Monday, May 19, 2008

Bessie the Bus

Someone told me the other day that my Roadtrek needed a name. So today she got one: Bessie the Bus. Bessie is, of course, one of the diminutives for Elizabeth. My paternal grandmother Elizabeth was called Bess or Bessie.

I was reminded of this at breakfast this morning. I was visiting my eldest daughter in Banff and I met a writer friend of hers from St. John's. When I was introduced to him, he commented that his mother was Elizabeth and asked if I was called Bess or Bessie. I told him the nickname that I got was Betty not Bessie - but that got me thinking about Nana and, well, I just couldn't resist Bessie the Bus. After all I am driving to my grandmother's home province of New Brunswick and then on to Newfoundland. I figured the other two Bessie's could enjoy a posthumous adventure.

Last night Bessie and I spent our first night together. We hunkered down at the Tunnel Mountain campground after my daughter and I hiked to the paint pots on Storm Mountain just across the BC border. Actually it was more like a stroll and we didn't quite reach the real paint pots but our sojourn did take us into BC so when I reach Newfoundland I will have actually been in all ten provinces on this trip. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Bessie was a wonderful sleeping companion although she was a bit chilly when I got up. (Never did like cold feet on my back.) I felt a bit guilty as I turned up the thermostat and climbed back into bed as furnace pumped out warm air and the two burner propane stove began to boil water for my tea. Gone are the days of tents and aching bones in the morning. And wonder of wonders, Bessie even comes with a marine toilet that flushes - a most delightful extravagance for the night time trips required by those who are middle aged or older. (Not that I'd really know anything about that!)

So here is the scoop on Bessie: she's got air conditioning and a furnace, a two-burner stove, hot water heater, toilet and shower, three-way fridge, and a generator to power everything if there is no hook up. She has a V8, 318, 5.2 litre Dodge engine and air ride suspension. When I bought her, she had 73,000 kms. and came complete with all service records. I was able to buy an extended warranty that covers both the chasis and the "house". I upgraded my AMA to AMA RV Plus so someone will come change those big Michelin truck tires or tow us to a garage. I also joined the Good Sam club, bought a book on solo Rving for women, bought a GPS, upgraded my cell phone plan - you get the picture. On our shake down trip from Calgary to Edmonton and back, Bessie got 17.5 miles per gallon (imperial gallon) - pretty good for a driving lady who started her journey in 1999.

So in just ten sleeps, Bessie and I will head back up to Edmonton to pick up my friend Dianne and begin the drive to New Brunswick. I'll keep you posted.

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