Bus life

The wheels on the bus go…. to Arrrrrkansas!

As you saw in the previous post, we were making our way from Florida to Arkansas to park it where it’ll be stationed for a majority of the renovation. Along the way, it started overheating whenever we’d go up hills or if the engine was pushed too hard… no good. While letting it cool down in Mobile Alabama, we decided to take it to a diesel specialist who spent hours diagnosing it with an estimate higher than you can imagine or at least more than we wanted to hear.Check out the sign they put on our beauty queen. (It says “this is not trash”). Priceless. So Matt decided to contact Steve (the magical mechanic from back home) to see if there was an alternative. Steve said that it wasn’t hard to fix as long as you had the right tools and instructions. With that said, Matt was willing to park our beast road-side and do it himself! During a phone conversation, we got the most unexpected news, Steve was going to drive all the way to help Matt fix it! Sure it was only a few hours round trip, but would you want to drive that after working all day!? Here we have yet another helping hand willing to contribute to our journey. We’re so grateful! Fast forward through the evening, Matt and Steve got the bus dialed in and it’s ready to roll. 8pm seems like an ideal time to check in for a good nights rest however it’s also the perfect time for Shanti to sleep through the drive, so we decided to skip the bed and keep on trekking.

Our goal was to get to Jackson Mississippi and find a hotel to close our eyes for a few hours so we could continue fresh(ish) onto Arkansas. We accomplished our goal to Jackson however finding a decent hotel with a reasonable price at 4am didn’t pan out. Plan B? Sleep in the bus! We found a gas station with diesel parking and we made it home for an hour nap.

Thank you Matt for capturing this photo even though I was not into it. This will go down in history as our first night in the bus!

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise next to a gorgeous open green field that welcomed us with the faint scent of cow manure. Other than the smell (cough-gag-cough) it was perfect!

We fueled up and headed north. Just a few more hours coasting at an average speed of 50 mp, we arrived to the surprisingly green Arkansas.

Here’s the view of the new location for our new home! It used to be packed full of forest but they’re currently transforming it into a self-sustaining farm with a spring fed pond. How lucky are we!?

Looking outward from the property.

Birds eye view. How amazing is this spot for our bus conversion… Space, privacy, security and family (help hehe)! See our yellow buddy down there?

Thank you cousins for the instant smiles and open arms that welcomed our project. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Next post, updated bus pics! I can’t wait to show you how far it’s come. Here’s a sneak peek with a sweet video of two of our helpers:)

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We left… turned around… and then left again!

Bus painted? Nope. All seatbelts installed? Not yet. Couch, kitchen, bed, toilet? Not even close. We DO however have it registered, insured and ready to hit the highway legally but only able to sit one person. Because we’re going to tear out the driver seat, it would be a waste of time and money to rig a makeshift passenger seat before we do anything else. With that, we’ve decided that Matt will drive the bus and Shanti and I will follow in our car. This also ensures a reliable set of wheels just in case they’re needed on our first long journey. (I wrote that days before the event below).

The first 600 miles in our new home (currently just the shell) will be going from Miramar Beach Florida to Benton Arkansas. This is where it’ll be parked for a majority of the renovation. For those of you that have been following this blog for years now will recognize the location. You saw it in several past posts including one of my favorites, Sweet home…Arkansas?! And you recently saw the family in our last trip to Oklahoma. Shanti will be surrounded by cousins and we’ll have plenty of helping hands to turn this rig into a beautiful livable space.

These past few weeks have been full preparation, packing and watching Shanti grow so fast! She jumped from 3 month clothing to 6-9 month outfits and she’s only 5 months, geeze kid! For all of you fans, here are some pics of her recent weeks.

Ok back to bus! Day one on the road actually started at 8pm with cooler temperatures and less traffic. 2 hours into our journey and only 50 miles covered our beautiful beast (she’ll be named soon) had overheated. Since we were so close to home, we decided to turn around and have our amazing mechanic friend look at it. Last thing we wanted to do was push it and cause more damage.

The next morning was spent with test drives and engine work before we got the go to hit the road. Although Shanti does best at night since she sleeps the whole way, we were ready to get out of there so a noon departure is what we did!

Unfortunately the engine couldn’t take incline or long distances so every 30 minutes we’d have to pull over to let it cool. This is why it took us 6 hours to cover only 100 miles.

We were taking a break just shy of Mobile Alabama when we found out there was an International Bus specialist just up the road! Since it was 7p on a Sunday night they were obviously closed so we parked the bus at the cheapest hotel for a good nights sleep and early rise. Yes moms, we slept in the hotel, not next to it.

I’m currently writing the last of this post sitting in the hotel room waiting to hear the verdict from Matt who’s at the specialist shop right now. To be perfectly honest with you, although this isn’t what we imagined the first stretch to be like, we’re both keeping a positive attitude. Keeping awareness around that this is an adventure and a journey we signed up for! I think we would be doing a disservice to our spirit if we focused only on the completion of the bus, instead of being totally present while creating these memories. Oh Shanti, you have no idea of the photos and stories that will make up you’re first years of life.

I’ll leave you with her capturing my water bottle. You’re welcome.

Secret news: Coming soon is the launch of our online video channel. Oh boy!

Until then, thank you for reading and following (hint hint- click the button on this page that says “follow” in order to be alerted when there’s a new post).

Happiness to you and yours!

Categories: Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bus conversion – Making it a Clean Canvas!

Our first family photo in our first owned home! (A proper fixer-upper to say the least).The last week has been filled with many discussions over coffee about the layout of our new space. As you can imagine, the decisions we make now will determine our comfort and functionality of our future living. Luckily there are several nomads who have done this before us so it’s been helpful to look at other people’s ideas for our bus conversion.

Even though we’d (I’d) rather be drawing out the design and spending time on the color scheme, first things first… create a clean canvas. Matt has definitely gotten his workouts in by removing everything in the bus so we can clean, seal and protect the shell of our home.

Once the bulky items were removed (and we got a day full of rain) any leaky holes or loose seals were quickly taken care of. Rust was removed then protected with Rustolium and any gaps in the floor were patched up with fiberglass and magic.

I’ll have to be honest with you, it was hard for me to visualize anything besides a bus until I saw it completely gutted out. Now I can see the endless possibilities for our home on wheels. Of course due to the small square footage, every space needs to be accounted for and every item needs to serve a purpose with multiple uses.

Nerd alert… This excites me!

The following is my husbands quick breakdown of his experience this past week working with his new found love.

Matt + Fiberglass = Endless creations

“Laying the fiberglass is a messy, but super crazy awesome process. Especially when you think about all the possibilities and things to create with it.

First Step- Buy raw fiberglass sheets, and Bondo epoxy resin.

Second Step- Find all the spots that need to be sealed, and cut small fiberglass sheets to cover those areas. Prepping is key because the epoxy resin starts to set in about 12 minutes.

Third Step- Mix the resin one to one and have a brush ready! It time to move quick.

Fourth step– Completely saturated the fiberglass with the resin. I started brushing resin on the floor and then on to fiberglass to saturate it. I quickly found that that was not fast enough so I just started dumping it in with my hand!

Fifth step- Lay it out and smooth it with your hand or brush.

And boom! We are all fiberglass experts! That’s how I felt at the end of this process. It was a little stressful because of the time crunch, but it’s a easy process. I’m thinking there will be a lot of this stuff around the bus now!”

Something to look out for! Matt has been filming our bus journey and will soon be posting the videos online. That channel will soon be announced!

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Drum roll please…..

Matt and I had so much fun watching the poll from our first post about living on the road, thank you to everyone who voted! Jenn, Donna, Dustin, Brie, Shane, Gloria and Tiffany, it was awesome to get your comments too, thank you! Here is the final results from all of you that voted!

We looked at a few RV’s and although they would be easier and quicker to move in to, we realized that’s exactly what we don’t want! Designing the bus, taking the time and hard labor to build our home from the wheels up is just as much of the journey as living in it.

So after test driving, researching, reading, talking and YouTubing, we’ve decided on our new home. We will soon be a family of 3 on the 6 wheels of a brand new (20 year old) school bus!!

…but ours currently looks like this.

As the journey progresses, I’ll be going into full detail of how we transform this beauty into our new home. Pictures, videos, and maybe even an online video series?!

For now, I want to share with you the story behind these wheels and the family that made it happen.

Air Force Captain Nathan, his wife Jennifer and they’re little Eva are the family you want as neighbors and even more so as friends. They’re the type of people that welcome you with open arms, huge smiles and tons of genuine energy. After enduring what most of us would call a living nightmare, they have every reason to live in a world of self pity. Instead, this power duo carries a backpack-of-back bones with eyes focused positively forward.Imagine your significant other leaving in the condition of the top photo from below and returning unable to look you in your eyes (bottom photo).I now know what it’s like to be pregnant and I truly can’t imagine getting the news Jennifer woke up to just 90 days before delivery.

I was sitting here trying to describe what Captain Nathan had survived until I found this perfect recap made by Building Homes for Hero’s :

“Captain Nelson barely escaped death when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Taliban extremists hit his forward operating base in Afghanistan in September of 2013. Tragically, his body took the brunt of the blast. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury, collapsed lungs and would lose 46 units of blood.

After undergoing several life-saving operations, he was flown to the Walter Reed Medical Center to be reunited with Jennifer, who was six months pregnant, and she has never left his side ever since. His recovery from the shrapnel wounds, TBI, collapsed lung, severely bruised organs and a massive blood transfusion, is still ongoing.

For his service and his sacrifice, Captain Nelson has been awarded the Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and several other honors. He is now paralyzed, and has limited use of one of his arms, but he and Jennifer have become inspirations to everyone they meet”.

Up for a good solid soul-cleansing cry? Watch this video of Nate sharing his experience and incredible perspective. Kind of makes your unbearable bad hair day seem a bit silly and much more tolerable.

Back to the bus…

During Nathans recovery, Jennifer bought this bus as a (brilliant) form of therapy. She was able to smash windows and rip out seats all while envisioning a new path for her and her family. She was designing the bus to be totally handicap accessible so that her husband could travel in comfort. As the years went on, Nathan not only recovered like a champ but went back to work. Meanwhile, Jennifer was also now back to work, playing supermom and maintaining wife of the year. Little time was left to spend in a dusty bus let alone traveling in it.

Fast forward to a pizza party we attended in which we were introduced to this amazing family. Our mutual friend casually said, “Hey Jenn, do you still have your bus?” (I was thinking – Cool, another traveling friend!) But to my surprise she said, “Yes, but I’m selling it now”.

I physically grabbed Matts arm when my guts alarmed me that this would soon be ours.

After viewing the bus and having a mechanic verify the engine quality (thank you Ray!), it was a no-brainer, we were going to buy it!

Except…

When discussing what the final price would be, Jennifer spoke up with confidence. (I’m paraphrasing according to what I heard).

In a gentle voice she said, “Me and my family are so blessed and have been given what we need… I believe in paying it forward and I’d be honored to be a part of the joy you’ll get and also bring to so many with this bus. I feel very good in my decision, I’d like to gift you the bus and just sign the papers over. It’ll be my contribution to your journey”.

This is when Matts jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears. Unexpected and completely beyond our wildest dreams… in fact, it is the beginning to our wildest dreams!

Their gift will allow us to continue our adventure sooner than we thought possible! Next up, let the renovation begin!

To the Nelson family, “Thank you” seems like such an understatement for the gratitude our little family feels. We invite you to follow the process and watch as we transform your 20,000 lb baby into our new home on the road!
Categories: Bus life, Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

There’s no place like home… on the road!

After 3 attempts to live somewhere stationary, 2 years of discussion and a recent “ah-ha” moment, Matt and I have decided to sell what we have (again), and hit the road! Instead of investing in a house with a picket fence, (can you imagine? Haha!) we’re going to be renovating a large vehicle into a mobile tiny home!

We’ve started a goal list with an old fashioned savings jar (which is a beautiful recycled zip cloth bag) to make this dream happen. We even created a cheesy drawing to record our earnings for a visual to manifest this journey! Do you see Shanti’s hand helping?

What kind of wheels are we looking at? For us, it has turned into more of a narrow it down game based on priorities verses knowing exactly what we want. What’s more important to our family? Safety, space, mobility, gas mileage, engine strength, comfort… the list goes on.

We’ve found 6 options and have narrowed it down to 3. Here are the ones who have already been cut from the running.

VW bus. The classic hippie van that invites minimal bathing with a laid back vibe. I can only imagine most of them with a sticker that says “Gas, Grass or Ass for a free ride”. For us, too small.

Sprinter Van. This one is the next up in size and probably the most mobile for it’s space. Super versatile, easy to drive and the average person can sand straight up inside! We liked the “incognito” idea, people wouldn’t know if we were a flower delivery company or the local plumber. However for our party of 3, still too small.

Monster Custom Off Road Beast. This home on wheels is designed for all terrain including cliff sides, bottom of the ocean, and tree tops. This was the winner until we realized it was a $450,000 above our budget. Bummer.

Now to the finalist!

Mid-sized Transit Bus. Decent in size, still fairly mobile and easy to park mostly anywhere.

Full length School Bus. Tons of living space but a giant to drive. Most likely to feel like home, but limited on places to park.

Traditional RV. Everything would mostly been done (plumbing, wiring, etc.) Plus comfortable space and clean layout. Just not as cool as the others.

We’re curious what you would choose if you were in our shoes… or what you think we should do! Click here to cast your vote!

Reminder to follow officially to get updates as we take off on this family adventure!

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Polls, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.