Saskatoon artists turn short bus into dog-friendly adventure rig
The Bus Fair 2020 had to be postponed until June 2021, so we are digitally coming together for the bus community! Thirty unique skoolies were chosen to be Featured Exhibitors at The Bus Fair. Since we're unable to meet in person - we're bringing a handful of these bus conversions right to you. Meet Determined Life Adventures and their "Gus Bus".
Written by: Logan & Brooke, Determined Life Bus
We are Logan and Brooke and this is our story and how we found our bus, Gus. We are a young couple originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We met four, exciting, adventure-filled years ago. We recently spent a year living on Vancouver Island, BC where we converted our 20ft short bus, Gus, into our dream tiny home on wheels.
When we made the 1800km move from Saskatoon to Vancouver Island we bought an old RV that we planned to live in and renovate into a tiny home. On the way there the RV died on us and we were left finding a home to rent as our new job was starting asap. This was one of the most stressful things we have endured as a couple, finally moving to our dream location. We didn’t let it stop us though, we are resilient and determined with all we do, hence our social media name @determinedlifeadventures.
We dreamed of moving to BC to live the lifestyle that we desire, focusing on our hobbies (snowboarding, longboarding, hiking, camping, biking, etc.) and getting to be outdoors as much as possible. We found ourselves not being able to enjoy all the things we moved there for because of where we were living, the jobs we had, etc. We also felt cheated that we hadn't truly had the chance to live vanlife as a way to experience all the things we love while traveling, and so we found Gus, our bus.
We found Gus in Squamish BC, and so we took the ferry ride over to the mainland to bring him home and begin our project. At the time we got Gus, we weren't working as our boss was on a trip for five weeks, which gave us a good chunk of time to get our bus ready. We are extremely creative people. Logan is a Red Seal Welder and I am a photographer. We also build completely handmade and painted longboards from start to finish. We can't wait to get some feedback on them and share them with those at The Bus Fair. Since we are both artists, this project was so much fun as we had an empty canvas to work with!
We chose bus life because we believe there is no definition of what a 'regular' life should look like and believe there is no right or wrong for how you should be living your life. We are extremely hard-working people with big aspirations and this lifestyle will only help us achieve our goals faster and realistically also. We are spontaneous people who like to live life on a whim. We travel in our bus with our two dogs, a 3-year-old boxer named Meech and a 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull-Terrier named Rocco and they love bus life just as much or more than we do if that’s possible. The four of us are happy as long as we are all together, adventuring. We spend all our time together and so living in a tiny home on wheels was not a concern for us whatsoever, it was extremely exciting.
We are so proud of the fact that we built Gus from start to finish completely on our own, learning as we went. We chose a bus to reduce our ecological footprint, to connect with nature, connect with each other and ourselves, eliminate the everyday distractions that get in the way of quality time, work to live not live to work, save money for future goals, focus on our passions, experience more of our beautiful world and live where we want/when we want.
We are excited to be going to The Bus Fair to meet so many people from this amazing community of van/bus lifers. We have only attended one small vanlife event in Squamish, BC but had to leave in order to get back to Vancouver Island for work. We are excited about all the inspiration we will find from the other attendees and their masterpiece tiny homes that they have created.
Model: E350 Superduty with a short bus chassis attached
Motor: 6 Litre Powerstroke
Interior Square Footage: About 90 sq ft.
Current Location: Saskatoon, Sk
Purchased From/Location: Squamish, BC
Cost in materials for the conversion: $9200 (cost of bus) $2000 (Conversion materials-we repurposed a lot of material we found)
Total time from the purchase date to on the road: Purchased on-Feb 16, 2019 Moved into bus-April 28-2019 (about 10 weeks for full renovation) Though we were driving/ taking it on small trips regularly throughout
Why a bus?
We chose a bus to reduce our ecological footprint, to connect with nature, connect with each other and ourselves, eliminate the everyday distractions that get in the way of quality time, work to live not live to work, save money for future goals, focus on our passions, experience more of our beautiful world and live where we want/when we want. We also chose a bus in comparison to a van as we wanted to be able to fully stand up and have ample room with our pups. We love that with a bus we are responsible for things like making sure we have water every day and propane to cook and all the essentials for daily life, it gives you a different perspective to not take what you have for granted.
What we loved about choosing a bus, that was virtually an empty shell when we got it, was that we had absolute free reign on the design, like building a home from the ground up. We built the bus completely to our and our dogs' needs. Every inch of the bus has an exact purpose and in some cases multiple uses. From hidden closets inside walls, to slide out dishes for our pups, to fitting our extensive clothing/shoe collection, to all of our outdoor gear, snowboards, to a hidden table for eating and painting, to a rooftop deck, we thought of it all and never felt like we had to compromise on not having the things we simply couldn't live without.
Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
Our bus’s name is Gus Bus. The day we went to look at him before deciding to purchase, Brooke mentioned Gus Bus as we had just watched the movie “Benchwarmer’s” and the nickname of one of the characters is called ‘Gus Bus’ and it just fit him perfectly!
Will you be full-timing?
We lived in our bus full-time from April 28th, 2019 - August 30, 2019. We had every intention of living in our bus longer, and may still. We came back to Saskatoon, SK, where we are originally from for a wedding last summer and were going to head back to see other parts of beautiful BC, though we decided to stay back and work to save money as Logan was able to work for his previous employer as he is a Red Seal welder. And Saskatchewan winters are INSANELY cold so we had to give in and move into a house over the winter. If all goes as planned, be moving back to Vancouver Island and we could not be more excited to get Gus Bus back to his natural habitat. If we are not living in Gus Bus full time we will be using him as much as possible for camping trips and adventures whenever possible!
Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
We were lucky enough to be able to work on our conversion of Gus Bus at our suite where we were living in Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island.
Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We did the entire conversion from start to finish ourselves, learning lots on the fly as we went.
Who are you living/traveling with?
Our little adventure pack includes: Logan(24), Brooke(23), Meech(our 3-year-old Boxer pup), and Rocco (our 6-year-old Staffordshire Bull-Terrier).
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
We are both super creative people. Logan is a Red-seal welder that came in handy for having all the right tools to cut steel and in building our tiny wood stove. We learned how to do electrical and plumbing as we went, thanks to YouTube, and managed to get everything working very well. We were working for a construction company right before we bought Gus Bus. We were building homes, so we took our framing knowledge into our build as we created our walls, cabinets, closet, couch, etc. Then we got creative in building cabinet/ closet doors as we found old pallets and tore them apart and recreated them into doors and drawers. We painted our interior fun colors of stain and used old rugs/ flags from our suite to make our space reflect us and our fun personalities. We built each nook and cranny of the bus to hold a specific purpose or multiple ones and we love how it turned out and are extremely proud of the fact that we did it on our own.
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
Besides our rooftop deck feature, our most unique feature of Gus Bus would have to be the unique storage solutions we came up with to not feel like we were limited on what we could pack/ or feel crammed in with the pups.
1. We built the dogs their own bed underneath ours, which also features a hidden closet in one of the walls which holds all of our towels/ cleaning supplies.
2. We built a hidden drawer in the bottom of our couch for our dogs' food dishes so they can be put away and kept tidy, only out when needed.
3. We built a hidden compartment above our dogs' bed where our dining table slides out of.
4. Our couch opens up to be a massive storage space underneath.
5. Underneath our bed is a massive storage compartment that we access by lifting three plywood sheets in sections to reveal different compartments. One in particular that we access from on our bed holds all of our snowboarding gear and camping gear. The rest of the area under our bed is our ‘garage’ which we access from the back doors of Gus. Here we have our shower, two big drawers full of gear, fitness equipment, and our two water jugs, our propane tank, and our full-size toolbox fit here as well.
What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?
Living in a bus isn't hard at all, it is freeing. However, make sure you know two things: where you are allowed to sleep and where the nearest washrooms are...or a good nearby tree/bush will do! The easiest thing is being able to be one with the outdoors and step out and explore and having everything you own with you in one small space!
What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
Living in a bus helps you realize what is really a necessity and important. It helps you connect more and save more money by choosing where to stay and when and being able to see more of the beautiful planet. We couldn't decide where in BC we wanted to live and so we thought a bus would be the perfect solution so that we could live in every place for a short while and see more beautiful sights.
What have been people’s reactions to you buying a bus to live in? Have you met other Skoolies?
People’s reactions have been a bit mixed, some good, some negative, some think we're crazy haha but for the most part good. Most people we meet are excited for us being that we are some of the youngest people(that we have met at least) doing this and how creative we have been with it by taking our hobbies on the road with us. A lot of older people tell us they are living vicariously through us and it makes them smile! We have met a few other skoolies. While we were living in Squamish, BC, last summer we met an awesome skoolie named Doris and a few other buses but mostly a lot of vans there that were awesome as well! We are excited to get back to BC to see more bus/ van lifer’s again and go on tons of adventures.
What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?
Our most memorable, favorite place that we have traveled in Gus Bus so far would have to be Buttle Lake on Vancouver Island.
How can people learn more about you (social media, website, etc.)?
We have an Instagram account as well as a Facebook page called @determinedlifeadventures. We also have a website, determinedlifeadventures.com where we write our unique travel stories in a blog(like the time we slept in a haunted parking lot), share our Youtube videos, our photography and our handmade and painted longboards that we build. We also have a Youtube channel @determinedlifeadventures where we create fun buslife & adventure & wellness videos.
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