Suddenly on a busy state highway an hour outside Asheville, the bus screeched itself to a halt at a stop light. It jerked forward and backward, seemingly confused by itself and which direction it wanted to go. At a standstill, we tried to move forward again, but the bus would not budge. The engine revved and revved but forward it would not go, and then suddenly, we shifted, and moved, but...
Yup. This was the day, folks, that our bus suddenly decided it only wanted to move in reverse. Terrified by the possibility that this meant we'd have to drive ALL the way back around the country in reverse, back to Alabama, back to Louisiana, back to *shutter* LAS VEGAS, we backed the bus up onto a side street and assessed the damage. To our dismay, this meant only one thing, one expensive thing, the word no car or bus owner ever wants to hear: transmission.
Was this the end of our journey? Was this the moment when we had to strip the bus of our belongings and its veggie system and abandon it somewhere in South Carolina and figure out our own ways home? We dreaded the possibility and wept at the thought, and kept ourselves distracted with roadside bubbles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but the truth we all knew was that this would be no easy fix. Luckily, Papa Bear Phinn has a heart the size of a third-world country and he, like the rest of us, couldn't stand to let the bus go.
So the next time you see that infamous big red Vermont Joy Parade school bus, the one all you Burlingtonians thought you'd never see again the day we drove it away, you give her a tip of your hat, because this lovely lady is now equipped with a new radiator, new transmission, bike racks, solar panels, and we must admit, she is lookin' and runnin' pretty damn sexy.
Also, as a side, there is something very challenging about having to give a cab driver directions to where you are when you're in a giant red school bus parked next to a giant red monkey and everyone in the background is laughing because the funniest part is that you are not lying.