Spring Foward


Well it’s been a crazy long winter wouldn’t you guys agree? Holy moly I’m ready for summer! The warm mornings when the birds chirp and the smell of honeysuckle fills the bus. The days when we start off with the sun shinning in the whole bus and there’s no window coverings. The evenings filled with tiki torches and the smell of sunscreen and graham cracker crumbs on sticky happy faces. Ya I’m ready for those days again! But until then I’ll live in the now.


Our current living is a little tough, it’s time for more space. The camper had served its purpose and for the most part it was good. There were hard days, and everyone has them. House, camper, bus, van we all have hard days. This winter I’ve learned that cabin fever wasn’t just in the camper. Even in houses winter is just hard for kids. It’s time to start a new chapter again. Denver has been accepted into the fire academy we’ve been hoping for! We are very excited and ready for this new journey! We know life is about to get really difficult and trying, but we are ready! That being said we’ve tossed around so many ideas and plans for our living situation. We thought about renting a house for a year and selling the bus. (I even posted a few times about the bus going up for sale). We thought about building the garage as is (400sq ft) and living in that. We thought about building it out to 800sq ft. In the end the time wouldn’t allow for building. The amount of money spent on renting wouldn’t be worth it. So we’ve decided to........ drum roll please ddddddun dun dun. LIVE IN THE BUS! Whoo hooo. The garage will be extra living space for now as well. It has walls now so we will just make it more of a living room and an area for Denver to come home and study!


So spring is definitely project season. We moved in the bus last night. Now we will add some finishing touches and clean up the garage to make it look fresh to death! We also want our yard to be comfortable. Right now it’s half junky half grass and nice. Having a nice yard helps us feel more comfortable. Plus we don’t need to draw any more attention to the fact that we live in a bus.


I need to be more active on my blog posts and this winter I was in a rut. I really felt irrelevant and boring. I didn’t know what was to come and where we were going. We now have a plan and it’s clear and simple. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to work. I also miss baking and sharing food. I’m excited to start doing that again. We are springing in to action and can’t wait!! See the punn there?? I had to do at least one!

These are all old photos. I will have new ones of the bus, garage and yard soon. 



I wanted to share a recipe with you guys potentially once a week. This will be my first recipe I blog! Bare with me 😂. Posole, also known as hominy originated in Mexico. As people migrated to the states they brought the tradition with them. Here in New Mexico we make it. Especially during the holidays. The traditional way here is with pork and red chile. I make mine with chicken instead. 

 I use my instant pot for this recipe because It’s so easy, and it takes 2hrs. You can make it in a crock pot (usually cooks in 4-6hrs on high) or on the stove top (2-3hrs mid-high range)

It’s so easy anyone can make it

Posole::  Serves 10-12 people 

1 package of frozen or dried hominy 2lbs

 2 cloves chopped garlic or 1tbs minced  

1/4 cup chopped onion (I use purple, it’s my fav) 

3 tbs of better than boullion chicken paste or more if it’s needed (you can taste when it’s cooked) 

2-4 dried red chile pods (if available where you live)  

As for seasonings I use garlic salt, onion salt, salt and pepper. I add them to taste.  I’m not great at measuring but as I hear neither are all the greatest chefs so I guess I’m on the right track 😂 

1-2 tsp of dried oregano  

1/2 of a Rotisserie chicken herb seasoned tastes best   

10cups of warm water to the fill line of your instant pot.  

3 limes cut for squeezing  


take your posole (hominy) and put it in your pot and soak it for 10 minutes.  



After it’s done soaking strain it with a colinder do a quick rinse to get any broken pieces out. Then add it back to the pot.


Next you want to add the water. It soaks up water like crazy so you want to make sure to add enough! One frozen bag of posole is 2lbs so when I cook in my instant pot I fill the water to the max fill line. If you use a crock pot fill it to the max line as well. If you need more you can add boiling water to it as you are cooking it. Same with cooking it on the stove. As for the instant pot, you can’t open it mid cooking so that’s why it’s important to add to the max fill line. If it isn’t soup like when it’s done cooking you can add some more water and seasoning if needed. 


this is what the kernels look like before it’s cooked. It will look fluffed when it’s done. 

Next you want to chop your onion and garlic and add it to the pot. Then add your chile pods, seasonings and your boullion paste. 


Then add your chicken. I use herbed rotisserie chicken because it’s such a nice flavor and it’s already cooked. I shred it so there are good amounts in each bite. It’s not good super chunky. I also leave the skin on for extra fatty flavors.  If you want to make this vegetarian use the vegetable better than bouillon and don’t add the chicken. 

Side notes: the boullion is a paste so it won’t get mixed well until the pot is cooking. Another note, if you use dried posole it might not need as much time. I would start with 1.5 hrs and then taste it. It should be soft, if it’s still a little crunchy add another 1/2 hr. I only use frozen so it don’t know the exact times needed for dried or canned. I do know with canned you should start with 1 hour and see how it does from there. There could also be directions on the can or the bag as well. 

Once you are done adding all the ingredients place the instant pot Insert into the pot itself then seal the lid and plug it in. Once it’s on use the soup/stew option. Then set the time for 2 hours. Now let it cook! 


You can make red chile while the posole is cooking. I have never made fresh red chile (its time consuming). I usually get the 8oz frozen container of bueno red chile from the store and add the same spices I use to make the posole. If I’m lucky I get some homemade chile from my mom. It’s my favorite. If you don’t want to add red chile you don’t have to. My kids don’t eat it but it adds a nice flavor and kick to it. I usually make some homemade flour tortillas to go with it as well. (I’ll add that recipe on here soon) 

After the instant pot has depressurized you can taste it and if you think it needs more seasoning you can add it before serving. If you decide to make the red chile add it in before you serve. We usually add a few spoon fulls in.  

Something we add before we eat is lime! That is something my grandma and mom have always done. It’s our families little take on posole.  

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I make it once a week during winter. I can get two dinners out of it or one dinner and a lunch!  

Let me know if you make it and how it comes out. I wanted to take a really nice photo of the finished product but I got so busy, this was the best I had! 


Present and Future; Update Time


I’ve been getting a lot of questions as to why we are selling our new bus and what’s next for us. I figured it was time to give a little update on our current and future status. We are selling this bus because we are ready to turn our little 400sq ft garage on our property into our casita. We are not sure exactly how big it will be. We plan to build smaller now and add on as needed in the future. 

This bus was meant to be a temporary home. We had the intention when we bought it to minimally renovate and live in it until our casita was built. That didn’t end up happening the way we planned so we are improvising. Now the goal is to finish the bus and sell it so we can start building. 

Denver is still on track to becoming a fire fighter. He’s been In school full time this last summer and fall semester. He is applying to join an academy this upcoming spring. Our hope is that he does well and gets in. This is the journey we’ve been praying and working towards for almost a year.

While he’s in the academy I will become a solo parent for five months. It is full time school 6am-6pm(maybe longer) M-F.  Because it is very intense training we want to have more space to make life a little easier on all of us. We aren’t traveling much now so we feel that it’s ok to close this buslife chapter. We never planned to live in a bus forever. 

We will be hitting three years of buslife in 2019. I have a feeling we will still be living tiny once our three year buslife anniversary hits. Our goal is to be living in the casita before he gets into the fire department. However, I know a lot can happen and things take longer than expected when it comes to building. This will be our second home that we build . Two houses two buses, we should start a business . 😂🚌🏡  


The goal is to have the bus sold sometime in January. We are borrowing a camper from Denver’s sister while we build. 

This might be the second or third time you’ve heard this plan, or this might be the first. If you have questions please feel free to ask.  I’m really trying to get better about blogging and being more open about our lives. Buslife is something I will treasure forever. This isn’t the end of our journey, It’s just the beginning of a new chapter. I do know we will continue to travel, it just might not look the same and I’m ok with that. 

To be honest I have been trying to enjoy what I like to call the In-between living. At times I break down and get lost in what’s happening and why things aren’t moving along. Sometimes I’m so ready to be in the future that I forget I’m missing what’s happening now. Especially with my family. But I’ve gotten better at it. Day by day I let the future be the future and enjoy the now. I am excited for what is to come but I stopped letting it to let consume me. 

I will be sharing more updates as our bus is being finished and documenting the progress of our casita. So stay tuned for more. And most importantly I will be doing bi weekly recipes especially now that it’s holiday season! 


We chose to ditch our washer/dryer


lets take a trip down memory lane. It was 2015 and we were deciding all the must have items for our bus. One item I wanted was a washer/dryer combo. I felt at the time that it was so important for me to be able to do laundry in the bus. I had two toddlers and an infant when we were moving in full time so we always had laundry to do. My husband didn’t want one but I was persistent, so he put one in. 

I was so excited when it was in! Then I used it. It could only do a very small load and the loads took 3 hours and then 10-40 mins of hang drying (depending on the weather). We had it for a month before it broke. Not to mention it cost a lot! So we returned it. 

My husband grew up using laundry mats and loved them.  I however never used them so I was very unsure. Once the washer/dryer was out we decided to add more storage. (Much better use of space in my opinion). My husband would go do the laundry. Not because I didn’t want to but because he loves them lol. He would find the ones that have WiFi so he could work while he did the laundry.  For me it was a no brainer. He did the wash I folded and put away. Teamwork at its finest! 

When we would travel we started taking turns. It was a way to get a break from the kiddos and just listen to a podcast by yourself or hear the sounds of soap operas in the background 😂. One of us would stay in the bus and take care of the kids and the other would go in for an hour or two and do all the wash, even the bedding!  If your timing is right you can go during nap/quite time and you both can have some alone time. 

I’ve had to take my kids with me a few times and thankfully they have tables and WiFi! They can take toys or electronic devices to keep them busy. I made them help get the clothes out of the dryer. They love helping me so I try to encourage them with daily tasks. It’s not ideal to take three kids 5 and under, but you gotta do what you gotta do. 

I get asked all the time about having a washer and dryer in a bus. I usually tell them this story; We had one for a month, the loads were small and it broke so we decided it wasn’t worth it. There’s always a place to stop and do laundry. If you are staying at rv parks most of them have laundry mats. If you plan to Boondock most the time, you can do laundry when you go through a city with one. 

I’m not saying having it is bad. I know many full timers that have one and they love it.  We just decided it wasn’t worth the space. Even though ours broke I still would have taken it out. For us storage is more important than a washer and dryer. If you don’t want to do laundry mats ask family and friends to use there’s. I would use that as an excuse to go hangout at someone’s house! Two birds, one stone! 

I know this is a hot topic so I thought I would share our opinion on it. We do have a washer and dryer now, but that’s because we are stationary and we have a place to put them.

 Lots of funny things can happen at the Landry mat so please share any funny stories you have in the comments below!  Like the one time I accidentally got 20$ worth of quarters and didn’t know so I had to use my shirt to catch them. Then tried to get a bag of chips and the machine only took dollar bills so the owner had to exchange my coins, then the chips got stuck in the machine all while my kids were running around the whole place laughing and chasing each other with the carts. I was that mom that you really want to help but you don’t want to be like girl; you need help 😂😂😂.  So please tell me I’m not the only one this stuff happens to???!!! 


Winter is Coming!!

We get asked a lot what it’s like to live tiny with kids. I usually respond with ; it’s the same as living in a house with kids lol. For us it was no different. If we are in one room or area of the bus, the boys are usually right there with us.

Living tiny doesn’t mean that everyone has to be right on top of each other. You can layout your home to feel like everyone has a “room” of their own or make their bed feel special for them so it is like having a room. We made little cave like beds for our boys in our first bus and they loved them. This bus we went simple because we do not plan to be in this one long term. Adding curtains or doors are good options for privacy as well.



 If you have the space you could make a play area at the end of their beds with their favorite items. We use ikea mattresses, they are a little shorter than the typical twin mattress. We got them specifically so they could have . When it’s quite time they get their toys and quietly play or “read” I use quotes because they don’t know how to read yet 😊.

We also use other areas of the bus for playing and crafting. It can be at the table, or a nook or even outside. If they have a space to play they will use it. Our first bus had a Murphy bed in the master. Once it was lifted the room became our school and playroom. In this new bus they use the hallway space between their beds to play or at the table in the bus to color and craft.



I labeled this post winter is coming because it’s the hardest time living tiny with kids! Winter means colder temperature, rain, snow, and it’s dark around 5pm!! That’s really early. So here are some things we do while we are traveling or stationary during the colder months.

We try to make it fun and find something local if it’s open. When we travel we try to stick to a budget. So we find libraries and indoor playgrounds like at chick-fil-a we also use our memberships to kids museums.



 If you have a membership to any natural history museum you can use that in other cities they work nationwide. You can also get discounts for other memberships like children’s museums and zoos. I always think of indoor activities because if its cold or rainy I try to get the kids out. If you are somewhere for longer than a week or two get them in a local parks and recreation activity. This winter we will be doing swim lessons at the local indoor pool. Find activities that match your schedule. We also try to make it special and go to the movies or the trampoline parks on days when we can splurge. There are so many options out there that could work for you guys. I also like to use social media and reach out to locals and ask for cool spots or events that we can take the kids to and maybe meet other tiny dwelling families along the way!


Last thing but most importantly I make them play outside as much as they can! We live stationary so they just walk out the bus and play in our yard. If you are not, try to park near playgrounds or parks where you can easy access during the day. If you park at rv parks find ones that are kid friendly. We used to park our bus at a museum or playground near a coffee shop so my husband could go work and the boys and I would explore.


Most people who are full time travelers follow the warm weather during the colder months. We tried when we traveled full time but even during Christmas on the beach, it rained. That’s why I decided to share what we do during colder months while you travel or you’re stationary. I just try to keep everyone’s sanity while it’s cold lol. These are just some simple ways to get the kids’ wiggles out before bed too! Then you can come home put them down and have some alone or time with your spouse! ✨✨ Who doesn’t want that??? Nitflix and chill am I right?? 😂🤷🏻‍♀️

My must have appliances in my tiny kitchen


    Most people think that once you downsize your life and your kitchen, you have to give up your favorite big appliances. Thats not the case.  I am a home chef and baker, those were things I didn’t want to give up once we moved in the bus. The first big appliance I insisted on getting was our stove/oven. I bake at least once a week. Whether its cupcakes or salmon; something is always in the oven cooking, and we’re anxiously waiting for it to come out.  We found the perfect stove/oven to fit in our bus.  Its an Amana 20” range four burner gas/propane stove. I’m at the stove at least 3 times a day preppin’ my magic. I love our oven. 

     Second, is my Vitamix Blender, it was a Christmas gift from my mother in law a few years ago, and we use it every day. Between making smoothies, bulletproof coffee, homemade ice cream/pops, dole whip and butternut squash soup, its always on my countertop waiting to be used.

I knew if I was going to bake in my oven, I would have to keep my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I mean you can’t just get rid of it when you make breads, rolls, cookies, cakes  and homemade frostings right?? I made sure to find a spot where its easily accessible at all times.  If its not easy to get to, you won’t use it, trust me! 

Ok, so my last must have appliance is; our Instant Pot. I have to admit; when I got it, I was a little bit skeptical. Then, one day I told myself “if I don’t use it now, ill never use it”, so I grabbed my local New Mexico beans from the freezer (its a trick to keep them fresh) I added three cups of cleaned dried beans, and followed a recipe that my grandma gave me. In an hour and a half they were perfect… I was hooked after that. Its a bigger item so I keep it put away when not being used. Feel free to follow my grandmothers recipe below:

You might be asking how we use these items as we travel, or if we are not plugged into 30/50 amp. We planned for all of that, by adding enough solar and batteries to supply power for us to run these if we need or want to. When we travel, we try to stay light on power usage but rainy days call for cookies or posolé. 


So there you have it as far as my appliances in my tiny kitchen. If you are in the process of going tiny or debating to do something because you can’t have the items you want, my biggest suggestion is always prioritize what matters most to you. I knew what I needed to feel like I had an adequate kitchen in my bus. I'm the family baker and I didn’t want that to change, nor did I want to change our routine of how we cooked and ate at home. It was a priority for me to make good, healthy food for my family to enjoy.  



The Composting Toilet

When we started thinking about life on the bus being a long term endeavor, it changed the way we thought about toilets, black water tanks (the place where all the poo and pee are stored), and water consumption. We anticipate that the majority of our time will be spent parked on our friends (who also bought a bus for conversion) property. When parked there we will not have easy access to dump the black tank and that means we would have to drive to a gas station to empty the tank. We didn't want to have to drive the bus to the gas station every week to dump the tank. Imagine the 9pm emergency trip to the gas station to dump the tanks because we forgot to check how full it was and its about to overflow into the bus. We wanted to avoid this and we also wanted to avoid Denver looking like cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation.

So we decided to use a composting toilet for our bus. Which to some may sound worse than than dumping a black water tank, but to us it just makes sense. By using a composting toilet we avoided having to add more plumbing and we are saving our water supply which will be limited in the winter months. We have also increased our ability to be off-grid for longer periods of time.

The toilet is made by a company called Natures Head and it can be purchased on Amazon with prime shipping (link  below). We read a lot of reviews and watched several videos on how the toilet works in the real world. Everyone does it a little different but the main concept of use and products for the toilet are similar, It honestly seems pretty easy to use and maintain. The pee and poo go in to separate compartments. Poo gets mixed with peat moss and pee gets held in an easy to handle container this prevents the smell of sewage. After 80 uses the poo container can emptied and its contents used as potting soil for non edible plants. It can also be placed in a bag and thrown away.

This is definitely the most expensive toilet we will ever buy, but after doing some rough calculations on the cost to purchase and plumb an RV toilet it would be about the same as the cost of this toilet.

This is our first experience with a composting toilet so we are going to be learning as we go, but we are excited to try it. We aren't sure how it's going to work out, but are ready for the challenges that lie ahead. We will be sure to post an update about our experiences with the composting toilet. 



Guest Post: The Big Picture

When you first begin playing around with the idea of a bus conversion you search the web and social media for likeminded people with the same crazy idea of living on a bus. We stumbled upon the Midwest Wanderers on Instagram and then checked out their website and liked what we saw. They have a great lookin' bus and did an excellent job raising their roof. Luke also has a beard that even the burliest of men envy. 

Things have been slow on the blog lately, we just had our third kiddo and thought it would be cool to show you that we are not the only crazies converting a bus. Vanessa and I have been finding more and more reasons why we feel the bus life is for us, but I wanted to hear from others about bus life. I gave Luke a bunch of blog ideas and he was up for all of them. So without further ado, its my pleasure to introduce you to the Midwest Wanderers.

   A few weeks ago I received an interesting message on Instagram proposing a guest blog post from a fellow ‘skoolie’ builder. I honestly didn’t think anything I had written thus far on my own blog was all that note worthy so I was pretty excited to see the invite from Denver! Thanks Denver 

   The ‘Midwest Wanderers’ aren’t exactly wandering yet so don’t go scrolling down the page looking for the postcard worthy pictures of breathtaking American landscape or tales of our nonstop travel and adventure. This is what’s really happening right now. 

Just living life normal style. For now we’re planning, dreaming and building.

Just living life normal style. For now we’re planning, dreaming and building.


   The bigger picture is family. The Davis family to be exact. We are a family of three (myself-Luke, my wife Rachel and our daughter Charlotte). We also have two dogs (Louie and Baxter) who will continue their roles as “vicious” guard dogs for the bus. I am a Chicago pipefitter, Rachel is self-employed as a custom baking entrepreneur, currently on a hiatus, and Charlotte is a full time kid. We live in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and aside from the 37-foot school bus in our driveway, we are pretty much your average Joe’s. That’s the problem. We want to try something different, something new. Something with wheels!

   When I think about the future and the plans I have for my family, it always looks the same. A year into the future I’ll be coming home from the same job at the same time, doing a few chores, eating dinner, spend a little time with the family, going to bed, and starting it all over the next day. In five years, the same. In ten years, the same. When will I have the time and money to travel and break up this droning routine I’ve created. 

  While in the middle of getting a tattoo, my favorite artist turned me onto the idea of building and living in a school bus aka skoolie. I instantly warned him that this was a dangerous conversation. It was too appealing a thought to just dismiss as ‘wouldn’t that be cool’ and with my skill set it was by no means out of reach. Dangerous indeed. Within two months we had a bus!

   Once the bus is done (hopefully fall of 2016) and we are on the road, the time line is fairly open ended.  I’m 27, Rachel is 25, and Charlotte is 15 months. Realistically we have nothing but time. Besides, Charlotte isn’t going to be school age for some time. When we think about it we both agree it would be a waste of all our hard work and resources to live the nomadic lifestyle for any less than a year. On the other hand we aren’t opposed to a significantly longer period of time. Until we’ve tried it, who knows? I have a hunch it’s going to be great though.

   From the little I’ve seen on the internet about fellow bus dweller, its seems to be an extremely diverse group of people that are choosing this alternative lifestyle. The reasons are endless: freedom, exploration, isolation, zombie apocalypse, spiritual, financial, you name it. I think for us it’s more than one. Initially the most appealing thing is traveling. That’s a given. The more I thought about it, all the extra time I would have with my family became even more convincing. Even further there is a spiritual side to it. Having less material things that end up owning you and demanding your attention equals more time. In my opinion there is nothing more valuable than that. We all get 24 hours in our day and we want to start investing our 24 more wisely. So the spiritual side is that we believe our Creator has more for us than a 9 to 5 and a lawn to mow. We want to see more of God’s creation as a family and we want to be able to give Him more of our time while we are doing that. Rachel and I are born again Christians. We aren’t traveling the country marching out a religious agenda but we do stand on what the bible says. If you ask anyone who has honestly dug their nose into the good book they will tell you, with out doubt, that the most important theme is Love. So that’s our plan! We are really excited to meet new people as we travel and show unbiased love to everyone we cross paths with. I’m excited to see how the bus can help us grow in this area.

   As a soon to be wanderer one of the questions we get the most is what are you going to do with your house? That’s a great question. I ask it to myself quite often. Honestly I wish I knew… Five years ago we bought our first house, which we still live in. Our taxes are a little painful but overall our mortgage is pretty comfortable. What I’m getting at is that there are pros and cons to both renting and selling our house. If we sell, there is nothing holding us back and there will be no burdens to lose sleep over. If we rent, we could potentially have a very small income that would be a huge bonus on the road. The downside being that we would have to manage a rental property from afar. What if something goes wrong while we are 4000 miles away? Even worse, what if something happens that requires extremely costly repairs. Ah see what I mean!?  I guess we will cross that bridge a little further down the road.

   It’s all part of the bigger picture but for now we are just planning, dreaming, and building.

A huge thanks to the Midwest Wanderers for writing. You can find them online at midwestwanderers.com or on Instagram @midwestwanderers. 



The White Elephant

Have you ever been given a gift that turned into a really big hassle, like a white elephant? Well we were recently given an RV to get parts from, but the catch was we had to get it towed to our house. I thought this would be very easy and called a towing company. The Rv we were given had a bad tire, no keys and we didn't know if it had a running engine. One tow company said I needed to repair that tire so he could tow it behind his truck. Getting the tire replaced seemed like an easy task, so off I went to buy a used tire. The next problem was that the tire was an unusual size 16.5" and none of the used tire shops I checked with had one. I didn't want to buy a new tire so I decided to try a few different towing companies and found one that was up for the challenge. 

The Rv was parked in a spot where the tow truck could not get in front of it. I figured it would be easy for the tow truck to just drag it it out. Well after working for an hour he was finally able to get it out while I was inside attempting to steer it and I only felt like it was going to tip over with me inside once. The tow truck driver hooked up to it and towed it to our house. 

Now for the next challenge. I didn't want this old RV sitting in our front yard so I asked the tow truck driver if could put it in our backyard. I didn't think it would be to difficult and he agreed that it should be easy enough. Getting in the backyard meant using the sandy alley ,the alley is usually pretty hard packed, but if one is not careful your vehicle can get stuck. He began backing in and immediately got stuck in the sand. 

Just before he got stuck the first time.

Just before he got stuck the first time.

I figured he was going to tell me it can't be done and he would have to put it our front yard, but he didn't, he just kept trying. He was able to get his truck stuck and unstuck over and over again for 2 hours until he was finally very stuck and unable to move his truck. We tried digging him out, putting boards under his wheels, and eventually he said to me " I need a truck to pull me out" as I began to reply "We can use..." he interrupted and said "your minivan wont be able to" to which I I HEROICALLY  replied  "we can use my bus".  We had to hot wire the bus, to get it started because some wires had been  cut during the demo process (more on this in a future post). She started right up, roared like a lion and we hooked some chains to the back of the RV and pulled it with the bus into our backyard.  The next task was to rescue the tow truck WITH OUR SCHOOL BUS! 


I never would have imagined that this free RV would turn into a 4 hour towing horror story, in which I swoop in to save the day in our big yellow school bus. So if you are ever given a broken down RV or white elephant you better be prepared to work for the reward. I am however extremely grateful for this RV, it has plenty of useful parts like the generator, AC, awning, and few other parts we plan to use. The remaining parts on the RV will be listed on craigslist to help fund the project. 

Does anyone need some RV parts?



 Vanessa and I recently began taking better inventory of our lives. We found that we are to busy, distracted, and stressed. It's strange how the simplest of things can become huge distractions. So we decided to get ourselves on a serious budget, try and be more intentional with our time, and reduce the clutter in our life. So far there have been a few changes with more to come as we prepare for bus life. 

Changing Wi-Fi and Cellular Data Usage

Imagine if your house or apartment had two toilets in the same bathroom.  Words like Weird, awkward, and unnecessary flood my mind. Now some of you might be thinking of a list of pro's, like quality time with your spouse or a support buddy to help you through those difficult times. 

Ok back to the subject at hand, I'd like to focus on the word unnecessary. We have been paying for internet twice a month, once for home internet and once for mobile internet. Vanessa and I realized this awhile back and reduced our mobile data plan with T-mobile to the lowest option. The plan was that we would stop using data on our phones while out and about and wait until we were connected to wi-fi to do any downloading or web browsing. That experiment lasted all of 2 weeks and we were back to our old data wasting ways. 

Fast forward a year and here we are completely dependent on mobile data with no home internet service. The decision to ditch the home internet service was actually way easier than I would have ever expected. When we first moved into our house we signed a 1 year contract with Century Link and hated it. We were constantly calling about the service not working. It would actually cause some serious frustration and anger on my part. You know how it is, you're ready to sit down, relax, and binge watch your favorite show on Hulu or Netflix. You watch the loading bar for a moment and your show plays,Ah relaxation, but only for 30 seconds and then you meet your arch nemesis, the loading bar once again. This continues and you eventually play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets to reset the router. This was a regular occurrence in our house, until we made the switch to Cable One. With Cable One streaming our favorite shows while we browsed the internet on our phones was no problem(ok, occasional problems).

It was all too good to be true, and Cable One eventually became a big problem.  When we switched to Cable One our monthly bill was $60 which seemed reasonable. 8 or so months into the switch I began to get emails from Cable One stating that we had gone over the 300gb data allowance. They said we were using insane amounts of data, over 500gb of data each month.  They sent a guy to check the lines and he was able to find a few problems, including one that he wasn't able to fix. We argued with them that our actual internet usage habits hadn't changed since we had been with them, none of our reasoning worked. Our new bill would be $110 a month. We knew this was not an option and the only other options were Century Link or no home internet service.

We did some thinking and decided to go the no home internet service route. It be came clear to us that our primary use of Wifi was streaming Netflix and web browsing. We found that we usually watch the same shows over and over. We figured we could just buy seasons of the shows we like to watch and pop them in the blue-ray player. We also realized that we are usually looking at our phones while the tv plays in the background. Since this change we have actually been doing way more reading, chatting and relaxing with each other. When we decide to watch something, we actually watch it rather than starring at our phones while the show plays in the background.

Another benefit from ditching the home internet is the time we spend with the boys playing, coloring, and hanging out. It became very easy for us to just turn the tv on an let it do the parenting for us. I'm beginning to regret ever introducing it to them. I also understand that being home all day with kids can be a major challenge and a children's show can bring some peace and quiet.

One more benefit I would like to highlight is the savings. Our Cable One bill was $60 and our Netflix bill was $8 those are both out of our lives. Imagine that, $68 bucks a month to watch Netflix. We did however have to up our mobile data plan. The best plan for us is the unlimited data plan with 7gb of mobile hotspot for $30. The hotspot comes in handy for things like updating the blog and managing our budget.

We have only been testing the waters for a month and a half, but we are pleased to report that the water feels great. This may not be for everyone, like several of our friends who work from home and depend on home internet. But maybe some of you just need to ask yourself like we did, WHY do we need Wifi at home? or Why does the master bathroom have two toilets? You may be surprised to find out that one toilet is plenty and life is less awkward that way. We are just happy things are working out for us and we no longer have to fight the internet companies.  

What have you found to be the best solution for your internet needs?


Raise the roof, put 'em up there

Raise the roof: A really dorky dance move performed by people who should probably not be attempting to tear it up on the dance floor. Or A creative way to add space to ones dwelling by adjusting the roof height (My definitions). 

 Don' t worry we decided to take the literal route by raising the roof on our bus. This was not in OUR(mine may have been different) original plan, the original plan was to just convert the bus into an RV for occasional camping trips and vacations. Raising the roof is a big undertaking for something that we would only use occasionally, but once we had the bus sitting in our back yard I began to hint at MY original plan of living on the bus. I told Vanessa things like "what if we lived on the bus for a month?" to which she would reply "yeah, I could maybe see us doing that" later I hinted "what if we lived on the bus for 2 months?" to which she would reply "yeah, I could maybe see us doing that" Well 2 months turned into 6 months and 6 into 12 months. So we agreed that we would move onto the bus for one year. Vanessa has even begun to use my own trick on me saying things like "What if we live on the bus for 2 years".

Well the decision to live in the bus changed our original needs and requirements for the bus. Living in the bus would mean that it would need to be well insulated, and any additional space would be very valuable. Adding 3 inches of insulation to the floor would take away the already very limited head room in the bus (I'm the only one this affects). Standing in the center of the bus before the roof raise there was about 2 inches between my head and the ceiling. Below are pictures of what it looked like and felt like prior to the roof raise.

Now your reaction to those picture might be something like " DUH it's a bus, not a house!" and we realize this, but what if there was a way to raise the roof. The good news is, bus roofs can be raised, the not so good news is that it requires someone who knows what they are doing. Finding someone to assist with a roof raise would probably be pretty difficult, but fortunately for us Vanessa's dad, George is an excellent fabricator and welder. We spoke to him about the project and he jumped aboard. I did a ton of research about roof raises on skoolie.net and showed George. I had already removed the seats, flooring and windows so we formulated a plan for the raise and began grinding, cutting and welding.

We raised the roof 20 inches which made a huge difference and will provide room to insulate properly, add storage and maybe even a reading loft. I am convinced that this decision will make bus living much more enjoyable for the year or or two we live in it. We are so thankful that George was willing to help. Below are pictures of the process with descriptions. 

Removing rivets that hold the roof to the door frame

Removing rivets that hold the roof to the door frame

1/2 inch all thread was used to keep the roof on straight and tight during the raise. the nuts on the  all thead allowed us to make small height adjustments once it was close to the desired height.  We did the same thing pictured here in 5 other spots on the bus. 

1/2 inch all thread was used to keep the roof on straight and tight during the raise. the nuts on the  all thead allowed us to make small height adjustments once it was close to the desired height.  We did the same thing pictured here in 5 other spots on the bus. 

with the all thread and brackets welded into place it was time to start cutting the roof supports.

with the all thread and brackets welded into place it was time to start cutting the roof supports.

Here you can see the function of the all thread. At this point the roof was held only by the all thread and 2 jacks . Jacks were placed towards the front and rear of the bus to assist with lifting.  the raise was done 2 inches at a time.  2" in the front, 2" in the back, over and over.

Here you can see the function of the all thread. At this point the roof was held only by the all thread and 2 jacks . Jacks were placed towards the front and rear of the bus to assist with lifting.  the raise was done 2 inches at a time.  2" in the front, 2" in the back, over and over.

the custom made hat channel  supports welded over the existing roof supports. 

the custom made hat channel  supports welded over the existing roof supports. 

The custom made inner channel welded into place.

The custom made inner channel welded into place.

 It was definitely a learning experience and we figured out a few things that we would have done differently (like using different jacks). George is now a roof raise expert and available for hire if you end up getting a bus of your own.

Material Cost: $450 Labor: Free, Hours: 30ish

The next step in the process is to add sheet metal to the supports down both sides of the bus, more about that in a future post. If you have any questions or thoughts we would love to hear them. 

In the meantime lets all practice our dance moves and raise the roof next time we hear that phrase. Go ahead you know you want to!

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Buying a school bus makes sense... to some of us.

I never imagined we would own a school bus, but I guess I don't know myself very well. You see, I'm the kind of guy who loves vehicles, unusual vehicles. Over the years I've purchased more than my fare share of vehicles, usually they are projects that get worked on or sit for years until I sell them. This (infection) began when I was 13 and purchased a 1962 Ford Rachero from a family friend. That car sat in the drive way for years until my friend's dad bought it from me and began restoring it. This led to my Volkswagen bug projects, diesel Mercedes projects, Land Rover projects and my Subaru projects. For some reason I love a good project vehicle. There have been many other vehicles including 2 Volkswagen buses we sold to purchase our school bus, more on that later. 

The idea for a project bus came about after searching the web for a travel trailer. Some of our closest friends had recently purchased a travel trailer for vacationing and camping, and since we usually travel with them we decided to start researching trailers. Thats when we stumbled across school bus to RV conversions. My first thought was this is awesome, but it would never happen. I showed my wife and she liked the idea and from there the school bus day dreaming became more and more frequent. At  first it seemed like a completely new trend, but then we found out people have been doing it for decades. There are even entire websites with forums dedicated to converting school buses.

The big question was: Why is a school bus better than a travel trailer or RV?

Here are a few reasons why we decided a bus was best for us:

Buses don't require another vehicle to use them.

While travel trailers are nice they require a vehicle to pull them with. We wanted to avoid having a payment and insurance ($$$) on vehicle we would use to pull a  travel trailer a few times a year. RV insurance on a converted bus is around $150 to $250 a year.

Buses are big metal boxes that are completely customizable.

Traditional RV's are usually a wood framed box covered in fiberglass panels on the back of a pickup truck chassis. They are usually built with the cheapest material possible and are often referred to as sticks and staples RVs. They also tend to have the interior stylings  that are most pleasing to Grandma (our friends did an epic job sprucing up their trailer). Buy some of grandmas favorite perfume and spray a heavy helping in the RV and it will be as if Grandma is camping with you. When you rip the seats out of a school bus it gives you a blank canvas to make the RV of your dreams. You can have whatever you would like in your bus, how about a petting zoo, hot tub, or maybe a ball pit. The point is buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road and when the seats, hidden gum, and smelly rubber floors are removed they are a great platform for RV conversions.

Buses are pretty affordable to purchase.

RV's and travel trailers are expensive A decent RV/trailer will cost anywhere from $6k to $106K and more. A used well maintained school bus that is ready to be sent to pasture by the local school district can be purchased for as little as $1k to $5k depending on the size, milage and age. I wish I could speak to how much a RV conversion costs, but from what I've seen it seems  that it can be done on almost any budget depending on how resourceful one is.

There are plenty more reasons why a school bus makes sense to us and I'm sure there are plenty of reasons a school bus doesn't make sense. I'll cover some of the potential cons of school bus ownership (yeah right, there can't possibly be any) in a future post. When it comes down to it, my wife and I just love the idea and I didn't want to go the rest of my life dreaming about the school bus I never bought because it was too risky or didn't make sense. Whether its complete failure or a total success I'm sure we will learn something from the experience and have fun along the way.

As Miss Frizzle always said "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy."

Thanks for the read! More posts to come.