And her name is... Purple Majesty! Inspired by the lyrics of “America the Beautiful”
"Not only do the lyrics of the song reflect the majestic beauty of America, but it also includes a prayer of thanks and a prayer for guidance from God.
If this isn’t the perfect name, I don’t know what is! Our mission is to trust God in every aspect of our journey and go where He leads. We are also looking forward to seeing the beauty of God in nature. This is just another way that we love to worship God- in His presence, surrounded in the glory of His creation."
"Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea"
Interview by: Patrick Schmidt
School Bus Conversion by: David and Dani
Make: Blue Bird
Model: All American
Motor: Cummins 8.3
Interior Size: 240 Square Feet
Current Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Purchased From/Location: We found it on Facebook Marketplace from a local guy in Virginia Beach, VA. It was actually the bus for the Alabama Space Center. We bought it with only 65,000 miles on it. The seats were already removed as the person we bought it from was planning to convert it, but only ever ripped the seats out.
Cost in materials for the conversion: We are not completely finished with the conversion yet, but our budget is $20,000 total. It could end up being more like $22,000, but we are hoping to stay right around there. We are buying a lot of materials used to help us stay within our budget.
Total time from purchase date to on the road: We purchased the bus in June of 2018 and are hoping to have it completed in January of 2019! We will be hitting the road shortly after! So about 7 months start to finish!
Why a bus?
We wanted to design and create a home on our own, rather than purchasing a vehicle that was already laid out. My husband, David, always dreamed of building a tiny house on his own. He started his degree studying architecture, but later switched to computer science. He has a passion for building and we agreed that this would be the perfect way to fulfill that dream. Converting a bus is much cheaper for us than buying an RV as well.
Will you be full-timing?
YES! We will be living in our bus full time and also travel full time. We are excited to explore the United States as well as meet people along the way. Our mission is to serve others share the love of God with everyone we meet.
We are building our bus to run off of solar power so that we do not have to stay in RV parks every night and hook up. We are so excited to explore the US, boondocking as much as possible.
Where are you converting it?
During our first month of the conversion, we worked on the Bus at the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk. This is a space where people can come to work on any project they may have. There were so many tools available for us and our friends were helping us how to use them.
The best part about being at the Makerspace is that we were able to keep the bus inside. That allowed us to paint the bus inside so we didn't get caught in bad weather. It's also where we installed the solar panels.
We are currently staying at a local man’s family farm who has so graciously offered to rent space for us to store and work on our bus. We moved to the local farm because we no longer needed the tools provided by the Makerspace and we didn’t need to be indoors anymore. Plus we were paying $500 a month at Makerspace (which was so worth it for all of the tools we had access to) but now we are paying $65 a month at the farm!
We are so thankful for this because it is hard to find a place to keep a 40 foot bus! Especially because we live in an apartment right now.
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
David studied architecture for about a year and has experience working on cars. He knows how to use tools and has building experience.
Dani has had NO experience with anything concerning the build. It has been quite the learning curve, but also such a fun thing to learn together.
The thing we have learned the most about with the build so far is electrical work. Wiring up all of the electrical work to run off of our solar panels has been a huge learning process for us. But at this point, you could call us electricians!
Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this?
The best word of advice that we can give to anyone who are thinking of converting a vehicle is go with the flow. Very few projects will go as planned and it is very important to just be flexible and have a plan B, C, D, etc.
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
Our bus is purple! We have a few reasons for painting it purple. First of all, we wanted to be different! Many Skoolies that we have seen are either white or blue. We wanted to stand out with a different color that BOTH of us love!
Our Skoolie’s name is “Purple Majesty”. Of course this name was inspired by her color, but it fit perfectly because of the lyrics in the song “America the Beautiful” which is where the phrase “Purple Mountains Majesties” is from. The song talks about the beauty of our country that we are going to have the opportunity to explore.
What do you do for income? How often do you work on the bus?
Both of us work full time right now. David is also in school finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Because of this, we have limited time to work on the bus. We are working on it any spare minute we get which is normally about one weeknight and the entire weekend.
We are both in the process of looking for new jobs to transition over to when we are living on the bus full time. I (Dani) am looking into remote work with customer service or education as my degree is in Professional Studies with a Concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies. David is looking into Software Development Jobs.
We are both excited for Part Time, Remote positions that will give us the flexibility to travel full time and enjoy this time of our lives.
What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?
We think the hardest thing will be finding places to park for free or where we can be off grid all over the country. This will be especially difficult in areas that we are not familiar with.
The easiest thing will probably be the simplicity of life. We will be living a minimalist lifestyle, so we will only have the things that we need. We will also be able to plan our own schedules with our part time remote jobs.
What is it about the bus that will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
We are looking forward to practicing minimalism and living simply while living on our bus. We are proving there is more to life than making money and buying things by focusing on what is truly important to us: trusting God and serving others. We are confident that God will provide for us and protect us throughout this new adventure.
We believe that God has called us to embark on this journey and we are so excited to see how He uses us to minister to others. We will be seeking God first in our travels and trusting Him to guide us where He wants to use us.
What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in? Have you met other Skoolies?
Most of our family and friends were shocked when we told them about our Skoolie Conversion. This is mainly because I (Dani) am not a fan of small spaces, spontaneity, or traveling. I am very much a planner and do not like change! Our friends and family were even more shocked to find out that this was my (Dani) idea!!! I believe that God has called us to do this, even if it is completely out of my comfort zone. I have felt complete peace throughout our conversion journey so far and I am confident that the Lord will continue providing for us as we are following His will and trusting Him.
David was very excited when I told him about this idea because he loves traveling and adventure, and has always dreamed of building a tiny house.
We have talked with several other Skoolie Converters through social media and we hope to meet some of them along our journey!
Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
At the front of our bus we will have our living room/ dining area/ office area/ guest bedroom. We will have two long couches (one on each side of the bus). These couches will fold out into a bed and they will also have a foldable table that can be placed in the middle.
Right past the couches we will have our kitchen. It will be laid out like a galley kitchen, but it will have a fold out bar where we can sit at bar stools and eat.
In the back of the bus we will have two closets, our bathroom (with a composting toilet), shower, and bedroom).
Because our bus was a transit bus, it has two doors. We have built what we are calling the “garage” inside of the second door. It will only be accessible from the outside and it will hold our tools, bikes, and maybe some cleaning supplies.
Where will you be 3 months from now?
Hopefully finishing up the last few finishing touches and preparing to hit the road!
How can people learn more about you?
We have social media pages, a Vlog on YouTube, as well as a blog. All of them are in this link!
Best of luck and continued success to you both!