Our plan to purchase a solid old school bus and turn it into our mobile palace was hatched about two months ago on a long romantic walk along the shoreline of Auke Bay in Juneau, Alaska on one of my very rare days off towards the end of my last contract as a full-time Seasonal whale-watching boat captain. We had been looking for a solution to keeping both our nomadic lifestyle of seasonal work while also embracing the idea of owning our own home.
Initially, it began with the idea of buying an old RV, however my paranoia of spending our collective life-savings on a musty old lemon won and we forked over another security deposit, first month’s rent and pet deposit. Then the idea to buy a 40 foot trawler was hatched. Move from Portland to Alaska and back every 6 months; sounds cool but a 40 year old marine diesel isn’t necessarily fuel efficient …and dockage isn’t exactly cheap either.
After a month or two of back and forth about the merits of living on a boat vs. living on land vs. simply owning a home, I threw out an idea; why not build out a bus and call that home for the next 3-5 years until we figure out what the next 30-60 years look like? So an old school bus it was and I set to work locating one somewhere in the US. Ultimately I found one we both liked and I set to messaging the seller in South Georgia about a month ago while we were still driving across southeast British Columbia back South from Alaska.
Fast forward a month, we are settled in Northeast Florida in my 89-year old grandmother’s unused condo in Ponte Vedra, FL (she eloped with an older man about three years ago and moved in with him (I’m serious, she really is that awesome)). We also found a storage yard for large equipment for 100 bucks a month where we can park our bus and complete our interior work in downtown Jacksonville, about 40 minutes away. Not ideal, but definitely a solution considering the HOA would definitely frown upon a 20 year old, 38 foot school bus hanging out of an 18 foot visitor parking spot. (Got to make the best of things as a nomad.) We have checked out the 38 foot, 66 passenger 1998 International T444e in Ellaville, GA at this point and liked it enough to put down a security deposit and plan to return over next weekend to pay for and pick it up.
The tricky park is that I don’t have a CDL. Neither does Sarah. The only way we can get her insured for us to drive her home to Florida is to first remove all 22 seats. So THAT is what we will be doing Saturday. Our rather ambitious plan involves driving 4 hours to South Georgia, paying a good gob of money to a stranger, signing the bill of sale for our bus, getting the title, then ripping out all 22 seats before crashing in a local Motel 6 before we drive our new machine home the next day. Tentative plan: multiple ratchet sets, an angle grinder, two flappy disks, 4 bi-metal cutting disks and a whole lot of get-it-doneness.
Big plan, we’ll let you know how it goes!