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Bus Life

Cheating at Life

We got winter tires on the bus, so now the real adventuring begins! We are staying out the week at Stevens Pass, which amazingly has RV overnight parking with shore power! It’s a luxury not having to scrape snow off the solar panels.

So we’ve been skiing all day, and coming back to the bus for cuddles, naps, and warming up by the fire in the wood stove. The bonus is having yummy stew slow cooking in the instant pot all the while… Then, in the evening we do more night skiing, then cuddle some more and binge watch Netflix on the projector. It feels like we are completely cheating at life.

Amazon Deliveries

We learned a useful thing out here on the road. Amazon doesn’t just deliver to your home, they’ll also deliver to various drop locations all over the place. In this case it was a Rite Aid near our camp site. We had been running low on a few supplies, but could still have them delivered quickly. They just scan your barcode and you’re done! This is great for travelers!

Twinkly Lights

Brad surprised me with twinkly lights for the bus. As he put it, “This isn’t camping. This is our life.” So if we want to drive to town and have a nice dinner, or see a movie in a theater, or string up fairy lights, that’s totally an option. Even though we’ve been living in the bus now for five months, it’s still hard to release the mindset that you’re camping and have to “rough it”. This is our life. Let’s enjoy it.

Rainbow Falls State Park

We’ve been staying at the Rainbow Falls State Park this past week. It definitely felt like fall at the park. It was my first full week of work where I relied 100% on my hotspot and cellular booster for internet. There were challenges. I realized how bandwidth heavy the work that I do is – lots of phone calls, lots of WebEx meetings… But I’m learning ways to optimize, like only doing one task at a time, only keep applications open while I’m using them, use webmail instead of Outlook over the VPN, move files to my local drive while I’m working on them, etc… If you do bandwidth heavy work over the internet while you’re traveling, I’d love to hear your tips.

One Year Busiversary

So I missed mentioning this here, but we have passed our one year anniversary of buying Cuddlebus! What a year. It all started out like this: Brad and I were talking, and he says to me, “Ok, I’ve got a crazy idea, but just hear me out… What if we bought a van and converted it into a home with room for our skis and gear? We can drive to the mountains, park at trailheads, and have a warm space to come back to after long days of climbing and skiing.” I said, “That’s not crazy!” That had been my dream for as long as I could remember. I was obsessed with books on “small spaces” when I was a teen (before “tiny homes” were a thing). I was inspired by an Apartment Therapy story about a woman converting a double decker bus into a home, before “bus life” was a thing. My Pinterest page was full of articles and stories about van conversions and nomadic living.

We had been looking for a property because we wanted to build a treehouse home, but were getting discouraged at not finding the right one. So we started looking at vans on Craigslist and doing research, watching videos. I wasn’t really sure how we would convert a vehicle into a home. We had never done anything like that before. Were we actually going to follow through with it, or just dream about it?

After looking at a couple vans, we decided they were too small, and started checking out box trucks. There were a lot of options out there, but nothing felt right. Then I got a Craigslist search alert for a shuttle bus being sold by a local church, and as soon as we saw it WE KNEW. It was the one! Two days later we owned the bus, and started demolition the next day. We were committed.

There was a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears shed over the course of the next nine months. Perhaps there were some profanities uttered also… Moments of pure frustration at seemingly impossible tasks. Fighting with tools and equipment. Trying to stay organized. Everything took many times longer than planned. Motivation and energy was tough to maintain while working days then coming home and working on the bus at night, sometimes in the dark and the cold. Not feeling like we had any time to just relax. Not having energy to cook dinner. We had differences in opinion, and differences in aesthetics. We learned a lot about each other working on the bus. We learned how to communicate better, how to compromise. How to find joy in the accomplishment of building something with your own hands. And realizing we are not too old to learn how to do things we’d never done before, like electrical, plumbing, fiberglassing and woodwork!

Now we live full time in our tiny home on wheels. We’ve moved from Oregon to Washington. Brad quit his job and I’ve become a digital nomad. Our lives have changed dramatically, and will keep changing. I love change. What will the next year look like for us, I wonder?

Candles, Or Not?

To candle or not to candle? Do you have candles in your bus? I had a rule at first – no candles in the bus. I didn’t want to risk burning down everything that we’ve worked so hard for. But we do love the ambience and warmth that candles give off. It’s a nice alternative when we don’t want to light a fire in the wood burner. So I may have relaxed the rule a bit… as long as we are always aware of the candle burning, only burn candles in glass jars, and make sure they are blown out before bed time.

Light Blocking and Privacy

I love this fabric! It has an embroidered pattern that is subtle and not “busy”. We are installing a curved curtain track that will stretch across the front window and around the driver’s side window. Then, Brad will sew curtains from this material that we picked out at the fabric store. It will be nice to have the light blocking and quick privacy. It’s so cool having a man that knows how to sew!

Mini Donuts and Cider

We got Cuddlebus back today, sporting a brand new fuel pump! There would have been no way to plan for the fuel pump giving out, I’m just glad it happened when and where it did (we had cell service and another vehicle). So on the way to pick the bus up from the mechanic we stopped at the cider mill that we didn’t get to go to last week as planned. We celebrated with fresh, hot mini donuts and delicious apple cider. We are surprised that there aren’t more cider mills in Washington. Washington is famous for apples. Look at these beauties!

Temporarily Homeless

Noooo, Cuddlebus!! After our long weekend at the amazing Deception Pass state park, Cuddlebus wouldn’t start. We learned a few things about our AAA service, most notably that they will not tow a converted vehicle (non-standard RV) for whatever reason. Disappointing. We did have it towed eventually for some $$$. We knew the day would come at some point when our home with all of our belongings would have to be in the shop, just didn’t know it would be today. Had to pack a bag really quick and empty / unplug the fridge. 😜 I miss our bus already, but since I have to travel for work this week the timing is ok.

I Love the Rain

Welcome to Seattle! It’s been storming since yesterday. My team back home in Oregon is trying to make me jealous by saying how beautiful the weather is there, but it’s not working. I moved here because I love the rain! That’s not weird, right?

First Night

We spent our first night in Washington State at a state park campground near Mount St. Helens. What a perfect place for our first night. It was lush, ferny, drippy, densely forested, with mushrooms growing everywhere. We listened to the sound of fat raindrops splattering on the bus roof all night. It was amazingly peaceful, and so perfectly “Washington”. So this is what freedom feels like! We keep hugging each other, laughing like kids, and throwing each other random fist bumps. 👊

Storage Bench Seat

It’s funny to add a new furniture piece when we have such a small space, but the addition of this bench was so worthwhile! You may remember a while back we built a fold out table on the side of our bed. It expands our kitchen counter space and gives us a place to work and eat, but then folds out of the way when we don’t need it. But normal sized chairs are too tall to use to sit at the table. We needed something shorter. This ottoman style bench seat is portable and folds away to put under the bed, but is crazy sturdy and plush, you wouldn’t even know it is collapsible. And the inside is super spacious for storage. So now we have the perfect seat to work at our table, or we can fold the table away and sit on the bench leaning against the bed, cuddle together in front of the fire… all of that good stuff. I’ll be working from home starting next week, so this is where I’ll be for most of the day. 🙂 It’s the little things that make all the difference.

The Forever Project

How glad am I to be *almost* done with these cabinet doors? You have no idea. This has been a patience game. Cutting and gluing the frames, front and back, waiting for glue to dry, fixing warping issues with moisture and pressure, then more drying. Staining and waiting for stain to dry, then reapplying. Each cabinet door takes days to manufacture, sometimes longer if it’s humid. However, I built them all by hand, and while they are imperfect (for sure), they give our home a bit of a rustic, cabin-like feel that we love. Here I am applying more stain in place because we decided we wanted a richer color. It’s messy, but the new color looks great with the countertops!

Game Time

Game time! We’ve discovered a couple of board games that are really fun to play. There isn’t space to store a lot of big board game boxes, so we just have these two, plus some cards and dice that don’t take up a lot of room. I’d like to find some good paper and pencil games that can be played anywhere also. Suggestions welcome.

Letting Go

Letting go of things is hard sometimes. Yesterday I sold my car. I loved that little car, but it was very impractical for my lifestyle and I barely drove it. As a minimalist, I couldn’t justify keeping it and worrying about where to park it, paying insurance, etc just for the occasional need. So, while it is bittersweet, I can let go of this last thing that is tying me down in preparation for our new life in Washington. Focusing on the good things – the bus, my partner in life and everything, becoming a full time digital nomad, and the freedoms that we have worked so hard to achieve. Life is good!

Blackberries

While wilderness camping we stumbled across a blackberry patch, and like the opportunists we are, picked a pile of them and made some blackberry cornbread (in the instant pot, of course). Then made blackberry syrup to pour over pancakes the following morning. We laughed like kids with our fingers stained purple. Life is so much fun, and very very delicious.

More Cabinet Doors

I was on call for work this weekend and couldn’t leave town, sooo working on building more cabinet doors… It seems like they’ll never be done! We’ve gotten out of project mode and into adventure mode lately. It was slow getting back into projects, but we still got a lot done. I love working on our bus.

Thunderstorms

Yes!!! It’s been cool and rainy the past couple of days, with some pretty impressive thunderstorms. I love it so much. The 100+ degree heat that we’ve been having (in a bus with no AC) is just awful. I hope there aren’t many fires that were sparked from the lightning, but the air smells so fresh and the sound of rain on the roof is like a lullaby. Feeds my soul.

Inline Water Filter

I’m really not a fan of the taste of hose water. Depending on the source, it may have a medley of flavors ranging from metallic to stale. But water is precious, and when we are out adventuring we get it where we can. So today I installed an inline water filter that removes bad tastes, odors, and contaminants! Cold water runs through the filter, and hot doesn’t, so filtering isn’t wasted on showers and such.

We fill our fresh water tank through a flexible cloth hose. After spending a week in the desert we realized that our hose wouldn’t fit onto all of the potable water faucets we encountered. Many of them had non-standard adapters or didn’t have threads. Combined with our new “Camco Water Bandit” and a turn key hose clamp, our options for finding usable water just opened up. The Water Bandit has a silicone end that can be stretched onto any water spigot, even ones without threads.

I’ve also started taking photographs of water faucets we find with my photo geotagging turned on. This creates an instant map / directory on my phone of places where we can fill up in the Pacific Northwest, wherever we may go!

Ikea Elastic Cords

We needed something to keep our bowls and pots on the shelf where they belong. We’ve been driving some pretty rough washboard roads lately, and it rattles and shakes everything with mad furiosity! Yes, I made that word up. So we came up with a simple solution using IKEA elastic cords from their Skadis pegboard series. Just enough to keep things on the shelf, but you can still reach in and pull things out. Sometimes simple is best.

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