"It gave us the freedom to shop around without the pressures of a mortgage, rent, or needing [to find] a place for our family to live."

Interview by: Brock Butterfield

School Bus Conversion: Spencer Family

Make: 2001 Blue Bird
Model: All American RE
Miles: 170,000
Engine: Cummins
Transmission: Allison 
Cost of bus conversion: More than we wanted to spend, but super happy with how it turned out!

Spencer Family 1

Ethiopia!? What moved you guys there and how has living there translated to living bus life?

My husband co-founded a clean energy business that operates in East Africa, selling fuel-efficient stoves and solar products to customers at the bottom of the pyramid. We lived in Ethiopia for three years setting up the business there. A little over a year ago my husband had the idea to convert a bus into our US home base, since we spend a few months in the US every year. I honestly thought it was the world’s worst idea, but the words that came out of my mouth were: “Cool babe!” That was all the encouragement my husband needed to start researching to find us the right bus. I figured that this bus idea would die a hard death at some point, but it never did, and eventually not only did I get on board, but I actually got really excited about this bus adventure. We found a bus after a few months of research. Then we had to find a tiny home builder that was willing to take on converting our bus, since we aren’t handy people and also lived in Ethiopia at the time. Thank you to Wind River Tiny Homes for taking on our project.

Spencer Family 2

 

Spencer Family 3

At the end of 2018, we moved back from Ethiopia and into the bus! I was thinking that transitioning to the bus would be way easier than moving to Africa, but I was wrong! The transition to the bus was very stressful because we were trying to learn all the systems and understand the engine, while gearing up for a cross country road trip in the winter (we aren’t very smart, but very ambitious). Don’t get me wrong, we loved the bus from day one but I think we had some unrealistic expectations about how easy it would be to take our home on the road right after picking it up.

Spencer Family 4

The first day, we blew out our fridge hooking it into 220 (it’s a long story) and we ran the side of the bus into a rock while pulling it into the driveway. The first day of our cross-country road trip we busted a fuel line and spent two nights on the side of the road waiting for parts in 25-degree weather, and we hadn’t figured out our off-grid heating (true story). Our engine froze twice in subzero temperatures in Utah, since we didn’t have an engine block heater. Believe-it-or-not, this is just a small sample of all the challenges we faced in those first few weeks. Looking back on it now, I feel so stupid, but it was all part of the adventure and a steep learning curve.

 

I spy a little bus dweller. What has been the most challenging part of raising a kid on the bus?

Having a baby on the bus is awesome. I can’t speak for older kids, but toddlers and infants are perfect for bus life because they don’t require much space and they just want to be with you all the time. I love that we can see our toddler at all times inside the bus, and I think she actually likes being close to us, even if she is in another room of the bus playing while I am cooking. The only real challenge is when she is sleeping. My husband has a standing desk in the back of the bus and her bed is in an enclosed space in the middle, across from the bathroom, and you have to pass through her room to get to the front of the bus. When the baby is sleeping, Greg is trapped in the back of the bus, speaking in hushed tones—unless he wants to risk waking her and the wrath of his wife (that would be me!). Don’t worry, if he needs food or sustenance I pass him snacks from the outside through the bedroom window. At night when she is asleep we have to sneak through her room to get to our bedroom, but it’s really not that big of a deal. We really tried to come up with a way for her room to be closed off from the hallway, but we just couldn’t make it work with some of the other features we were wanting.

Spencer Family 5 

 

Spencer Family 8

 

Spencer Family 11

TBF 2019 square

Are you constantly on the move or are you settled somewhere in the bus?

We travelled cross country three weeks after getting our bus. We started in North Carolina and somehow made it all the way to San Diego and back in two months. It was so fun to see friends and family along the way, but we had our fuel lines bust twice, which I am still traumatized over. The first bust we took it to the Cummins dealer in Nashville and had them rebuild the fuel lines, since some of the brackets were missing. We got all the way to Nevada, in the desert, and it busted again. Fortunately, it was still under warranty. The Cummins dealer in Nashville had apparently put one of the fuel lines in backwards. It cost us five days in Barstow, California, and I am not bitter at all. I was very happy to get the bus safely back to North Carolina and park it for a little while. I joked with my husband that I was going to drive the bus into wet concrete when we pulled it back onto the land! I am excited about another road-trip, but I need some time to just enjoy living in the bus without all the hassle and expense of traveling. This May, we are going to Uganda to launch our business there but will be back in the bus for a few months over the holidays.

 Spencer Family 6

 

Spencer Family 7

What was the most challenging part of living in a school bus conversion?

The cold is interesting to manage in the winter. Here are a few mistakes we made in making our bus winter ready; not insulating our floors better and not putting in a propane heater!! We did use spray foam insulation on the rest of the bus and replaced the bus windows but the cold still really comes through those floors. We put a lot of heavy rugs down which really helped with the floor situation and this winter we just used electric heaters when plugged into electricity. It isn’t cheap to run two heaters to heat a 40 ft bus in 25 degrees. We will have to regroup for next winter and hopefully put in a propane heater.

 Spencer Family 13

What advice would you give someone who is interested in converting a school bus?

We did a lot of things wrong along the way (as you have read), but that is also our personalities to figure it out as we go, and that means that mistakes and missteps are part of the adventure for us. That being said, I wouldn’t go on a road trip through Wyoming in the winter again; if you do, make sure you have an engine block heater and there aren’t any snow storms. My husband and I have made a blood pact to not take the bus to Denver, Wyoming, or Utah in the winter again, because of the scary winter storms we found ourselves in and all the engine trouble for subzero temperatures.

It was also very shocking to me how hard it is to insure bus conversions. I am probably naïve, but it never crossed my mind that we might only be able to get liability insurance on our bus. It is stressful when you are traveling with your home down the road. If any of y’all have any tips or tricks to getting more comprehensive coverage let me know. I would definitely warn others before building their bus about only being able to get liability insurance.

Aw man! I wish we would have know each other earlier! I wrote a whole blog on how to get your school bus conversion insured. Doh!

 Spencer Family 9

 

Spencer Family 10

What are the benefits you have found with living in a school bus conversion?

When we were moving back from Ethiopia, we weren’t sure what was next for us except for living in the bus. But because of the bus, we weren’t worried about finding jobs, or picking a place to live, or signing a lease. It gave us the freedom to shop around without the pressures of a mortgage, rent, or needing [to find] a place for our family to live. We thought about living in a lot of different places, and ultimately, we were able to wait for the right opportunity to come our way. If we hadn’t been living in the bus, we probably wouldn’t have been able to wait for the right thing to come our way—we would have had to jump at something to pay the bills and give us some stability.

 Spencer Family 12

 

Spencer Family 14

LINKS

Contributing Writer: https://www.buslifeadventure.com
Blog: http://www.makingmebrave.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.walt
Instagram: @elizabeth.j.w.spencer

tippy trips logo bus conversion

And her name is... Purple Majesty! Inspired by the lyrics of “America the Beautiful”

purple majesty skoolie bus conversion

"Not only do the lyrics of the song reflect the majestic beauty of America, but it also includes a prayer of thanks and a prayer for guidance from God.

If this isn’t the perfect name, I don’t know what is! Our mission is to trust God in every aspect of our journey and go where He leads. We are also looking forward to seeing the beauty of God in nature. This is just another way that we love to worship God- in His presence, surrounded in the glory of His creation."

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain

America, America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea"

Interview by: Patrick Schmidt

School Bus Conversion by: David and Dani

Bus Specs:
Make: Blue Bird
Model: All American
Motor: Cummins 8.3
Year: 1990
Interior Size: 240 Square Feet
Current Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Purchased From/Location: We found it on Facebook Marketplace from a local guy in Virginia Beach, VA. It was actually the bus for the Alabama Space Center. We bought it with only 65,000 miles on it. The seats were already removed as the person we bought it from was planning to convert it, but only ever ripped the seats out.

david dani tippy trips conversion

Cost in materials for the conversion: We are not completely finished with the conversion yet, but our budget is $20,000 total. It could end up being more like $22,000, but we are hoping to stay right around there. We are buying a lot of materials used to help us stay within our budget.

Total time from purchase date to on the road: We purchased the bus in June of 2018 and are hoping to have it completed in January of 2019! We will be hitting the road shortly after! So about 7 months start to finish!

tippy trips bus conversion david dani

Why a bus?

We wanted to design and create a home on our own, rather than purchasing a vehicle that was already laid out. My husband, David, always dreamed of building a tiny house on his own. He started his degree studying architecture, but later switched to computer science. He has a passion for building and we agreed that this would be the perfect way to fulfill that dream. Converting a bus is much cheaper for us than buying an RV as well. 

Will you be full-timing?

YES! We will be living in our bus full time and also travel full time. We are excited to explore the United States as well as meet people along the way. Our mission is to serve others share the love of God with everyone we meet.

We are building our bus to run off of solar power so that we do not have to stay in RV parks every night and hook up. We are so excited to explore the US, boondocking as much as possible.

skoolie bus solar panel trips

Where are you converting it?

During our first month of the conversion, we worked on the Bus at the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk. This is a space where people can come to work on any project they may have. There were so many tools available for us and our friends were helping us how to use them. 

The best part about being at the Makerspace is that we were able to keep the bus inside. That allowed us to paint the bus inside so we didn't get caught in bad weather. It's also where we installed the solar panels. 

skoolie ditch accident bus life adventure

"YouTube Link on how this Skoolie only had 3 Wheels on the Ground"

We are currently staying at a local man’s family farm who has so graciously offered to rent space for us to store and work on our bus. We moved to the local farm because we no longer needed the tools provided by the Makerspace and we didn’t need to be indoors anymore. Plus we were paying $500 a month at Makerspace (which was so worth it for all of the tools we had access to) but now we are paying $65 a month at the farm!

We are so thankful for this because it is hard to find a place to keep a 40 foot bus! Especially because we live in an apartment right now. 

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?

David studied architecture for about a year and has experience working on cars. He knows how to use tools and has building experience.

Dani has had NO experience with anything concerning the build. It has been quite the learning curve, but also such a fun thing to learn together.

wiring insulating skoolie tippy conversion
The thing we have learned the most about with the build so far is electrical work. Wiring up all of the electrical work to run off of our solar panels has been a huge learning process for us. But at this point, you could call us electricians!

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this? 

The best word of advice that we can give to anyone who are thinking of converting a vehicle is go with the flow. Very few projects will go as planned and it is very important to just be flexible and have a plan B, C, D, etc.

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?

Our bus is purple! We have a few reasons for painting it purple. First of all, we wanted to be different! Many Skoolies that we have seen are either white or blue. We wanted to stand out with a different color that BOTH of us love!

purple paint brush exterior skoolie

Our Skoolie’s name is “Purple Majesty”. Of course this name was inspired by her color, but it fit perfectly because of the lyrics in the song “America the Beautiful” which is where the phrase “Purple Mountains Majesties” is from. The song talks about the beauty of our country that we are going to have the opportunity to explore.

What do you do for income? How often do you work on the bus?

Both of us work full time right now. David is also in school finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Because of this, we have limited time to work on the bus. We are working on it any spare minute we get which is normally about one weeknight and the entire weekend.

spray insulation skoolie conversion trippy

We are both in the process of looking for new jobs to transition over to when we are living on the bus full time. I (Dani) am looking into remote work with customer service or education as my degree is in Professional Studies with a Concentration in Interdisciplinary Studies. David is looking into Software Development Jobs.

We are both excited for Part Time, Remote positions that will give us the flexibility to travel full time and enjoy this time of our lives.

What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?

We think the hardest thing will be finding places to park for free or where we can be off grid all over the country. This will be especially difficult in areas that we are not familiar with.

The easiest thing will probably be the simplicity of life. We will be living a minimalist lifestyle, so we will only have the things that we need. We will also be able to plan our own schedules with our part time remote jobs.

What is it about the bus that will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?

We are looking forward to practicing minimalism and living simply while living on our bus. We are proving there is more to life than making money and buying things by focusing on what is truly important to us: trusting God and serving others. We are confident that God will provide for us and protect us throughout this new adventure.
We believe that God has called us to embark on this journey and we are so excited to see how He uses us to minister to others. We will be seeking God first in our travels and trusting Him to guide us where He wants to use us.

beautiful bus tippy trips conversion

What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in? Have you met other Skoolies?

Most of our family and friends were shocked when we told them about our Skoolie Conversion. This is mainly because I (Dani) am not a fan of small spaces, spontaneity, or traveling. I am very much a planner and do not like change! Our friends and family were even more shocked to find out that this was my (Dani) idea!!! I believe that God has called us to do this, even if it is completely out of my comfort zone. I have felt complete peace throughout our conversion journey so far and I am confident that the Lord will continue providing for us as we are following His will and trusting Him.

David was very excited when I told him about this idea because he loves traveling and adventure, and has always dreamed of building a tiny house.

We have talked with several other Skoolie Converters through social media and we hope to meet some of them along our journey!

david shower home depot bus conversion

Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?

At the front of our bus we will have our living room/ dining area/ office area/ guest bedroom. We will have two long couches (one on each side of the bus). These couches will fold out into a bed and they will also have a foldable table that can be placed in the middle.

laying floor subfloor skoolie

Right past the couches we will have our kitchen. It will be laid out like a galley kitchen, but it will have a fold out bar where we can sit at bar stools and eat.

building interior skoolie tippy conversion

In the back of the bus we will have two closets, our bathroom (with a composting toilet), shower, and bedroom).
Because our bus was a transit bus, it has two doors. We have built what we are calling the “garage” inside of the second door. It will only be accessible from the outside and it will hold our tools, bikes, and maybe some cleaning supplies.

Where will you be 3 months from now?

Hopefully finishing up the last few finishing touches and preparing to hit the road!

How can people learn more about you?

We have social media pages, a Vlog on YouTube, as well as a blog. All of them are in this link!


https://linktr.ee/tippytrips

Best of luck and continued success to you both!

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!"

before after interior beach living room conversion

Shuttle Bus Conversion By: Jen and Brandon; Furry friends Joe and Cortado

Interview By: Patrick Schmidt

Bus Specs:
Make: Ford
Model: E350 28 passenger shuttle bus
Motor: 7.3L Diesel
Year: 1995
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

exterior wooden door wanda shuttle bus

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!

flooring painting interior shuttle conversion

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!

ripped out interior shuttle conversion

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.

joe dog shuttle conversion bedroom

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.

wanda outside shuttle bus parked

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.

wanda shuttle bus inteior build

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!

before after seats interior shuttle conversion

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!

shuttle bedroom dog bed conversion

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.

clean interior design white shuttle

Washer/dryer? Bathroom?

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.

bathroom interior design shuttle bus

1 bathroom skoolie conversion

1 bathroom bus conversion shower interior design

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.

dog couch interior design shuttle

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

drone shuttle bus parked beach town

 

- 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?"

Bus Specs:
- 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?

blue marble day jar opportunities

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.

best bus conversion blue salmons

 

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.

bare interior seats removed

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.

600 cover bert skoolie

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.

*Upstream Update! Through our less than smooth journey in Bert, the Upstream Express - we’ve been stuck with the flies on a deserted beach for 26 hours, attempted an oil change turned to oil spill, and suffered a full engine failure in the middle of nowhere - we have learned a lot about what makes up a Blue Marble Day.
 
Hardships provide an excellent opportunity to learn, to grow, and to meet new people. We have truly enjoyed our struggles returning Bert home to New Orleans, helping us realize that even the most difficult days can be filled with joy when approached with the Blue Marble spirit.

skoolie stranded desert

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.

seats removed skoolie interior

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.

bert skoolie field running

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.

skoolie side mirror 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 plan to be converting Bert in our back yard in New Orleans. But we know we’re not in full control, so plans are subject to change!*
 

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!

 
driving bert skoolie

How can people learn more about you?

Check out our website BlueMarble.Today Follow us on Instagram @bluemarbleday

"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!

blue marble seize adventure