As we’ve mentioned before, perhaps our biggest motivation to move back home was the people missing from our lives. It just so happens that two of those people recently got hitched! When Kalin and Taylor asked to use our bus as a mobile bridal party ready room (say that ten times fast), we immediately said “Yes!” Being the fellow motor enthusiasts that they are, they got married at a race track. We were tempted to test out our Bluebird’s abilities, I mean we’ve been on a race track before. In the end we listened to our brains and settled for letting our bus play dressing room and handing out water bottles. Ah, the sacrifices we make to be grown ups.

In any case, the sun was shining, the bride and groom were beautiful, and the wedding was pure bliss. The bus also got to bear witness to the signing of the marriage license. The photographer graciously lent some photos to share with you. You can see more of his work here. Big thanks to Kalin and Taylor for sharing their special day with us, and for allowing us to publish their photos here.


Ain’t love sweet?

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We finally arrived home on August 23rd, 2014, almost three months since we left Mt. Dora, FL in early June. It wasn’t long until we were itching for some more camping; adjusting to a non-mobile lifestyle was kind of weird. We also felt the need to take advantage of the PNW summer before it slipped away. I had some friends that were already planning a weekend at Fort Stevens State Park on the north Oregon Coast, so we tagged along and got a campsite down the loop from them. One of our good friends (who joined us in Pacific City) wanted to come too and the boys decided this was an apt opportunity to get in a good run on their bikes. You know, the kind with horsepower.



We slept well after an evening of chatting with friends and some nighttime beach shipwreck exploring. The next day the boys and I hopped on the bikes for some more adventuring. Fort Stevens is in the top left corner of Oregon in between Seaside and Astoria, where the Columbia river meets the Pacific. It’s a pretty big park with various beach and river access areas, as well as an old concrete gun battery and the site of the wreck of the Peter Iredale. We rode out to the South Jetty, a part of the park I hadn’t seen before, to get some ocean views. There is an observation deck you can look out from but what was more fun was climbing around on the thousands of big rocks that form the artificial part of the jetty that was constructed to give ships easier passage into the Columbia river. Every now and then the waves would roll in and crash against the rocks, spraying water into the air. Our dear friend was unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got soaked! But the views were worth it.


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Next, we decided to head into Astoria, one of our favorite coastal towns. Although technically it’s on the river, not the coast. We really wanted to take the bikes over the iconic bridge that spans the river between Washington and Oregon. It’s the longest bridge on the Oregon Coast Highway, and anyone who has ever been to Astoria will recall how beautiful it is. After some fun riding around, lunch was calling so we landed at Fort George Brewery. The craft beer scene is not just for Portland, and the Oregon coast has no shortage of delicious Oregon beer. We enjoyed a little jar-full to wash down our sandwiches and took a six pack to go. Our trip ended on a sweet note that night with beers around the campfire and our bus to call home once again.

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Hey there, everyone. If any readers have stuck around, that is. We haven’t been good about keeping up a blog since we got home, obviously. Normal life resumed and the summer of a lifetime came to an end. But I am here to dust off the old WordPress and say hello once again! Because you guys are very important to us, and we feel the guilt of neglect settling in. Having a place to share our experiences makes them that more real and special, and we really appreciate all the support and help along the way! The New Oregon Trail would not have been the same without you.

That being said, we have a couple more adventures to share with you. And yes, inevitably, the sale and parting of our greatest accomplishment so far. But just because we’ve chosen to move forward does not mean we are done exploring. This trip has only opened our eyes to all the opportunities that lie before us in all their glorious shapes and forms. Our story doesn’t end with the bus, it started with the bus.

It’s easy to get comfortable in life, but that doesn’t mean we will stay stagnant. We take no shame in enjoying the amenities of a real house, though we may still long for the road. But we feel at home, feel grounded, with our families close by and our familiar landscape around us. This is just the jumping off point. Thanks for joining us.

To be continued…




Where we last left off we were driving through Northern California along famous highway 101, enjoying a beautiful day along the coast. We had spent the night in Fortuna, parked behind the Eel River Brewery. Our goal for the day was to drive through some of the redwoods, cross the Oregon border, and find a place to camp close to the beach. This was the big day! We would be seeing that “Welcome to Oregon” sign for the first time in almost 2 years.

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Crescent City was the last large town before we got to Oregon, I recall some wild stories from my Grandpa’s early days working as a logger here. Back when they worked hard and partied even harder. We passed through without stopping, as we were too excited to get to the border. When we finally saw that Oregon sign we had to stop and take some photos with the bus. We couldn’t believe that we were finally here, the southern Oregon coast is so beautiful! After we took enough pictures we kept driving, heading along the coast until we reached Bandon, OR. This is where we would be camping for the night, at a nice little campground just a short bike ride from the beach. Once we were settled into our camping spot and said hi to the neighbors we unloaded our bicycles and rode down to Face Rock State Park, where we locked up the bikes and hiked down to the sand. The beach was mostly empty so we got to enjoy a beautiful summer evening all to ourselves. After cleaning up the dinner dishes we crawled into our cozy bed and felt the cool breeze come in through our windows.

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The next morning we were on the road early and heading for the northern end of the Oregon coast. Before we left Bandon we had to stop in at the Face Rock Creamery, where we enjoyed sampling all of their delicious cheese. We couldn’t leave without buying a couple different types, as well as some of the best butter ever.


Our next (and last) stop on the trip before reaching home was Pacific City, one of our favorite beaches on the whole coast. A big part of that is due to the Pelican Pub, an award winning brewery right on the sand overlooking the ocean. Even though it was the peak of the busy season we managed to snag an RV campsite at the county park directly across the street from the beach and the pub. What luck! The tricky part is that the site was listed as only allowing an RV up to 23′ long, so when we called to book the site I asked the camp host to measure the site, and she reported that the absolute maximum length that would fit would be 35′. Dang, should we attempt to squeeze our 40′ bus in there? We didn’t have any other options so we crossed our fingers and headed for the campsite. When we got there we unloaded the motorcycle and took the rack off the back, giving us just enough clearance to fit in the site with 2 feet to spare. Woohoo! We were ready to have a couple beers at the Pelican and wait for our friends from Portland to join us for our last night camping.

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While we were relaxing on the back deck at the pub we started chatting with the guy next to us, and quickly discovered that  he was riding his bicycle around the US. Daniel was a very interesting guy, and it was a lot of fun to exchange travel stories with him. His trip is mostly centered around craft beer, kind of like ours is, so we had plenty to talk about. Pretty soon we offered to let him camp at our site with us, so he joined our group for the rest of the night. You can check out his travel blog here.


Pretty soon our friends from Portland arrived, and we went out to the beach and built up a nice fire to sit around while we enjoyed a few more beers and some good company. There was a lot of catching up to do after being away for a while, and it was nice to finally be camping with some of our oldest friends. That night the floor of the bus was packed with sleepy campers, which is always a fun experience. The next morning we made a big breakfast for everyone, really putting our little kitchen setup to the test. It worked wonderfully, and we even got to make some beermosas using Widmer Hefeweizen, which is a beer that we really missed. We packed up our camp and prepared for the drive up to Tillamook and over to Portland. Daniel was heading toward Tillamook, so we loaded his bicycle up and gave him a ride. He was very excited to get to experience riding in the bus, and we always enjoy having extra passengers! Having Daniel along for part of the trip was really fun, it is always nice to meet another unconventional traveler.

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After dropping Daniel in Tillamook we turned onto highway 6 and headed toward Portland. We were going to park at my moms property in Sherwood, where we would meet a large group of family and friends that had gathered to welcome us home. Getting to see so many people that we’ve been missing all in one place was a real treat.

It was such a surreal experience driving through all these familiar towns and roads. After driving this bus all over the country in unfamiliar places we were finally home. We are so excited to be here and so proud that our old bus made the journey without much of any issues at all. It has carried us safely and in style through some of the most interesting terrain in the country and hasn’t let us down. Now we are working at finding jobs, finding a place to park the bus and work on it some more, trying to decide if we are going to live in it full time or just use it as a camping rig. So many questions! We will be keeping this blog updated with any interesting bus adventures or additions to the project. Thanks for following along with us!


Apologies everyone for the lack of updates lately. *Spoiler Alert* We have made it back to Portland and our time has been consumed by family and friends, as well as job hunting and figuring out what to do with the bus.

Where we left off, we had been in San Francisco for several days enjoying some great friends and an amazing city. After we said our goodbyes we climbed back aboard our trusty Bird and continued our trek north. We stopped to visit some family outside Redding for a few days, and had a great time exploring some back roads in the mountains. The bus does surprisingly well on rough gravel roads. There is something to be said for the robust build quality of an old Blue Bird school bus. Lindsey and I talked it over and decided that we would have much more fun following the coast up to Oregon, rather than taking I5 straight through the middle. We didn’t want to trip to end, so extending it by an extra 2-3 days was a welcome idea.

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Leaving Redding we headed west on highway 299, winding our way up and down through the mountains. It was hot out but we were really enjoying the drive, these were some of the greatest driving roads I have been on for a while. The closer we got to the coast and the further we got into the forest the more it cooled down.  We marveled at the beautiful scenery going by, and even though I had to really hustle the bus along the curvy road we were really enjoying the drive. Little did I know what waited ahead would make me regret that statement later. We passed a few hitchhikers along the highway, but they always seemed to be waiting along the guardrails next to a steep drop off where there was no room to pull over, so we continued along without extra passengers.

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Pretty soon we were turned off 299 at Douglas City and headed down highway 3 south. The road got a little narrower but it wasn’t enough to cause alarm. We were really enjoying ourselves now, cruising through some beautiful forests and along some small rivers. It was so nice to be out of arid Southern California and see so much greenery and water flowing. Eventually we turned onto highway 36 and made for the coast. This is where things got interesting, as the road narrowed so much that most of it didn’t have a yellow center line. We snaked our way around the mountain for miles, trying not to look over the side at the steep drops. Crossing our fingers at every switchback, hoping there wasn’t another vehicle coming from the other direction, as we needed most of the road just to negotiate the turn. Fortunately we managed to squeeze by all the oncoming traffic and eventually made it out onto the foothills where the road opened up again. By the time we got to the bottom I was a sweaty mess. This was definitely one of the most harrowing roads we have been on so far.

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Meeting up with highway 101 again we headed to Fortuna, where we planned to spend the night. A few days earlier Lindsey had found the Eel River Brewing Company online, and learned that they allow overnight RV camping, which we eagerly took them up on. We found the brewery and parked in their large gravel back lot, which was perfect for the bus. It was so nice to relax with some cold fresh beer after such an intense day of driving.

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Spending a peaceful night in the bus we got up early and hit the road. We stopped at a state beach just north of Eureka and made some breakfast, then walked down to the water and enjoyed the cold sand on our bare feet. Driving along the coast through the chilly early morning fog made me nostalgic for the days I spent with my grandparents at the beach when I was growing up. The smell of the ocean rolling in the open window just added to the experience.

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We continued our drive north, stopping at a few overlooks to watch the mighty Pacific crash against the rocks. Pretty soon we found a scenic byway that led us through the Redwoods National Park, where we were awe struck by the size and beauty of the old trees. Parking the bus at the base of some of these trees we marveled at their immense size, making us feel so tiny and unimportant. I can see how the Redwoods hold such a sacred place in many peoples minds and hearts, and I can’t wait to go back and spend some more time camping and exploring around the park.

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As we drove north toward Crescent City a new reality hit us: it was only a few more miles until we crossed into Oregon, and a couple more days until we were back home in Portland. This brought feelings of elation at being back home after a year and a half, and also sadness, for the New Oregon Trail was coming to an end. It was hard to be too sad though, as it was a gorgeous August day to be driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, with the water so blue and the forests so green. It sure feels nice to be back on the West Coast.

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To help answer some questions we have been getting we decided it was time to take you on a little tour of our bus interior. I hope the photos show enough detail, feel free to post a comment if you have more questions.

We start up front with the captains chair and giant steering wheel. The air ride seat is fairly comfortable, and having the little fan actually helps quite a bit. The little handmade Bluebird is a gift from our friends in Michigan. All the gauges work except the speedometer, but I have gotten pretty good at judging our speed from the sound of the engine. Sitting right next to the engine is hot and loud, having a rear engine bus would sure be more comfortable! There is also a control panel for the old Scott Air AC setup, which is powered by a 17HP Yanmar 3 cylinder diesel. I still haven’t figured out what to do with that yet.

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Next up is the box next to the front door. This was built over the wheel well as a storage area for shoes and spare parts and tools. It also allows quick access to two fire extinguishers. Across the isle there is a small bench built over the other wheel well, this is the only passenger seat available (besides the dinette).

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Moving back we have the dinette, each bench has a small storage area underneath. The table was an old kitchen table we got for free. It was pretty beat up and didn’t look very nice, but after removing the side wings and some strategic sanding and staining it works out well and is very comfy to sit at. On the other side is a little bookshelf we installed to hold various supplies, and our secure bike storage area. Ratchet straps sure are useful!

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We built a very simple but effective kitchen area, using a small Camp Chef propane camping stove/oven, a portable Edge Star fridge/freezer, and a foot pump sink. The stove is nice to use, and the oven works surprisingly well. Lindsey has successfully made many delicious biscuits and even a berry cobbler. We also made some amazing bus pizza while we were camping in Michigan. The little fridge works great, we are very happy with it. We have plans to add a small chest freezer converted into a fridge so we have some more food storage space. Our sink is run by a foot pump and two jerry cans, one for the drain and one for fresh water. The setup is very easy to use, and really teaches us about water conservation! When we are cooking and eating in the bus regularly we have to empty the grey water and refill the fresh at least once a day. We have separate containers for drinking water. The “faucet” is some copper pipe stuck together. It looks neat but I think we will need to come up with a more permanent solution. We also store two propane tanks under the sink, with a 10 foot hose running to the stove. Under the counter there are a couple shelves for food and cookware storage. It all works well while traveling, but I am excited to redo this area to be a little more user friendly.We want to be able to open up a more traditional cabinet and have a little more organization for the utensils. Across the aisle is another counter top and a storage shelf underneath. It is really nice to have all the counter space, especially when we start cooking up some bigger meals.

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Behind the kitchen is the tiny bathroom with our dry-flush toilet. We are still coming up with some different ideas on how to build a bigger bathroom with a shower, there is a lot to learn about tiny home/RV plumbing! Across from the bathroom is my tool box. There wasn’t room for it anywhere else so we built it into the interior. Once we find a place to call home I will move the tool box outside the bus and free up that space for more storage.

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In the back is the bedroom and closet area. We each have our own clothes storage, built over the rear wheel wells. The tops are built out of old pallet boards sanded down and pieced together. The plastic totes hold smaller clothing items, we put down rubber grip mats underneath so they don’t move around while driving. We attached a couple of antique cigar boxes to the tops to hold small personal things. You can also see our New Oregon Trail sign, a handmade gift from our friends in New Hampshire. The bed is built up on a tall platform to allow for lots of storage underneath. We also have our small inverter/charger under the bed, with heavy cables running through the back wall into the storage compartment where the battery bank is.

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We’d been looking forward to San Francisco for a very long time. We have both visited the city in the past, but never together. And this time we had some very good friends to see! The first hurdle in getting to the bay area was figuring out what to do with the bus. I ruled out SF completely. Just the thought of those hills and the density of people scared away any idea of trying to park the bus there. So we took to the Boondockers website for help and found it in Stockton! A couple weeks ahead of time (one of the most pre-planned parts of the trip), we secured a safe parking spot at a private residence a little over an hour away from the city. We looked into getting train tickets, but our friend was gracious enough to pick us up and take us back into town.

So we came to land in Trevor and Julie’s apartment on a Friday night, and as soon as we had arrived there a near-week of fun ensued. When Julie had asked me previously about what we’d like to do while in town, I replied with “Eat and drink.” By this point in the trip, Steven and I are more interested in enjoying our company than anything else. Especially now that we’ve reached the West coast, any thing that we’ve missed can easily be remedied with a couple days off work and a car to get us there quickly. I think Julie and Trevor were very glad to hear that, and we were all able to relax and go out without a plan, enjoying time spent together and whatever trouble we could stir up by the seat of our pants.

Some highlights of the weekend included lots of delicious food, both out and at home, two picnics at two different sunny parks, and rooftop shenanigans. There was a dancing robot, late night jenga, shipping container storefronts, and watermelon in my beer. And folks, that was just the weekend.

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Things continued going well as my cousin Benjamin returned from out of town on Tuesday morning. It’d been too long since we’d seen him, and it was great to catch up. He’s been living in SF for a few years now and knows his way around town pretty well. While talking about Steven’s need for a haircut and the top dollar demanded from the local barbers, Ben volunteered to do the job himself since he does his own hair all the time anyway. We thought that sounded like a good deal so we made our way to his apartment. He also has a nice rooftop for hanging so we sunned ourselves before breaking out the clippers. I think he did a great job, and we ended the night at Julie and Trevor’s with homemade pizza.

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All in all, SF was everything we’d hoped for and more. We hated to leave it and our friends behind but we feel good that we won’t be too far away. We ended the trip with one last meal out, then J&T drove us back out to Stockton, where our bus patiently awaited us and the journey north ahead.



After our adventures in Utah we were headed toward Southern California. Our plans had included some more camping and exploring in the deserts of Utah, but we decided to re-route and head towards the ocean after looking at the weather forecast. We have already spent enough time in hot weather in our bus without AC, so we told ourselves that we would just have to come back in the spring.


Leaving from Park City, it took twelve long hours for us to reach Riverside, where Lindsey’s Uncle and Aunt live. We rolled into their neighborhood and parked the bus on the curb a little after 11PM, exhausted and fried after driving through the desert all day. Coming into the house for a shower and air-conditioned guest room was a welcome relief.


We spent the weekend enjoying the company of family, and visiting some great breweries and restaurants in the area. It felt so nice to be back on the West Coast! Clair and Heidi were amazing hosts, and we had a great time playing with their dogs and checking out the tortoises they have in the backyard. When we told them about our plans to head down to San Diego to visit friends they quickly offered us the use of their spare car, so we wouldn’t have to find a place to park our bus in the city. We were happy to take them up on the offer! Clair had been using a repair shop close by for many years and had become friends with the owner, so we told him our story and he agreed to let us park the bus in his back lot for a couple nights while we went south.


Cruising down the highway in the old Buick we marveled at how fast we could go up hills and how easy it was to get around traffic! When you drive a giant bus everywhere you forget what driving a car is like. In no time we had reached Escondido, where we met up with Lindsey’s friend Krista. It had been a while since they had seen each other so there was a lot to catch up on. Krista took us over to the Lost Abbey, where we enjoyed a few samples of their delicious beer while we hung out in their brewery/warehouse. After getting some pizza down the street it was time to head further south, where we would meet up with Krista’s boyfriend in San Diego and spend the evening exploring the area.

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While we were in the area I also wanted to visit my friend from school that is in the Navy now, and stationed at North Island out on Coronado. I called Cody up and let him know our plans to go out and visit breweries and get food and he was excited to come join in the fun. We all piled in the car and went out to Ballast Point, a popular local spot, to have a couple pints. Their most popular beer is Sculpin, a tasty IPA that isn’t too hop forward. They also do two variations on Sculpin; one with grapefruit and one with habanero. We tried the grapefruit and it’s a nice fruity addition to the already citrusy flavor. Ballast Point also offers many other great beers, as well as some nicely designed merchandise. We had to use a lot of self-restraint to keep from buying up several shirts and hats in the store. Our next stop was Urge, a trendy Gastropub with a large beer selection and fried cheese curds to die for.


The next morning while Krista and Paul were at work we wanted to meet up with another friend of ours from back home who just happened to be in San Diego on a work trip the same time we were there. We haven’t seen Ruben for a long time, and we were excited to spend the day hanging out at the beach. We picked Cody up at the base in the morning and drove up to Del Mar, where we met Ruben at his hotel. It was so nice to spend the whole day with friends from back home, relaxing on the beach and playing in the ocean. We found an interesting little bar in a lush garden area and enjoyed a slew of happy hour drinks and fresh tacos.

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Sadly our time in San Diego came to an end, and we made our way back to Riverside where we picked up the bus and spent one more evening visiting with Heidi and Clair. The next morning we continued our drive north, around LA and along highway 101 up the coast. Once we got out of the city traffic the drive along the coast was so enjoyable, it is amazing to be back on our familiar Pacific ocean. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch at an awesome authentic taco joint, with a line down the block. We had just finished our lunch and were starting to walk through town toward the beach when I got a call from a strange phone number, with an LA area code. It turned out to be the Santa Barbra police, they had been getting complaints about where our bus was parked and asked us to move it. We were parked legally along the curb so they didn’t give us a ticket, but we were taking up a large section of the street so we were happy to move out of the way. I am just curious about how they got my phone number, as it isn’t anywhere on the bus, and it is licensed and registered in Lindsey’s name. Feels a little weird, but I guess that is what the police do. It would be a lot easier to get around in these small towns in a little VW Westfalia!

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We pressed on up the coast, our stopping goal for the night was Pismo Beach. Arriving in the early evening, we drove down to the beach access road in Oceano looking for a place to camp. Of course all the state parks where filled up, and the only area available for camping was out on the sand. I really wanted to drive out on the beach, but after standing at the top of the hill and watching several other trucks with campers and RV’s get tuck in the soft sand I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Instead we found a quiet street a few blocks from the beach to park along for the evening.


A strange coincidence occurred that night; just after we drove up and parked at the beach we got an instagram message from a guy I knew in Portland, he said he had just happened to open his curtains and look out the window as we drove by his house. He said his jaw dropped in disbelief, and he immediately sent us a message. Jay and I exchanged a couple quick messages and he came out to check out the bus. It was so awesome to see another familiar face, and none of us could believe the random chance that we decided last minute to go to Pismo and he just happened to look out the window at the right time. Jay invited us back to his house to have dinner with his family, so instead of eating leaftovers for dinner we enjoyed delicious local beer and pizza with friends. Funny how the world works sometimes.

That night we slept soundly in our big cozy bed, with the cool ocean breeze drifting in the windows. This is what bus life is all about; having the freedom to park most anywhere and have your own little home with you is a very liberating feeling.



From the great state of Colorado, we made our way to Park City, Utah in one long and uneventful drive. We left Fort Collins in the morning and drove over the plains through Wyoming and down into Utah to Steven’s sister’s house. Heidie and Trent actually live just outside Park City, where there’s a bit more breathing room. We had a good time with them and their Alaskan husky Pascha while we were there. We couldn’t get our bus up their driveway, so upon arriving they helped us find a spot to park off the road at the bottom of the hill. That led to an interesting time trying to leave, as we already mentioned. So our time there will now always be recalled at that time we got stuck in the mud. Fine with us, it all turned out well and makes a good story.


Utah offers many outdoor recreational activities, and we tried our best to take advantage of them. But to get the week started off right, we had to try the local beer. After getting settled, we went to Squatters for beers and snacks. Utah has some unique liquor laws, due to the large mormon presence. They have everything you’d want, but draft pours are only available for beers rated at a 3.2% alcohol content or lower. Any more than that, and it must be served in a bottle. The beer culture also seems to poke a bit of fun at the mormon culture with their beer names and labels. Nothing like some good sibling rivalry, I suppose. Bottle or not, the Squatters beer was great! And Steven and I tried fried pickles for the first time at the insistence of our hosts, and we loved them! We followed that up with a nice dinner at the whiskey distillery in Park City, High West.

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In the morning we had to work off some of that dinner with a hike. We put the dog in the jeep (her favorite place in the world) and went into the nearby Uinta Mountains to find Shingle Creek. The weather had uncharacteristically turned cold and damp, and we hiked in a fog. The air felt great, all chilly and fresh. We all felt like we had been transported to Oregon. On the way back down, the clouds got thicker and as we neared the car, a light rain began to fall. About as soon as we had all gotten back in the car, the sky really opened up and we drove back in a downpour. Lucky timing! We stopped to get a pizza on the way home and spent a lazy rainy afternoon at the house.

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When the rained stopped, we set off to explore Park City a bit more. Trent drove us up to look at the Olympic ski jumps built for the 2002 winter games. The view was great from there, and the ski jumps built into the side of a mountain looked extremely intimidating. We walked around to the pool, where some smaller jumps are set up to train young athletes for aerial jumps. After some gawking we headed into downtown to stroll Main Street. Park City is a fun resort town full of art galleries, nice restaurants and laid back bars. It’s home to the only resort with an in-town ski lift which picks you up right off of Main Street. It’s also home the the Sundance Film Festival, and fills up with celebrities and paparazzi each January. We had to stop for a drink at the No Name Saloon, the most famous bar in town. They have a rooftop patio with a nice view of the street below.

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On Wednesday the storms continued, but the internet assured us it was very localized. So we decided to visit some hot springs about an hour south near Provo, Utah. On the way out we stopped down the road at the Gold Creek Creamery, an amazing place that is quickly gaining wide recognition. When we went inside, the only staff member there was the head cheese maker, and fortunately he had time in-between batches to come out and chat with us. They make all kinds of award winning cow cheeses and also have started selling butter due to popular demand. We got a quick peek into the operation before buying some cheese curds for the road.

Since we were in a Jeep, we wanted to try taking the back roads all the way to the springs and see how long it took us. We maybe got a little lost, but we made our way down some single lane dirt roads, dodging the free range cattle and finally made it to our destination. The springs are a 2.5 mile hike from the small parking lot, but they are so worth the trek. The water was beautiful, and we hiked a bit farther beyond the first pools and came to a lesser known smaller area where we found some shade. The pools in the river were constructed by hand twenty years ago, we actually met one of the guys that worked on it. It was amazing the difference in temperature between the river and  the pools. I’m not so savvy with geology, so I can’t tell you how it works but I can tell you it’s incredible.

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On the way back we stopped at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort. It’s a beautiful place in the mountains where you can stay and ski in the winter or enjoy a summer evening play at the outdoor amphitheater. We had some food and drink in the Owl Bar, which sports an impressive turn of the century bar made of ornate dark wood and a large mirror. It was fun to walk around the buildings and see old photos of famous actors that have stayed at the resort.

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We were due to leave the following day and do some camping down in the canyon lands, but that’s when we discovered that after all the heavy rainfall we were stuck in the mud.  We scratched our heads a bit but didn’t get too discouraged since we were in good company and had a place to stay if we couldn’t leave as planned. After some unsuccessful attempts to remove our bus from the side of the road, we let it sit so the sun could dry out the ground. Finally in the afternoon, the ground was more solid and we were able to get out with the help of a good samaritan. By now it was real late to be leaving, and we were also coming to the realization that camping in the desert in our tin can, without AC, might not be so fun anyway. So we were able to get our campsite reservation refunded, and we stayed to enjoy one more night with Heidie and Trent. It turned out for the better I think, and we all sat out in the back yard with glasses of cava and watched the sun set over the valley. It was the perfect ending to an amazing visit in Utah.

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When we decided that we were going to buy a bus, we had a lot of questions. First off was the size. How do you get around in a giant bus? How do we title and insure it? We started reading about buses online and learned quite a bit, but we needed to go look at some in person. It had been years since either of us had set foot in a school bus, and we didn’t know what to expect. We found a dealer in Tampa who carried quite a few retired school buses and went to check them out. After spending a few hours in the lot we found what we thought was the ideal setup. It was a mid 90’s Blue Bird, with a standard truck hood and Navistar 7.3 diesel. This bus was known as a half size, about 28ft long, and it had a wheelchair lift in the back. We thought the large handicap door would prove useful for getting larger items in and out, and the length seemed just right. I even felt comfortable behind the wheel, as it was so similar to other large trucks I have driven. We negotiated the asking price down to $4200 and promised to return the next weekend with cash in hand.

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Unfortunately, we were too slow. The bus we had picked out was sold before we could come back with the money. We were sad, but the hunt continued. Our time was running out, the lease on our house was up at the end of May and we needed to be out. I scoured Craigslist and EBay every evening after work, bidding on a few buses only to be outbid at the last minute. Then one night after I should have been in bed I found our bus. It was listed on the Georgia craigslist, hidden deep in the lists without a proper title. I was dubious but I clicked on the link. I was greeted with the glorious sight of a classic Blue Bird; it’s quad headlights winking at me. I studied the grainy photos in the ad, and fired off an email to the seller. I crossed my fingers, and the next morning I found a reply email waiting. The seller was the football coach at the small private school in Damascus, GA, and while being an incredibly nice guy could hardly tell me anything about the bus. I arranged a meeting for the weekend, and Saturday morning Lindsey and I took off on the 6 hour drive north. We met with the coach and had a look around the bus. We were immediately surprised by the size; it looked smaller in the ad! We measured and found it was indeed a full size 40 foot bus, much more than we had anticipated using. But as we explored further we realized the white factory paint was in pretty good condition still, the interior paint was excellent, and it had the large sliding windows, that seal and latch so much better than regular school bus windows. I also discovered it had a really nice 4 cylinder Yanmar diesel factory mounted midship to run the AC system. We took it out on the little country road for a test drive, it was my first time driving a forward control vehicle like this, and it took a little leap of faith to pull out on the road. The bus was surprisingly easy to drive, and felt good going down the road.



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After pulling back in to the school we summoned up the courage and agreed to buy it. The school didn’t know much about it and didn’t really know what to ask, so we tossed a few offers back and forth and finally agreed on $2,000. That’s right, we only paid $2,000 for this giant bus, which was running and driving pretty well. Lindsey and I quickly unloaded some supplies we had brought, checked the oil in the engine and transmission and topped up as necessary, cleaned the mildew off the drivers seat and steering wheel, cleaned all the mirrors and windshield, and chased away some spiders and wasps that were hanging around. We set off on our adventure home, a 6+ hour drive back to Mount Dora. Along the way I got to figure out what all the buttons and knobs did, how to open the air powered door, and of course, how the air horn sounded. It was an uneventful drive back down south with Lindsey leading the way in our Jetta. I am so happy that we found our bus, it is perfect for us. Sometimes it would be nice to have a shorter vehicle but having all the space we do can’t be beat. It is an All American body, but it has factory white paint, and doesn’t have any school bus lights on it. That combined with the interesting seating layout and large sliding windows leads me to believe this was some sort of charter bus when it was new. It makes the perfect base for a bus conversion; we absolutely love all the windows and have no plans to remove any of them.

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At the time, I was working for a company that ran a couple of farms in the area (the reason we moved to FL) and my boss kindly agreed to let us park the bus on one of the properties. That is where we dropped it after bringing it down from Georgia, fortunately it was only a 5 minute drive from our house, so it was quick to get back and forth while working on it.  There it sat for the next 7 weeks while we worked on stripping the old interior and building it back up. I was fortunate enough to have an understanding boss who let us do the conversion on the property, which really solved a lot of problems for us as our house had a little driveway on a tiny residential street.

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One of the main questions we are asked when people hear our story is ”how do you afford it?” and when we explain that we bought the bus for so little, and didn’t spend much more on the conversion then they begin to understand. We built our interior out of mostly second hand lumber and supplies I got from work for free so that really helped cut down on the expenses. We dismantled an old horse corral which provided us with a ton of lumber, and we also collected a few pallets which we broke down into individual pieces. There was a store down the road from our house that sold overstocked building supplies, so we got our slightly beat up laminate flooring and old stainless sink from them at blowout prices. We also had a free place to park it while we worked on the project, which is a huge help.

Once we decided that we wanted to move back to Oregon we knew that we wanted to spend the summer traveling the country. We were already good about saving money, and we were (and still are) living debt free so there wasn’t anything to eat into our savings. We increased our savings in preparation for the trip, and started selling off anything we didn’t need. Furniture and household things were sold until the house was empty. Our cars and my dirt bikes got sold off to add to the savings pot. Now our only vehicle is this giant antique bus and our little dual sport. We sat down together and worked out a budget, which is mostly for fuel. We included a large allowance for brewery and restaurant visits, as that is one of the things that make us happy in life. What is the point of living if you aren’t happy?  Our biggest expense is obviously fuel, our bus will get anywhere from 7 – 10 MPG depending on speed, terrain, and wind so it isn’t the most economical vehicle, but it isn’t bad for a house on wheels. While we were working out our budget I estimated that we would be driving about 10,000 miles on this trip, so we planned accordingly.

Finding free camping and parking has been another huge asset to this trip. Beyond the standard free overnight Wal-Mart parking, we have been using a couple websites to find free places to stay with great success. The first is www.boondockerswelcome.com, which is a great website that links fellow RV travelers together who offer free parking on their properties, and the other is www.harvesthosts.com, where agricultural businesses offer free parking at their farm, winery, produce store, etc. These sites have helped us stay on budget, and have introduced us to some really amazing people and places. If you are traveling by any sort of RV or bus I highly recommend checking these sites out.

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I also get asked frequently about needing a special license to drive the bus, the short answer is no. If it was still a commercial vehicle I would be required by law to have a class B license but we were able to change the title in Florida to a motor home title, so anyone with a standard drivers license can operate it. It does take a lot of getting used to, remembering how much room is between the axles and how far the back hangs out. We are also able to insure it as a motor home, although it can be a struggle to find a cooperative insurance agency.

Bottom line is, if you have a crazy idea to do something like move into an old bus, it isn’t hard. There are a few difficulties to overcome but nothing worth getting worked up about. We have seen families online with 3-4 kids who still manage to live comfortably in a bus the same size as ours. If you have the motivation, saving money is pretty simple. Cutting back on expenses in order to save for a trip is easy to get the hang of. We plan on keeping our bus for a long time to come. We have big plans to remodel the interior into a more permanent living space, including a large solar array, real plumbing, and a wood burning stove. Home is where we park it!