Backstory of Big Blue
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For one of the news articles, I was asked to include some back story of the bus. They ended up not using any of it, so I figured it's OK to post on the blog. The bus is from 1990, and I knew that from the get go. I know that it's older. But the other day, it truly dawned on me that this bus has seen love and been cared for 25 years before I ever showed up. Truly incredible to be able to continue making people happy with this big old blue bus.
Here is a bit of the backstory of Bus number 5, Big Blue.
The church that I bought the bus from bought them in 1990. The gentleman that I bought the bus from was actually on vacation when the buses showed up, so he is unsure if they were already painted when they were purchased, or if that happened shortly after.
I was in lying in bed searching for buses. I was scrolling through a bus for sale website on my iPad, looking at mostly blue and white buses. Down at the bottom, something blue caught my eye. It was 1990 International 3800 Church Bus for Sale. I called the owner the next day. He was incredibly nice and helpful on the phone. He sent me pictures of the remaining tire life, made sure that all my questions were answered. Next week I flew to Long Beach, met Bruce, bought the Bus, got insurance and the rest is history.
My bus was number 5, as they also had number 6 for sale. Number 5, Big Blue, only had 68,XXX miles on it and was always serviced. Since they were commercially transporting children, they took all the precautions. The roof rack was already in place, minus all the wood and flooring to walk on. They used the rack to haul rafts and camping equipment. They would use the air-brake tank on the bus to fill up their rafts. The bust mostly stood over the years, I’m told, besides a few trips during the year.
When I was looking at the bus, one of the bus drivers who drove the bus for the church came by and showed me how to operate the bus. He knew it was being sold, and was getting teary eyed as he shook my hand, telling me good luck with the bus, it has brought him a lot of joy over the years.
I have received messages on twitter, IMGUR and comments on a few of the Instagram pictures, from members of the church. They are all so happy and overjoyed that the bus has gotten some new life into it. I’ve gotten messages from the wives of the former bus drivers. They tell me stories of how their children and their children’s children have memories riding on the bus.
The most recent one is from a gentleman on Imgur:
“Hey, I saw your bus post and noticed that the bus was actually from my church (Arbor Road Church/ First Baptist Church of Lakewood/ Lakewood Family Church). I wanted to say that it's really cool that you got use our old bus for something great! I remember using that bus to go to different youth events and summer camp. It was pretty nostalgic to see the buses again. I'm happy that at least one the bus was put to good use (as idk what happened to the other). P.S. I don't think 5 picked you, it's just that 6 had a piece of plywood covering a broken window/hole that one of our members put in the back, lol.”
When he is referring to 5 picking me, he was referring to how I always say that Big Blue chose me. It chose me, in part because the engine idled smoother, it didn’t have a long gash on the side of it. It also was not missing any windows. The other bus, as far as Bruce knows, was brought over to Montana or North Dakota.
I’ve also had family members tell me how happy they are that the bus is still alive and driving around. Bruce was worried when someone bought it that it would be sold for scrap metal and parted out. He was fully on board when I told him that I will be converting it with my father and turning it into an adventure bus.
The craziest part! The bus build took longer and longer. I was planning on leaving in June. Then July. Then it became mid-August. Anyhow, I was heading towards California, and I thought I would give Bruce a call. I would be heading to Santa Barbara on Friday August 14, and messaged Bruce to see if he would be able to meet with me and Long Beach, maybe get the Church together to look at the bus. I got a reply, saying that he is himself on a road trip, and won’t be able to meet me. I was really bummed out. Cleaning the bus and packing too a bit longer. So I left in the morning on Saturday August 15.
When I left my parents’ house August 15, I was driving South on Interstate 15, leaving Vegas for Santa Barbara. I got a call before the city of Barstow, and saw that I had a voice mail. It was Bruce, and I listened to the message. Odd I thought.
“Hey Patrick, this is Bruce. I’m driving along I-15 south, and I drove past a bus that looked almost identical to the one I sold you. I thought it couldn’t be you since you left yesterday. Give me a call back.”
So I gave him a call back. Turns out my day-delay, gave me the opportunity to meet up with my friend Bruce and meet his wife. We had something to drink at a local diner and talked about how the bus conversion has gone and what my plans were. I gave them a walk through, and I have never seen a person smile so big. Bruce had the biggest smile on his face. He held his phone up the entire time, recording me talking about the bus. He was just absolutely blown away. We said our goodbyes and the trip was off to an even more wonderful start.
Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the early beginnings of SkoolieLove!