Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome to The Bus Blog

If you're new to this whole Bus Blog thing, read no further on this page, click here.

If you're familiar, a few things have changed.

First the bus is gone, as previously mentioned. I learned a ton on with the project and got to take a crazy idea and make it real. Such things make life worth living, no matter how hard it can be.

Secondly, Kirstin and I decided to part ways, and what was initially painful turned out to be much better for us both. Though I don't get to see the boys as often as I would like, I am now able to assure them a solid future.  Which I hear is important.

Thirdly, I am currently working as a copywriter and in my spare time, designing a flat-pack furniture set for an entire household, the goal is to make good design accessible to all. I am very excited about this, so stay tuned.

Anyways, thanks for reading this thing, I hope you learn from my little victories and big mistakes.

Cheers,
Jeff

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bus Sold!

I'll get to more details later, but I just wanted to stop and thank you guys for all your support over the past year and let you know that the bus has sold and successfully transported the new owners back to Florida.
They love her (who knew?) and have even named her.

I'm busy at work in Chicago, getting ready for the opening of Platform Studios, and maybe, just maybe a kickstarter project!

Cheers,
Jeff

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bus for Sale!

So, as the family and I get ready to settle into the Chicagoland area for a few years, we decided to take and chance and put our labor of love up for sale.  She's been great to us and is a treat to drive, but our two little boys need a bit more room while they are young.  Instead of just letting our bus sit, we figured someone else could keep her on the road.  Check out our ebay listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130557078602#ht_1250wt_1165

Friday, July 29, 2011

Back to Illinois

So the family and I are back in Illinois and I'm setting up show at Platform Studios on Hubbard.  Whoo!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Break

I apologize for the break, between having a house (bus) to work on, children, a business and traveling, it's hard to sit down and switch completely into writing mode.  Maybe I'm just getting lazy...

Now, we've made it to North Carolina and are parked in a driveway on top of a mountain surrounded by  two-hundred acres of lush vegetation and rushing streams.  Besides our family, the property houses: a gun collecting Buddhist monk, a motorcycle riding yogi, a chainsaw-loving mountain dude, born and raised in Philly, two small dogs, one of whom loves fetch to the point that he brings home stumps of trees twice his size, and our host who, in herself is a careful blend of garbage warrior and ninja masseuse.

Yes folks, the story goes on, and I'll do what I can to get you caught-up quick.

Here's a little sheet-mulch garden we put in for our hosts:






Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bus Blog 27: The Drive 1

A sprint across the icy parking lot, children in arms, we ducked into the lobby to see the final seconds as the teams both crouched, ready to attack, then suddenly let their straight backs soften, go lax.  They stood up, some smiling, others not.  It was done.

How I came to miss the Superbowl was simple.  I had been piloting the bus, across Alberta on the Highway 1.  I was comfortable driving the massive bulk of the bus and didn't want to stop.  There was so much going on over the past week that I simply forgot about football all together.  We wouldn't have stopped at all, if the lights hadn't started going dim 50 kilometers from Medicine Hat.

The bus was getting easier to pilot.  A few miles into the journey, the snow legs kicked in and it became almost as simple as driving any other vehicle on questionable roads: correct slowly, brake well ahead of time, check your mirrors, take wide turns.  The roar of the engine as we accelerated beyond 100 km/h, had grown comfortable, part of the architecture of the space.  I was alone in my cockpit separated, from Kirstin and the boys.  We drove forward making fast tracks on the snowy asphalt.



The bus is equipped with clearance lights that shine like periodic yellow stars down its lengthy frame.  The way is illuminated by 2 high-powered halogen bulbs, bright when set on normal, blinding when kicked up to full blast.  To deal with the combination of frost and over-sized windows I ran both front defrosters, to kick a little heat to the kids, the fan to the back of the bus was set on high.  When I flipped on the built-in mirror defrosters things started to get a bit dim.

I didn't notice it right away, but after a while my eyes felt strained, like they had to work harder than normal to see.  I blinked and rubbed them repeatedly.  I was starting to squint a bit.  Then more.

"Shit."

I was losing visibility by the minute but made up my mind not to stop until we made it to a big town.

I squinted hard and put the pedal down.

By the time we made to Medicine Hat, my eyes were beat and there was a hollow feeling in the bottom of my stomach.  The bus was running fine, healthy, hearty but I couldn't see the road ahead, couldn't read the dials, and every time a truck passed in the other direction, it took me a few seconds to see anything other than stars.  I was relieved when we made it to town, and after a short drive through a few side streets and several flashes from other drivers, my teeth finally began to unclench and feeling started to return to my hands, which didn't quite leave impressions in the steering wheel but should have.

A cursory look under the hood didn't yield any answers.  So we pulled the bus into the first hotel we saw, where drunken rig hands stood smoking in their super bowl attire just outside a wall of tiny hotel rooms.

"Fuckin' Pack's up.  We got time, we're gonna come back."  One of the hands, drunk and swaying in an over sized curly wig, shouted.  I had just finished plugging the battery charger into one of the winter outlets that surrounded the parking lot, poking up from the drifts of snow like skinny tombstones.

"How long's left?"  I shouted back.

"Couple minutes," a sober companion chimed in.

"Aaaalllll the time in the wwwooorrld," the drunk added.

I ran an extra cord from the back of the bus to an outlet and brought an arm load of firewood to the front.  I climbed the stairs.  Kirstin had head the exchange, and when I opened the door, she had both boys in coats, ready to make a run for it.  I smiled, "Sure, we'll get this thing figured tomorrow," I thought.  The four of us exited the bus, Kirstin and I each carrying a boy.  Then she started to run.

*****************************

The next day after inspecting the alternator and discovering a loose wire, we were back on the road with full power.  We left Saskatchewan heading across the frozen world.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bus Blog 26: Last Minute

It was a few weeks after the big storm that blasted the midwest, depositing as much as 21 inches of snow in  some areas.  It was so bad that drivers stuck on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago were forced to abandon their cars, to walk away as the steel bodies turned to marshmallow silhouettes.

We were ready for snow, we could handle snow by the ton.  If a blizzard happened, we could stop, and let it happen.  We were insulated, the cupboards were stocked with food, we had extra water and any spare room in the back was filled with fire wood.

A trip to Pick n' Pull gave us a few sets of Ford lap belts (Ford Bus, matching is key) which were bolted into the raised seating area behind the newly installed U Bolts which the boys' car seats would clip into. The computer was bolted to the desk top and accessories were secured using velcro tabs.  Everything in the rear shop area was secured with bungees and ratchet straps so tight they sounded with a high pitched "Poing" if plucked.

Last minute tasks were completed.  The alternator was checked and found to be putting out only 12 Volts, so I pulled it and after pricing a new one at $600, decided to have it rebuilt.  While that was happening I donated a ton more stuff, took a mattress to the dump and had my friend Jesse Henderson hang onto several boxes of shop equipment for me. (Thanks Jesse, you're a good man)  His small shop is now considerably smaller.

The weather maps I had been checking obsessively showed that there would be a short window of nice weather heading across Canada and into the States, at around the same speed the bus would be traveling.  I decided we were leaving then, and hauled ass getting the last few jobs taken care of.  The in-laws watched the kids as Kirstin loaded the last of her belongings into the bus and I installed the rebuilt alternator.  I checked the lights, the tires, everything.

We left a day later than I had hoped.  But we left.

After a round of goodbyes and well wishes, moments before snow began to gently drift from the sky, we headed East, out of town.  The kids were strapped in, watching a movie on the computer, Kirstin looked over a gossip magazine which she affectionately calls "Smut", while on the other side of the wall, I gritted my teeth, held the pedal down and checked my mirrors, jerking my head around much the way nervous prey might if suddenly surrounded by a marching band in the middle of a peaceful forest.

We were finally on the road.  My feelings were a mix of excitement, nervous tension and something further away, disbelief but more like laughter.

1599 miles to Illinois.  How crazy was this?