6 States Down, 7 States To Go!
Two weeks ago, my fiance printed out and delivered her two-weeks-notice letter to her employer. She worked out a deal with the apartment landlord, stored her car with family, and flew to Florida so that she can move into the bus with me. And let me tell you, my new roommate is loving the Bus Life!
I picked her up from the airport in Orlando, Florida and she spent her first night on the Bus. The next morning, we set out on a 3,500 mile road trip. We will be covering Fifteen States in Thirteen Days. Since leaving the long-term parking arrangement in Florida, we have driven 530 miles from Ocala, Florida to Hot Springs, North Carolina. Ultimately we are headed to Portland, Oregon to attend the Tiny House Living Festival Sept 15-17.
The first day we drove through the northern part of Florida, along the coast of Georgia and then landed at a Rest Stop in South Carolina for the night. During the drive, my roomie/co-pilot played music and helped with directions, was super fun to be around and useful in helping to close doors that open while driving and putting stuff away that fell. She also provided me with tons of kisses and box loads of hugs. As we were leaving the Rest Stop in the morning, she learned how to drive the bus in the wide open parking area. It was time she has ever driven a bus and something of that size, yet she did fantastic! So proud of her. She was exhilarated and had a smile from ear to ear and cannot wait to drive it some more.
Spending the night at a highway rest stop is always questionable. We got enough sleep, but it’s not as restful with trucks idling near us, and the bright stadium lights coming into the bus through any open crack in the curtains. But free is affordable, especially when living on the road. Neither of us have any anxiety or worry about the first night when we sleep somewhere new. As far as we’re concerned, we’re home, have been home all way, and are sleeping in our own comfortable bed. Nothing about the home, except it’s location, has changed and with the curtains closed, we could really be anywhere.
The first full road day, waking up in a new place and spending the night at a new place is always exciting. Where am I? Where will I be later? I’m home, but where will I park?
We had an easy going morning, waking up naturally, eating breakfast and heading up the road towards Hot Springs, North Carolina. It was quite the ride through the Blue Ridge Appalachia Mountains, with the twisting and turning roads, extremely sharp elevation changes and heavy leans with no shoulders. Those guard rails look extremely close when driving such a huge vehicle along those tiny mountain roads. I had to be careful not to use my brakes too much to avoid overheating them, relying on the engine retarder and driving in lower gears. Once we made it to Hot Springs, where we are parking with another Skoolie family, it was time definitely time stop driving and to relax, let the anxiousness of such intently-focused driving wash away. We spent the night chatting with our friends, knowing we are parked safe and sound on their property. We slept incredibly well; a full day on the road can really wear you out.
This morning, quietly tucked away on our friend’s property alongside the Appalachian Trail, we made full use of the Bus Life. When we woke up, with the hollering of the rooster and the morning sun light coming through the curtains, we decided against getting up. So we stayed in bed, half asleep, lounging, not having anything that we needed to do. It felt amazing. We didn’t have to wake up to an alarm, tend to any pressing issues, we could lay here as long as we pleased. Having lived in the bus the last two years, I’ve had my share of mornings and days of nothing-to-do-ness like this, but for my fiance and new roommate, this type of morning is extremely rare. This lifestyle is entirely new for her. Her routine for the past couple years has been: Wake up extremely early, force feeding herself, getting dressed to be professional drive to work, clock in, and then spend time doing things for others. Today, she felt wonderful not giving a fuck.
So we slept longer, enjoying the calmness that only a morning in these mountains can provide. Enjoying the Bus Life.
Currently I am sitting on the couch in my bus, looking out the windows at two other school buses parked on adjacent properties. The one furthest away is a black front nosed bus used for carrying floats and rafts along the creek that we are parked next to. The bus closest to me belongs to the family that I met over 2 years ago when I first bought my school bus. We started chatting on Instagram, finding each other because we were both in the dream and idea stage of building a Skoolie to live in.
Since then, I have lived mostly in Vegas and Florida and traveling across the country, where as they moved from Florida to to Hot Springs, North Carolina last year. They live on a good amount of acreage with chickens, bunnies, goats, cats, and pigs. Their bus is slightly over 200 square feet, being shared by Stacie, Jeff, and their two daughters Molly and Ella. Since this is their full time parked home, Jeff built a deck with a roof covering along one side of the bus, basically doubling their usable square footage. The wooded deck has a fireplace, picnic table, chairs, a couch and knick-knacks which make it look extremely homely and comfortable. The entire bus and deck are surrounded by different colored wildflowers. At the bottom of the flat-nosed bus front, right next to the International Emblem, is a large rusted planter holding several succulents.
My roomie is overlooking the creek, sitting on a swinging bench, writing in her journal, drinking tea and listening to music. She is absolutely in love with it all. As am I. This morning, as I was talking with my friends, she straightened up the bus, organized the medicine cabinet, made the bed, and continued to bring her loving personality into the bus. I thought I would need some time adjusting to someone sharing my 189 square foot space, but everything has been working out fantastic. Better and easier than I could have imagined.
Tomorrow we are headed on-wards, towards Tennessee and Kentucky. Our next big stop is Omaha, Nebraska. After that we are headed to Fort Collins, Colorado and from there Bussin’ it over to Portland.
See you in the next 3,000 miles!
And see you at the Tiny House Living Festival in Portland!