Moving Our Skoolie, Dealing with Flat Tires, and Making Home Where We Park
The past couple weeks have been eventful for the Slow Rolling Home. As our moving date drew near, an unwanted visitor threw a wrench in our plans: Florence. Set to make landfall the day of our move, I received a frantic call from my mother, an hobbyist meteorologist and highly concerned parent.
“If you don’t move the bus before the storm comes, you could be flooded in! Your bus could slide through the mud! You have to move immediately!”
In hindsight, we’re glad she called. After talking through the risks and the trajectory of the storm, we decided that it was best for us to move our exit date up and avoid getting stuck in the wet ground at the bottom of the hill where we were parked.
Amping up our moving schedule meant shifting work and commitments to focus all of our energies on what it takes to move our school bus. Though it is a mobile home and yes, it drives, a ton of preparation still has to take place before we can move safely.
Packing all of our loose items - which, in an unfinished space, is a lot more than it would be in a completed conversion - into boxes and onto the bus.
Disassembling our exterior storage and living spaces and moving any large items that don’t fit into our bus into off-site storage.
Packing our pet supplies so they are easily accessible and arranging for a safe space for our pets while we move the bus.
Preparing the bus for driving, which it hasn’t done in five months. This includes refreshing fluids and fuel, running the engine to clear out any gunk or build-up, checking lights and systems to ensure all are in working order.
Repositioning the bus to remove the leveling lifts and to be oriented in the direction of exit.
Once we were prepared and positioned to exit, I took the Subaru to the top of the steep, slightly worrisome driveway, and Alhen prepared to embark. Yet, when he stopped the bus prior to leaving, he heard a distressing,
All I could hear from the trusty walkie-talkie that’s seen us through multiple moves and maneuvers was “bbbbbloooorrrrrruuut!” and I kept asking, “What! What are you saying?”
Then, very clearly, “We have a flat tire!”
Quick thinking on Alhen’s part and he gunned it, pedal-to-the-metal to get the bus up the hill and out at all costs. He made it, spectacularly as always, but the flat tire was a glaring problem.
One of the expenses of owning a mobile home as opposed to a stationary one are tires. And ours are not your typical RV tire - these are nearly three feet tall, about 125 pounds, and only sold through fleet service dealers.
This is where the multi-day, seemingly endless hours of waiting for roadside assistance began.
As RV Plus or Platinum or whatever super-duper RV membership we have with AAA, they will change a tire for us for free. Of course, we don’t have a massive spare just sitting around, so we told AAA to send out their best and planned to procure a tire in the meantime. They quoted us two additional hours - to the two we’d already waited - to send someone out to change our tire, and by that time, we both needed to be at work.
After way too much back-and-forth with AAA, we agreed we’d call back tomorrow to be the first to receive tire service that day. One of our neighbors graciously agreed to allow us to park our bus in his yard overnight and we went off to find a tire.
About $325 later, we had a new tire that we could bring back to the bus.
In order to not suffer you through the same AAA stress we endured, I’ll make this short. AAA sent someone who was supposed to be able to change our tire, yet were not made aware that the tire we had was merely a TIRE, not a tire attached to a rim. He was not prepared with the correct tools to even remove our damaged tire, let along replace it with the new one.
Getting back to AAA, we were quoted another four hours for the only licensed driver to tow a vehicle of our size to the place where we bought our tire to have it installed. Again, this completely overlapped pre-scheduled work commitments and we had to leave our house overnight again.
On the third day, we met the truck driver and ultimately had to drive our bus a little under two miles with the flat tire to a safe location to hook up and tow. The tow-truck operator was curt, professional, and proficient. We made it to Fleet Tire in Knoxville without issue and our tire was installed by their team - with the rim still attached to our wheelbase - in under a half hour.
We had only a fifteen minute drive to our new parking spot, an off-grid grassy spot at the back of an RV park, and we were settled by mid-afternoon on the third day. Our entire house was in disarray, all of our important items packed, our food in an off-site fridge, and an impending evening of work steadily approaching.
We moved back into our house on the fourth day of moving, enjoying the most level ground we’ve ever parked upon, steadily rebuilding the inside of our home.
Moving is never easy, but it gets easier each time we tackle new hurdles. Having a spare tire on a rim is certainly on our wishlist, and bringing our bus in for a service next time we move it is a must.
The truth is, we’re learning as we go. There isn’t a “skoolie handbook,” despite everyone’s best efforts on the forums. You can watch YouTube videos and make plans and hypothesize the worst-case scenario, but you never know what tomorrow brings.
We made it through together, our pets and our things and our slow rolling home intact and settling in at our new space. Who knows how long we’ll be here or where we’ll go next. But, for today, we have a shady spot and a place for our dogs to run, a roof over our heads, and a dream burning in our hearts.