- Written by Patrick Schmidt
Meet Wanda Outside!
"We were working nonstop on Wanda for months, but then realized it was still important to take time to enjoy friends and being outside. That is the whole reason we chose bus life in the first place!"
Shuttle Bus Conversion By: Jen and Brandon; Furry friends Joe and Cortado
Interview By: Patrick Schmidt
Model: E350 28 passenger shuttle bus
Motor: 7.3L Diesel
Interior Square Footage: 145 sq.ft.
Current Location: Emerald Isle, NC
Purchased From/Location: Black Mountain, NC (right outside of Asheville)
Cost in materials for the conversion: $18,000 (including price of the bus)
Expected time from purchase date to on the road: 1 year and 4 months
What drew you to a bus? What’s the vision/plan?
We’ve been interested in tiny houses and alternative living styles for a while now. We live in a tight-knit community on an island in the southern OBX of North Carolina. Most people here are very down to earth and not as materialistic as the “norm”. We already live close to the ocean, islands, marshes, and enjoying the outdoors is a part of our daily routine.
To afford this lifestyle, we’ve been living with roommates and in small studio apartments for the past 6 years. So, in a way, we have always enjoyed living tiny and prefer to focus more on personal connections, learning new skills, and being close with nature than becoming monetarily wealthy and buying things we don’t need. Converting a bus on our own and traveling in it seemed to fit right into our way of life!
Has your original vision/layout changed throughout the build?
Our layout hasn’t changed too much. We have a pretty small space, so all the bigger appliances had to go in certain spaces. Towards the end of the build, we did have to figure out where smaller things (like trashcan/recycle bin) would go. Currently, we’re still finishing up the solar system, propane, and grey water tank so we’re living in Wanda part-time. We plan to live in her full-time as soon as possible.
What do you think your day-to-day life will look like once you're living in the bus?
Hopefully lots of parks, public lands, and nature. We took a cross country road trip a few years ago, living out of a conversion van, and decided we want to focus less on cities, restaurants, etc. and that we really appreciate nature-made things rather than man-made.
Speaking of man-made, what tools have you found to be most helpful?
Drill, impact drill, miter saw... Although we didn’t have one, a table saw would have been very helpful. We got by using a skill saw along with a clamp guide for long, straight cuts. We also borrowed tools from my dad and close friends whenever we could. Having an amazing network of skilled builders from whom you can draw tools and professional advice is very helpful as well!
Where are you working on the conversion?
We are lucky to be able to rent from my parents right now. Their house has a nice driveway, small garage, extra space in the house to store appliances, and no HOA (home-owners association) in sight!
Anything you thought would be more/less challenging?
I honestly thought the electrical and solar set up was going to be more difficult. We opted to buy individual components to our solar set up instead of going with a kit, and after a few days of research, it really wasn’t intimidating anymore. I feel that we have a good handle on our electrical system and can easily expand the capacity of our system if we want to in the future.
What have been people’s reaction to you converting a bus?
Almost everyone says, “That’s awesome! I wish I would have done that when I was younger/before I had kids” or “You’re so lucky! I wish I could do that!” It makes us kind of sad that people seem so enthusiastic about the idea but feel constrained by their careers, money, or society’s view of this alternative lifestyle. We always want to respond “But you CAN do it! Just start!”
In general, the people in our area have been super supportive and encouraging. There is a decent amount of people around us who live in RVs, mobile homes, or on boats to be able to afford to live at the beach.
What skills, if any, did you have going into the build?
Brandon had engineering and some woodworking skills prior to the build, and Jen knew how to sew, research, and keep track of money spent. Whatever skills or knowledge we lacked, we learned through watching YouTube videos and reading endless product reviews.
Has your relationship changed since you bought the bus?
Our relationship has evolved quite a bit since we began dating in 2013.
With the bus, we’ve definitely had some control issues. We were both working full time on Wanda for a majority of the build, and realized that we need to communicate about EVERYTHING. Things like how the bus will look, how many drawers this cabinet will have, where the toilet will go, when and what color we're painting that piece of wood over there, do I need to do X before you can do Z, etc.
We worked on being on the exact same line of the same page, all the time. We have a whole notebook full of diagrams we have drawn for each other to explain our individual visions and allow for collaboration and communication.
Are you on a schedule?
Is any build ever on schedule?? Haha. Our build is taking longer to finish than we planned. Some of our current pre-occupations are family obligations, friends, and the fact that it’s summer at the beach.
We were working nonstop on Wanda for months, but then realized it was still important to take time to enjoy friends and being outside. That is the whole reason we chose bus life in the first place!
Tips/advice for people that are looking to buy and convert a bus? Questions for people to ask that you wish you had known before?
Do your research on engines, and be patient!! We looked at Craigslist virtually every day for about a year before we found the deal we wanted to invest in. If you are going to put all the effort into building the interior of your bus, you definitely want it to be attached to a solid engine with good mileage. When we found our 7.3L diesel, garage kept, with only 73,000 miles on it, we knew she was the one!
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
We have a dog “crate” under part of our bed for our two Boston Terriers. We repurposed a used headboard found at a local thrift store for the doors. We sawed the headboard down the middle, put each piece on drawer slides, and cleaned it up for a cute, upcycled space our pups can enjoy!
What do you do for income?
Jen was a bartender for the past 5 years and saved up money to fund the conversion and pay for living expenses while taking time off from work. Brandon is a wedding videographer and photographer and aims to further his film career. We are still looking into various streams of income that we can maintain while traveling.
As far as our budget goes, we have been able to stay within our limits so far. We still have some expenses to cover as we finish up the build, but everything seems to be on track.
What is your cooking/kitchen setup?
We have a propane two burner cook-top with electric start, sink with freshwater tank below or city water hookup, and an Airmaxx fan for ventilation.
No washer/dryer! We figure we can use a laundromat or wash our clothes in the sink and hang dry. For our bathroom, we went with a Nature’s Head composting toilet, which will hopefully be worth its cost!
From an environmental standpoint, we didn’t want to have a black water tank or chemical toilet. A composting toilet and only a grey water tank (we use all natural/biodegradable toiletries) seemed to be the best fit for our environmental concerns.
Safety/Security concerns living in a Bus?
We have deadbolts and locks installed on our doors and have always felt pretty safe living in our area.
Where will you be 3 months from now?
Well, that’s the fun thing about Bus Life: We don’t really know where we’ll be in 3 months! Maybe we’ll take a trip out west, maybe we’ll go south and visit friends in Florida, or maybe we’ll still be in Emerald Isle figuring out our income streams and enjoying the beach life!
Our vision was to travel north from North Carolina and see all of the New England states, Canada, the PNW, and eventually relocate to San Francisco. But, as most things with bus conversions go, the plans have changed!
We recently decided we’d like to settle down in Emerald Isle and sink our roots in a bit. We love the community and all this area has to offer. We’re currently focusing on creating income sources that will be feasible to maintain on the road, because we will definitely still be traveling!
We’re looking for a space to rent or small piece of land to buy where we can park her semi-permanently. But we still plan on traveling as much as possible!
How can people learn more about you?
Instagram is our primary source for bus updates and travel photos
Wanda Outside Products Mentioned
- Written by Patrick Schmidt
- 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!
- Written by Brock Butterfield
"Meeting other like minded travelers or tiny dwellers with a passion to explore has opened our eyes to door number two that we never knew existed."
Interview by: Brock Butterfield
School Bus Conversion by: Tyler and Lexi
Alright, alright! Let’s start this interview off with a little intro from you two. Whom I talkin’ to?
Our names are Tyler and Lexi and we are both from Redondo Beach, California. We have lived and worked together bartending for the last five years until we ventured off into the buslife!
Whats under that hood? Make, model, transmission?
Our bus is a 2001 International with a 3800 DT466e. It has an automatic Allison 2000 transmission and had 128k miles on it when we bought her. She has adopted the name Winona!
On your Instagram you hinted to a sketchy hotel stay when you went to pick up the bus for the first time. We gotta hear the story. What happened?
So, we had our eye on the bus on Craigslist for awhile and kept in contact with the seller. We watched the price go down and eventually made the five hour trip to Fresno, Ca to see it. We packed an overnight bag just incase, thinking there was no way we would make it back before dark or if the lights even worked. We drove around the corner and saw a bus that was 9 feet longer than we thought. But we checked everything out, did some test drives and bought it. We picked the cheapest and closest motel we could find and the room was pretty disgusting. It was right off the highway in a part of town I swear I've seen on Cops before. There were a bunch of semi trucks in the parking lot and then our newly purchased bus. We thought we were gonna get robbed or murdered, probably both, but we made it out ok.
How much did you guys know about converting a bus?
We knew nothing. Tyler had done construction in the past and built his fair share of skate ramps but never something like this. We have a lot of skilled friends that we knew would be willing to lend a hand. We always say that it was a group effort.
What were some resources (Instagram accounts or websites) that you pulled information and inspiration from?
Once we discovered there was a whole world of Skoolies out there and started searching through Instagram we couldn't believe how much motivation we found! Then you go to YouTube and find a tutorial on literally any part of the build you need help with. We obviously can't talk about inspiration and not mention buses like navigationnowhere and theskoolie, who were some of the first accounts we followed. Now we follow hundreds of conversions each one different than the last. As far as the decor goes, Lexi gets full credit with the help of Pinterest!
What was the hardest part of your school bus conversion?
Honestly, the two things that come to mind are probably not your typical answers but one would be just buying the bus! Searching and deciding if we were really ready to move our whole lives into an old bus and leave everything we know behind. I could say ripping out old heaters and AC or figuring out how to do all the electrical but we knew we would have help and it was what we signed up for. Number two was finding a place in L.A to park and work on the bus!
How in the f*ck do you guys sustain this lifestyle? It looks like all fun and no work…
I’m sure most that have converted a bus and travel fulltime will agree that it is absolutely nowhere near as glamorous as social media makes it out to be! We saved and sold basically everything we own to give ourselves a one year budget IF done correctly. Lexi also works remotely in direct sales which has been a huge help when we get to a city and blow half of our money for the month in one weekend!
In your skoolie, I spy with my little eye something fury and ferocious… How’s bus life been for Ruca?
Ruca is killing buslife. We were extremely worried before we left that she wasn't going to adapt and we would have to leave her behind with family or friends. On day one she wasn't doing so hot. She was drooling all over, very car sick and having trouble walking around. Day two and she walked down to the couch, jumped up and went straight to sleep. She loves the bus and will go to the bottom step but never runs away. She sleeps in between us every night. She is like our child. Haha
Looks like you guys spent some time in Oklahoma City. Have you ever had beer in the beer bus there?
We have not! We wish we would of heard of that while we were there! We would however, recommend going to Stroud, OK to the Rock Cafe on Route 66 and getting a patty melt and some sweet tea! Lexi has some family in OKC so we took some time there and caught our breath a little. Luckily we got to stay with a family friend and enjoy some air conditioning in the 100 degree heat! Our little RV unit on the bus only works when we are plugged in to shore power.
What is the biggest thing you two have gained from converting a school bus into a tiny home on wheels?
I think just being able to cut ties from what we thought we needed. We have learned so much already in the last four months about what is important to us. How the idea of normal that is drilled into everyone's heads about going to school, getting a job and buying an overpriced house to start a family and grow old in does not need to be our fate. Granted there is nothing wrong with that, but meeting other like minded travelers or tiny dwellers with a passion to explore has opened our eyes to door number two that we never knew existed. I don't think spontaneity lasts forever and building a traveling tiny home and doing this while we still have the drive is something we are stoked we followed through on.
Number one, must have item for a bus conversion?
Well after making sure the bus runs, solar! We only have 400 watts and it has been a life saver! Why would you not want free power? We decided last minute to order solar off amazon about four days before we were leaving. And unless you have a ton of batteries, we don't know how we could have boondocked as much as we do without pulling out our generator. That, and of course our Planetary Designs french press. We need our coffee!
How do people follow along with your adventures? Hit me with your social medias!
We are on Facebook and Instagram @onewildridebus and YouTube as One Wild Ride. We usually try to have a new episode out once a week! If people are not on social media you can visit www.onewildridebus.com which has all the same photos and videos as well as blogs about our travels, buying the bus and our crazy trip to India!
Products Used For One Wild Ride School Bus Conversion
- Written by Brock Butterfield
~School Bus Conversion Is Home For Software Developer and Traveling Physical Therapist~
Nick, Heather and their dog Miles have nothing but smiles on the road full time. They've cut ties with the traditional form of paying rent and instead put that money saved into their gas tank to fuel their appetite for exploring places they've never been to. But how do you live in such a small space full time without wanting to kill the other person? Nick replied:
Interview By: Brock Butterfield~
School Bus Conversion By: Nick Underwood and Heather Yandziak~
Bus Specs: 1998 Thomas Vista 3600 with International T444E and Allison 4 Speed transmission ~
Ok, break it down for us. How did this whole idea to live in a converted school bus come about?
Heather and I had been living in Denver for a couple years after moving from the east coast just to try somewhere new. We enjoyed Colorado, but were already thinking about where to try next. I don't remember what exactly started the idea, but I had previously lived in a van and also on a sailboat and I'm sure that came up one day and we just went from there. I think we first seriously considered the boat idea, but Tiny Homes were just starting to get big around then and I bet we ran across our first skoolie while digging into those. I always love a good project and ultimately the skoolie seemed like the best idea of all.
So with living in a sailboat for a while, what tiny living or sailboat ideas did you possibly implement into your school bus conversion?
The only thing we can really think of are the fruit hammock, which we had similar hanging things on the boat, and the upper cabinet doors having the hinges on the top so that gravity keeps them closed.
It took you guys a year to convert your school bus. Did you work full time on it or did you juggle working your day job as well?
It was a nights and weekends kind of thing. Heather worked full-time as a Physical Therapist and I was doing about 30 hours a week of Software Development from home. I bet we averaged about 40 hours a week on the bus during that year.
How's it travelling with a dog? Have you found out anything you hadn't planned for in having a dog live full time in your skoolie?
When we got Miles the skoolie plan was already in effect, so we purposely went for a "travel-size" dog. Actually living in the bus with him has been no issue, and he was already super comfortable with it since he spent a lot of me with me while converting. Eating out can be challenging, but we can usually find a dog friendly patio, and if nothing else it helps us from eat out too much. He does most of the hikes and water stuff with us and is an actually an excellent hiker. Most areas have lots of dog friendly hikes, except for the National parks, so there have been a few occasions where we have to find dog sitters so that we can explore the National Parks without him. So far it's been pretty easy to find someone to watch him for a day or two, usually on rover.com
Boy howdy that's quite the deck on the roof of your skoolie! Tell us a bit about the idea, materials used and how you fastened it.
To be honest I'm not sure where the idea came from. It just seems like the obvious thing to do at this point! It was actually one of the first things we did since we thought it might involve putting holes in the roof (it didn't though). I had a local welder/fabricator help with the design, which is essentially a rectangular steel frame with some arms that rest on the rain gutters above the windows. There are some turnbuckles welded to the arms that then clamp the whole frame down to the gutters. There are a few screws through the top of the frame going into some support rails that were already on top of the bus, but the turnbuckles do most of the work holding it in place. We debated a bunch of different materials and styles for the actually decking, including using putting green turf, but ultimately said to hell with the budget and got some long lasting Trex boards.
Ha. Ya, I think a few of us end up saying to hell with the budget and just splurge to make it feel more like home. What was your original budget and what was your total budget all said and done?
Original $15k. We more than doubled our budget by the time we were done.
What's it been like going from a full size kitchen to a small two top burner for cooking?
Heather chimes in: The thing I miss the most is actually a dishwasher, but otherwise it hasn't been that challenging, it just requires more thought and planning ahead of time. I don't really miss the oven or microwave, but I do miss the freezer for ice cream. The two burner stove isn't bad, but I wish the burners were a bit bigger or more spaced out so two bigger pots or pans could be used at the same time. Overall though, it hasn't stopped us from making and enjoying lots of delicious foods. (We have also just added an Instapot and Air Fryer to the arsenal)
Whoa! An Instapot? Are you able to run that off the solar battery bank or do you need to be plugged into shore power to use it?
I always assumed we would have to be plugged in for the Instapot until we tried it a couple days ago and it works no problem on our system. Once it gets pressurized, the power draw is actually quite low. The air fryer works too, but drains a little more than I would like for regular use.
What is the hardest thing you've learned with building or living in a school bus conversion?
The hardest thing with building was designing it in a way to maximize the use of every square inch of space. There were more than one "heated discussions" over some of the layout, but eventually I think we nailed it, though we have never used our shower which was not an insignificant money, time and space consumer during the build. If we did it again we wouldn't add the shower.
Really? If you haven't used the shower yet does that mean you're going on months without a shower?
Nah, we usually find a way to get a shower every few days or so. The problem is that we have a fairly small fresh water tank (24 gallons) and a shower would eat that up pretty quick, plus the wet bath is not exactly cozy. And typically anywhere we are that we can fill our water, there is also a shower available, which is usually a campground. We have also showered at a mechanic's shop while we were broken down, a recreation center, a friend's place and sometimes river baths.
Oddly, I think the hardest part about living in it has been the unexpected amount of work involved with sharing everything on the web site and social medias. Otherwise, it hasn't been that bad at all.
Let's talk parking. How do you find a place to park every night?
We mostly use the Campendium app to point us in the right direction, and have only done boondocking and paid campgrounds so far and we usually plan out a couple days or more in advanced where we would like to be. We've only booked two spots more than a week in advance, which are to coastal spots in California in the fall. So far we've always been able to find a decent place to stay without too much trouble. Some boondocking spots are amazing and some just good enough, with some being found right as we pull into the area and some taking a couple hours of driving around to find just the right place. I think we are probably able to boondock at least 50 or 60 percent of time.
How are you providing an income for yourselves while on the road?
We saved up a decent chunk of money to help us out as we travel and I'm still working part-time doing Software Development. Heather is on a sabbatical, but is quickly becoming a social media ninja.
Does Heather foresee a way to make some sort of profit from her social media ninja skills?
The idea right now is to just see where it goes with no real expectations. We already have some affiliate links, but other than that, we're just seeing what kind of traction we can get right now.
What's the most unique part of your bus conversion?
Hmm, all of it! I'd say the deck design is pretty unique, and the kitchen counter top made from a door and the modular living room, dining room, office couch design. Ooh, and also the sensor box that collects all kinds of live data and sends it straight to the website.
Wait, a what? Sensor box? Ok, you've gotta tell me more about that. I'm a geek for data collection especially for weather.
Take a look at the video and you'll see it briefly. I think there are almost 30 data points I'm collecting, but only a few are visible on the site right now. I have temps, humidity, a wind gauge that isn't working, various air quality/gas sensors, light levels, sound levels, motion levels, GPS data and probably a couple more. You can see a few of the sensors' data on the live data page on our website (with patience, it takes a bit to load up). I would like to do even more with the data I'm collecting, but just haven't had time. I'm a huge data geek.
I also noticed you have quite the geeky WiFi setup which makes sense as a software developer but how does it all work?
Here I went a bit overboard. We have both Verizon and AT&T hotspots. There is a mini router/repeater I have with custom firmware that connects to these hotspots or whatever other wifi we find. There is then a second wireless router that has a wired connection to that first router. All of our devices connect to the second router so they don't have to switch between hotspots all of the time, I just change the connection on the first router and then all the of the other devices use whatever it is connected to. I can also set up a vpn on the 2nd router so that all devices get routed through that when we are on sketchy wifis.
What's the plan now that you're full timing? Bucket list of spots to visit? Will you live in the bus forever?
We started at the beginning of April and plan to go into at least early 2019 and reevaluate then. Our general plan is to do the western U.S. in this order, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, traveling with the weather since we don't have heat or A/C. We're definitely into all of the National Parks and pumped about doing the Pacific Coast highway. As we travel we generally research the areas a week or two up the road to find all the interesting things to see and do. In November we are heading back to the east coast for the holidays with our families, including two weeks in the Keys at the beginning of December. We'll probably do the rest of the winter somewhere in Florida and then start doing longer stays (like 3 months) at different locations so that Heather can start work as a Travel PT. Or maybe we'll just get a sailboat and move to the Virgin Islands!
Some seaside time sounds like a good idea. Best of luck and thanks for taking the time to share your school bus conversion with us!
To follow more of Nick, Heather and Mile's adventures be sure to follow along on their different social media channels and website: