How NOT to Start a Road Trip

Have you heard? I’m going on a road trip. My goal is to visit all 50 states in the US, skate with one derby team in each state, and update The List of teams while I’m at it. Did you also hear that I’m converting a school bus into an RV? I sure am, and I plan to use my newly made house on wheels during my road trip. Did you hear that my bus broke down on my last day in the Army and the day before I was supposed to start my trip home? Isn’t life a dick sometimes? (no offense to those who own dicks) 

The start of this adventure has been a series of unfortunate yet comedic events. It started out with my bus breaking down. That was a memorable moment. My bus is tiny. A wee little 15 passenger vehicle. Now imagine me in my tiny bus entering onto the highway at 65mph then immediately losing speed. I have a semi truck barreling towards me at 70mph and my bus has decided that 35mph is the fastest it will go and it’s quickly losing more speed. I turn on my hazard lights and pull over to the side of the road and the semi truck zooms past me shaking my whole vehicle. So here I am stranded. That was unfortunate event number 1. I survived, thanks to the help of friends. 

You might be thinking well that was unfortunate, but I’m not seeing the comedy. Ah well let me regale you with unfortunate event number 2. It takes 3 weeks for my bus to be fixed. Considering I needed a complete install of a new engine and it broke down right before Christmas it could have taken longer. At the end of the 3 weeks I go and pick up my vehicle. It turns on and sounds like a dream. I’m happy. Like really really happy. I drive away and I kid you not, maybe five minutes later my check engine light turns on and my oil gauge dramatically drops into the red. The engine starts sounding rough and the smell of smoke starts filling my nostrils. I’ve got to pull over quick before I destroy this brand new engine (but good news my new engine came with a 3 year warranty, hurray!). I pull into a parking lot. Turn off the engine and pop the hood. It smells crispy inside and there’s oil EVERYWHERE. I look at the ground and it’s an environmentalists nightmare. Oil is spewing out of my vehicle. I call the mechanic that I just left and he says he’s on his way. As soon as I hang up the phone fire trucks surround me. I’m looking at them extremely confused as they start walking towards me. The fire chief says to me “Are you the vehicle that was on fire?” I look at him perplexed. I look at my dripping but not on fire bus then back at him. I say “I don’t think so.” He replies, “Well, we got a call that a little school bus was on fire and turned onto this road.” I laugh and look around the empty parking lot and say “I’m the only little school bus here so I guess I was on fire…how lovely.” The firemen check out my bus and we all determine that I am truly not on fire. They drop kitty litter under my bus to soak up all of the spilled oil, wish me luck and drive away. 3 weeks of waiting for my bus to be repaired only to break down again five minutes later. Such is life sometimes. 

Me staring at my bus with extreme disappointment

The mechanic fixes the bus within the hour and refills the engine with new oil. Apparently, I was missing a hose clamp. Yes, absurd. Unfortunate event number 3 is still in the works. The mechanic gave the bus a test drive after being refilled with oil and then he drove away to go on with his day. As soon as he was out of sight I notice an impressive leak from under my driver side door. This leak is orange. My coolant is orange. In this moment I nearly rage quit my life. I now have a coolant leak. I search and search but can’t find the source. It doesn’t help that my engine compartment is covered in oil. But here’s where things take a turn towards comedic levels. The next morning I check the coolant levels, and as expected they are lower than the previous day. I take my bottle of coolant out that I had stored behind the drivers seat and notice I’m spilling coolant everywhere. My bottle was punctured when the mechanic moved the seat back for a test drive. The leaking coolant under my door was coolant straight from the bottle. Now this doesn’t explain why my coolant levels were still low this fine Thursday morning, so I’m still getting my vehicle checked out…by a different mechanic. One who hopefully does not forget to attach pins. That mechanic walks up to me and says, “you’re coolant system is fine, but we have another problem…” I look at him poised to laugh. I think to myself, what else could honestly be wrong with my bus?? He continues, “I was driving the bus out of the garage when your transmission line came loose and transmission fluid poured all over the floor. So now we have to fix that and add more fluid.” Guess what caused the line to come loose my friends. Yes. Another dang hose clamp.

Here are my take aways from the last three weeks. Is my life kind of a mess right now? Yes. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I slightly poorer than I was a month ago. Yes. But am I exactly where I should be, experiencing exactly what I should be experiencing? Yes. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. They may not make sense in the moment and living through those experiences may be uncomfortable but you are meant to experience them. I don’t understand fully what I’m gaining from this experience, but I’m sure in due time it will click. What I do know is my schedule is completely thrown off. I was planning on starting my trip at the end of the month. At this rate that’s not going to happen. With that in mind, every amazing human being I meet from here on out is in part because of my delay. All the amazing experiences I have this year will also be related to this delay. Everything has been shifted because of this moment, but so much good can come from it. My final takeaway is, CHOOSE YOUR MECHANICS WISELY.

– Jukes

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Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!