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Bus Life

Mt. Hood

Get a load of this view! We were so high above the clouds, and in the distance you can see Jefferson poking through. It was fun skiing until we were tired, then went back to the bus for a nap, some food, and evening entertainment (finished up season three of The Expanse). Also, I made a cinnamon cake in the instant pot. 30 minutes to cake time with no noticeable drain to our power. I think I love this life.

Kitchen Curtains

Look at this guy, being all domestic! He is a wizard with a sewing machine, and whipped up some kitchen curtains out of the bed skirt that came with our comforter. He also cut down and sewed a cloth shower curtain to fit the tiny shower opening – a temporary solution until we build a door. What a guy. ❤️ So we are all ready for our road trip up to Mt. Hood for our last resort skiing of the season. In prep for this we’ve basically moved into our new home, and get to sleep in it tonight. So exciting!

Kitchen Cabinets

Working on cabinet doors again. It’s one of the final things to finish (including window blinds, shower curtain, and trim) before moving in. We are so close we can taste it!

We are taking a long weekend up to Mt. Hood to ski one last time on our spring passes. This will probably be the last official resort skiing we do now that I’ve learned how to ski – the rest will be in the back country. It’s so amazing that we can now bring our home with us! Let the adventures begin.

Cozy Bedroom

The bed is in, and sooo comfortable! It’s only a six inch high mattress, and I thought we would feel the bed platform, but we don’t at all. Comfiest mattress ever. Cutting memory foam is a chore though. I still have little bits of foam clinging to my clothes.

Also, we got the speakers and shelf above the bed mounted. It’s feeling so homey, I want to move in ASAP.

Window Shades

I had planned on making my own custom window shades and not spending money on a professional solution. But after reviewing what our needs are I’m changing my mind. Privacy and light-blocking is super important. Light filtering and air flow is also important. Ideally, we would have the blinds open top down so we can have privacy and air flow at the same time (our windows only open at the top). We stumbled onto this TriLight window display at Lowe’s, and it’s perfect. They open bottom up and top down, with an adjustable light filtering option at the top. Super versatile. So now I’m justifying the cost for five windows – I think it would be worth it to get everything that we need in one solution.

Unrolling of the Mattress

The unrolling of the mattress has begun! We had to finish putting polyurethane on the walls before doing anything with the mattress, but the final coat went on last night. So we are fluffing our new mattress and will cut it down to size today. Our bed is a non standard size, just shy of a queen. We made the choice to shorten the mattress so we have room for the narrow walkway to the shower. But at 5’7” (me) and 5’9” (Brad) I think we will still be very comfortable. Brad is a wizard with a sewing machine also (what a man!), so he’ll customize a fitted sheet to fit. This is when it’s going to start feeling like a real home!

Painting Cabinets

We decided that there were too many mismatched wood tones and colors in the bus, so are painting the cabinets this muted blue-grey color. It’s strange at first when you’ve gotten used to seeing something a certain way and then change it up, but I’ll confess, I love the new color! We are starting to settle into this blue, grey, brown, and yellow scheme. It pulls colors from the walls, tile, and flooring to bring it all together… 

Door Closure

When we eagerly removed the swinging arm for the door (months ago) we had no idea that driving would be such a problem. Even with bungee cords and rope securing it as tightly as possible, the doors still flapped around on the road. So while our long term solution is to build a proper door, today we came up with a super simple (but very effective) way to keep the doors secure with some basic hardware from the home improvement store. See the photos for details. It’s always the simplest solution that works the best!

Window Frames

This is so exciting, something I’ve been waiting on doing for months. We put in window sills today! We wanted squared off windows to look more like a traditional home, but our shuttle bus windows were rounded. We built the frames in to cover the rounded edges, and then with the sills in place, voila! Squared off windows! I’ve started framing in the outside with mitered corners, but ran out of wood, so no pictures of that yet.

Shoe Storage

I built an oddly shaped shoe cabinet to fit the oddly shaped space next to the dog house (the engine compartment). Plus, we’ll need a place to dump keys, pocket change, and mail when we come in the door, so the cabinet has a tabletop that stretches over the dash. This is somewhat temporary because we decided that long term it would be great to rip out the dog house and built a normal (square) cabinet that stretches across the entire front of the cab, with cabinet style doors to access the engine. That will be so much easier for maintenance than having to take the dog house cover off.

Completed Combo Bathroom

Some pics of our tiny bathroom (shower / toilet combo). We fiberglassed by hand because of the tiny space and odd angles, then finished with marine paint. It was a very messy process, but one that we don’t regret. The teak wood bath mat was the final touch and fit the dimensions almost perfectly, just needed to cut a sliver off to fit the toilet. We’ll put up a shower curtain as a temporary solution until we can build a proper door (and frame). I can’t wait to take my first shower in there!

The kitchen sink drains through a tube into the shower, then straight down into the grey water tank. I thought that was a clever idea which made plumbing simpler.

Laying Tile

Our awesome coworker has a tile saw and a lot of DIY expertise, so we took the Cuddlebus for a little trip over to her house and learned the ropes. We laid tile on the base platform for our fireplace. It took about three hours just for this section, but now we feel like we have the basic knowledge to do it on our own. We will finish up the backsplash today, then leave the bus at her house for a few days to let it cure before driving it home to grout. We have separation anxiety already! We will have to be patient, but maybe this means we’ll have some free time to go and see a movie or something. 🙂 What a crazy thought!

Tongue and Groove Finished

The tongue and groove is all in, with a few minor bits to complete around the stove pipe and bottom step. There is so much wood everywhere! Our next steps are to finish window sills / trim, and condition and urethane everything. We plan to be finally moved in and rent free by the end of May (one more month to go) after seven months of build. It’s taken longer than we anticipated, but we are so excited to start spending our free time in the mountains instead of working on the bus!

Plumbing Test

Ok, plumbing test number one complete. It was so exciting and nerve wracking at the same time, and we have some issues to work through. First of all, the hot water heater uses batteries to ignite the propane, and since we don’t read manuals except as a last resort (!) we didn’t realize that they came capped and needed to have the caps removed. Ha. That was a simple fix. The water comes out instantaneously hot, and is so scalding it burned my hand. The pump came on and pressurized beautifully. There were some minor leaks that we fixed with a bit of tightening. But we have some major leaks in the garage where the joints are more finicky to tighten. We are worried about cracking the plastic joints that connect to the shower. So it looks like we will be working on plumbing today… And yes, we have the kitchen water run into the shower where it drains into the grey water tank. It all goes to the same place in the end. 🙂

Dirty Bus

Cuddlebus is looking desperately in need of a bath… but we love it so much anyway.

I’ve noticed in each of my photos that the toilet is in a different place, but I assure you where it is here is not it’s final place. 😁 Can you imagine the looks of other drivers on the road?

Plumbing Fix Day

Plumbing fix day – I did some quick research and found that you can layer pipe thread compound over the top of pipe tape to help prevent against leaks. Went to the plumbing store, and a very helpful worker confirmed this fact and helped me to choose one that is Teflon based, like the tape, that will work with both brass and plastic. He said that brass fittings are notoriously leaky! So I redid all of the leaky joints and ran another water test. Presto! No leaks! I am officially a plumber now (albeit a novice one, and without the plumber’s crack).

On Minimalism

On minimalism – I spent a few days scanning in the last few paper items that I want to preserve. My son’s early artwork and photos of him when he was small. There wasn’t much, but there’s no reason to hang on to the paper when it can all be digitized. Buying a small scanner was a good investment, and can be used in the future for scanning in receipts and paperwork. Brad also went through his many paper maps and decided what to keep. Realistically, any of that can be found online now, but some of them hold sentimental value for mountains that he has climbed and places he’s been. But one must ask themself – is the object necessary when you still have the memories? As a society we put too much emphasis on the value of physical objects. Our filing cabinet paperwork has now been minimized to all fit into a slim binder, and that will have a place in our new tiny home. Everything we keep will be intentional and have it’s place. This is how I like to live.

Steps

It’s amazing how many things change throughout the course of a build that you couldn’t have planned for. We decided to cover up the little kindling storage space under the front of the step. It was too impractical in the end. But now that we have pine paneling across the front it has allowed us to have a more continuous theme. We are putting pine across the back of the main steps as well to pull it all together. Hooray for compromise and adaptability!

Tongue and Groove

Our little cabin is emerging! The pine wall boards are very lightweight and splintery, but are going up relatively quickly. We have just one wall left to finish before the arduous process of cutting down excess, trimming everything out, sanding, and staining / finishing all the wood. Trim seems more important now than ever to cover up all of the uglies, odd edges, and mistakes.

Shower, Taking Shape

Our shower is starting to look less like a dungeon and more like a… shower! We had the option to go with a funky color, but opted for traditional white instead since there will be very little light coming in. I don’t regret fiberglassing by hand, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve lost many brain cells from the resin fumes. It looks great. Also, we took back the porcelain paint and bought marine paint instead. I wasn’t sure if porcelain would be a bad idea for a bus that shifts and moves a lot on the road, so we are playing it safe. Primer is on, and next week we’ll paint another coat of white marine enamel, then a final coat of glossy spar varnish.

The Garage Is Done!

The garage is done (and everything has a place)! This is the view from the hobbit door over the bed, looking into the garage. We maximized storage space by adding racks to the back of the door for climbing rope and miscellaneous, and the telescoping ladder actually fits perfectly against the lower shelves. It’s great that our gear doesn’t have to take up our living space, and it’s all out of sight.

Instant Pot Cornbread

Instant pot cornbread is real, it’s not a myth! I’ve been learning to cook with the instant pot and am amazed by its versatility. I think we will actually use it most nights instead of the propane stove. We envision setting up the instant pot on delay to cook a meal while we are out climbing, then keep it warm until we are back, because who wants to cook when you are sore, beat up, and tired?

Cabinet Doors pt. 2

I built one of my cabinet doors differently, gluing front and back together all at one time instead of in sections (I was being impatient). To my dismay, the entire thing warped and gapped dramatically. I thought I would have to scrap it and start over. But first I tried wrapping the whole thing in a wet towel and weighting it, and shockingly it straightened the door out and closed the gap! Now it’s perfectly straight, ready for a final sanding and staining. I’m super pleased that I don’t have to start over. Hooray!

Brad loves the cabinet doors so much that I’m now building them for the lower cabinets too. 😃

I used scraps of paper during gluing to keep the clamps from getting glued down. The clamps separate easily, and the paper and glue sands right off. Handy little trick learned from the internet. Thank you internet.

Cabinet Doors

While Brad is out of town I decided to surprise him by building doors for the upper kitchen cabinets. 🙂 I had an idea to use decorative metal screen so that the items in the cabinet would be a little bit visible, but mostly obscured. I made them by sandwiching the metal screen between panels of wood, held together by wood glue (no screws or nails). I think they turned out great. I hope he likes them!

Garage Shelving

Brad went out of town today, but before he did we put up the shelves in the garage. We have room to store *almost* all of our gear. We still need room for some tools, helmets, rope, and our telescoping ladder. I think we can get creative with wall space and the inside of the garage door, using tracks and hooks for storage. It’s so great to see our house garage emptying into our bus garage!

Rubber Gym Mat

It was finally time to cut rubber for the garage, garage shelves, and under the bed. Even at only a quarter of an inch thick it was still super tough to cut through and needed scoring multiple times. I continue to be Brad’s hero, because as he says there were two projects he absolutely didn’t want to do – fiberglassing the shower and cutting the rubber, and I tackled it like a champ! My fingers are still numb from the pressure of holding the blade so tight… But doesn’t the rubber look great?

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