Bus Build

Making the Transition Easier

When we first got the idea to travel full-time, go nomadic, and build a skoolie home, we also realized that some things would be different. We started making changes and adding things to our lives that will hopefully make the transition to mobile life easier. Let us share some of the things we have done!


In previous blogs I recommended joining for skoolie specific information. But, if you are planning to travel full-time or live any form of a nomadic life, learning about where to stay, how to make money, how to find water, and how to get internet are some things that you need to look into as well.

We started following LOTS of different YouTube channels. Full time RVers, nomads, and content creators in every form. From these channels we have learned about beautiful places to stay, work camping opportunities, seasonal jobs and so much more. Some of our favorites are The Motorhome ExperimentGone with the WynnsTechnomadiaCheapRvlivingKeep Your Daydream, Less Junk, More JourneyRvGeeks, and so so many more! You can check our subscriptions on our YouTube page, here.

Another thing we have done is join online and social media groups specific to full-time travelers and nomadic living on Facebook and Reddit. To find relevant groups and pages, type things like “nomad” and “fulltime rv” into the search bars of your social media platforms. In these groups you can ask questions and get links for lots of helpful information. We have even started making friends around the world through these groups!


That is right, we have been purging our stuff. All the things that we have lugged around because we thought we needed them. I’ve seen posts asking “how do you get rid of things?”. Well, when you are determined, it gets easier. Separate your emotions from the things. Disasters can take away all your “stuff” in a matter of seconds, but you will still have your memories.

I encourage you to read my other blog post, “What Kind of Life are You Rebuilding”, to help put your life and the stuff you keep into perspective.

There are a few questions that we ask ourselves when we look at something in our home.

  1. Will we use this regularly when we travel?
  2. How much space will this take up, and is that justified for its use?
  3. Can this serve more than one purpose in our tiny home?
  4. When was the last time this was used or seen?

There are things like photos and nick-knacks that may hold “memories”, what do you do with those? We take pictures and store them online or on a hard drive. There are apps like, PhotoScan, that can make this task a little easier.

After you have a bit of stuff gathered, start having garage sales! Seeing the money come in and using that money to help make your dream life a reality definitely makes the purge more appealing.


That’s right, we are buying new things specifically to help make life easier on the road! Many of these things we learned about from full-time rv nomads on YouTube or Facebook and after doing our own research we decided to give them a try.

One of our first purchases was a Berkey water filter. A number of full-time RVers use a Berkey to filter water as they travel. It sits on the counter and can filter EVERYTHING from water. Having clean drinking water is a huge thing and we knew we would need a solution. Buy purchasing this before we get on the road, we have gotten a chance to learn how to use it and clean it. Here is more information on Berkey Water Filters.


Another purchase we made was an InstantPot. This electronic pressure cooker makes cooking fast and easy, while using minimal electricity. Many RVers choose an instant pot instead of a slow cooker because of the low power use. I can cook a perfect pot roast in under an hour, instead of 6-8 hours in a slow cooker, and my kitchen doesn’t heat up all day. Since purchasing this, I’ve learned to cook in bigger batches, so we can freeze these meals for later and have good food by just re-heating them. I also learned how to cook more than one thing at the same time! This is one of my favorite purchases for our nomad life! You can learn more about the InstantPot here,

Keeping clean on the road is another thing we have started to address. We changed our shower head to a low flow head with a cut off switch, so we can get used to it now. We have learned to make our cleaning supplies and toiletries from natural cleaners, like vinegar and Dr. Bronners.

These cleaning products are biodegradable and way cheaper than buying chemical filled products in the store. My favorite is our body wash. I even make this body wash as gifts for friends! Everyone who has tried it says it is the best. It can be used as a hair cleanser and for shaving as well. Here is the recipe:

We have switched from commercial laundry detergent to all natural SoapNuts. These amazing berries contain natural soaps and make our laundry clean and fresh. They are also hypoallergenic which is great for sensitive skin. They also last forever! An $11 package has lasted us almost a year and a half! We didn’t need to buy laundry soap for OVER A YEAR! WOW! I can’t say enough about how great these are, but if you want more information, you can find that here, SoapNuts.

mobileinternetresource center

Finally, we have chosen to change our cellular provider. When it came time to get new phones, we decided to follow the advice on Mobile Internet Resource Center and get Verizon phone service. We realized that the cost was more, but the stability and coverage of their network for nomads is hard to beat. We also learned from the great folks of Technomadia, that we may need to add backup services from other providers later on, but we feel this is a great start for now.

As you can see, we have been making lots of changes and have taken a number of steps that we hope will make our transition to tiny house living easier. We continue to research and learn all that we can to prepare ourselves. If you are also thinking of traveling full-time, moving into a tiny home or just want to live simpler, I encourage you to take advantage of the digital age we live in and learn all you can from lots of places. If you have already started your transition, what have you done? If you are on the road, what would you recommend?

Bus Build

Hey! Where have you been?!

Gosh, we’ve been busy!  That is where we have been.   It’s been well over a year since our last blog entry, and life or something like it, has definitely been chugging right along.  Let’s see if I can catch you up…

We took an epic journey to pick up our new bus.  After recruiting a couple of friends we took the scenic route to our bus.  Including visits to a grave in the middle of the road, a giant cow, mammoth fossils, and an old fashioned soda shop.  The trip took two days and was a great introduction into bus life.

We started demolition inside of the bus by removing the seats.  This was a pretty easy task using some power tools.  You can actually see us removing the seats in this YouTube video,

After we got the seats out we took our bus on it’s first real adventure…The Texas Renaissance Festival!  We rolled out some carpet and rugs, moved in our bed, a couch and loaded up our camping stuff. When we arrived, Frizzle unleashed her inner decorator and turned the bus into a groovy hippy hang out, and a great backdrop for our fire performer friends!  Check out these pictures:

Red even took some time recording our friends for a fun YouTube video.  If you want to know what we like to do at the Texas Renaissance Festival, check this out,

After our fantastic experience camping in the bus we were ready to get a move on more demolition so we called in some friends and family to help.  We removed the ceiling, wall panels and floor.  You can check that out in these videos,

Removing the ceiling:

Removing the wall panels:

Removing the floor:

Enter Houston, Texas Summer.  

So, I don’t know if you have ever visited Houston, TX from about April to November.  But that is summer. It starts out HOT and humid and ends about the same. People try not to leave a/c during the middle of the day and life slows down.  And soon, working after 10 am became unbearable for us, work in our steel box came to a grinding halt. We tried to work early in the day to handle smaller tasks like tackling the mess of wires and filling holes in the floor left by the seat bolts.

In October, we readied the bus for camping at the Texas Renaissance Festival again. Packed up all our stuff and headed toward Plantersville. And that is when it happened…the transmission failed.  We had to have our bus towed back home!

While we were both upset, we picked ourselves up, unloaded the bus, repacked into our truck and went camping anyway.  We needed a break. Red has been working full time while we tried to work on the bus and this was his vacation.

After our brief vacation, cooler weather and rain started to make its return and our work could start again, while we are looking for a replacement transmission.  

Bus work has been hampered by the Texas rain, which conveniently happens every day Red isn’t working and we want to work on the bus.  So things have been slow going.

We worked on floor plans.

We have sealed up some windows using some of the metal we took down from the ceiling.  We have resealed all of our remaining windows, sealed the roof and wall seams and are working to weather seal the bus so we can start building.     

And that is where we have been!  We’ve been living our lives, working, raising a child, battling mental illness, spending time with friends, dealing with Texas weather, and doing all the “normal” everyday things, while building a home and trying to document that for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and a blog, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!  It’s not easy to keep up with everything when you get pulled in so many directions.

We do update our Instagram and Facebook pages more frequently, so if you just can’t wait for the next installment of our Bohemian Bus Odyssey blog, check us out there.  Otherwise, have patience young grasshopper, good things come to those who wait. Until next time!


The Odyssey Begins…Picking the Right Bus for Us

Last time we spoke, I explained why we chose a bus for our nomad home rather than an RV .  Now, since EVERYONE has asked, here is how we chose our bus, where we found her and how you can do the same!

When we started our research, we kept hearing about  


This forum is set up a lot like Reddit. It can be a little difficult to navigate but is well worth the time. Everything you might want to know about building your school bus home can be found there. This site has been extremely useful in this whole process.

The first thing we needed to decide, if we wanted a dog-nose or a flat-nose school bus. 



A “Dog-nose” school bus is one with the engine in front of the driver. A “flat-nose” bus will either have the engine under the driver or in the back of the bus. 

While a dog-nose bus will hold onto its bus-look, a flat-nose school bus can appear more like an RV.

This WAS a school bus! (photo:

Many skoolie owners have mentioned that some RV parks don’t allow skoolies.  A flat-nose school bus might be accepted to more RV parks.  But the thing that really helped us decide was this image from  It shows what potential usable space you could have in a full size (40 foot) school bus.  We now knew we wanted a flat nose school bus. LOL.




Next we thought about the length of bus we wanted. There are many different sizes of buses available. From short buses to long buses. The length of bus you choose would depend on a few factors, how you want to camp and how much space you need. For us, we want to camp in National and state parks as much as possible and we are not concerned about stealth camping (camping in secret..shhh) in cities. We learned that many state and national parks were built at a time when RVs didn’t get longer than 35′.  If we wanted to take advantage of those places we needed to stay under 35 feet. We also like to have friends visit and I have a son, so space is something we would like inside our home. Finding a 35-foot bus would be ideal. We also learned that every bus window is approximately two and a half feet of inside space, so that helped us to estimate length of buses that we saw online, count the windows!

Something we didn’t expect to factor in was the interior height of the school bus. Red is six feet tall. Most buses average around 73 inches tall inside, some are even shorter!

Standard roof                                 Lowered roof                                Raised roof

If we want to add insulation and framing inside our home, we need something taller than that. While cutting and raising a school bus roof is possible, it would add more work and possible infrastructure issues that we don’t want to deal with. We discovered that Thomas school buses had raised roofs available which measure 78 inches inside! Our ideal bus was starting to take shape.

Another decision we needed to make was the type of engine and transmission we wanted in our bus. Certain engines and Transmissions will last longer when well maintained, others do better on mountains, some don’t like high speeds. Again this decision would depend on how you would like to travel or live in your bus home. Our research and discussions with many diesel mechanics led us to pick a Cummins engine, at least a 5.9 liter, and an Allison Transmission.

We wanted a raised roof, Thomas, flat nose school bus with a Cummins engine and an Allison Transmission. Those were the things we needed to have in a bus. Of course, we had things we would have liked on our bus as well, under-storage, air conditioners, and cruise control, just to name a few. While they would be nice, we didn’t NEED them.  Your ideal bus may look a bit different than ours based on your needs.

Now that we had an idea of what we wanted, we just needed to figure out where to find it.

Through our research we discovered buses on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and . I followed them incessantly. There are also major bus re-sellers who mark up their buses, a lot, so be careful. 

When we were traveling, we would see buses that looked like what we wanted. I would note the school district and call them. I asked how they got rid of their surplus buses at the end of the year. From these calls I was able to locate a number of Texas based auction houses used to liquidate surplus inventory from schools around the state. I began following these auction houses as well. Some of these include ,, and

Because we were looking for such a specific bus, I knew it would take time to find just the right one. We placed bids on buses. We visited ones for sale.  I kept looking.

One day, Rene Bates listed a flat nose Thomas 35 foot School Bus for auction.

Some of the pictures from the listing.

The pictures looked to show a raised roof, but I just couldn’t tell. As with many listings, the VIN number for the school bus was listed. My Google-Fu was strong and I found a website, CPTDB, that helped me dissect the VIN number.  Using this website I realized the bus listed DID have a raised roof!


I shared my discovery with Red and we decided that we should take action on this bus. Because the bus was nearly six hours away and our mechanic was not available, we found a different solution. We located a highly rated diesel mechanic about half an hour from the bus and I commissioned them to do a pre-purchase inspection for us. Then I contacted the school and scheduled a time for the mechanic to go check out the bus.blogI highly recommend hiring someone to check out the bus, or viewing it yourself if you are mechanically inclined. The mechanic we found spent two hours checking out the bus for us. He took it on a test drive and even ran diagnostic scans.

We waited patiently for the mechanics report.

The bus came back with glowing reviews. A small wiring issue, but everything else was outstanding. Our budget allowed for some repairs if the bus sold cheap enough.  This bus just seamed right.

Based on all of that information, we sent Rene Bates our bidder’s deposit, as required to place a bid with them. (Make sure you know how to bid and pay before you place your bid.) We placed our maximum bid.

Again we waited.

At the close of auction, WE HAD WON! I promptly sent our payment and within days received notice that we now owned the bus! I made arrangements with the mechanic who had done the pre-purchase inspection to pick up the bus, take it to their shop, to check everything more thoroughly and work on that electrical issue. 

We had done it! We had found a bus that fit our needs and we had successfully purchased it from start to purchase, it took us about 9 months to find and buy the perfect bus for us.

Now we just need to figure when to go get her and bring her back to us.  Just wait until you hear about that, it was an epic journey all on its own!  Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube to see more! 


Why A Bus?

When we decided that a nomadic life was something we could enjoy we started trying to figure out how we would travel. What would our new home look like?
We briefly looked at RVs and travel trailers. We bought tickets for a local RV show and decided to tour them. The first thing we noticed was the smell. The smell of whatever materials they were using to make those RVs gave us both headaches. Some coaches were worse than others but all of them smelled toxic.
We tried the cabinets and doors; we tested the faucets and stairs. None of these things felt like they would last more than a few months.

Think about that cheap furniture you buy from the big box store and put together. Pressed particle board and screws, if you put too much weight on it collapses even if you just built it. That’s what these RVs felt like, cheap poorly put together toxic boxes of death.

While stats for RV accidents are hard to come by, photographic evidence like the picture below give some indication as to how RVs handle accidents. Don’t believe me, Google RV rollovers.

(picture courtesy of

We see people build their homes from the ground up. Whether it’s a tiny home or a full-blown mansion, people do it every day. Why couldn’t we build our own home? So our search turned to homemade RVs and eventually we found Skoolies.

When we first heard the term “skoolie” and started figuring out what exactly that was, we were hooked.

A skoolie is a retired school bus that has been given New Life as a home.

The beauty of a skoolie is being able to design your home. If you like to entertain make yourself a big living room, want to cuddle in the bed spend more time designing the bedroom. Maybe you like to kayak or ride your bike give yourself a garage in the back. The possibilities for your skoolie are endless.

But why a School Bus? Why not?!

Did you know that school bus roofs are designed to hold the entire vehicles weight?

Did you know that school buses have to meet the highest safety standards of any moving vehicle on our roads today? Or that many of Mexico and South America’s bus fleets are made up of retired American school buses?

(Picture courtesy of

School buses have been used for years to transport the most delicate of our people to and from school. We trust them to keep little lives safe.

Why shouldn’t we trust them to protect our own lives? If we are going to have a moving home, we want the safest start possible.

So that is why we have bought a bus!

Here is our bus!


In the next few blog posts we will explain why we picked this bus, how we found her, and some of the things we have already done to her.

We are so excited to take this journey and hope you will continue to travel with us on our Bohemian Bus Odyssey. Join us on Facebook or Instagram to see more!


What Kind of Life are You Rebuilding?


We currently live in Texas. We were recently visited by Harvey. Harvey was horrible. Lives were lost and people’s worlds were turned upside-down.  Life won’t be the same for so many people.


We were lucky this time around, didn’t flood, didn’t have too much water damage and our close family and friends are all safe and alive.

But I have experienced loss. Great loss of my belongings by no fault of my own. Years ago, after Hurricane Ike, my house was broken into.  Thieves decided that they needed my things more than I did. OK. Soon after that, an in-law decided that selling the home my family lived in, with all of our belongings still inside, was in her best interest. Even if it was only 2 weeks since my husband had died. OK.

Each time, I mourned the stuff, sad I lost this or that, angry that I had to re-buy all of these things.  But what I failed to lament was the time I had used to earn the money that bought these things.

How many hours did I work to buy that TV?  How much time away from my family did I have to take in order to buy that fancy couch?

When all’s said and done, things are just that, things. If a weekend of storms, a quick moving fire, or selfish thieves can take your possessions away in a moment, what are you left with?

Memories.  Memories of time with your family and friends.  Memories and experiences are all you have   Memories of that summer vacation, the game night, trips to the zoo, parties with friends.  Memories of spending time with the people you care about.

If you are rebuilding your life after a great loss, like Harvey, or rebuilding your life differently like us, I encourage you to take a look at HOW you are rebuilding your life.

Look at each item you have to throw away or have lost.  Think about your your time like the money you spent, everyday you get 24 time dollars.

How many of those dollars did you spend to purchase that?  When that thing can be taken away so quickly, was it really worth the time dollars you spent on it?

Could you have worked a part time job, bought a smaller house, or drove a used car, if that meant you would have more time playing with your family, having dinners in that home, or traveling in that car?  When you look back on your life, will you say “I had great stuff”, or “I had great experiences”?

Believe me, your children will be upset when their favorite toy is lost to the raging waters, but they would be more upset if you were not around.  Life is too short to spend your time not making memories.

**If you would like some numbers, here you go.  The average lifespan of an American is currently 78.74 years.  That is 689,762.4 hours.  If you sleep 7 hours a night, that is 201180.7 hours lost for sleep. For a remainder of 488581.7 hours.  If you work 60 hours a week (4105.7286 weeks = 246343.716 hours worked), that leaves you with 242237.984 hours available in your lifetime to make memories.  Wait, I didn’t account for a commute to work, hours in the bathroom, hours at doctors appointments, waiting in lines, watching GOT or running errands. With all of that figured in, you may get 100,000 hours, in your ENTIRE lifetime to make memories.**


Written by Lena


DIY Glamping…The Big Red Keep

It has been said that the test of a relationship is traveling together. I would like to say that camping with your partner is also a great indicator of compatibility.  Patience and cooperation are key, but so much could go wrong.

One of the many things that Red and I shared in common was our love of renaissance festivals.  We had both worked at the local one, Texas Renaissance Festival.  He had been able to stay active in the “rennie” world, joining camping clans and making life-long friends.  Unfortunately, my life had taken me away from that world, but it had now brought me back.

Four months into our relationship, we made plans to camp at TRF with Red’s clan.  I remembered camping with my family when I was young.  Small tents and sleeping bags to a small homemade RV.  It was a primitive experience, lots of cold sandwiches and grilled things.  What Red described was not quite that. LOL.  He camped comfortably. Large tents, heaters, stoves, showers, a camp toilet, carpet, and air mattresses.  I KNEW I could camp like that.

After our first year of camping, we made improvements like a pressure shower system and a multi-room compound.  But like any creative souls, we couldn’t stop there.  The next year we teamed up with some friends and created 3000 sq Feet of enclosed, carpeted heated gathering space to fight the frigid winter.  To accomplish this, we used portable carports attached and covered with large tarps. Then we finished it with free carpet from a local installer, a 10’x10′ shower/toilet space, and full kitchen with camp sink.  From there we have evolved to this…DIY Glamping!

We GLAMP, but we DO IT OURSELVES! If we want a new amenity, we figure out how to make it, and make it work well.

To create this space, we use a 10′ x 20′ portable garage canopy and 3-10′ x 10′ pop up canopies.  We use a Zodi camping water pump and some 5 gallon buckets to create both a sink and shower, with hot water!  We have a full size coffee maker.  And, as you can see, we enclose everything with tarps and clips, so that we can use large space heaters and protect our carpet.

During a weekend at TRF, our compound sees so many visitors.  We love creating a gathering space.  A safe place where old friends and new can relax and refresh day or night.  Everyone loves to take of their shoes and lay on the ground, but cleanly on carpet, it feels so cool!  Occasional friends crash on the carpet after a long day.  We’ve even been the staging area for a wedding during a monsoon!  It’s easy to forget you are outside, when it feels like such a home.  And can you believe that everything fits in the bed of that truck!

As we have discovered our love of camping, living simply, and being near nature, we realized that we wanted more of this.  How could we go camping more when we were working so much? Skoolies! Converting a school bus into a functional living space is the answer we have found. This gives us the chance to see and experience life and the world around us without the headache of packing and unpacking.

We are so excited to start this new journey…NO, scratch that!…We are so excited to finally take the wheel on our journey called life and we hope you join us along the way.  Maybe we can inspire you to take control of your life’s journey as well!


Keeping Austin Weird

One of the first weekend trips we took was to Austin, Texas. We spent months planning. We scoured hotel deals and camping options. We picked out some places we would like to see and some food we wanted to eat.

We decided to try out Airbnb for the first time on this trip. We found and secured the most amazing place to call home for the weekend. 

Now, Austin is not far from our home, and the drive is beautiful. The closer you get to Austin, the more rolling hills and unique scenery you will encounter.  

We enjoy traveling the roads less traveled.  Cruising these paths you will find tiny towns seemingly untouched by time. Old homes slowly being retaken by nature in the middle of fields that will spark miles of conversations. Speculating about what life would have been like when people lived there, and why they left.

Our home in Austin was a refurbished vintage Airstream trailer.  It was perfectly outfitted with everything we could need, and expertly tucked away behind a hippie bungalow right in the middle of Austin.  This eclectic property was right up our alley.

The owner had lush landscaping, an outside shower, and an amazing claw foot tub right under the stars, with running hot water. We felt so far from the city, but were mere minutes from everything we wanted to do in town.


From our home-away-from-home we found fresh gigantic donuts at Gourdoughs with wacky toppings that were oh so good.

We discovered a newly opened authentic New York bagel shop, Rockstar Bagels.

Pause. Let me explain something. Red, grew up on the East Coast and has very particular tastes when it comes to things like bagels, cannolis, and crab cakes.  He has had authentic, and will accept nothing less.

Well, Mr Picky, LOVED these bagels and they are something we even have delivered to our home today! Be sure to stop by Rockstar Bagels if you are ever in Austin.20140720_190042

Being in Austin also gave us the opportunity to venture to Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis. Hippie Hollow is an adult only nudist beach.  When we went, a multi-year drought had caused a significant drop in the water level. This meant that getting to the beach entailed rock climbing down, and the back up a very scary hill.  We recommend bringing hard-sole water shoes to make this trek easier.

As you can see from the picture, the hike back up the mountain was exhausting.  We met some cool people there, interacted with some odd people too. But relaxing in the water freely under the Texas sky was incredible. For those of you free-spirit Bohemians like us, this spot is a fun way to relax.


Another stop we had to make was to Salt Lick BBQ. Not only was the drive to this remote hotspot beautiful, but the experience was well worth the journey.  Salt Lick has been around for 50 years, using the same pit that started the whole thing. This round pit is seasoned with years of dedication and meat. Yes, meat. Lots of amazing meats, expertly turned and brushed, creating some of the most amazing meat candy you will put in your mouth, burnt ends.fb_img_1484625223638

Please if you get anything at Salt Lick, try the burnt ends. These charred, blackened morsels are the concentrated juices, fats, seasonings, smoke and history that makes BBQ special. The crust that forms from hours and hours of patience and experience. We ate burnt ends there and made sure to take some home to snack on later. Best. Decision. Ever.

Our trip to Austin was relaxing and full of fun new experiences, just the way we like our odysseys to be!


Happy New Year!

We would like to wish everyone a very happy new year.

Live each day like it’s a new adventure.


Bus Build

What is a ‘Bohemian Bus Odyssey’?

Welcome students!  Ms. Lena is going to explain to you why we are calling our journey, Bohemian Bus Odyssey.

Let us start with that first word there, Bohemian.


Red and I are both artists. We have tattooed, painted, sculpted, sewn, and pinstriped.  We are happiest when we are making and enjoying art.  We have been labeled as hippies.  Free-thinking, open-minded, unique, living off the beaten path.  Bohemian is pretty fitting, don’t you say?

Alright, the middle word is super easy, Bus.  Our plan involves buying a retired school bus, and converting it into a full-time home on the road.  More about this as it happens!

And that last word, Odyssey.  


Did you read that, “a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc.”?  That is right, we are expecting this to be a long series of adventures mixed with some hardships.  We are making our lists of things we want to do and places we want to see, but there will be many times we will just explore.

We love finding unique, local places to eat, things to do and meeting new people.  We are hoping to share with you our experiences, both the good and the not so good.
We hope you follow along as we share our Bohemian Bus Odyssey!