We Didn't Buy a Zoo...

6.23.16 3:00AM

Everyone is asleep, so I can finally start writing. I am guessing that all of my entries will have to be at such an ungodly hour because, as I will explain later, I am β€œjust a mom”.
I never thought I would see the day when I would say we own a bus. This is crazy! I am JUST a mom… Even though I hate saying that, it’s true. Let me start off by saying a little bit about myself.
I have a captain’s license, I have worked at a bank, several retailers, and countless other jobs along the way. But the job I am most proud of, is being a mom. Through the years I, along with all the other great moms out there, have learned how to jump out of bed from a dead sleep, kiss the owies to make them better, and convince my children they can do anything they put their mind to (which I think will always be a work in progress). I’m not wealthy and I don’t have a degree, but I try to be creative and keep my girls safe. Which is partly why we now own a bus. You see, we have decided to move, 5,000 miles away which prompted the question, β€œHow on earth are we going to get there?!!”. This is crazy. But that’s who we are. Out of the box thinkers. So here is where it started.
We considered renting a big box van… Ha! Way too expensive! They only factor in you having it for 13 days (which includes packing it, driving it to your destination, unpacking it, cleaning it, and returning it) and they charge an arm and a leg for any days beyond that. Plus, they charge per mile after a predetermined number of miles. You have to buy their insurance because no other insurance company in their right mind will insure that. And you have to factor in the cost of fuel! It really is a sham, in my humble opinion of course 😊.
We considered RENTING a trailer, which is also limited to 13 days, plus, you have to have a rig big enough to haul it.We considered BUYING a trailer, but those things are more costly than a tiny home on wheels!
Then we saw the bus for sale. At first, my husband laughed and said, β€œWow, who would ever buy THAT?”. As it turns out, the joke was on us! This is where our creative side came in. We figured out that we could haul our things for moving, have a safe place to sleep every night, and it would only require one driver at a time so we could take shifts! Plus, the safety factor that is already built into these monstrosities, is a winner for this mom. I had been worried about our long trek accross the country because I do occasionally read the news, and I want my most precious cargo to survive if the unthinkable were to happen.
I guess that means that this β€œjust a mom” will have to learn how to navigate the freeways and New Jersey Turnpike in a 40’ plus school bus, and add it to her growing list of odd things she has done in her life πŸ˜„
We contacted the DMV and State Troopers because, after talking to all of our well meaning friends, we were thoroughly confused as to what the laws and regulations were for driving/converting one of these things! It turned out to be really quite simple, but I will say we had to engage the β€˜A Team’ at the DMV to get an answer that actually made sense and had something in writing. So after all of our phone calls, we finally felt like we could buy our bus and start converting it.

First Ride

Taking the bus out for our maiden voyage. At first the girls weren't very happy about our endeavor, but then they actually got IN the bus and the rest is history πŸ˜„ Now the trick is keeping them OUT of it!

Day Two

We knew taking the seats out was going to be a challenge, but we didn’t know exactly what we were in for. As it turns out, it was everything we expected because we had asked several people how they had done it. It is laborious, but TOTALLY worth it!Β 

Stinky!

I never thought you could make an old school bus smell worse than it already did... Until I smelled charred metal in the old school bus, then I stood corrected, it CAN get worse! 😝

Halfway done getting the seats out!

Happy Guy!

And we are happy to finally have all the seats out! Yay! Time to start problem solving those pesky brackets still left in the floor. But only after we admire our handiwork and trip on the left over brackets a few times 😁

White trash?

Just look at all those seats! It's hard to believe we just undid all of someone's work making sure these seats were installed properly! And now my yard looks like white trash 😳 Hopefully not as bad as another house in the neighborhood... Anyone who has been to my house knows EXACTLY the one I am talking about.

😝

So gross! At least we found a $5 bill in one of the seats! But I washed it, and washed it, and washed it again... It smelled soooo bad πŸ˜₯

Let the sparks fly

Day Three & Friends!

We have some awesome friends that helped finish getting the brackets out! It was totally worth the blackened nose and earning a few less hairs. We're almost done with the yucky seats and their leftovers!! Then we get to start mapping out where things are going to end up! The fun part! Then I have to clean some more... Then we will pick out our flooring! No one wants to walk barefoot on that, except my girls of course.

Tomorrow is the beginning of our second garage sale... Right?

I wonder if this will work... πŸ˜„

7.1.16

3:00 AM We did put signs up, I guess it was technically last night... Or was it early this morning... πŸ˜• for our garage sale (dare I say moving sale? Sorry, I still can't believe WE'RE the ones moving...) anyway, whatever it should be called, πŸ˜„ it starts at 8:00... So here I am, unglamorously (probably not a real word) writing another part of our story.

My husband has asked me to draw up MY plan for the bus. Which makes sense because we're almost never together (one reason for the need to make a change) so he can see what I'm thinking and we can plan accordingly. I AM the picky one after all 😁. He also knows I LOVE drawing up plans. So he says, "You draw it, and I'll build it". Sounds GREAT to me!

So here I go, once again. Everyone is asleep, and I'm up getting things ready for the garage sale. Since 1:00AM I think I have put myself to bed half a dozen times already and each time I'm relaxing into my pillow I think of things like, "I DIDN'T START THE DISHWASHER!" or "I forgot to switch the laundry!". So as I lay in bed I wonder if I remembered everything THIS time... And then I get up again because I have to pee. So now I have decided to draw up plans for the bus in between getting up the countless times before I actually have to wake up at 7:00 for our (dare I say it?) MOVING Sale 😲.

I am attempting to not look at the clock, even as I type, but it's not working. My brain is calculating the hours and minutes I will have for sleep if I fell asleep RIGHT now. So, here you have it, my delirious rendition of what my tired brain sees in a bus πŸ˜‚ Feel free to note how I corrected myself and then corrected my correction πŸ˜ƒ

I think I'm actually ready for bed now. It's been over 20 minutes and I haven't had to get up once!

Purple Power!

7.7.16 1:58 AM

Here I go again! Β With my Middle of the night post 😁 So, if you are wondering, the fact that I wore a purple jacket to get the job done was purely a coincidence... But we went with it anyway because it was too funny to pass up πŸ˜„ So we decided on a heavy duty degreaser to get the... Should I say... Total YUCK 😝 out of the bus, and Purple Power (Yes, that's actually the real name of the cleaner. It's ok to laugh, because I sure did!) came highly recommended. So the hubby went through round one and I, being the pickier one of course, was elected to go for round two. I had to put on my, "I am only doing this because I have to", face. But secretly, deep down, I LOVE my pressure washer and use it every chance I get (just ask the neighbors)😁 So I washed away and convinced my husband to let me get to it before we found something to eat because it was only going to take a few minutes. Boy was I wrong! Almost 2 hours later there was so much debris and total grossness covering my face there was no going into public until I cleaned up, which made us wait even LONGER to find something to eat. BUT all the degreasing is done and all the seat numbers are gone! No more assigned seating on this bus! Which I guess was actually taken care of the moment the last seat was stripped out... Anyhoo... No more numbers! Yay!πŸ™†Β 

Ooooo! And I almost forgot! THE BUS SMELL IS GONE!! I can't believe it!! I never would have believed it could be done! Yeeeeaaahhhhoooooo!πŸ™†

So then what did we do? Naturally, I am hosting a get together on Saturday. So guess where all our garage sale stuff went... Yep! You guessed it! Into the bus it went! Good thing we found the box fan to dry out the floor! One step forward, 2 steps back. But that's ok, who wouldn't want more than one project going at a time??! πŸ˜„ Next up will be flooring! Hopefully next week!! Yay!!

Can you feel it?

If only there was a way to produce heat waves through whatever screen you're reading this on! (Now THAT would be an invention!) I know that this just looks like another weird, unfinished, garage looking thingy, but it's WARM! So, you'll just have to take my word for it! I was so excited I started jumping up and down! Then I got TOO hot and had to go outside πŸ˜„ So we officially have the coolest (pun intended) heater that there EVER was. So this Alaskan Mama doesn't have to worry anymore about the bus FEELING like Alaska!

🎢 I'm so excited, I just can't hide it 🎢

The BIGGEST soon to be RV fridge I have ever seen πŸ˜„

Genius!

Testing the fridge in the guys' driveway before we bought it. And we also got some work out of the deal!

Thanks to a genius resident electrician, my hubby 😍, we have figured out what to do about a fridge! We did find a great deal on RV parts that included a fridge, with the help of some friends visiting from out of state/country/continent - apparently genius's can come from places other than Alaska πŸ˜„ Unfortunately the refrigerator, that we were told worked just fine, turned out to be a great storage space, just not for things needing to stay cold. So, I looked for an alternate solution. This "just a mom" is not travelling down the ALCAN, and who knows where else, without some sort of fridge to feed the kiddos and husband. S:o, I found a great deal on a used one and, thankfully, I remembered the measurements wrong for the spot to put the fridge or else I would still be searching for one. So my genius husband set up a quick way to test how much electricity the fridge used before we bought it! And it is perfect! In fact, it uses less than an RV fridge and can actally hold a gallon of milk or two! Yay! We could ACTUALLY have cold cereal on our trip!!! One less meal to cook every day! This "just a mom" is sold on the fridge πŸ™† It took a little coaxing to convince my other half, but we worked it out πŸ˜ƒ So, I will say, we have the LARGEST RV fridge the world has ever seen, but we don't have to worry about it using propane and it only used 140 watts when it's running! And we will have enough freezer space that we could get frozen fruit and make smoothies on our trip! Double bonus!

De-greasing the ceiling, getting ready for paint!

Getting rid of the rust!

The best helper ever!

Life in Color!

7.22.16 1:20 am

So, I FINALLY have a second to update this! I had been contemplating what to do about the inside of the bus. My "momness" was so grossed out with the cleaning of the bus that no amount of bleach, ammonia, vinegar, peroxide, 409, Mr Clean, etc., was going to make me feel better about having my babies in there. So I decided that a fresh layer of paint would do the trick. Simple enough. No biggy. HA! Boy oh boy was I ever wrong! Anyway, I decided that with our small time frame, I would just do a creamy color and also paint anything we added the same color. That way I didn't have to worry about coordinating colors. (I have been doing research on other bus conversions and was VERY scared of making this look like a hippie barfed all over the inside because that's what a lot of them look like). I figured that no color was better than BAD color. So, walking down the endless aisles gathering random parts, I wound up strolling past the cans of spray paint. And there it was. THE color. You know the one. It is almost like it was created just for you to find it. πŸ˜„ Not really, but close enough! So we color matched the lid and now we have a color for the ceiling! I just couldn't bring myself to do white. So I rolled and rolled the paint, brushed it, and rolled it some more. When I was done, it looked like a seven year old had a hay day with some very expensive enamel paint. We used a high gloss, so at least it was shiny! Then I borrowed a paint sprayer from an awesome family willing to let me take this on. Being my first time EVER with a sprayer, I'm not sure this should have been my first project... So I masked the windows and did another coat. The masking came off and the result was...should we say... less than stellar 😳 So I bugged an expert painter, an extended family member, several times, poor guy (you know who you are πŸ˜„)...., until I felt like I could tackle this once again. And it worked! It's amazing what happens when you actually know what you're doing! Thanks to the advice, and several cans of paint later (I had to use waaaaaay too many), I am done! Professional painter I am not, and that will never be my claim to fame, but it's done. Oh! And the masking failed so miserably that I decided to fo something crazy. I coated all the windows with cooking spray, much to the dismay and disgust of an auto body guy, and the windows were incredibly easy to get the paint off! It took so much less time than masking and it was so much fun to peel the paint off the windows that my girls got to help too!Β 

"Goodbye", dirty bus, "hello", giant aquarium 🐟 ! I think this seals the deal on my likeness to the little mermaidπŸ˜‚Β 

Ready for spraying!

Our cooking spray worked on the windows! Ssssshhhhhh! Don't tell the autobody guy!

Peeling paint was so much fun!

Who needs sea world?! πŸ˜‚

There Just Might be Warm Days Ahead!

This mom would like to keep the little ones warm with something other than a wool blanket and feathers from an aviary friend, so we decided to go with a heater! But we are attempting to make full use of the Webasto that came with the bus... So far we are down to the home stretch, but now the Webasto won't stay running. So as soon as we figure that out, we'll have heat!! Can't wait! Even though it seems silly to think about heat while planning a trip to The South πŸ˜„ This will be the "coolest" heating system EVER! If we can get the Webasto running, We'll have baseboard heat! If not, we'll think of something else.

Flooring!

7.26.16 Β 2:00am

I feel like dancing! We are putting the flooring in! We opted to go with a floating click together vinyl that should hold up to our endless comings and goings and general life as a family πŸ˜„ We are installing it backwards, naturally, because if there's a 50/50 chance to get it wrong you know that's what's going to happen... So it's not going as smoothly as it should... But we're embracing it and it's going in! I'm gonna dance the night away 🎢 And for those of you who know me, even a little, you know it's gonna happen πŸ˜†

De-Bussing the Bus!

Is this really such a thing? To this mom there is such a thing as de-bussing a bus! We can now walk on the floor barefoot even when this mama is looking (I now prefer it!). So the inside of our bus is looking, smelling, and feeling less like a bus! Tinting the windows has been quite the chore too, but it's helping take the bus-i-ness out of the bus. That way we can still hide some of our Casperson crazy from the world!Β 

Now you see me, now you don't! Love the tinting!

Who knew cutting holes on the bus was so easy! πŸ˜„ Of course, I wasn't the one actually doing it, I just got to watch 😁

Can you feel the heat?

If only there was a way to send heat waves through whatever screen you are reading this on, now THAT would be an invention! I know this looks like another weird, unfinished, garage looking thing, but it's WARM! So I guess you'll just have to take my word for it! I was so excited I started jumping up and down! Then I got TOO hot and had to go outside πŸ˜‚ So this Alaskan Mama doesn't have to worry about it FEELING like Alaska inside the bus!

🎢 I'm so excited, I just can't hide it 🎢

Yuck! 😝

Here's a couch that folds into a bed, but it was dirty (really dirty 😝) and broken down. There was NO way our girls were going to touch it, let alone sit on it! So we decided to rip it apart and use the frame to create a whole new couch! Clean and ready for reading and crafting or whatever else the girls dream up. It looks like the perfect size for a fort, right? πŸ˜‰

The Cadillac

So, this AMAZING sister let me borrow her Cadillac of a serger! And if you don't believe me that a sewing machine can be a Cadillac, you MUST come over and try this thing out! Sewing machines are usually guarded and not lent out, but this awesome friend must trust me a WHILE LOT MORE than I trust myself! πŸ˜„ I LOVE this thing and this project wouldn't have been possible without her. 😍

Recovering the couch!

Did that look easy?

It wasn't THAT easy, but it was pretty fast! With all its imperfections, as it is my first time doing this... and it's perfect for us!

🎢We got the powa! 🎢

2am wiring diagram

No generator needed! This is music to this mama's ears. Everyone will get a good night's sleep on this crazy bus conversion!! Thanks to an amazing, by chance, friend encounter of the best kind, we have a power plan for the bus! Who knew that 2am could produce great friends with such genius ideas?! (And BTW, wiring the bus was the hubby's biggest worry, but not anymore!) And here I thought nothing good happens after midnight! πŸ˜„ Boy was I wrong!

It's so beautiful I want to figure out how to frame it!

Batteries!

So why only have 2 extra 8D batteries when you could have 4?! So we opted for 4. Which means we have 2 of the cutest little cubbies under the bus. I think I'll call them chubby cubbies!

Voila!

At least it's shiny!

So, we decided to make sure the DMV had given us the right info... Which was a good thing, because we still aren't playing with the 'A Team'... As it turns out, we cannot show a spec, not one drop of school bus yellow! Grrrr, this mama ain't happy! (You all know the saying) Anyway, after all our research, and also lots of advice (mostly unsolicited...) we had mixed feelings about what to do! All I wanted to do was mix paint! So after painstakingly deciding on Β THE BEST COLORS Β EVER, we decided to combine all the research material and advice we had gathered, and threw it out the window πŸ˜„ Paint is complicated! And everyone knows exactly how to tell you to do it! But we found that few can actually help, so again, we were navigating uncharted territory! Yikes! Auto paint is out of the question as we need to eat at some point, and with $1100/gal, it would ensure we wouldn't be doing THAT any time soon. So we opted for tractor paint, which limits the color choices πŸ˜•, and as you can see from how I painted the ceiling of the bus, I LOVE color. Alas, when trying to satisfy the DMV and wanting to feed the family, there is only one thing to do, settle. So we settled on no color at all! πŸ˜„ We used black and white!

We are actually quite happy with the paint job! But as we're driving down the road, we're hoping people don't look for convicts inside. πŸ˜‚

Where do I Start!??

8.29.16

3:00 am

So Β much has happened since my last update!! We have been so busy and taking Β advantage of every friend we have (not actually, they volunteered after they saw how much stuff we had left to accomplish)! Thanks to some AMAZING friends I was actually able to accomplish some packing and organizing because, as I realized today, my brain is on information overload! I found myself staring at everything left that I need to get done, and all I saw was a huge mountain with no way up. So, with the advice and wonderful, kind assistance I was provided, I once again was able to sort, throw away, organize, and pack for an adventure I have never been on, nor plan on repeating EVER AGAIN πŸ˜„ (Yeah right, everyone who knows me, even just a little, knows I'm always up for an adventure. It just may take a while to want to do something like this again. Well... For At LEAST 6 months or soπŸ˜„) So now I'm rambling! And back to what I really intended this blog to be about, The Bus! We really are still in awe of all the blessings that we have received. There are too many to count, so I guess you'll just have to trust me on that one😊 But here are some things we couldn't have gotten done without the help.Β We now have all the electrical DONE! I can't believe there are regular switches in the bus! The bathroom is framed in because one friend painstakingly spent several days cutting each stud to the propper angle and length! He spent even more time customizing the supports for our kitchen cabinets! We even had parts donated to our project! A family member hand scribed the walls of our bathroom to fit every nook and crany of the bus. While another friend helped problem solve how to frame up every support needed for under the bus, showing up early and working late despite working full time and having a family of his own. We met new friends, from out of state, and a different continent 🌎 who designed our complete electrical system and have kept in close contract ever since, making sure our project stayed on track. Even more new friends helped get doors from the scrapyard and also begin the painting project, despite the DMV's misinterpretation of their own regulations! That one still makes me laugh πŸ˜‚. Also, I now have a new, close friend, who made the most beautiful custom cushions and curtains I have ever seen! My mama who is wonderful, and ever so beautiful, drove all the way from her home just to donate things to our garage sale! We had people, including my mom, help clean, run the garage sale, and keep me organized! Our neighbor, who has fed us dinner and begged us not to leave, mowed our lawn because they know how busy we are! I have a wonderful, hard working friend who helped finish our fence and rounded up a team of people to help lighten our load, and brought food for everyone for 3 days straight! My very good, and long time friend, and closest way I'll ever get to having a sister (FFF ❀), comes over every chance she gets while working full time and tending to all her visitors and family, giving the encouragement and support I need at all the right moments. We have had friends pop by, just to see if there is anything they can help with, and come at a moment's notice if we're really in a bind. We have also had friends offer meals and snacks. My mom even sent homemade granola bars in the mail! We have indeed been so richly blessed, it's hard to know where to start. We want everyone to know how much we truly appreciate all their help, and only by divine power, is it all made possible.

We hope you enjoy the pictures!!Β 

Prepping for paint

Getting rid of the yellow!

Done! In One Day!

Curtains and beginning the bathroom!!

Framing for the fridge!

Waterproofing the cubbies

Testing the electrical system! πŸ’ƒ

For all of us non-techies out there... This is a very cool part of our system, it will be the main reason why our battery system will stay running strong. It tells us how much of a charge our batteries have so that we won't ruin them and have to get a generator😁. It may seem like a small thing, but it was very exciting for this mama!

I can't believe it!

Almost there!!

8.29.16

7:30am

So, the hubby said that by the end of today, we might be done with the requirements for the DMV!!! This is the goal we had all along! So, with the help of a friend, who said he would come by after work, even though he stayed until almost MIDNIGHT last night... 😲 The hubs said that we could potentially be ready for the trip! We of course have finishing touches to do, but that is to be expected, and who really cares if everything isn't painted and trimmed out! Not this this Alaskan Mama! All of our family will be safe, and sitting on the most comfortable furniture I have ever seen in an RV😁. Thinking back on our project, how far we've come, what brought us to this point, and our truly awesome friends (we couldn't have done this without you)Β I am so overjoyed that it brought tears to my eyes!Β This mama couldn't be happier! And my most prescious cargo will have a place to sleep, a way to eat, and no need for a public bathroom πŸ™†πŸŽ‰. We will of course see how the day turns out... But for now, I am allowing myself to actually sit, for the first time in a while, enjoyng the warmth of the sunshine 🌞 and savoring the moment.😍

There will soon be a wall there, and the packing will begin!

Ok... So maybe not the most GLAMOROUS shot.... But this is exciting for us, the not so new, but new to us toilet and sink are almost completely plumbed in!

It's the small things

Here are just a few things that I think are extra special, that my hubby spent a little extra time with, and will be just what we need to be a little more comfortable on our trip.

Safety First!!

Extra lights with LED's

Plumbing parts for today's project!

DMV Regs

🎢Cel-e-brate Good Times, Come On! 🎢

Here we go! This picture was taken from the stairs πŸ™† Text/instagram me when what you think! I feel like we succeeded in not making it a hippie bus! Which means I'm still not a hippie mama, even though we own a bus πŸ˜„

8.31.16

12:00 am

I actually SAT DOWN tonight for the first time in a long time! This may be a a little prematre, considering the track record of the DMV, but we feel like celebrating tonight! We officially meet all the requirements of the Reg's that the State has arbitrarily decided on! The friend, with a full time job and a family, figured out how to how to hang our propane tank under the bus by welding up a custom made bracket! So now, we even have hot water in addition to being able to cook! A wonderful extended family member painstakingly retrofitted a bench that another friend helped build to fit our super tight space. He also built a bunk over the couch/bed (what do people call that thing, anyway?) that I recovered and engineered it to flip up out of the way during the day!! He suggested we vent our water heater out the side window, and Voila! it worked perfectly!🎢I'm so excited, I just can't hide it 🎢  We couldn't have done it without any one of the people who kindly volunteered their time and energy to our extraordinary project! 

Let's hope the DMV agrees!

Looking toward the front, through the "soon to be finished" back wall where our storage will be!

The aftermath! This is what I saw when the hubby pulled out to go to the DMV. 😲 There was junk EVERYWHERE! So at this point, I feel like a trailer park, white trash mom! 😩

Left as a Bus and Came Back a Motor Home!

It's officially official! We no longer own a bus! Although I think it will always be a bus to us! When you do a project like this from start to finish, it's hard to change it in your own head... But, the important thing is that the State of Alaska has a short memory πŸ˜„

🎢 Nothin' but blue skies, shinin' on me! 🎢

This is all that's left! I can't believe that it has been sunny this past week 🌞! We have been so blessed with good weather for all of our outside work! It was raining cats and dogs the 3 weeks before we actually started packing the bus! I really didn't want the moldy oldy smell, because I have managed to keep from being a hippie bus mom, and I don't want to SMELL like one either! πŸ˜‰ So because it was nice and sunny, everything stayed dry so I don't have to worry about starting our trip tracking down a mildew smell!!πŸ™†Β With the help of many, many friends... 14, to be exact, we got Β EVERYTHING done! We had back yard workers, bus workers, packers, comic relievers, a seamstress, a wonderful couple who provided food for EVERYONE there, and another amazing family (FFF ❀, you know who you are 😍) who made us dinner and stayed so long we got to enjoy the northern lights together! What a sight that was! Thank you to everyone who helped on our crazy project, it couldn't have happened without you! P.S. If you are reading this, and feel like you didn't get a shout out for the help you gave us, just know that in sure it will occur to me in the middle of the night, and I will add it in here as I remember! My brain is so full of happiness, excitement, sadness to leave the only home we have ever known, Alaska, plus puppy training πŸ˜„(what was I THINKING!!😲 Just kidding, I was thinking about the girls, of course. It has made this transition much easier for them) So I am having trouble remembering anything!

New blog Site!

So, for the sake of not having data or wifi readily available... I found a blogging site that also has an app! Which will make my life easier! Truth be told, I'm not sure that my life will ACTUALLY be easier, BUT updating this bog might be! So here it is :

thealaskanmama.wordpress.comΒ 

Just copy and paste the link into a web browser (for some reason this site doesn't allow other links) Let me know what you think!