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!

Thank you.

I want to begin by thanking everyone for taking time out of your busy day to read my story, look at my pictures, and read my blog. (New IMGUR post)

I truly appreciate all the positive comments I have received from everyone around the world. I really feel the LOVE. Here at SkoolieLove, thats half of what were about. Because the other half is Skoolie. But here at Skoolielove, Love is what we are all about.

I had ABSOLUTELY no idea that posting a few pictures on IMGUR about my life in the last few months would BLOW UP THE INTERNET! I mean, its been utterly fantastically crazy insane. My phone cannot keep up with all the new followers on Instagram, updates on Imgur, requests for stories, BLOG READERS (!!!!!!!!) and things like that.

When I saw that I had over 1,000 views and a couple up-votes on my Imgur post, I was like WOW! This is incredible. Then it was 2,000. 10,000 90,000 And it just kept going and going. Then I was like…wait. What. Wait. Is this going Viral? ITS VIRAL!!!! I was FREAKING OUT!

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To be completely honest, I felt like teen Taylor Swift felt when Tim Mcgraw came on the Radio for the first time. I was like, boo-hoo Na-n na-na, I did something of myself. Screw you Stephen. Ill take my cat Meredith over you any day. It was nice to see that people approve of my Bus Life.

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Dad and son convert old nineties school bus into tiny dream home

I was so blown away that my life was something on the internet, and people were looking at it by the thousands. I always say, there are 7 billion people in this world, the hardest part of finding someone is realizing they exist. Its unbelievable to see that thousands upon thousands of people know that I exist.Many of you I have had the opportunity to talk with and message, and its nice to know you exist. I truly thank you for your time.

My parents and I are German, and speak German to each other. I sent the Imgur link to them, and they got hooked! They would send me updates on how many views we were getting (like I wasn’t refreshing the browser every 5 seconds). This is a chat we were having.

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He’s basically saying that something cant be right with 23,750 views? Not even Bieber has that many in an hour. Then he was impressed that it jumped to 25,281. Current view count is

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Which is absolutely incredible! Glad to be an Imgurian. I would have never imagined that when I bought the bus in March that a few months later, after taking the trip of a lifetime, that I would be on the front page of Yahoo. This is truly a dream come true.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support, from around the world.

Skoolielove

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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

Bus Life: Parking

One of the many parking spots.

Parking was by far one of the bigger challenges on the road trip. When I left my parents house in Vegas on August 15, I had no idea where I would be spending the night. Somewhere in Santa Barbara, but I was definitely worried. The friend that I was visiting lives in a house in the hills, and there was no way that my 35ft school bus would fit around all those treacherous curves and switchbacks. So along the way, having trouble finding diesel, I stopped along the road, to google some campgrounds. Found two campgrounds and made some calls.

It was still prime time weather in Santa Barbara, and it didnt help it was saturday night. To that end, I landed at the Rancho Oso campground. It was pricey at $60 per night, but I parked there for a few nights. Right off the bat, I was off to a great learning experience. Not to worry about parking so much, as I had found a great place in the hills, with shooting stars, and pot luck dinners with the random people around me. I got to feed horses, and everyone was so exciting and loving on the bus. It all worked out better than perfect. This is the life for me.

However, parking does require some trial and error, reading signs, and trusting your gut. And at times, you have to spend a little more money.
Obviously, I stand out. I’m rolling around your towns and cities in a light blue School Bus, with a wooden roof rack carrying a kayak. There are curtains and an AC unit in the back. License plate “SKOOLIE.” Something is happening in there. This is cool. Different. As one guy put it “Oh, you’re the bus man?! We were all wanting to know what that guy is all about!” So where ever I park, I have to be conscious and aware of the fact some people might come knocking on my door, to see it and ask questions. But if anything else, they’ll remember you standing or being parked somewhere for a long time.

Rancho Oso, Santa Barbara, California.
In the 30 state road trip, 121 miles short of 10,000 miles driven, I mostly stuck to Rest Stops along the highways when I was actually moving from one place from another. In Seattle I parked in one of the northern neighborhoods, along the street. I had to fold in the drivers site mirror for clearance to the road. In Boston, I had my home parked across the street of a park in marked street parking. In Fort Collins, near my friends apartment, I parked by the school across the street, which was street parking for the apartments. Ive parked the bus in the smaller cities and towns quite a few times, never an issue.
However, READ THE SIGNS! In Boston the issue became street cleaning. I was there Monday night, and Tuesdays they have street cleaners come through. One side is every 2nd and 4th Tuesday, the side I was on was every 1st and 3rd Tuesday. In Buffalo, it became an issue of not being able to park along the neighborhood streets from 7pm to 6pm the next day. Be mindful of fire hydrants, loading areas, and any other hazards or places you might be asked to move. I have also come to realize that a 35ft school bus is not designed for downtown areas.

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Also, not all the Interstate Highway Rest Stop areas are the same. Heading West on Interstate 40 into Tennessee, it was getting late and I just really wanted to park, eat and relax. Now, when I say late, this is adventure/bus time. Wake up early with the sun (The sky’s awake, so i’m awake!) So late was maybe 8 or 9pm, but the sun had already set. So I got to the Visitor Center rest stop, and it was a strictly enforced, 2 hour parking minimum. So I drove to the next one, which had a huge area for parking. No visible signs anywhere. Some of the signs posted near the entrances to some of the stops say there is no camping, and no overnight parking. Make sure to follow all posted signs. There are a lot of people on the road, and its a nice thing to know that if you’re on a highway, you will be able to find refuge somewhere for a few hours at night.

Rest Stops on the same highways, but through different states, are also different. Some have huge lots for a separation of campers and truckers. Most allow idling engines, so you have to listen to that all night. Others don’t allow it, so those are nice. You don’t ever quite know what you will come across. There were times I rolled in at 7 pm, and did not leave until 10am or so. I don’t say this as a recommendation, but I was never talked to.

Signs are confusing. Some say “No Camping.” So I thought, well, cant park here. Not necessarily what the sign means. Camping to me, means a tent or something on or near the ground. You don’t camp in a trailer, bus, or van. You are parking. It does, however, mean that people traveling and living in tiny homes, dont bring out your lawn chairs, pee outside, set up your grill, etc. You get in at night, park for a few hours/overnight and then you’re gone. You are not setting up “Camp.” So, doing some research and reading peoples articles and posts from long term RV’ers, and seeing all these signs myself, you want to look for the “Strictly enforced” “No overnight parking” and most definitely, always “No Parking.”

I parked at bigger store lots, such as Wal-Mart and Lowes or Home Depot for a couple hours during the day, but never overnight at any of them. Wal-Mart has a reputation for allowing Tiny Home/Home on Wheels to park in their lots overnight. Many of the ones I drove by, or pulled into, had signs for “NO Overnight or Extended parking.” Some said “NO unauthorized parking by trucks, campers or RV’s.”  There are sites that list all the Wal-Marts and if they allow overnight parking or not. I chose to be more on the road and be at rest stops, than park in those lots. I wanted a different experience, in the cities, in the woods.

Some of my favorite parking/campsite/homeishwereyouparkit I randomly found, either by driving around, or through an app I came across, which links to http://www.freecampsites.net
The site linked me to a really gorgeous spot, some sort of California State Recreation Area. It was a bit off the path, windy sand roads through the trees, and then coming up into magnificent views of the local hills and landscape. Sunsets, sunrises. Free. Solar panels providing the little energy I need.

I found a spot just off the local highway in Virginia. Pulled into the lot, did not see any signs. There was a commercial house building of some sort, the interior was not finished, but it wasn’t a construction site. Anyhow, I backed in, parked around 4pm that day. I’m pretty much always ready to move, if not within 15-20 minutes, so if someone comes and asks me to leave, I will gladly do that. So, there is always a bit of an uneasy feeling. Worried that you might have to find another spot. So, some nights, it was a bit hard to relax.

The next day, a cop pulls in as I was eating dinner. I had planned to stay another night, since I was just standing there, and I wasnt able to talk to anyone about it. So he talks to me about the area, asks for my ID, and just asked me kindly if I would’nt mind moving. I left within 15 minutes to a rest stop a bit down the highway. The only other run in I had with police, was in New York at my friends Grandmas house. One of the neighbors just wanted to make sure she was aware there is a 35ft Blue School Bus in her driveway.

In Santa Barbara, CA, Leavenworth, WA, Erie, NY Hot Springs, AK I paid for campgrounds, usually KOA’s. There is usually WiFi, you can do laundry, and they’re clean. I’m not usually  a fan of these campgrounds, Id rather be somewhere further away from people and not just in a lot somewhere, as was the case in Seattle. I was literally on a rock lot, with metal fences, in the middle of a busy city. But that was the only thing in that area, and it was fairly cheap. So, unless there are things I need to take care of, like fully charge the house batteries, hot shower with the ability to dump the black water tank, laundry, etc, I try to find free things along the highways and the cities.

The ABSOLUTE sweetest spot was in Aurora, Nebraska. Site with maybe 10 RV back in sites. FREE electric, water and dump station. 3-4 night maximum. That was the coolest place. There are spots all over the US that are hidden and a real treasure when you find them. Word of mouth, through internet research, etc. I quickly lost all the initial worry that I had. I would find parking somewhere. The last night before I entered Florida, I pulled off a less busy road and got as far into the grass as I could. I was on a slant and did not sleep well. But It had been dark for a while, raining, and I had been on the road for 11 hours. I needed to pull over. If parking in a lot somewhere, you might be asked to move at some point. Which is alright if you are tired, at least you aren’t driving on the road, frantic, nervous, in fear. Simply pull over. You will always find somewhere to park.
In Summary:
Take someone with you. You drive, and they worry about researching and navigating.
You will always find a place to park.
No Camping does not mean No overnight Parking
Google where ever you are “This city/area free camping”
Rest Areas are great for stopping, not very good for getting a good nights rest
Waterfront property.