We bought this beast of a bus over two years ago, and spent so many hours and long nights tearing it apart and then putting it back together again, in a way that we dreamed up and designed and built. Did we finish it? Not quite. So many loose ends were flapping in the breeze when we pulled out of that tiny side-yard she’d been parked in for so long. There is trim missing, a tiny half-wall still to build so no one scoots their chair back and falls into the entry stairs, a door on the girls’ room, the tiny magnets that hold the pantry doors shut, drawer pulls on all the drawers that had been custom-made (some of which could still stand some tinkering). The plumbing wasn’t done (we installed the steel cages that hold the tanks under the bus the DAY before we moved – nothing like waiting til the last possible minute…), and the propane lines weren’t installed. But we packed the bus to the gills (didn’t realize just how much stuff we were taking!!), put the canoe and bikes and a plastic slide on the roof rack (also installed days before departure), said so many goodbyes and shed tears, and then took off, because it was time to go.
The drive north was so much smoother than I dared hope for. Slow – YES. SO SLOW. We averaged 45 miles an hour. But dang, that bus was so heavily loaded, but that Turtle just kept on going. There was not a single hitch in the drive up.
And so now we are here, and what is it like? Well, at first it was more like vacation – we parked at the second-home of dear friends, who generously offered up their driveway. It is the property that we came to first, and where we first looked at each other and said, “Well, this feels like home. How weird that we’ve never been here before.” And so we slowly unloaded the bus into a storage unit. I drove the bus to work for TWO DAYS – not exactly the ideal commuter vehicle. Then we slowly started working on the propane and the plumbing. And I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y. Heck, we STILL haven’t finished the plumbing. Between starting a job and getting to know the area, and visiting with friends who came to the valley, and trying to make new friends, there has been shockingly little time for finishing our new home. This fact in itself has been very frustrating for us – already it is August and we don’t have the sink plumbed or the tiny trailer bathroom even CLOSE to completion! In mid-July we moved from our friends driveway – the bus was parked in full sun and was getting ridiculously hot during the day. We are parked about one mile down the road, on the property of friends of friends of friends. It’s that kind of place. We are calling our new spot “Wolf Creek Woods” – we are in Ponderosa pines and keeping much cooler in general. One great thing about dry heat – the shade is so refreshingly cool. At our new parking spot we do not currently have electricity. These is power on the property, but it hasn’t been hooked up in years and the process of getting it connected is taking awhile. So, even if the sink was plumbed, our water pump wouldn’t work anyway, so we don’t have running water at present. Instead we use a big 5 gallon rubbermaid on the counter and a bucket under the sink to catch water. Rudimentary, but functional for the moment.
Some of the really joyful parts of living in the bus so far… the girls LOVE IT and are so excited to be there. On days when it was in the 90s inside the bus (parked at our friend’s house we were in full sun), those girls would be in there playing in their underwear! Their enthusiasm is quite a marvel to behold. At Wolf Creek Woods, amongst the pines, we are woken EVERY morning by the shockingly loud chitterings (how do you describe their sounds??) of red squirrels. We were actually woken the first two mornings by a red squirrel INSIDE the bus – we finally realized the driver’s window had been left wide open! Ah ha! Living in the bus feels very similar to camping. There are so many windows, and so many of them are open, the separation between inside and outside is very thin. We can hear so much of what is happening outside, and the wind blows through the whole bus. While we like this aspect of bus living, it is also making us think about all the ways we can make the separation greater in the winter months. We will have to make insulated curtains to cover the windows and the driving area. We will put plywood around the perimeter of the bus to stop wind from blowing underneath. We are about a day away from ordering our wood stove – the propane heater is installed already! Lots to think about. And one last thing about the joys of tiny bus life – it is much quicker to clean!! Although, as you can see from the photos, the girls desk is pretty much a cluttered mess (you can’t actually SEE the desk), but one can only spend so much of the summer days cleaning up after kids.
All in all, we are excited to be finally living in the bus – we’ve set up an outdoor kitchen, and the hammock and canoe often act as the outdoor living room. Whether we will stay in the Wolf Creek Woods through the winter or find a different place to park remains to be seen – we’ll keep you posted!
Written by Kristin LaFever