Long story short, we were faced with a choice of abandoning Loulou the Cat to an unknown fate OR compromising our trip to accommodate her. We chose to compromise and purchased a school bus, a vehicle large enough for comfortable full-time living.
Our bus, Stubbs, is a 1995 International 3600 with a Thomas body. In her heyday, she held 24 passengers, but we'll be removing all the seats to make way for a kitchen, a bed, a bathroom, and small garage workspace for the bikes. Stubbs is powered by an International T444 diesel engine, which is essentially a 7.3L Ford Powerstroke. Hope Church of Sparta, Missouri, was her most recent previous owner. They hadn't created a bus ministry like they wanted, so we gave Stubbs a new home with us.
Stubbs had a blown alternator, which we discovered 5.9 miles down the road after picking her up, as she died on me in traffic. A tow truck helped us limp the 200 yards we needed to Go Automotive, of Ozark, Missouri, where they swapped in new parts, replaced a belt, and changed the oil. The shop's owner graciously let us sleep in the lot, and the next day we got her insured, registered, and on the road.
So, the trip has changed, but at least it hasn't ended. Loulou has caused us to buy a bus, and I'm now lovingly referring to that cat as my "ten pound anchor", because she's holding us down. We have roughly 2 weeks to convert Stubbs into something that looks close to livable, and them we'll head down to Texas for a short term job that will let us put some money back in the coffers. Then, it's south to Mexico and Central America.
On a related note, anyone want to buy a Campbulance?