- Bert the Bus Conversion -
Make today a Blue Marble Day!
(noun): A day embraced with a love and appreciation for life, no matter the circumstances.
"Our lifestyle has been fairly mobile (minus the bus) for the past two years, so the change hasn’t been too drastic, but it’s certainly been different. We’ve had to cut down on the amount of “things” we own, and ask ourselves: What do I really need and what is just extra?"
- Make: Crown
- Motor: Detroit 671
- Year: 1988
- Interior Square Footage: roughly 34 x 8 ft, so 272
- Current Location: New Orleans
- Purchased From/Location: Los Angeles
- Cost in materials for the conversion: estimated $20,000
What is the “Blue Marble Day” philosophy?
A Blue Marble day is a day embraced with a love and appreciation for life, no matter the circumstances. This originates from a story about a man who received a diagnosis that threw his life upside down: pancreatic cancer with 180 days to live. In this moment, the man realized he had been going through the motions of life, without fully appreciating each day along the way.
And so he went to the store and purchased a jar and a bag of blue marbles. He set out to be consciously grateful for each moment, and strived to do things in life that he knew would bring him joy. When he lived this mentality for the entirety of a day, he would return home and drop a blue marble into his jar - calling these days "Blue Marble Days."
When he passed away, his wife realized this diagnosis was in fact a gift, which allowed her husband to approach life the way we all should, regardless of our circumstances.
After hearing this story, the question became, "How can we most effectively spread this man's spirit of life and help people develop a love and appreciation for today?"
So we talked to hundreds of people and started digging deeper into what makes up our Blue Marble Days. Originally, this led us to work on an app, intended to help document these special days using video. However, we have since decided we first want to build a community, and find out what that community needs in order to have a Blue Marble Day.
Why choose a Bus to live and work out of?
Blue Marble is built around community, which we call the stream. It’s made up of a school of Blue Salmons who strive to live a life full of Blue Marble Days.
Bert the Bus will not only serve as our living quarters and the vehicle which will drive this movement upstream. She is also the mobile headquarters for the company and the center piece for all Blue Salmon Spawning events around the nation. The most unique feature will be the engine, as we plan to convert it to burn vegetable oil! Better for the environment and easier on our wallets!
When we realized that a social community needed to drive this movement, we figured, what better way to find Blue Salmons all over the nation, than by meeting them and sharing experiences with them on the open road.
So we bought a bus and plan to convert it into the full mobile Headquarters for Blue Marble.
What is it about the bus that helps you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
The Blue Marble Upstream lifestyle is best spread through face to face, impactful conversation. We know that we have so much to learn from other Blue Salmons all over the country, and Bert the Upstream Express will allow us and this community, to learn so much about what it means to live a Blue Marble Day.
Could you explain a little more how you guys ended up choosing a Bus to convert? I saw in one your YouTube videos you test drove an RV to buy, what happened with that?
We originally checked out a couple of RVs and realized we would end up needing to strip down the inside anyways due to our need for ultimate customization. After we saw an old Crown school bus, the smile that the exterior brings out in people, we decided that had to be the model we went with.
How did you find Bert?
After we decided Crown was the model, it was simply a waiting game. We lost a bid on eBay at the last second on a bus we fell in love with, but I told the guys if we were meant to have her, then we will get her. Two weeks later the seller called me and said the buyer had not come through, and she was ours.
Where are you in the conversion process? Will you be full-timing?
We just drove Bert the bus from her previous home in Monrovia, CA to New Orleans – where we encountered many unforeseen challenges.
First, we attempted to drive her down to the water at the Salton Sea, where she got stuck in quicksand for two days. After a tow job, that included a flat tire and 6 automobile jacks, we were on the road again. Next we met an awesome couple who told us we needed to change her oil – which ended up spilling – and needing a human thumb-plug from underneath the Bus for an hour.
The next day we suffered a 3 day engine failure in the painted desert. Finally she made it to New Orleans in one piece, where we will be finishing our final year at Tulane University while we convert Bert to become the full Mobile HeadQuarters for Blue Marble.
Where will you be doing the conversion? At a garage, friends/family property?
We are subletting an apartment during the fall semester with a large driveway behind the house. Many students and friends in the area plan to help out with the conversion - all of which have more experience with tools/woodworking/metalworking, than we do.
During the summer we have already insisted a friend with incredible artistic skills to turn Bert’s paint job into a full blown Blue Salmon!
What type of skills for the bus conversion do you have?
We’re still early on in the process, so we know we still have so much to learn. We have no prior experience with bus conversions, we've already learned a lot through this process.
Especially as it relates to bus mechanics and what it takes to make her fully sustainable! The great thing about our bus, is we purchased her for this community, so there’s a huge group of Blue Salmons who are a part of this conversion process.
So as you have time/money you will be working on the conversion? Do you guys have experience with tools/woodworking/metalworking?
Yes, we plan to sell merchandise and cold brew coffee around campus to pay for the conversion as we move along. We have relatively no experience with tools/woodworking/metalworking. But we have awesome friends who do, and we’re excited to learn. We hope to move into Bert full time for our final semester of college in the spring.
What do you do for income?
We sold our cars, and as of now we are only losing money.
We intend to start an apparel line, including Blue Marble bracelets in the near future.
Could you explain how you've been mobile the last two years? Was it harder/easier for any of you guys to downsize into the bus?
We love to travel and learn from people we meet along the way. We have lived in tents, in a 1 bathroom apartment with two amazing friends at USC, at a hippie commune, and in our cars as we explored the US and searched for our calling.
Hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?
The 38 foot length of Bert, makes her less than ideal for the city roads, but we’re quickly learning the power of the wide turns! (She is not designed for the McDonalds Drivethrough window) Our lifestyle has been fairly mobile (minus the bus) for the past two years, so the change hasn’t been too drastic, but it’s certainly been different. We’ve had to cut down on the amount of “things” we own, and ask ourselves: What do I really need and what is just extra?
What have been people’s reaction to you driving a bus around? Have you met other Skoolies?
We haven’t met any other Skoolie’s in person yet, but we are looking forward to it. People love the bus – even policeman have been honking and shouting encouragement at Bert.
"It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what’s on the horizon. But what good does that do? When we shift our focus to embracing what’s right in front of us, we’re reminded just how much we have to be grateful for."
Where will you be 3 months from now? Advice for others?
We do have a few words of wisdom to share. First, things never happen as quickly as you’d like! Stay patient, and make sure you’re doing things the right way. Expect things to come up…there’s always obstacles on the journey upstream! Stay optimistic and enjoy the journey, there’s a lot to be learned from a struggle.
If you're reading this and want to help, please reach out!
How can people learn more about you?
"Like the sky, not everyday will be Blue.
But even on those grey days, when nothing seems to go your way...
A Blue Marble moment will help you find the light in your day."
Make Today a Blue Marble Day!