BIG NEWS! Come see the Bus in March!

It’s OFFICIAL! Paperwork is in, logistics are being worked out. I have been in touch with the Producer of the 27th Annual New Jersey Home Show.

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Great News!! The Big Blue Bus will be featured  on the Convention Floor!!! You can come see and tour the Bus for yourself!

As featured on Today.com

On the road! Man converts 189-square-foot School Bus into a Home

 

New Jersey’s Largest Home Show
Over 300 Exhibits with State-of-the-art Products & Services

Here is the website for more information.

27th Annual New Jersey Home Show

Hope to see you guys at the show in March!! We will be there from the 4th to the 6th.

Backstory of Big Blue

SkoolieLove has some BIG NEWS to announce shortly!! Keep checking back!

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.

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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.

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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.

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Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the early beginnings of SkoolieLove!

BUT HOW?! Cost, Money, Work,

Thanks again for all the kind comments. I cannot keep up with everyone’s love across the internet. Thank you to all the people commenting on the articles, logging onto my Instagram, and reading this blog.

The overwhelming question has been in the form of HOW?? and What?!

How much did Big Blue Cost?

$4,500. The bus is in EXCELLENT condition. A church owned it since they bought in 1990. It only had 68,xxx miles on it. No rust, since its a California bus. Engine has had all the maintenance done. It was already painted, all the school bus equipment is gone. It also has a roof rack with a ladder. You can buy buses at auction for $1,000 but its recommended to buy the best bus you can, and have the best platform to work with. You don’t want to buy a rusty $500 bus because its cheap, only to spend $5,000 on repairing the bus.

How much did the conversion cost?

Roughly $8,500. Big ticket purchase item was solar for $400. Mattress $400. Electric came to $2,000 for quality gear. Plumbing. Construction material came to be the biggest expense, for the wood, nails, screws, drill bits, and so forth. This price does not include tools, as we already had almost everything we needed.

What do you do for money?

For this trip, I have mainly been living off of the savings I have kept over the years. I started with a few hundred dollars, put that into a CD account at the bank, when interest rates were still high. Leave the money in the account for 6 months and get a decent amount back on interest. Invest that amount for 9 months. A year. Invest that for 3 years. All the while putting in money whenever I can. It all added up over the years. When I’m not traveling, I don’t go out very much, in terms of eating out, going to bars, spending money. I’m mainly a go to work, otherwise stay home and watch Netflix kind of guy.

Bus Life is fairly cheap, minus the diesel (mpg explained further down). The bus is titled as a Reconstructed Motor Home, so insurance for the whole year is very cheap, compared to monthly car insurance. Taxes for the Bus is $200 a year. I’m currently staying for free at my friends house, so I have no mortgage, no rent, no major bills. So on the day to day, I am really only paying for food and things here and there. Ive been selling candles along the way, and have an etsy shop set up under “skoolielove” where I sell handmade natural wax candles. Currently looking for temporary jobs in the area. When I leave Florida, I will be looking into “work camping” where you work a certain amount of hours per week at certain Campgrounds, and you get to stay there for free, as well as get paid.

How did you/do you pay for this?

I have had a savings account since I was 18. My parents taught me valuable lessons in terms of how I use my money. You cant always control how much money you make, but you can control how much you spend. When I have a job, I work really hard. I put in the effort to become a supervisor or fill a training position in as short a time as possible, and make more money in less time. So then for a few years, I save as much as I can. Then I take time off and live as free and as adventurous as I can. Then I get another job and work really hard there. My parents were such a tremendous help with build as well. Not only did I not have to pay for labor to build the bus, as my dad did all of the work with me, they also helped me by donating the solar panels, my bed, as well as some of the build material.

How is the gas mileage?

Not very good. But that is not why I decided to live in a bus. Overall expenses on the bus are very minimal. And I can say that I am a mortgage free homeowner. I get roughly 6-8 miles a gallon, on a 55ish gallon tank. So, driving almost 10,000 miles, I would say that I spent more than $3,000 on gas. I would have spent that much in rent alone if I still lived in my apartment. Its all a matter of perspective.

How long did it take?

I bought the bus on March 18th in Long Beach. Drove it over to Vegas and parked it at my parents house. The build did not really start until the beginning of May this year. From that point on, we worked on the bus nearly every day. It was more than a full time job. Everything was custom, so we had to figure out how to make the curves on the wall for the curve of the roof of the bus. The black water tank was a nightmare to install. So on and on. Trial and error the entire way. Waiting on packages. Getting shipped the wrong item. Tools breaking. Personal issues of me moving back into my parents house for the build. Anyhow, I left the day that the build was done and the bus was ready to go. That was August 15. I loaded up all my belongings and left for California. So for all rough estimates, it took about 3 months of straight work to complete the build.

Whew! I hope that answered a few of your questions!

Feel free to comment below and I will answer your questions on the next blog post.

 

 

Pursuit of Happiness

Welcome to Bus Life, Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT.

I’m just a regular guy trying to live a decent life. Incredibly overwhelmed and overjoyed at all the positivity that SkoolieLove is receiving. Much LOVE to all of you.

 “Insecure societies fear nonconformists.  Insecure societies desperately want everyone to stay the same.  They want everyone to be part of the system because those people who choose to be not part of the system reveal the ruse, the cosmic joke that it is all a game, it is all an illusion.  Truly confident societies revere the outsider and the hermit because they realize that such people are healthy for a society.  They keep the controllers of society in check because they are always there to show the people that there is an other way of living, that you do not have to be controlled by the system.”    -Alan Watts

Enjoy 🙂

*Video and Lyrics have vulgar language*

 

People told me slow my role I’m screaming out fuck that
I’m gonna do just what I do and there ain’t no turnin’ back
If I fall if I die, know I lived it to the fullest
If I fall if I die, know I lived and missed some bullets

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and
I know everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold
Hey, I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good

Tell me what you know about dreamin’ dreamin’
You don’t really know about nothin’ nothin’
Tell me what you know about them night terrors every night
5 am, cold sweats wakin’ up to the skies
Tell me what you know about dreams, dreams
Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’
You don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow
You rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow

I’m on the pursuit of happiness and
I know everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold
I’ll be fine, I’ll be good

Hands on the wheel
Uh uh, Fuck that

Hands on the wheel
Get Drunk Fuck that

Hands on the wheel
Uh uh, Fuck that

I’m on the Pursuit of Happiness.

 

 

Single Man Endures Cold Showers for Adventure

As I am sitting here in my bus, in the air conditioned bedroom, on my queen mattress, jamming out to Bob Dylan, running my little fridge and charging this laptop, I figured I could write a bit about what it takes to keep the interior of a Skoolie powered along the highways of America.

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I quickly came to realize there are a lot of highways throughout America, but I was not able to properly power the bus for many of those miles.
Ill post all the specifics and particulars about all the parts that were used in the conversion in a separate detailed post, but in this article ill try and keep it simple.

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To give you a better picture of my electric needs, I consider myself an outdoors-man. Trekking through the Appalachian Mountains, mountaineering, kayaking, camping, those all require very little electricity and power usage. I’m perfectly OK with that environment. Wet wipes. Simple meals. Pooping in interesting places. So in terms of that, I am living luxuriously on the bus. I always have light. Running water (although not usually hot). I am able to charge my Bluetooth speaker, iPod, and other devices. I have a toilet, a camp stove for cooking fabulous meals, and the ability to (sometimes) use my air conditioning.

So clearly, my electricity needs are different from others. I am a single guy, who bends the rules on cleanliness by a few days, so frequent hot showers become unnecessary. I do not bake, or cook fancy meals. I do not use an electric razor, coffee machine, microwave or television.

But even without all those energy suckers, I simply did not have enough power.

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The basics of my system:

I have 200 watt solar panels, which charge 4 6-volt golf batteries, which power the interior. These are separate batteries from the 3 that run the motor. I also have an isolator on the alternator, which charges all 7 batteries while the engine is running. I knew that 200 watts would not be enough, and it turned out to be entirely true. Someone told me that as a rule of thumb, you should have one 100 watt panel per battery. I would need at a minimum 200 more watts for my 4 batteries. I definitely need more solar and more batteries.

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In short, the batteries drained too fast, and were unable to always be fully charged. What that meant for me was, anything that needed a lot of power really fast, like the space heater, the hot plate, the water heater, I was unable to use those if I was not plugged in at a campground. So anytime I was off-grid, or parked along a street, I would have to take cold water showers, use my gas camp stove instead of my appliance hot plate, and simply put on more clothing to stay warm. The air conditioner has an energy saving mode, and if the batteries were fully charged, I would be able to comfortably use it. Otherwise, I was sweating like a pig in the 100+ degree Nevada/California weather. I usually did not keep anything in my mini fridge, in fear of not having enough power to keep it cold. I mostly snacked and ate less perishable items.

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Clearly, this is not reasonable to most people, especially families. When I am plugged in to power at an RV Campsite, the bus is the perfect tiny home. Warm showers, hot cooked meal, the electric fireplace is on. But to have that experience on the road, I would need to make a few changes. I am thinking about buying higher quality batteries. These were on the lower end of the price range. Also, I need a lot more solar power. Serious Skoolie owners, with their job related to their bus, usually have over 1000 watts of solar, and 8 or more batteries. All my appliances are energy efficient, so there is nothing to really change there.

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The whole point of this Bus Life is to downsize and live small. In the last few months I have been able to accomplish that. Ive adapted my life to live in a 189sq ft bus. I may not always have enough power, but ill take that any day, in order to be able to call the road my home.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

 

Have a good one

Living in the Bus has allowed me plenty of time to be creative, to sit alone in my thoughts, listen to music, and write. I cannot wait until I can say that I am a writer. Its what I would love to spend my life doing. I never realized it was a passion of mine, until 2009 when I kept a journal of my Appalachian Trail hike. I wrote for most of the journey, and enjoyed it. Ive been keeping a journal of some sort on and off since then. In High School and College I dreaded starting papers, but once I was writing, I ended up with papers much longer than the requirement. I remember writing a paper about German Expressionism in Film, and the paper was supposed to be 13 pages. When I first read/heard about the assignment, I probably thought I should drop this German film class, that’s highly not do able. When I got into writing it, I believe I came out to 16 pages, with really not much material to cut. I really enjoyed the writing part. Not the idea of starting, not the idea of all the writing. Not the actual start of the writing process. The editing and revision was pretty fun, I don’t mind it that much. But the writing. Researching. I did enjoy all that.

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Anyhow, the past week I only left the bus a few times, for some work at the Bonsai Nursery, Goodwill shopping for neat little recycled arts and crafts. I have had plenty of opportunity to spend with myself, reading, writing, creating. Thinking and imagining. Hypothesizing. I would love to be a writer.

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One of the things that I have been thinking about for a long time, is these silly little things we say without even thinking about it.
Have a good day.
Have a good one.

Have a good day. I know its a nice gesture, and it shows something. It definitely comes in very useful in the Customer Service sector. But I don’t know what it truly brings across. Its a natural reaction at this point. Its almost an afterthought. It doesn’t mean anything. Some people are super enthusiastic when they say it, and I am sure they mean it. They want you to be so excited and happy and have the best day of your life. And its cool. Its awesome. If you’re excited and you mean it. You are genuine about it. Immediately after someone says “Have a good day,” the “you too” response comes too quick, without really listening. Its an automatic response to an automatic response almost.

Have a good one. You too.
A good one what? Im not even quite sure what it means?

Be genuine about what you say during your interactions. Or don’t say it. I have been wanting to use “Make it a great day” more. You are actively involved in making a better day. You’re not “having” some inherited experience, undergoing some transformation. You are making it a great day. Constructing. Creating. To cause happiness and positivity to exist and come about.

We are part of an overwhelming culture of “have a good one.” Not as creative as we could be in our daily interactions. Most people never create. That is not a curriculum taught or allowed in school anymore. They just do. Don’t think. Go on now, break your back for the next some odd 40 years and then retire with your 401k and none of your health. See you later. Yeah, have a good one. Thanks, you too.

You probably wont see that person later. Yeah, have a good one. A good one what? I am assuming day? Have a good day? You can’t tell me that? Cool man, thanks. You too. I wish you the same questionable nice gesture.

Anyhow, we can do better than that! Why don’t we upgrade the little words and sayings we use most often. Something that small could have a huge impact. In the way we think, the way we interact. The little social slices of our daily life. There are many of them. Let’s improve just a tiny bit of those little moments. Ive been thinking of saying “Make it a positive day.” We could use conscious, or mindful instead of positive. But I feel that’s not as generally applicable/acceptable everywhere. Everyone knows what positive is. There is positive and negative. 1. 0. Dead or alive. Great has no measure. It’s an amount above normal or average. What is normal? What’s a normal day, and what would make it great? It has nothing to offer. Having a positive day, I would assume that most everyone generally has an idea of what a positive day is compared to a negative one.

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Make it a positive day. Even saying Make it a great day. Make it a good day is giving yourself and the other person more value than Have a great day. If you don’t have it, it wont be great. But if you actively participate and MAKE it great, there’s something there. You took part in the creation of a better moment.

Lets actively participate in having better moments.
Make it a positive day everyone,
Skoolie Love

What’s SkoolieLove all about?

Canadians on my home.

     “And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die free!” My new Canadian friends had started an impromptu karaoke session for “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. We were singing and dancing on the roof-deck on my converted school bus, overlooking Ralph Wilson Stadium off in the distance. This was the second night being parked here, and the only reason I had this experience happened because two people were curious about the bus. They decided they wanted to find out what the bus is all about, and knocked on the door. What is  a blue school bus with the license plate SKOOLIE, doing at the Bills camper parking lot?

Welcome to the Bus Life.

For the past few months, I have been living in a 1990 School Bus. Picked up the bus, nicknamed Big Blue, in Long Beach California on March 18. Drove it to Vegas where my parents live, and started converting it into a tiny motor home at the beginning of May. My dad and I did all the work ourselves, sourcing mainly Home Depot and Amazon.

Since August of 2015, I have covered nearly 10,000 miles through 30 states on the highways and byways of this beautiful country. The road trip started in Las Vegas, headed over to California, then continued up the West Coast to Seattle. From there I drove quite a few miles to Fort Collins, Colorado and over to Buffalo, New York. From there I had a few spots I visited in Boston, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. I celebrated in Rhode Island, as that was the last of the 50 states I needed to visit. It had been a goal of mine for the past few years, to see all of the 50 states. Done. Next! I then headed to Arkansas, and now my home is a driveway at a house in Ocala, Florida.

So whats Skoolielove all about?

Skoolielove came about the beginning of March of this year. It’s the lifestyle that I want to live. I want to live fully on a bus, and make that my life. The road trip that I just took is over, now its on to living in a bus while parked. Figuring out how to make money, and function in society while  living in a small space. Skoolie is a nickname/slang for Converted School Bus, taking a school bus and converting it into a tiny motor home. Love is about spreading positivity, being compassionate, and caring about yourself and the world around you. You matter. Your actions matter. Being conscious of what you do, what you say, how you act, how you behave, and what impact your mood and attitude has on your life. As well as the impact on the Earth we all share. I felt like downsizing my home and the amount of stuff I have, while living on a school bus, would allow me to figure out what i’m looking for. I may have found it.

As a philosopher once said, “Life is a Highway, I want to ride it all night long.”
I don’t actually enjoy driving at night, its blinding and nerve-wracking. But yes, my life currently is a highway.

Living on the bus has been exactly what I was looking for.

I hand washed most of my laundry. I listened to more music, and wrote more than ever in my life. I went wine tasting in the hills of Santa Barbara, hiked in the Rocky Mountains, met friends in Boston and ate home-made pizza and drank local beer, jammed out to Tom Petty at the Niagara Falls with my best friend. I met moms, dads, brothers, old people, young people. Students, teachers, construction workers, bus drivers. You name it. People from all walks of life, in some of the coolest places America has to offer.

I ate a lot less meat. I stopped using plastic bags from grocery store purchases. Used less water and electricity than I would in a regular home. I do not have a television on the bus. I ate healthy, bus cooked meals. In general I consumed less, but more on that in other entries.

At the end of the day, after all the miles driven, the sights and the sounds of everyday life on the road, its nice to be home. I look into the rear view mirror, and there is all my stuff, my tiny bus home. It’s nice to finally have place that I can call home. I have moved over 20 times since I was born, and I feel like in the bus, I came home. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s only a small 189 sq ft, but its plenty enough for me. It allows me to live more.

Since my home is mobile, I get the rare opportunity to be home where ever I park. I’m home in the State Parks of Colorado, the streets of Rochester, the rest stops in Wyoming, Connecticut, Virginia. The lots in South Dakota. The scenery changes, but my home is always with me. I can head to the bedroom, close all the curtains, turn on the A/C and I am comfortable in familiar surroundings.

This journey, my new bus life, is a journey about less. Using fewer resources, wasting less. But also more. Listen more to people, music, and nature. Also find out what I am all about. It is a journey to figure out what I want for my future, but more importantly, to live more in the moment. Its a journey to explore America. Its big cities, and its little towns. Meet the everyday person. Meet the special, extraordinary people. Most of all, experience. Life is experience, and I very much fee alive. This blog will be about all that. Write about Bus Life and for all that it is, and isn’t. The building, upkeep, and life in a 189 sq foot blue school bus.

Join me on this Journey.

Patrick