we thought everything in our bus was going to fall off the walls and ceiling. Fortunately nothing did! Fun fact: we used so much wood in our build and with the dry climate lots of it has shifted around, shrunk or cracked. So now we’ll be adding a few humidifiers to the bus to offset the dryness.

Our next stop was Grand Lake, CO which was beautiful! We were able to do some hiking and explore nearby towns.

With all the wildfires happening in Colorado, we actually saw helicopters dropping water on the mountains when we went hiking.

View in Winter Park, CO of nearby wildfire.

We left Colorado yesterday, going over Rabbit Ears pass on our way west. At this point the bus is a champ on mountains and breezed over it. The next destination is Washington State; we’re excited to do some exploring in the Pacific Northwest!

7 thoughts on “Taking a 22yr NC Bus through the CO mountains

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  1. Good morning Audrey and Paul. I absolutely LOVE reading about your travels. The pictures are wonderful and I am thankful the two of you have this opportunity to learn, explore, share and most important make memories together. Keep on keeping on. Prayers for safe travel. Take care and God bless. PS- I can’t wait to read about and see the next chapters on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Doing well. We went to TX via our RV just when the covid stuff was starting. We rode our bikes thru San Antonio and there were NO cars! It was amazing. I was JUST wondering about the two of you and bingo this was posted. I am thrilled to see you two on this journey! Enjoy. Can’t wait to see pictures of the west coast. Prayers for continued safe passage. Take care and God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi , I just finished reading your trip stories to Gramps . We are so glad your living your dream trip . Always great to hear what’s happening with you . The photos are great . Love you .😘😘


  3. Great update guys, love hearing about your travel and experiences. Best of luck with your ongoing adventures, can’t wait to hear more. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

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