How bus life actually pushed me back into a home with a mortgage.

When I had all of my large intestine and colon removed after a lengthy battle with ulcerative colitis, I thought that was going to be the beginning of a new healthy life for me. Unfortunately, the first botched surgery led me down the road of many ER visits and other surgeries to fix the initial hack job. There were a few silver lining moments, most occuring just before rolling into the operating room on the verge of kicking the bucket. This made me realize I had been living a life where I was merely getting by so someday when I was older, I could live the life I wanted to live. My dance with death slapped some sense into me and I began to live the life I wanted.

A few years went by and I accomplished becoming a professional athlete chasing snow all winter while also providing remote IT consulting for a handful of clients as an income. I knew I had to cut my living expenses during winters because I was never home. Sleeping in my cold truck on the road was getting old too. Enter Bus Life Adventure. In 2014, with a relationship with sponsors in place, I pitched an idea to film a documentary and six webisodes about the process of turning a short 4x4 school bus into an RV and cramming myself and five friends for a winter chasing snow all the way into Alaska. A Kickstarter helped us raise the budget for filming, editing and producing the footage and I saved enough to foot the bill on the conversion. I pushed the limits of my magic plastic cards as I knew once I was living in the bus, my expensive rent in Park City, UT, would be gone and I could put those funds towards living.

Life In The Bus Lane Documentary

Meet Bruce. The 4x4 School Bus with a snowmobile deck extension welded onto the frame.

The filming of Life In The Bus Lane was a challenge to say the least. After four months of cramped winter quarters, the rest of the guys moved out and I had the bus to myself. It was a freedom I had never experienced. No filming schedule or winter storm to chase. Making coffee was the only routine I had every day no matter where I was parked. With no rent, I was beginning to squirrel away money for the future. I met Heidi from @valeriebus and we began traveling together to visit the National and State Parks that she designed pins or patches for as a graphic designer. During our travels, we heard about a little town in the Willamette National Forest that was becoming known for its mountain biking. We noticed while at Crater Lake National Park that we were close to the little town of Oakridge, OR so we made a detour for a few days to explore. A few days turned into a few weeks and we realized that we had stumbled upon a small town surrounded by National Forest, a struggling economy after the sawmills closed, but with a little ellbow grease, homes that were within our range for purchase. The lack of jobs in town kept many from wanting to move there but with both Heidi and I being able to work remotely, we started looking "just for fun" with a realtor one day and that's when our lives changed drastically.

Bus Parking Lassen National Park

Summer setup exploring National Parks Heidi had done design work for.

School Bus Conversion Interior

76 square foot interior of Bruce, home to five guys during one winter.

It's been almost five years to the date since we've been residing in Oakridge and it was the last thing I thought I'd be doing when I hit the road for a rent-free life. We now have a very affordable mortgage thanks to the money I had been squirreling away and the low cost of buying a place. Our current home was originally the pharmacy in uptown back in the 1950's and was zoned commercial but has since been converted into an apartment with a small soon-to-be coffee shop in the front and is now zoned commercial / residential. We're next to city hall, the post office, the library, 3 Legged Crane Pub and Deep Woods Distillery

Deep Woods Distillery Oakridge

The end of summer event at Deep Woods Distillery usually features Kelly Thibodeaux and Etouffee band. Kelly resides in Oakridge.

Our "bus life" now continues in our second bus conversion that has become more of an extended weekend warrior style. We definitely get stir crazy if we stay too long in Oakridge and find ourselves out on the road like before but with a "basecamp" to return to. If there is anything I have learned in my bus life journey so far, it's that bus life isn't the end goal. It's the stepping stone and beginning to so much more. My initial time on the road allowed me to set aside money for a down payment on a home, something I never was able to do before -- especially with the mentality that I would be buying a home in a place like Park City, UT. It taught me how to deal with hard situations such as vehicle breakdowns with nobody around to help. I learned I wanted to be judged by how kind I was to others and not by how many nice things I owned. Bus life allowed me to explore towns and places I never knew about and to learn that if you don't mind putting in a little elbow grease and a town without the amenities of a big city, you can actually afford a calm life in the outskirts (we're just 45 minutes from Eugene).

Oakridge Map

This old map can be found in a little museum in Oakridge that is a hidden gem for the history nerds. If you're lucky, ol' timer Wes will be there to give you a tour.

Our discovery of Oakridge on our journey also led to the birth of The Bus Fair. Our small rural community needed an event that would boost the local economy for a weekend. By growing Bus Life Adventure into the community and resource that it is now, it made sense to start The Bus Fair in Oakridge with a local community behind it.

My point, for any of you thinking of living a nomadic life, is to be open to opportunities that present themselves. When I set out on the road of freedom in 2014, I never saw myself going back to paying rent or a mortgage. Perhaps you too will learn that bus life isn't the end goal but it can become the beginning of many doors that open as you set out on the road in search of a fulfilling life. Safe travels my friends. Rubber side down.

The Bus Fair 2019 108

Kids play cornhole while listing to live music.

 

The Bus Fair 2019 183

A local off duty police officer and friend dress for the occasion at The Bus Fair.

 

The Bus Fair 2019 183

Attendees traveled from 26 different states and three different Canadian Provinces to attend the first year of The Bus Fair.

 

The Bus Fair 2019 183

Families and individuals toured the 30+ Skoolies that showed their home on wheels at The Bus Fair. 

 

The Bus Fair 2019 183

More Articles By Brock Butterfield

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Taking action for greater personal and collective wellbeing within the bus life community, and the world.

This article is a collaboration between Bunny White and Christina Hadly. Bunny and her husband Nathan have spent two years slowly converting their skoolie. Once it’s complete they will be moving onto their off-grid property to build up a permaculture homestead and steward the land. Christina is a writer, thru-hiker, and nomadic bus-dweller. After quitting her corporate job in 2018, she hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail, bought a bus, renovated it, and has traveled over 20,000 miles around the western US.

 The Skoolie Alliance Bunny and Christina

Bunny: To start this conversation, Christina and I would each like to share a bit of background on what has informed and motivated us to write this article. I would like to first bring your attention to the many positive words associated with the bus life community. Words like creative, kind, free, helpful, outgoing, and welcoming. I know we take immense pride in such descriptions and how they speak to the joy that is so commonplace within the bus life adventure. We fight for this joy when we make the choice to handcraft a life that goes against Western societal norms. We are rewarded with this joy each time we overcome a technical challenge related to converting a bus into a home. And we protect this joy as we live out bus life and continue to redefine what health, wealth, and happiness look like. This joy is really the promise of bus life, and it is our reward for taking the risk.

So it is with great discomfort, but also great purpose and much love, that I risk interrupting that joy to deliver a message this community still needs to hear. To remind us there is still much work to be done in order to live up to the virtues we so proudly proclaim. And in order to continue dismantling a legacy of oppression still experienced by those with marginalized identities. I risk interrupting that joy to make space for more joy.

To do this we must first be open to considering that there’s a story here we’re unfamiliar with (and possibly unaccepting of). One that explains how erroneous discrimination and prejudice is perpetuated by everyday people like you and I. A story that details the normalization of whiteness, and a near blinding accommodation of, and preference for, the success and joy of white people.

As racism gets called out at the level we’re currently seeing, as marginalized people of all kinds increasingly demand, claim, and create liberation from oppressive forces, and as we collectively evolve our understanding of ourselves and of the world, I’m personally starting to feel a previously unknown freedom to fully be who I amー as a biracial Black woman and as someone with other marginalized identities. I’m horrified by what it’s taken for us to get here, and it’s clear to me that we've got a long way to go. But I’m hopeful. And I’m committed to doing the multidimensional work involved in building a future that doesn’t inherit the deeply flawed and dangerous value system of our recent past or present.

Christina: We all have an opportunity to experience greater freedom by entering into anti-racism work and releasing the ways in which the systems of oppression have taught us to see everyone else, and ourselves. With that comes the chance to expand our understanding of who we are and re-establish who we want to be. But, diving into, or even dipping a toe into anti-racism work can feel scary. I can empathize. As a white woman, writing my portion of this article feels scary even though I’ve been investing in my own anti-racism education and actions for a few years now. Publicly participating in this conversation, on the record, is intimidating. A voice in my head nags me: “What could I possibly have to contribute when so many people of color have already spoken out about racism?” I procrastinated on writing this for many days, a procrastination I know is born out of fear. It’s a fear many white people can relate to. We’re scared of messing up or saying the wrong thing or, heaven forbid, being racist.

But here’s the thing—we’re all racist. We were born into and raised in a society that rewards whiteness. We’ve all absorbed racial messaging and stereotypes. We were steeped in this tea. We’ve spent a lifetime in this water. And as white people continue to talk in hushed voices amongst ourselves, or proclaim that we “don’t see color”, people of color continue to be harassed, discriminated against, arrested, beaten, and heartbreakingly, killed. When we’re just starting out on our unlearning journeys, this can be hard to read. But it’s important to bear witness. And while we’re getting our feelings in order, people are dying. Racism is a life-and-death issue. This is a human rights crisis.

We didn’t have a choice about our skin color or the society we were born into, but we have a choice now. We can choose to look around, see what isn’t working, and work to build a radically different future.

 

The Skoolie Alliance


As part of building that future right here in the bus life community, we’d like to extend a special invitation for you to join us in co-creating an official bus life alliance. A proposal for this alliance was drafted in direct response to witnessing racism surface within online bus life spaces, and it introduces a vision to help us do better in a multitude of ways that are not limited to the offenses of racism itself. The proposal imagines a holistic and revolutionary way of organizing ourselves, of identifying our collective needs and wants, of maximizing our pool of resources, of distributing decision-making rights and responsibilities to all members, and of increasing the wellbeing and potential of our unique community.

You can view and vote on the proposal by visiting www.TheSkoolieAlliance.com. While the site will remain up for an extended period of time, the poll will close August 31. If you would like to help get this project off the ground please review the proposal, share your feedback in the poll, help us spread the word, follow @TheSkoolieAlliance on Instagram to stay updated on progress, and consider joining the “founding circle”.

 

Charting Your Course Through Anti-Racism Work


Anti-racism work is about taking action to end systemic oppression and the worldview that supports it, because that is the source of racism (as well as numerous other forms of oppression suffered by many marginalized groups of people). By engaging in this work we can start to address racism within the bus community, and help to strengthen the shared foundation on which we aim to build The Skoolie Alliance. And we understand that it’s a lot to navigate. But if we take some time to consider the broader scope of anti-racism and how we’re each personally suited to participate in it, we position ourselves to be better at it.

So let’s now explore a few frameworks that provide us with greater perspective and a heightened sense of direction. These models are like maps, and when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, especially somewhere that feels threatening, a map is surely an invaluable resource.

To continue the metaphor, if our ongoing destination is anti-racism, then our vehicle would be all the educational anti-racism materials that exist, and our map would provide a contextual overview of the anti-racism landscape we’re traveling. Just like a geographical map, ours would pinpoint where we currently are at various scales, and help us decide which path we want to take to get to where we’re going.

* The images that illustrate each model below can be viewed more closely by visiting the links provided in each section, or by opening the image in a new window and zooming in.

 Skoolie Alliance Anti Racism Venndiagram Activism Ally Empathy Empathy

I. Equation of Allyship and the Becoming Anti-Racist Framework

At the micro scale, we have two helpful models that deal directly with racism. First, there’s anti-racist academic and activist Rachel Cargle with her ‘Equation of Allyship’. This framework expertly illustrates the relationship between the domains of Knowledge, Empathy, and Action, thereby demonstrating how a truly supportive and effective ally exists at the intersection of all three areas.

Then there is the ‘Becoming Anti-Racist’ framework which was inspired by the work of Ibram X. Kendi and originally illustrated by Dr. Andrew M. Ibrahim. The three domains of this model are the Fear Zone, Learning Zone, and Growth Zone. Identifying yourself within these zones is intended to illuminate where you are in the process of becoming anti-racist and help keep you accountable.

B: Understanding that these models are really aimed at white people, I hesitated to offer personal reflections on these frameworks as a mixed-race Black woman. But, I recognize that there isn’t just one type of privilege and white people looking to be actively anti-racist aren’t the only ones being asked to learn what it means to be a good and effective ally. The reality is that these models are a great gauge in general for personal integrity, growth, and accountability. So with Rachel’s model, I find myself highest in Empathy and about equal in Knowledge and Action. I’m definitely putting a lot more energy into those two areas lately, and this entire article speaks to my interest in being able to sustain that work. For the Kendi/Ibrahim model, I’ve got one foot in the Learning Zone and one in the Growth Zone. I’m zero percent interested in hanging out in the Fear Zone and have really made it a priority over the last year or so to recognize when I’m in the grip of illegitimate fear, and overcome it.

C: Over time, I’ve found myself in all areas of these models, depending on where I was in my anti-racism journey. Currently, I’m in the Growth Zone of Kendi and Ibrahim’s model, although I know the Learning Zone is my comfort zone, so it will take life-long work and education to continue growing. I can’t get too comfortable or start patting myself on the back. In Rachel Cargle’s equation, Empathy and Knowledge are my comfort zones. They’re where I’m most strongly rooted. Over the past 4 years, I’ve worked to make Action a habit. As an introvert who easily gets exhausted from calling representatives or going to protests, I have to push myself to make sure I’m finding different ways to take action instead of simply letting myself off the hook. If you’re just finding your footing in either of these models, please don’t be discouraged. We’re glad you’re here. We need you. I share my story in hopes of illustrating how this work is an ever-evolving, life-long process. Let’s get to work.

 Skoolie Alliance Mapping Roles Social Change Ecosystem

II. Roles in a Social Change Ecosystem

At the meso scale, there is a model like the one developed by Deepa Iyer of the Building Movement Project. This framework for ‘Mapping Our Roles in a Social Change Ecosystem’ presents 10 archetypes that describe various roles we may occupy in the “pursuit of equity, shared liberation, inclusion, and justice”. Obviously we all have different energy and aptitude for taking certain actions in times of crisis. This model helps us identify the roles that are a natural and energizing fit for us. In the process, it can reveal how we’ve misplaced our efforts, explain why we’ve been stuck or stagnant, and realign us to our purpose.

B: I identify most as a Weaver and a Visionary. I’m a multi-passionate person who loves to learn and a problem-solver who is naturally drawn to focus on the source level, or root cause, of issues. And I’m highly engaged by the process of learning, organizing, and designingー whether it be to create something physical like the skoolie my husband and I are building, organizational like my proposal for The Skoolie Alliance, or informational like this article. I have difficulty with the roles of Frontline Responder and Caregiver, so if that’s what’s being asked of me I will exhibit the most resistance in those areas (even though personal experience has shown me that I’m good at handling emergency situations).

C: First and foremost, I think I am a Storyteller. As a writer, it’s a role I’ve naturally found myself in as I’ve shared and educated by crafting stories. At times, I also see myself as a Weaver and a Caregiver, since the more I learn, the more it’s apparent to me that everything in our society is connected. In turn, I tie these insights back to my storytelling and the connections I foster as a Caregiver. So, interconnectedness (Weaver) leads to nourishing connection (Caregiver), leads to sharing stories (Storyteller).

Skoolie Alliance Three Spheres of Activism Consciousness Action Change

III. Three Spheres of Activism

The last model zooms out to the macro scale and invites us to consider a much bigger picture. Numerous authors and scholars have coined the term “The Great Turning” in reference to “the global shift from an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization”. Also introduced as the “Three Spheres of Activism” by Troy Wiley of World Summit, this framework states that “in order for this Great Turning to be accomplished, work needs to be done in the following three distinct areas:” Holding Actions, Structural Change, and Shift in Consciousness.

The domain of Holding Actions is where we find most all traditional forms of activism as they pertain to halting “the destructive and unjust practices that are taking place on the planet”. But the problems addressed in this domain are symptoms of an underlying oppressive and unsustainable system. So this is where Structural Change comes into play. In this domain we don’t focus our energy on minimizing the damage of the current systems, instead, we imagine and create new ones. And yet still, "These structural alternatives cannot take root and survive without deeply ingrained values to sustain them.” That, in turn, requires “a profound shift in our perception of reality”, which is represented by the Shift in Consciousness domain.

The idea here is to be aware of these interrelated domains and understand the value of their various roles. Then, on an individual level, to recognize our relationship with each domain (where we focus most of our energy or actions, and if we feel an affinity with one sphere over another). Finally, it’s to determine if there is currently a pressing need in the world for our attention and action in a particular domain.

B: It only took me a few experiences with activism in the domain of Holding Actions to realize that’s not where I feel I’m of the most service (nor have I felt particularly needed until recently since there’s already so much activity in this area). I would say my heart has always had me engaged in the Shift in Consciousness domain, and my outward actions have significantly been in the area of Structural Changes. This can be seen in how I’ve proposed to establish The Skoolie Alliance as a Teal organization.

C: Because I don’t consider myself a visionary, I’ve participated the most in the Holding Actions domain. Even though I know we need Structural Changes and I deeply want them, I’m not the best at imagining what those Structural Changes can be. Once I’m introduced to the ideas of someone else and evaluate them, I’m on board completely and start championing for Structural Changes. As the model explains, we also need Shifts in Consciousness in order to achieve those Structural Changes. I spend time and energy self-reflecting and educating myself so I can make my own Shifts in Consciousness. These shifts don’t always come easily to me, but they sow rewards in so many areas of my life.

Let’s Reimagine A Better Future

A global paradigm shift is well underway and a new world is emerging. Right now we have an opportunity to make choices that aren’t merely reflections of the old worldview. We get to participate in the revolutionary creative act of reimagining. This is clearly something that appeals to all of us in the bus life community. It’s something we’re already doing. We reimagine what home, work, or retirement can be. We’ve looked at the status quo and decided no, I want something different. I want something more. Let’s now harness our imaginations and our creativity for something even larger. We get to radically reimagine inclusivity, representation, diversity, safety, support, leadership, resource sharing, and our collective wellbeing.

More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

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How a lifetime yogi balances her nerves as a full-time nomad with her husband in their skoolie, Eula Mae.

Iana  Sundari on the road

 Written by: Iana Sundari

We were living in Miami when John and I decided to sell everything and buy a bus! When we’d met, John was planning on buying a boat to convert into a home, and I was two seconds away from fleeing to Italy to find myself in good wine and too much pasta. On a random tip, from a Youtube video on gardening, we heard about the United Tiny House Festival in Elkton, FL. By the time we’d left the festival, we were on Craigslist scouting ads for a bus.

Both of us had dreams of settling in another country but agreed that there was a TON yet unseen in the US and I’d never stepped foot in Canada. What started as a way for us to see this country, soon morphed into a full-on Wellness tour with 22 Meditation workshops in 22 cities! We brought Sponsors on board and after 8 months of demoing, roof-raising and building, we took off.

 Iana  and John Bliss Out Bus SkoolieBliss Out  Skoolie  diy bus project forestRace & Wellness Yoga Class Joshua Tree

When Paint Matters

A few weeks before we left, a good family friend pulled me to the side. He glanced at our all-white bus and asked if we’d considered adding a little color. The way he asked tipped me off that he was actually asking something else, and he was. He is 68, White, and from the Midwest. He said that our bus looked like a prison bus and that the last thing we needed was to be two Black people climbing out of anything that reminds people of jail, in the deep south.


After telling the scorned painter inside of me to, “Shhhh” and “Listen.” I heard him. We had removed most of our windows for temperature control. We have one window in our bathroom on one side, and french windows in our kitchen. We also have skylights on our roof. Upon inspection, you can see the windows are covered in beautiful grey curtains John stitched by hand. But Black people only get a first glance in America, nothing more. And at first glance, and with John behind the wheel, we were inviting trouble.

And so we took his wise advice and we painted a beautiful green stripe down each side. John hand painted our logo "BLISS OUT" and added a small scene of a nature trail. When we set off on our trip a Native American Reverend came at sunrise and blessed the bus and our travels. On the front grill, she tied a string of prayer bundles filled with traditional herbs and flowers. Eula Mae, my home, looks like a beautiful peaceful solar powered rig. And yet none of that matters. Not the paint, the fancy stripe, the hand-drawn Willow trees, or the Indigenous sunrise prayers. To many, all they see are John and me, and our skin color becomes an immediate threat to their existence.

Bus Conversion Bliss Out Bus  Skoolie  Roof RaiseBliss Out Bus Skoolie  diy bus Project paintBliss Out Bus Skoolie  diy bus Project water fill

Neither of us are new to micro, or macro, racial aggressions. We expected ruffled feathers in the South. But here’s what I’ve noticed as we've weaved through this country: most racists of the South have long learned to hold their tongues in public and “tolerate” the changing times and the darker hues that come with it. They’ll shake your hand and call you “ Honey” as their drawl drips with hatred. But when the death of George Floyd lit the match on the pressure cooker that held the Black community, we watched a new breed of crazy appear right around Utah for us and the rest of the world is now watching them daily on the news. This bold bunch throw lighter fluid and then light a match and throw it at a Black woman in traffic. They drag Black men, in state parks, to trees and yell obscenities at him as they try to hang him from a tree in their July 4th bathing suits. They pause the news and walk outside to pull AR-15’s on protestors as they peacefully march PAST their house. And if you dare happen to be eating near them they scream “Nigger” at you until you leave and the police are called by strangers trying to defend you. THIS new group is terrifying and they have us traveling in a completely different way than when we began.

Now I check the population of the town before we even think about stopping there. Less than 10,000 makes us nervous. Less than 10,000 means very few people that look like us. I check the local arrest reports, they’re public. I want to see the types of people they're arresting and how often. We Google their town hall meeting notes because I want to know what the people there are complaining about. I also check the Facebook page for the town. Most have one. If they’re planning on a parade where there’s a Confederate flag involved, or there's some townie complaining about the "Coloreds" at the town pool? It’s a hard pass. (And yes, Paw Paw, I SEE YOU! Your town makes me sad) John can't go into stores, in small towns, that are empty or near closing. Black men already made certain folks nervous. And that's when they could see all of their features. Now, these men have to cover most of their faces to avoid a pandemic and again, let's not forget that we only get one glance. Lastly, I look at their police website and see how many cops are Black. If there’s no one at the precinct that looks like us, except for other prisoners? It’s not the town for us. No Black cops mean there's no one whose sister or cousin looks like me which means there's no hope of guilt building in them if I'm kept in that cage too long. No thank you.

Road Life Bliss Out Bus

Boondocking, in remote beautiful locations, is out for the time being. We can’t trust being away from cell service and becoming a statistic. Before this all happened, we were traveling pretty often, enjoying the freedom skoolie life brings! Now we plan to drive to a safe house, a friend, or most recently, two beautiful strangers, and stay for a month or two. It’s too stressful otherwise. In between, we stay at rest stops or right behind a business, where there are cameras. And witnesses.

 

So What Now?

With all of this said, you’d think we’d be over living life on the road. You’d think we’d be looking to sell and hunker down in a traditional home again. But F*CK THAT. :) We built this home. We love this home. This is the most HOME home I’ve ever lived in. We love full-time travel, this community, and the incredible sense of creativity it’s injected into our lives. I’m not letting hatred take what I love from me. Joy is a form of resistance too you know…

John Bliss Out Bus SkoolieIana Sundari  Skoolie  diy bus Project
And so, we adapt and adjust. He builds more and I spend a lot of time meditating. Both are our ways to remain sane and peaceful. We walk, and cook and laugh and I drink a lot of wine because all balance our nervous system and remind us that it’s not all so ugly. At least not in here, in Eula Mae... Here is where hope lives.

Iana Sundari Bliss Out Bus Skoolie  diy bus Project Ice Cream

Iana Sundari is the author of the blog, Namaste USA, and hosts Collective Reset podcast. She also offers private yoga sessions as well as birth and death doula services. Follow her journey through her website and on Instagram. Download Iana's new book Sponsors for Nomads here.

 

More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

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Brock and Patrick's recommended books for your bus conversion library

Bus Life Adventure Founder, Brock Butterfield and Content Editor/Social Media Monkey, Patrick Schmidt (@skoolielove) share their top books to have on board your Skoolie.

Brock's top four books.

Let me start by saying that I, Brock, am not a book reader. It's hard to find books that keep my attention enough to silence my monkey mind. Recently during COVID-19 I've found myself glued to my phone more than ever and I started to notice never feeling inspired, uplifted or optimistic after allowing the social media vacuum to suck me in deeper. It wasn't until one night when the battery on my phone went on strike that I decided to crack open Nomadland which I had purchased as a gift for a friend that I never ended up gifting (because he already had the book).

So, why would you take book advice from someone who doesn't read very often or enough? You probably shouldn't. Who am I to give good book reading advice when I'm lucky to read one book every couple years. But, if you're like me and find it hard to pick up those cellulose fibers that bonded together to make paper and a book, then here's a few books that were able to catch my attention and may catch yours.

In no particular order, here's a few books I've enjoyed before and during COVID-19. Also, while the links provided are Amazon items, consider supporting your small local bookstore first in these hard times.

Brock Butterfield Hank Bus Library

Brock's one of two libraries on his Skoolie.

Skoolie!: How to Convert a Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle

Author: Will Sutherland
Pages: 208

If you're considering dipping your hairy toes into a bus conversion, this book will guide you in the right direction. I had the pleasure or reading this book before it was published and gave some feedback to Will before it went off to the print house. It covers everything from what to look for when searching for a bus all the way to backup cameras and bike racks before you hit the road. He even has a full break down of the cost of every item he purchased during the conversion of the bus he built for the book. Support a fellow bus lifer and pick up this guidance and picture filled book that would love to live in your Skoolie when you're on the road.

Skoolie How To Convert Bus Into Tiny Home

The Man Who Quit Money

Author: Mark Sundeed
Pages: 272

This book drew me in because I have an internal desire to be able to live without money. I'm the dude that if my life went completely sideways and I lost everything, I'd wonder off into the woods with the bare essentials and attempt to be completely self sufficient. In this book, Daniel Suelo does just that but not quite to the extreme that I had in mind. Suelo decides to give away his life savings and begins to live a life without paying taxes while also never accepting food stamps or welfare. By living in caves in the Utah canyonlands he finds food by foraging and dumpster diving while at the same time experiencing a spiritual journey that we all could use.

 The Man Who Quit Money

 

Nomadland

Author: Jessica Bruder
pages 251

As mentioned, I picked this book up for a friend but after finding out they already had a copy I kept it and eventually cracked it open out of boredom. Nomadland caught and kept my attention because it covers the journey of one female septuagenarian (someone in his or her seventies) who is forced back into the workforce and without a house. By pulling the last of her funds and buying an RV, she secures seasonal jobs as a camp host in the summer and an Amazon warehouse zombie during the winters. This book will open your eyes to what's happening to many Americans and why we're seeing so many more run down RVs parked in Cities and old forest roads across the US. During my three years living full time in a bus I can relate to the struggle of being able to find a safe place to park and sleep for the night without getting the dreaded "knock". If you want a look into the world of our elders who are still forced to work and live in small cramped escape pods because their social security check doesn't cut it, then pick this book up to read. 

Nomadland

10% Happier

Author: Dan Harris
Pages: 256

This book took me a bit to get into but when it started to grab my attention I couldn't put it down. Dan Harris is a television journalist who had a panic attack on live television during an ABC News broadcast and that panic attack was one of the main driving factors that led him on a journey to understand the voice inside his head and the path to control it. For me this book hit home because I struggle with being way too hard on myself. I set goals and standards to live by that are unobtainable and yet I get really depressed when I don't hit those goals. Dan's experience and struggle with trying to climb the ranks as a television anchorman was completely relatable to me and my life. I had always tried meditating and never had any success but after Dan shares some of his experiences trying to meditate and going on a bizarre spiritual quest, I was able to pick up on a few things that truly helped me to utilize the voice in my head to my advantage.

10 percent happier

 

Patrick's top six books:

Patrick reads A LOT. He also writes a lot and is currently working on a book of his own. His suggestions for books are probably much better than mine (Brock). Here's what Patrick has to say about each of them in his top picks.

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Patrick's little free library on his Skoolie.

Into The Wild

Author: Jon Krakauer
Pages: 231

I’m sure many of you have read this book, but if you haven’t, you might want to. It’s one of the greats. It has wildly influenced how and why I am currently living my life. When I look around in my tiny bus home, and look at myself in the mirror, I can see McCandless staring back at me. This book was a LIFE CHANGER.

 Into The Wild Book

Walden on Wheels

Author: Ken Ilgunas
Pages: 320

Ken lived out of a Van while attending college, parked illegally the whole time, to cut down on rent and make it through college without any debt. His story is amazing, and hits really close to home. He’s a wonderful writer, and the story is one that will keep you entertained and asking yourself “Is tiny living and adventuring for me?”

 Waldon On Wheels

 

Planet Walker

Author: John Francis
Pages: 292

John walked the Earth for 22 years, not talking 17 of those years. What an amazing feat! He saw an oil spill down in Southern California and it changed his life forever. He had a gut feeling and went for it, he simply started walking and appreciating the Earth. He did not speak the next 17 years, in defense of the planet. Do what you want to do, some people will never approve. You must do what you feel! Love the environment. Absolutely mind changing read.

 Planet Walker

The Alchemist

Author: Paul Coehlo
Pages: 208

I carried this book when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is such a wonderful read! Traveling and life is a journey. There will be ups and downs. You can consider yourself lucky if you realize that you have everything you need right where you are. Pick this up for a gentle and kind read. This will tickle your spirituality.

 The Alchemist

Throw Out 50 Things

Author: Gail Blanke
Pages: 304

I read this book while I was down sizing for moving into the bus. GAME CHANGER! What “thoughts and emotions” do you have associated with your STUFF? Negative feelings? Those items have got to go. Positive feelings? Keep them. Eh feelings? Get rid of that stuff. When you throw out 5 pillows, that only counts as 1 item out of 50, because they are the same type of item. 49 items to go! It’s tough. As you throw out physical stuff, you’ll soon realize that you’re also shedding mental stuff. Best book I’ve found to help me get rid of my things.

 Throw Out 50 Things

 

The 5 Love Languages

Author: Gary Chapman
Pages: 208

Want to love yourself more, as well as respect and understand the people around you? READ THIS BOOK! Love for many people is a foreign language, they simply don’t understand what to do, and don’t know what they're doing wrong. They feel empty and hollow and not appreciated by the people around them. This book plainly lays it all out, how to learn how to love and fill your inner “love tank.” LIFE CHANGER. A MUST READ.

Five Love Languages

 

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