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Lil Peach: A Year in the Life

Not long after Jonathan and I got married, we made a unique purchase - a school bus.

The day after buying the Lil Peach bus.

To be exact, our wedding took place in December 2021, and in under a month's time, we became the owners of a bus, which had already been christened "Lil Peach" by a couple who had renovated it for their own pleasure.

When we bought the bus, we weren't quite sure what we were going to do with it. We tossed around ideas of traveling in it, refurbishing and reselling it, or using it for an occasional camping trip. While considering our various options, we began perusing books about skoolies (another term for a converted school bus), and chatting with college friends and mentors who had transformed sprinter vans into cozy travel vehicles, outfitted with a small kitchen and bed; It was then that the idea of embracing the challenge of converting the bus and making it our home began to take hold.

The persistent question remained: Could we genuinely turn our bus into a comfortable and practical home?

After gutting the bus and removing everything from the previous build. We hadn't yet removed the subfloor that is shown here.

Now that we have been living in the bus for just over a year, I figured this would be a good opportunity to reflect on the good, bad, and mundane. During the last 12 months, we have been asked a plethora of questions regarding our lifestyle choice. Hopefully this pulls back the veil on the unknown exposing the oh-so-ordinary.

Where do you park it?

This is one of the first questions asked when someone learns that we live in a converted school bus. We usually respond with a half-hearted answer, "On some property out in Linville, Virginia".

The long-short story is that after we had decided to make the bus our abode, we sent out messages to our community regarding our need for a place to park. During the majority of the bus conversion process, we were house sitting for family friends. This gave us a timeline of 8 months to build out a reasonable living space and to find a permeant-ish parking spot. We toured a handful of properties, unsure of what we were actually looking for. I guess we were relying on a gut feelings and the "Ah, yes, this is the one" type moment...

Ultimately, we were led back to an old stomping ground - our wedding location.

One of our wedding photos. The meadow where we park is located to the left of us. At the time, we hadn't realized that there was anything beyond the trees.

We reached out to the owners of the property, to see if they would have any interest in renting out a portion of their acreage. They agreed to show us a few locations that could possibly work. We strolled through fields of clover, passing flocks of sheep and cattle. They then walked us down a hill, just a few hundred feet from where we got married, into an over grown meadow, with a shed and a dilapidated deck. We knew immediately that this was the perfect spot. In our rental agreement, we were given access to a washer, water, and electricity. We were also given the freedom to make the space our own (i.e gardening, planting trees, and purchasing chickens).

Before we moved, the shed housed nothing but spiders and a hay wagon.

We have been parked at this location since August tenth, 2022; we intend on staying for at least another year.

"You two must really love each other"

Following the common question of "where do you park" comes the usual quip, "I could never live in such a small space with my significant other! You two must really love each other!" We do generally enjoy each other's company - it's why we tied the knot. However, I will be the first to admit that we've mastered the art of stinging jabs and throwing hooks in those oh-so-sensitive spots, figuratively speaking, of course (we have been taking kickboxing lessons so my mind began to wander...)

Our two moods...

Without a doubt, most of our arguments orbit the bus. Yet, our home is an idiosyncratic haven, it has bonded us beyond words. As often as we are at odds, we're equally adept at recognizing each others gifts. In such a small space, pretenses fade away, you can't hide. It is vulnerable. A girl friend of mine recently voiced her apprehension about living in such close proximity to their partner. "Aren't you frequently tripping over them and their things?", "Don't you miss having a space that is just yours?" she mused, genuine concern in her voice. I chuckled a little, yet took her worries to heart. Years ago, the notion of cohabitating so intensely with anyone, like I am now, would have been a fantastical stretch. Primarily because I loved being able to control my space, it was simpler to just hide when things became challenging. A lot of those feelings have now been replaced with empowerment. I appreciate the distinct way that Jonathan see's and knows me. It helps me to better understand myself, and to be able to more clearly speak about and identify the fears, joys, and frustration I have.

Though a curious thought nags at me, when people jocularly prod us with with this question. I wonder if they are more concerned about the vulnerability, the space, both...or none of the above.

The bus feels a whole lot bigger than it is.

In the bus, sharing has become the norm and hiding a long-lost art. Still, we have a few shrewd refuges. Take, for instance, the wall that separates our bed from the rest of the bus, this simple division makes for two unique spaces: a bedroom and a living room. And for the moments when four feet of space is simply not enough, the meadow outsides offers ample room to wander.

How do you manage to store all of your things...

Remember that vacant shed I mentioned? Well, the property owners granted us access to it. Thus, between the nooks and crannies in the bus and the shed, we've nearly managed to retain all of our treasured possessions.

The "garage"

Navigating the bus's limited storage is a tightrope walk between orchestrated resourcefulness and borderless chaos. The spaces that offer the most storage are those beneath the bed, the sofa, and our many shelves. I guess like anyone's house, the methods of organization only make sense to those living amongst the stuff.

Under the bed we have a five-drawer dresser (and the water tank, water heater, laundry basket, filing cabinet, and various other things).
Partial sofa storage - batteries and food storage wraps.
Cedar shelf storage - hosts dried food, baking supplies, spices, and so much more.

Our extra stuff calls for extra space. The shed accommodates the items that don't frequent our day-to-day routine, think snowboarding gear, power tools, my teaching supplies from years prior, and the like. So by fate (and the grace of our property owners), we were able to keep most of our things close by.

our "storage unit"
J's artfully designed workshop.

What's next?

Jonathan and I have aspirations to take the bus far and wide. We would love to be on the road for months at a time, visiting family and forests, learning new skills, and meeting new people. This was our plan for 2024. You see, I have made the choice to go back to school to pursue my RN, which will keep us in the area for a few more years. 'Twas a hard decision, but we are excited for what is to come. And as I mentioned in an previous post, we have plenty of work around the bus to do, I believe we will manage to keep ourselves busy for a while yet. We see it as our travel plans adapting instead of cancelling.

Looking ahead, Jonathan and I will be taking the bus to Georgia to celebrate my cousin's wedding. Then, come September, we're venturing to Maine and New Brunswick, Canada for almost two weeks. We are seeking recommendations for Maine and Canada, so please share some of your favorite eateries and hikes with us!


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Unknown member
Aug 15, 2023

Acadia National Park! The Bar Harbor campground should have plenty of room for your skoolie, and then you can take the Island Explorer bus to get around and explore the island. North Ridge Mt. Champlain, North Ridge Cadillac, The Bowl trail and then up the back of Beehive - all favorites of ours, as far as hikes go!

Aug 16, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for the insights - they have been added to our running list! This is the first we are hearing about the explorer bus, this sounds like a good way to meet other adventerous souls!

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