Tiny Bus World

So, a lot has happened since my last post. Let’s start with First Visitors….

Taylor and Tyler came to visit us on the bus! We spent some time showing them around Asheville, and had the first Party on the bus – frozen pizzas and dance party. They were very gracious guests, and said they really slept well in their car… luckily Tyler had recently purchased a Subaru with a hatchback, so they put a mattress in it and said it was fine… they are young and adventurous. Tyler is 6’4″, so he had a new perspective on the height of the ceiling of the bus. I think the hardest part for him was taking a shower.

 

Taylor and Tyler got me some awesome artwork to hang on the bus… it’s perfect!

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Kelsey cooked up a few fantastic meals in the fully equipped kitchen – she and Lucy lived on the bus with Kora and me from July through December.

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Here are some random photos: fall leaves from the back door of the bus, family photos in the windowsill, bus lit up at night, Christmas lights and Kevin’s butterfly, a sunny day on the bus, and a katydid.

 

There were a few challenges on the bus. The main issue was the refrigerator, which was basically a large cooler a lot. The first time it broke, they replaced it after a few weeks. The second time, it quit working after a power outage and Haier said that it was no longer under warranty because I didn’t think to unplug it before the power went back on. This is when I decided that Haier sucks. I called a local repair shop and the guy said “Haier is a cheap Chinese refrigerator, throw it away.” He refused to even look at it. This is when I realized that my discovery that Haier sucks is not a discovery.

After a couple more weeks of hauling ice, I went out on the internet and found a service manual. I found that there is a “reset button” on the control board, and I fixed the damned thing myself. I was very proud. Never buy a Haier.

 

Here is a picture I took to send to Steve to see if he could help me fix it from TN… the reset button is not in this picture. This was the first time I took the control board out and tried to fix it. I think I did this three times.

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Other issue has been the location, with the rain and the red clay that turns to mud. Lots of laundry, lots of dust.

At one point my landlord had an excavation crew up here digging the hill next to the bus up. This involved unhooking our power and water all day. So that was a bit inconvenient. Sigh. Not to mention a bulldozer and two dump trucks doing their business 5 feet from the bus. That went on for about a week. No pictures of that, folks. Just the memories.

 

Moving right along! Halloween on the bus…. Kelsey had two costumes for two different parties.

 

Kelsey got a job at The Biltmore Estate, and we got to take the candlelight tour. Here’s The Biltmore at night and their big Christmas tree… it was beautiful!

 

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Back to the bus… Kelsey and Lucy moved out last month and have a cute little apartment in Arden. At this point, I’m looking for a place to park it that is more permanent, hopefully my own piece of land. I plan to move it by June, mostly because the plates expire after that and I am not sure about getting the tags renewed. So, if anyone has any suggestions about land in the Asheville area please let me know!

Finally, here are a few more pictures… I really love the bus, it’s cozy and it has everything I need. Getting the land it’s parked on to be more ideal will make it perfect. The adventure continues!!

 

Christmas lights have really added some ambiance 🙂

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I really love the kitchen, and the pullout table.

 

Mountain view from the back of the bus!

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Kora and Lucy hog the couch…

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Reality: Tiny Home Living

As I sit listening to the rain fall on the well-sealed roof (roofing tar, folks, it’s a miracle worker) with Mazzy Starr streaming on my Pandora via shared wireless, my feet are propped up on the stove and I sit on my daughter’s bed/the couch, I can honestly say I think it’s going to be alright.

The Hardest Part: driving the bus home, and then up the steep driveway and into this spot. Scary is the right word to describe the overall feel of that event. Other feeling words: anxiety, panic, distress. And then a sense of accomplishment and desire to never repeat the experience.

BEFORE I drove the bus 300 miles. There is no after picture.

BEFORE I drove the bus 300 miles. There is no after picture.

The best things about the bus:

1. The Closet. It is huge and amazing, and holds all of my clothes plus a bunch of other stuff.

2. The Kitchen. See: IMG_3614

OK that’s a little blurry… but basically I love the butcher block countertop and all the space. You can tell someone who cooks a lot designed this kitchen (that is not me, that is Steve).

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I will probably put the food in the cabinets underneath and move prettier things to these shelves eventually, but I need to get some shelving in the cabinets before I can do that. But there is PLENTY of space for everything in the kitchen.

3. Toilet. Yeah, the composting toilet didn’t last long. I would advise that if you are going to do a composting toilet and really want it to work, buy a composting toilet. There was about a week or so of peeing in the woods… if you want to know why just message me… until we got the real toilet in. I love the flushing toilet.

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4. The Outdoors, and other places that are not the bus!

So I cancelled my Netflix subscription because I didn’t think we would have internet. it turns out my neighbor is willing to let us use theirs for half the bill. There was a two week period where we had no internet, and now I’m sort of used to it. I have already read a book and started another, enjoyed some stay-cationing in Asheville and other nearby towns, played catch with dogs, etc….. there’s only so much one can do on the bus, and there is So. Much. More. going on in the rest of the world. My friend Theresa said that everything I got rid of in my life was going to open up space for new things. True statement.

Here  are a couple of “tiny homes” I saw while hiking around the rest of the world…

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And here are some other fun things I have done:

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Catching up with friends!

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Playing catch in the big field below our house…

Live music at Ben's Tuneup

Live music at Ben’s Tuneup

Drive through the countryside with Kelsey

Drive through the countryside with Kelsey

5. Air Conditioner. It works great.

**The most magical moment on the bus was when we plugged it in to the power source and everything turned on.**

Top 5 most challenging aspects of living on the bus:

1. Mud. It’s been raining here since we parked, more or less, and we are parked on the side of a hill that was dug out in order to accommodate the bus. Red Clay. Good news is the washer/dryer works great!

IMG_35582. Water. There have been some fixes needed on the plumbing and the roof. These are all done now, except for a washer on the hot water in the kitchen sink and troubleshooting some leaking of the pipes under the sink. My advice if you have roof leaking issues: roofing tar. It works tiny miracles.

3. Space. The bus was designed for one person, and currently there are two of us living on the bus. The good news is that under the bus is a great place to store things in plastic bins, my friend Mandi has let me store some things at her house, and we had all that room in the back of the bus. We put some shelves back there and Kelsey is able to keep all her things back there, plus on the rod Steve installed in the front of the bus.

The lived-in look.... :)

The lived-in look…. 🙂

Clothes hanging at the front of the bus

Clothes hanging at the front of the bus

4. Refrigerator. It quit working about 3 days after I turned it on. We have basically been using the refrigerator as a large cooler, adding ice as necessary, until the nice repairman came back today to change out the part they ordered. The bad news: it doesn’t seem like the refrigerator is getting very cold since he left. The good news: it’s under warranty, so they will probably just bring me a new one.

I can’t think of a 5th issue! I want to continue to thank everyone who supported this adventure!! Steve, what are you doing with your time?? I have some folks waiting in line for the next tiny home you build!

What Makes a Bus a Home?

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Welcome!

What makes a bus a home? A lot of work and a lot of friends… and a lot of work. Thank you to everyone who helped with the bus, from the stripping to the finishing touches! And thanks for all the support from everyone, your excitement about this project has made it a lot more fun and exciting for me and Steve.

Now, let’s take a look at how she turned out…

Me and Taylor at the buswarming party... Steve's neighbors made the Friluftsliv sign - I love it!!

Me and Taylor at the buswarming party… Steve’s neighbors made the Friluftsliv sign – I love it!!

Ta Daaa!!

Ta Daaa!!

While you’re looking at the beautiful finished product, Let me tell you what we have been doing since I arrived on Wednesday. Actually, I can’t really remember Wednesday at this point. So let me hit the high points. Curtains had to be made, a stove purchased and installed, drawer and cabinet handles, bedding, shower curtain, cleaning the bus, taking scrap metal to scrap yard, finding out how to get plates on the bus… I know I’m forgetting a lot because we worked very hard. It will come to me….

The full size futon with beautiful pillows that Taylor and I picked out on our shopping trip

The full size futon with beautiful pillows that Taylor and I picked out on our shopping trip

Notice the beautiful lamp! I brought this over awhile back and Steve made it fit somehow. We hung some artwork to make it look like home.

Pull out table for eating, working, etc...

Pull out table for eating, working, etc…

Kevin and Steve made sure that this table will be sturdy by adding a pull-down leg. The table locks into place when not in use. The entertainment center is made of salvaged wood that Steve pieced together – I love it!

Full sized stove

Full sized stove

I still can’t believe we got the stove in before the party. We found it on Craigslist on Thursday, and the seller brought it to the house Friday morning. It was installed on Saturday when some strong men showed up who could lift it onto the back of the bus and slide it through the door that was made in the wall just for this purpose. You can see the window above the stove has a screen insert – Steve made several of these to fit on open windows to keep the buggies out… and it fit in the spot that was left for the stove with exactly zero extra room on either side of the stove. It was amazing.

This is the appliance door. Without it, nothing would get on or off the bus! Smart thinking, Steve.

This is the appliance door. Without it, nothing would get on or off the bus! Smart thinking, Steve.

Over the butcher block counter, jars to store food

Over the butcher block counter, jars to store food

This is one of my favorite things ^^

Beautiful sink donated by Mark. Love the open shelves above the sink area.

Beautiful sink donated by Mark. Love the open shelves above the sink area. Remember, the counter top is a salvaged door! Taylor went shopping with me and helped me pick out the decor. Love the pillows!

Washer/dryer combo

Washer/dryer combo

The washer/dryer is vented on the outside of the bus, and there is an access to the water supply to the left. There are many details that are going to make this bus easier to maintain and live in, I will try to describe these important details as I go.

Huge closet!

Huge closet!

The closet doors slide open and shut in both directions, and they work beautifully. Notice the extra storage space above with latched doors. I love this. Also notice the butterfly that Kevin put on the wall, which I also love.

The bed!

The bed!

Under the bed are several baskets to store things in. You can also see the appliance door in it’s finished form, an LED reading light, and my heater/air conditioner.

The bathroom, you can see some of the curtains I made.

The bathroom, you can see some of the curtains I made.

The bathroom is huge, which I love. There is a beautiful built in shelf above the back door. You can also see a row of LED lights on the ceiling. There is another row of these above the entertainment center. I think Steve said all the LED lights in the bus use about as much electricity as one regular light.

Looking from the bathroom to the front of the bus..

Looking from the bathroom to the front of the bus..

This door has an original Steve Ward painted on it, and magnets to lock it in place both ways so you can either have just the toilet or the entire bathroom to yourself.

... same view with the bathroom door shut.

… same view with the bathroom door shut.

The vented skylight is in just the right spot, above the toilet 😉

Temporary composting toilet

Temporary composting toilet

The composting toilet box will eventually store an emergency propane heater, which will be kept under the bus in case the power goes out so I don’t freeze my a@@ off. The composting toilet is necessary until I get the bus on the permanent spot in August. If it goes well, maybe I’ll keep it… but there is sewer access on the permanent spot and a real toilet is kind of a nice thing.

Shower

Shower

The shower is just tall enough for me to stand in it comfortably, and has vinyl walls that look so nice, it turned out really well.

The vanity with fancy sink

The vanity with fancy sink

A few things to notice with the beautiful vanity… the pink marble donated by Kevin, beautiful sink that Mary our style director helped pick, the bus mirror that was taken from the front of the bus and formerly used to keep an eye on unruly children, and the reflective insert over the window. These reflective inserts will be used in the heat of the summer to keep the sun out. To the right of the sink on the wall you can just see the electrical box. It is labeled really well. I am supposed to be sure the hot water tank is full before turning it on. Important. There is also a switch to go from 30 to 50 amp depending on my power source.

Kora loves the view from the bed

Kora loves the view from the bed

Here is how much wood was scrapped for this project – amazing

IMG_3244A few behind the scenes details…

Electrical outlet and some of the plumbing under the bus

Electrical outlet and some of the plumbing under the bus

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Outdoor electrical plug.

Where the water goes in

Where the water goes in

The Worried Minds setting up to play at the party

The Worried Minds setting up to play at the party

Once the party started, I had no time to take pictures but I did get a shot of band setting up. They were fantastic, thanks guys!! Everyone had a great time.

Very special cookies made by Mary's mom and aunt...

Very special cookies made by Mary’s mom and aunt…

The next step is getting it road ready – My goal is to return at the end of this month and get a few more things done in order to make this happen, then drive it home. Then there will be another party. 🙂 I also have to paint the outside, which I will do when it is in North Carolina. This adventure is not quite over. Actually, it will continue to be an adventure I suppose, since I now have a home that can travel. 🙂

Yay!!!

I have been meaning to do this for awhile…. Steve keeps sending awesome pictures of the tinyhomebus transformation. I am going to try to go in chronological order here… check it out~

Here is the storage cabinet that Steve has built, it's towards the back of the bus just past the kitchen

Here is the storage cabinet that Steve has built, it’s towards the back of the bus just past the kitchen

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To the right you see where the bed will be, right across from the storage cabinet. I’m excited that we had room for a “real” refrigerator!

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This is the bed. I asked for it to be open to the rest of the bus so it can be more seating during the day. Above the bed on the wall is the heating and air unit!

This little wall at the front of the bus turned out really sweet…

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This was hard to build.

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I love this little cubby!! It’s on the left as you go up the stairs.

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Lots of shelves for storage in the kitchen. At the far end you can see the entertainment center, which is going to to be very special but I won’t tell you why yet. It’s a surprise.

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I don’t know what this is, but it is very important!

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The finished wall at the front and a better view of the entertainment center.

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Toilet on the right, shower on the left

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Water

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Staining the cabinets…

I have been hunting for a place to park the bus for awhile, and I have tentatively found a spot in Madison County where I work. If you decide to do something like this beware, it will make you seriously consider quitting your job and just driving around the country for awhile. I can’t do that just yet… will have to park it somewhere and continue to make MONEY because apparently that’s what makes the freaking WORLD go around. Sigh. But someday, Effie, Kora and I are going to take to the highway. Yay!

Effie the Effing Bus

My cousin Katie gave the bus a nickname… and I am sure that Steve and Kevin used it often in the past few weeks. The weather has been less than amazing in Tennessee, and they were trying to get as much accomplished while Kevin was still in town despite the cold, crappy weather.

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Kevin got a little frustrated one day and started just throwing large pieces of metal around….

They have been making huge messes in the yard and frightening the chickens with their noisy machines! All while enduring arctic-like temperatures….

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The Worksite

One day was devoted to getting the bus out of the ground, as it has been slowly sinking into the back yard. They jacked the bus up and put boards under the tires… We still haven’t addressed the dead battery issue, but we do have a plan.

IMG_2300  IMG_2302On the inside, the bus is looking like a home! Check it out….

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This is the view from the front door of the bus…

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The salvaged door works great as a countertop!! Check out the free sink (thank you again Mark) and towards the back right you can see the walls for the shower..

… and finally, here you are looking from the back of the bus towards the front. Check out the washer/dryer, refrigerator/freezer, and the beautiful floor!

Yay!!!!

Yay!!!! Awe Effie, you’re looking so Effing good!

This will probably be the last update for awhile. Steve is going to rest and I am going to catch up on some credit card payments 🙂 But we are looking good regarding our budget and the estimated time of completion! We are also discussing housewarming party plans!

Stay tuned for completion of the big stuff, finishing touches, and then Freeluftsliv’s first party!

FRILUFTSLIV

It’s been a few weeks since the last update, and a lot of work has happened on the tiny home bus. But before we check out the progress….

I heard that Steve’s neighbor might be willing to make a sign for the bus! I planned to name the bus, but this news sped up the process a bit. I thought about naming her Betty… but then I remembered this article I read about celebrations around the world. This Norwegian celebration, which is more of a cultural belief, summarizes the tiny home living concept for me:

Friluftsliv is a Norwegian word loosely translated as “open air life,” which characterizes Norwegian culture. Norwegians embrace nature and enjoy the outdoors as a way of life. Ultimately, friluftsliv offers the possibility of recreation, rejuvenation and restoring balance among living things.

So, now that she has a name, let’s check in on Steve and Kevin to find out what has been happening as far as construction…

First the futon frame. Steve built this from scratch, which is very impressive to me and probably others… the frame slides out so the futon mattress can lay flat when people visit. The frame also has hinges and there is storage space underneath. So Cool.

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Another super cool feature… the bus doors have been put together into one door, with a handle and a lock~

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The back door of the bus is also lockable. So no worries family, I will be safe at night in my tiny home!

IMG_2270The electric panel is installed and all the electrical wiring has been run. The plumbing is also all in and the water hoses… I honestly can’t tell which is which so here it all is. See the electrical outlets? I am excited about this.

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This is the shower pan, one of the more expensive items at $130. By the way we are about done buying stuff… any guesses as to how much money we have spent so far?

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The bus will have a composting toilet, but is also plumbed for a regular toilet in the event that I find a place with sewer or septic.

IMG_3067Yesterday Steve and Mary had a little soiree, and used the manpower that showed up for that to put the refrigerator/freezer and the washer/dryer on the bus. I can’t wait to see what it looks like. Today I provided specs for my “entertainment center,” consisting of my television and my Bose woofer and speakers. These will sit across from the couch in the living room.

The ceiling is almost done, as you can see from the picture at the top. They used Flexall in the seams to prevent in flight cracking, and Mary and I picked out a nice warm white for the ceiling and walls. Kevin found a used bathroom vanity which I will not show you until I have the before and after, because I think it’s going to be pretty amazing. Another item they are re-purposing is this solid wood door, which will be the kitchen counter, and the marble that Kevin brought will be the bathroom vanity top.

IMG_2255Seriously, guess how much we’ve spent so far on this bus…?

(Remember, the labor is free… and Kevin and Steve are fantastic friends, and also probably a little insane to consider this huge effort fun, but we don’t talk about that.) 🙂

Anticipation….

Well it’s been a few weeks since the last blog about my tiny home. Since the last post, the windows have been framed in…

windows framed in

The ceiling was insulated…

Tyler making holes in the metal framing with titanium drill bit...

Tyler making holes in the metal framing with titanium drill bit.

Tyler will have to sit on the bus mostly, because he’s 6’4″ or so.

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and there were a couple of firsts on the bus!

Takeout Chinese food, the first meal on the bus!

Takeout Chinese food, the first meal on the bus!

Taylor graduation cap - the first DIY project on the bus!

Taylor’s graduation cap – the first DIY project on the bus!

Also, Lucy’s first visit to Steve’s house. She enjoyed running around Steve’s yard, with Pablo and Roscoe close behind her. The bus was warm and bright, even though it was a cold day. That insulation is going to pay off.

Lucy was a big hit with Pablo and Roscoe

Lucy was a big hit with Pablo and Roscoe

I also found a really great deal on a washer/dryer combo that will be perfect for the bus. I found it on Craigslist, and the man who sold it to me turned out to be a social worker. He shared his adventure on a converted bus with me in an email. I have to share it!

“I so enjoyed reading your blog about the bus —you really have an adventuresome spirit that is going to pay you huge dividends of joy and excitement today and into your future!  Back in 1975 a friend and I bought a utility van ( at an auction!) from Tampa Electric Co.  and converted it into a camper. We traveled from Tampa Fla to South Dakota to Boulder Colorado to Eugene Oregon to San Francisco over three months. We never drove on the interstate or more than a 4/5 hours in a day. Stayed mostly at parks and campgrounds, My friend stayed in San Fran to live and I drove  myself to Knoxville and entered into the School of Social Work at UT in 76.  That was the last time I had a three month vacation until I retired!! Hope you have lots of fun with your new home.”

Thanks for the encouragement John! Here is the beautiful washer/dryer…

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Steve also insulated two windows that we have to close off. We will close off 4 total for design purposes. You can see a little bit of the ceiling in this picture, where the plywood has been installed and will be painted white.

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These windows are blocked in to make room for the bathroom. Two windows on the other side will be blocked in for the storage/closet area.

Next up on the to-buy list is an HVAC unit, our last expensive item. In the meantime, Kevin has arrived in Tennessee and he and Steve are working on the bus… I can’t wait to see what they are doing!