The Past Five Years.
Five years ago, we left Austin, Texas with very little money and even less of a plan. All we knew was that we didn't want to keep living the same day, every day, for the rest of our lives. We were working too much to pay for shit we didn't need in a house that we couldn't afford and none of it felt right.
There has to be more to life than this?
So we sold everything, packed some camping equipment and set off on a real-life adventure, like some modern day Louis and fuckin' Clarks. The people closest to us thought we might have lost our minds, but luckily we were too excited to listen to their concerns.
For six months, we tent camped across the United States, visiting every state and national park we could get to and
We drank hot chocolate under the stars, hiked through forests, swam in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Lakes and dozens of tiny swimming holes in between. We gazed out over the Grand Canyon and Crater Lake and Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Springs with awe and anytime anybody would ask "how's it going?" my eyes would well up with tears. People always look back and think "that was the best time of my life" but we were lucky enough to know right then and there, right in the middle of it.
It was exactly the life we wanted. A life where we never really knew what the next day would bring, where we would end up or how we would find the money to get there. Every day was something new. Every road led us somewhere we'd never been. Every new landscape felt different, smelled different, sounded different. And after a lifetime of predictability, different was exactly what we needed to wake us up.
Just before the end of that year, we stumbled into another "new." We had three kids at the time, but that didn't stop me from fantasizing about traveling the country in a Volkswagen Bus. While online searching for VW's, though, I found some photos of a school bus that had been converted into a tiny house. I had no idea this was something that people did, so I some more searching. Bus after bus, converted into adorable little living spaces, complete with bunk beds, kitchens, tiny bathrooms and showers, everything our pop-up tent was sorely lacking. I WAS IN LOVE and when I showed the kids the pictures I'd found, they were in love, too. We decided right then and there that our next big project was buying a school bus and turning it into a home.
It took us six months of building and learning as we went, but halfway through 2016, we were ready to get back on the road in our newly converted bus house! My husband and I did all the work ourselves, even though we had NO experience building or plumbing or creating electricity out of thin fucking air. (Yes, I know, it actually came from the sun. Yay solar!) It wasn't perfect by anybody's standards, but it was ours. Something we built with our bare hands. A home for our babies. A place to sleep in the sun or the rain, without worrying that we'll wake up in a puddle like when we were camping.
I had never been prouder of anything in my life.
For two years, we lived and traveled in "The World School Bus," taking our kids to all the places we'd always wanted to visit as kids. We stayed in big cities and small towns, drove all the way across Canada and even up to Alaska on what was easily the most jaw-droppingly beautiful drive we've ever done. Bus life was simple and sweet and considerably more comfortable than tent camping. I missed our tent, but I adored our first bus.
Eventually, we decided we were finished with bus life and ready for something new, so we fixed her up with some fresh paint and sold The World School Bus to another family. We waved as she pulled away, sad to see her go, but excited for whatever would come next.
And what would come next was a dream come true for me.
WE BOUGHT A VW BUS!
We couldn't afford one of the really gorgeous ones - the classic old VWs with the rounded edges and iconic lines in the front - but we could afford a cute little 80's vanagon that made the free spirit in me very, very happy. Unfortunately, she made my husband very, very unhappy because she broke down ALL THE TIME. Somehow, though, we managed to drive that little van all the way from California to Cancun, which is a LONG, LONG way in a van that doesn't like to drive.
Mexico was amazing. We spent four months living in a house on the beach, swimming every day, soaking up the sun and not driving anywhere. It was beautiful, the people were friendly and everything was crazy cheap, but I missed being on the road. I missed the adventure. I missed the unexpected.
And then I got pregnant. Whoops! 😂
As we headed back to the states, I couldn't stop thinking about the kind of life we would be giving this new baby. Should we rent a house and go back to a "normal" life? Maybe it was time for a break? But a break from what? The happiest life we've ever known? The thought of going back to the life we used to have was heartbreaking. We would be giving up so much.
At that point, everything we owned fit inside the back of our van. Giving up our furniture and a house full of throw pillows and knick-knacks didn't feel like a sacrifice at all. But giving up the freedom to make our own path would have been such a huge loss.
"What if we convert another bus?"
By then we had two teenagers who were just starting to really crave space and privacy, so I was surprised when they said yes. Our oldest says now "you bought a new bus like five seconds after I agreed to it. You didn't give me a chance to change my mind!!" And he's right. The thought of having this baby in a bus and taking him all over the country to all our favorite places made me SO HAPPY.
We spent the next six months growing a baby and building a home. We called it The Good Luck Bus.
In December of 2018, we brought our baby home and got back on the road. By the time he was a year old, our tiniest adventurer had visited nearly half the states in the US and Canada and had completely fallen in love with the outdoors. No lake is too cold for this baby and no rock is too big to try and pick up. While his big siblings are happy to sit in the bus all day and watch YouTube videos, he wants to be outside wandering from sunup to sundown. When we drive, he watches out the windows, waving at all the cars we pass as the wind blows through his hair. When we're parked, he's at the door waiting for somebody to take him outside. Bus life suits him, just like it suits his mama.
But the big kids were starting to revolt. Two teens in a tiny space meant lots of complaining and very little privacy. Nothing excited them anymore except the prospect of moving back into a house and not being on the road anymore. For months, I cried, trying to find a compromise that would make everybody happy. I didn't know how to go back to our old life. I wasn't the same person anymore and I didn't want to ever be that person again. As much as I loved our life, though, I didn't want the big kids to be unhappy. I told them if they'd let me have one more year on the road, we could move back into a house at the end of 2020. It was a deal.
Then COVID-19 came along and everything came to a screeching halt.
For months, we waited it out in Texas, hoping things would eventually "go back to normal." All our freelance jobs were canceled. All the campgrounds closed. National parks, empty. My last year on the road, ruined. I was so thankful that we had a place to park and so grateful that we were all healthy and able to survive on unemployment, but I mourned the loss of my dream life. On one especially frustrating, overwhelming day in June, I finally gave up and agreed to sell the bus and move into a house now. If I couldn't be happy, at least the kids could be.
As we painted and repaired all the little things that needed repairing, I cried. As we worked into the night to get the bus ready to sell, I cried. As I clicked the submit button on our sale ad, I cried. As I responded to emails and answered questions, I cried.
I didn't want to sell our bus. Our baby's first home. The only home he'd ever known. People kept asking questions about the engine and about the mileage and all I could think about were the memories. Our baby's first smile was in this bus. His first laugh was on that couch. He learned to crawl in Iowa. He learned to walk in Maryland. This bus was more than an engine. Those miles took us to so many places.
We got several offers within the first few days of the bus being listed and not long after that, a family drove all the way from Michigan with the intention of buying. They insisted on a full mechanical workup, which was smart and the mechanics found lots of minor issues. Not surprising since it's a 20 year old school bus with a bazillion miles on it, but they decided to buy another bus they'd been eyeing instead. I had already lined up a house for us to move into that we wouldn't be able to afford anymore. I had already made reservations for a Uhaul that we wouldn't need anymore. We were sitting in a hotel room, with all our stuff in piles all around us since we had cleaned the bus out for them to take. But instead of feeling frustrated about the sale falling through, I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief.
We're not supposed to sell this bus. I knew it.
We spent the next two days loading all our stuff back into the bus and figuring out where to go next and by the end of the week, I had figured out a way to make everybody happy. A way to make the next five years as exciting as our last.
And that's the story of how The Good Luck Bus Company was born.
Ready to read about our big plans for the future? Scroll down to look at a thousand photos, then click here to go to "The Next Five Years."
Our first adventure home - our pop up tent!
Camp life ❤️
Our second adventure home - The World School Bus!
Our much loved piece of shit VW vanagon 😂
The Good Luck Bus!
Dream life ❤️