We have, like any other regular couple, dreamt of jumping in a van and exploring the country. These trips we dreamt of took us everywhere in Australia and to many places overseas. We actually did the van life over ten days in a camper van in New Zealand. We had a shower over the toilet, and a stove top. A place for the supermarket-bought wine. Did I ever think we would be buying a 12 metre city bus though, to permanently live in? Not a chance. Well, we bought one! I thought I would write a little about why in the world we did, and a little of the beginning of bus life for us.
From the start of our relationship, to our wedding, to this next step, we never wanted to do something because it is expected to be done in a certain way. If there is anything in life where it looks like we are doing that, it’s probably because we don’t have a choice. Or it is the best place we can be in…for the time. We want to commit to a life of adventure, and doing everything in a way that honours everything we might want in life, and ensures we stick to it, despite the obstacles.
Now, I can hear it, a lot of people are saying, ‘Well, you are just doing exactly what thousands of other’s have already done and mastered and made a living out of’. Absolutely true. We are no one special or unique, and certainly not the trail-blazers who first came up with the idea of living in a vehicle. In fact, by doing this we probably are fitting more of a box than we ever have. Except, we are doing it! And no longer just talking about it. So to toot our own horn a little, I’m proud that we have even started.
Why the sudden crazy?
Well, we are preparing for the future. Constantly, daily, we are discussing our plans and hopes for what this life will bring. I can’t even remember the first time we considered getting a mobile home to live in while we prepared the rest of what is needed for our future. We needed something permanent but temporary to have when we bought our land, to be able to comfortably live in until we had built our home…on the land that we don’t yet have.
I guess what made the transition to the bus, is that with it, we would be able to explore Australia when not building, as well as be able to work on our new home RIGHT NOW, rather than wait a lot longer to begin actually planning anything. So we started looking, came to the point of deciding between a 9 metre and a 12 metre city bus, and settled on “…..”, the new gorgeously huge, 12 metre Two Souls bus. We don’t have a name yet, so open to suggestions!
We have her parked about an hour drive from us, and plan to try make it to her every week. Ensure she doesn’t think we have just abandoned her.
Day 1: The work begins
Work began yesterday, 12th June. We woke up before the sun decided to show it’s golden face and arrived a little before 7am. We knew our main job was to remove the seats from the inside, and from the research we had done, this would either be relatively simple or an absolute pain in the ass. I was going to need to crawl beneath her belly in the slightly damp earth to locate the bolts running on either side, while Geoff attacked the job of loosening the screws above.
First, I check by the left front wheel, aha! There are some bolts = easy. See, each seat had two points bolted to the floor of the bus, and another two bolted to a metal ridge running the length of the bus on the inside. Four bolts in total for each seat…After straining, reaching over the massive wheel, bumping my headlight torch on the bus (wasn’t the last time), and using my handy dandy adjustable wrench, I clasped the bolt while Geoffrey used our new socket set to loosen the screws inside. First seat out, and we were cheering!
Hahaha, we took celebratory photos and everything…hahaha what a joke. The second seat:
Jade – “Love, I can only see the first bolt, and not the second”!
Geoff – “What do you mean?”
Jade – “The first bolt is here…and there is no second. Why don’t you just try pulling it out?”.
Geoff – “Oomph…There must be a second one!!”
Jade – “There is not”.
Together – “Okay, let’s leave that one and move on to the others.”
Okay cool. I come to the front, lower myself down pretending I’m a big shot mechanic, and reverse leopard crawl beneath the front of the bus. Aha, look at all those beautiful bolts waiting for me to grip on to! At first I started by providing a hold on the bolt, allowing Geoffrey to loosen the screw easily (or not at all ‘easily’ as some are so entrenched in the floor after years of not having to be moved). I then quickly realised I could start loosening them from below, and Geoff quickly realised he could just yank out the seats, saving his arms/neck/shoulder/hands from the socket-wrenching (don’t know the technical term for this – clearly a big shot mechanic right..).
At this point, there is a lot less talking. We are both becoming increasingly exhausted. I’m increasingly perturbed by my forehead taking the brunt of the torch meeting the bus’ undersides, and this whole bus business seems a lot less ‘fun’. I haven’t exactly asked Geoff how he felt wrestling with the chairs inside, but from the weariness on his face when I came topside, he was also expecting to be hurting in all sorts of places today.
The last two seats, right at the back, I discovered I had no way of reaching due to there being a massive engine in front of me. But you know what we did? Us big shot ‘not-mechanics’ opened the engine hatch inside the bus and managed to get the bolts from there. High-five to us! By 9:10am, all the seats had been removed from their home, and were being lined up on the one side of the bus:
We didn’t stop there.
Our plan is to strip the entire bus on the inside, of everything. I mean, everything! I got to work on these metal railings on the side, sustained my first finger-jam injury which made me see red a little. Geoff set to unscrewing the bus railings on the roof that passengers might hold on to during the trip. And on we went in this fashion for a while.
At around 11:30, it was break time. Impressive huh? Considering we had had a coffee and a couple biscuits before hitting the road, were slight under weather from a very enjoyable afternoon the previous day, and were already exhausted after the seats. We had our sustenance, I finally got to go to the toilet (something we hadn’t thought about when we had the bus parked there), and we returned with the idea that we would collect our precious tools.
Nope, our beloved bus called to us again. We set to work on the flooring, and bloomin’ heck! We decided we would rather remove another 100 seats than have to continue with this stupid, rubber/silicone crap on the floor that insisted on coming up in hand-sized pieces. We looked in despair at each other, shared a half-hearted, haha ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’. And kept chiselling away. Well, I can say we finally got into a run of things and the pieces were coming off a bit bigger, until we managed to get it to peel like a mandarin. Half a mandarin (or naartjie for any South Africans out there), because remember, we have all the rubbish and seats in the other half. Haha, what a joke.
Well, that was it, the light was fading, we were exhausted and starting to see double. We tidied up, collected our tools, and with extremely weary faces and tired bodies, we drove the trip home quite proud of ourselves. Thankful that we only had the one day to go out and work! Haha, just kidding. Or am I…
We are hoping by next week, a couple have guys have taken the bus seats off us and we might have an empty interior to work with. But if that isn’t the case, I know we will come up with a plan. Even if it means moving the seats to the other side of the bus and back, up and down and wherever the space is needed.
To be continued…
Thankfully, I’m doing this with such a wonderful partner in crime who doesn’t grow weary even when we probably should have stopped. We motivate each other, and remind each other, yes, there is going to be much bigger obstacles ahead than not finding the second screw on the second seat. But I have no doubt we will get through it.
For instance…neither of us have a driver’s licence for anything more than a car.
Hahaha, are we joking? We are not.