It was now time to get this show on the road. Waking up surprisingly bright and early I took down my tent and helped load up the bus before getting myself the obligatory bacon butty… Can’t go on any trip without one of those!
Before long we had a mini jousting tournament outside the castle and a brief awards ceremony for vehicles least likely to Mongolia etc and then that was it, we were off. Hot footing it through the Kent countryside enroute to Dover we had a mixture of appreciative smiles and toots of horns mixed with looks of sheer terror as people swerved into hedgerows to avoid a collision with us. Turns out, American school buses are kind of wide for leafy British A roads.! Making it to the port intact with god knows what trail of devastation behind us we boarded the ferry in a desperate rush to avoid any insurance claims from wealthy southern folk. 95 minutes later and we chickens were in country number 2 of the day, France. Still with the job of chief navigator I rode up front with Don showing him the way as the Dixie Chicken Bus tore its way through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany.
By now it was getting late and it was dark, the decision was made, head to Cologne, find a camp ground and get up early tomorrow. Arriving at the camp ground on the banks of the Rhine at 23:30 we found that the barrier was down and in the locked position. Johnny and I, speaking the best German, got off and headed out to try to find an office so that we could ask if we could stay. Minutes later we were met by a rather angry German male who was swearing at us telling us it was an unreasonable time of day to arrive and generally just being a dick. Putting our history behind us and neglecting to mention that being late to a campground wasn’t as bad as a holocaust (as much as he clearly seemed to think it was) we bit out tongue and went back to the bus. Not to worry though, just a few hundred metres up the river was a small grassy area under a fly over, perfect for a bus and a few tents. There was a potential issue though, said camping spot was flat and ideally located however there were around 20 youths drinking and smoking under the flyover. Naturally Captain Don was a little unsure about camping there until a young woman came bounding over and introduced herself as Frica, a scout leader from Bruge in Belgium. Don and I had a brief conversation that went something along the lines of this; Don- “I dunno man, I’m not sure I’m too happy with this scout story. These fuckers are sat here drinking beer and smoking under a hiway, that shit don’t happen in the Scouts in the US!” Dave – “Don mate, this is Europe, we start drinking and smoking at 14, you’re allowed to have women and homosexuals in scouts over here, it’s a lot different. They’ve got kneckers and woggles on, how bad can they be?”. We agreed to camp here and duly got tents off the bus and set up camp, most set up tents, I opted to sleep in the bus with a few of the others, I couldn’t be bothered pitching my tent and to be quite honest I’d been drinking larger with Cale since lunch so potentially wasn’t even able to! Whilst people were pitching tents I took another beer and headed over to sit with the scouts, as intimidating as they may have looked at first, they were all a really nice bunch and were keen to know what we were up to. Minutes later Don, Sarah, Cale and a few more of the gang were over along with another Rally team who happened to see us. A few more beers and a few hours later we decided to admit defeat and head to bed, but at least we out drank the scouts… We still had some street cred, right?