Author Archives: John

Nonpound Words

On the bus, we found ourselves with a good deal of time to kill. Much of this was filled with increasingly crazy conversations, but we played some games as well. One in particular we played down the entire East Coast was a word game that penetrated our souls. Someone introduced the concept of nonpound words: words that contain more than one word, none of which are related to the original word. For example, the word tiered contains the words tie and red. We began to try and think of as many words as we could, and eventually this game invaded our normal conversations. We would be talking about something unrelated, and suddenly someone would say “Hey, that’s a nonpound word” and it would be added to the list.

Presented in this post is our list of nonpound words. We’d love to add to it.

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HOWTO: Interior Construction

How to build the interior of a skoolie. ;

As of right now

I had a bizarre experience on the highway yesterday, driving the bus home from Grey Fox. A young couple driving in the lane next to mine pulled alongside me with the passenger window down and yelled, “Where is everyone?”
I didn’t recognize them, but I managed a “What?”
“We read about you!” The passenger showed me his laptop, displaying this very website.
“Oh, that was last year.” And then they drove out of earshot.

Despite having a laptop with an aircard on board last summer, it still catches me off guard to see someone online on a laptop somewhere without wifi. But the point of this story is that it made me realize that I haven’t really done much to update this since the trip ended. I never really even finished the return trip story. I’m not quite sure what to do with this website, since it is very event specific: the Juan Way Tour happened last summer, and is not a recurring event. But the bus is still traveling, and the URL is still painted on the bumper. I would like to keep a chronicle of the bus’ travels, but this is not the place for it.

For now, I will keep this site focused on the Tour, and other things to do with the bus (I swear I’ll post a how to eventually). Current and future escapades will live at

Real Flat

Mark drove though all of Iowa. This is not an exaggeration. Iowa is a long state, and this was probably the longest stretch any of us did without swapping drivers. Shortly after we set off, we saw a pair of hitchers on the side of an on ramp. Apparently Iowa is a state that allows pedestrians on the side of the highway. We pulled over and Hank and Jimmy, who introduced themselves as brothers, came on board. They were headed for Des Moines, and eventually towards Minnesota. They hitch around everywhere, and Hank claimed to have been to every state but Hawaii. They were both incredibly good company, and made a good way to start off the day. Not long after we got them, another hitcher was walking towards a rest area, so of course we pulled over and he came on board too. Dave, a musician who busks at rest areas, joined us on our trip to Des Moines. They all said it was hard to get a ride in Iowa – no one stops. Hank and Jimmy had been stuck there for a few days. Dave seemed to be moving along at a good pace, on his way to NYC for his niece’s wedding. Our company stayed on until Des Moines, where we parted ways. We didn’t take any pictures while they were on, but Hank and Jimmy signed the bus and left their sign, so Mark did his best to recreate the scene.


Looking ahead on the map, we kept picking further and further cities as our destination for the day. Eventually we settled on Youngstown, OH, as the place we would spend the night. That would put us right at the Pennsylvania border, and we figured we would be able to make it home the next day. Iowa’s landscape is much like that of Nebraska – there were no mountains or hills, but it wasn’t completely flat either. The rolling hills weren’t enough to even slightly tax the bus, and we realized that our foreseeable mechanical worries were probably over.

Out of Iowa, into Illinois. Illinois is real flat. Not even any rolling hills to contend with. I was so used to driving on hills that it took me a while to adjust and understand that the road I was on was not uphill, but flat. I must have driven for 50 miles before I figured that out. Truth be told, there was not much remarkable in Illinois. Or Indiana for that matter. We stopped in South Bend for dinner.


Then onward towards Youngstown! We pulled in very early in the morning, and passed out.

Conquering the Rockies

We spent the night in Park City, UT, where part of the 2002 Winter Olympics were held. From where we slept we could see the ski jump. Everything in Park City seemed just a little classier than it should be. There were fancy faucets and a fireplace in the McDonalds, the facade for the Walmart was actually attractive, and matched the surrounding buildings. If you didn’t know better, many of these massive corporations could have been mistaken for local stores. Maybe it was all of the people and money that poured into Park City during the Olympics that raised the bar for these stores, or maybe it was the view of the mountains ringing the city that could be seen from anywhere in town. When nature sets the bar so high, you can’t help but try and compete. Just as an example, this was the view from the fuel station we stopped at on our way out of town:


In Park City, we were already up in the mountains a little bit, but we still had the rest of the Rockies ahead of us. I had been pretty worried about the Rockies – some truckers we had spoken to in Sparks, NV had said that it got as steep as 7% grade. I was not very confident in the bus’ ability to make it up something that steep, but the new fuel pump seemed to be working wonders. We were chugging up hills (of a much smaller grade) at 60 mph. We still had a long trail of smoke behind us, but Mark assured me it was just unburned fuel because of the elevation, and nothing sinister. Since our engine is mechanically injected, it doesn’t compensate for the altitude, and runs rich.

We kept climbing hills, and then coasting down a little downhill, then climbing and coasting again, repeat, repeat, repeat. After a while, the hills started to get even more gradual, and we started to think, “Maybe that was it. Maybe the worst is behind us, that wasn’t so bad.” We pulled into a truck stop to fill up, and struck up a conversation with a trucker pulling a trailer-full of cattle. “Are those lucky cows or unlucky cows?” Mark asked him. “Unlucky cows.”

We asked him about the Rockies, and if there was anything worse coming up. “Oh, you’re through most of it,” he said. “You’ve just got one little hill and then it’s flat until Pennsylvania!” Excellent! At the beginning of the day we had been seriously wondering if we would need to be towed over the mountains. The trucker next to us was adding some fuel additive to his tank, and offered us some. Soon we had a water bottle full of fuel additive and a tank full of diesel, and we set off again.

That one little hill turned out to be the biggest we had hit so far. Or at least the longest. At one point we were down in second gear trying to keep speed going up the hill, but we made it, and entered the low rolling hills of Nebraska. We didn’t stop until we hit Omaha, and actually slept on the other side of the state line in Council Bluffs, IA.