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Bus Living 3 Week Review

So we decided to wait a bit to do a blog post. We wanted to be able to share what its been like the last three weeks. Though that’s hardly any amount of time to make a thorough assessment of course.

We made it to Missouri with no major issues but man, was it a long trip!! We didn’t get a tow hitch yet for the bus as we had a lot of trouble with being able to find the right one. Soo… that meant Jamie drove behind the bus for the entire trip. The bus is governed out at 65 mph but when we were in the Tennessee hills going uphill the bus would come to crawling 48 mph (50mph if we were lucky). The driving time total was probably somewhere around 20 hours.

Once we got here we were just glad that we could finally stop driving. Surge and the cats were freezing as the heater in the bus didnt stand much against temperatures in the teens. Plus this is a Florida bus. We were fortunate though that on La Extrana Cosa’s first major trip there were no mechanical issues or anything of the sort. Sometimes you can never know what can happen on a first big trip despite how much preparing you do.

When we actually went to find a place to park it only one rv park in town would allow us to park it there. However, after call and call to confirm he had given away our spot literally the day before. We were upset to say the least and Surge called to explain the situation, as we had no where else to park it. He worked it out with us and squeezed us between two small white 5th wheels. We stick out like a sore thumb and are on uneven ground but at least its a spot with 50amp service. We were so happy to be able to get our heaters going to start warming up the bus. Even the kitties were really cold.

One thing we’re learning is that with bus life it really will be highs and lows. As with anything of course. We have to learn to take the good with the bad. Even though we’re paying what it would be at a nice rv park with tons of ammenties and we’re on uneven ground with only using power at the moment. At the very least its a place to stay. I knew we would be discrimanated against, but not every rv park in the area. We finally got the bus sorted out somewhat and it’s definitely starting to feel like home. Though there’s still so much organizing and downsizing to do still! We figured it will be a process in everything. We’re just taking it day by day.

 

 

The cats have really adapted well to the bus. They probably think it’s made specifically for them. They love being able to run from the very front of the bus to the very back of the bus as fast as they can. They’ve also discovered that the steps we have leading up to the roof hatch are a fun climbing spot. We’re glad they’ve adapted so well.

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We also got our bedroom for the most part together. With a heater going it’s been pretty warm and cozy back there.

 

 

 

 

Heisenberg refused to move for any of the photos of the bedroom. But it is starting to come together and feel like home. Oh and it’s hilarious to us that when the cats are walking a little 8 lb cat can shake the bus. The one downside is the sensitivity of the shocks on the bus but you do get used to it. We’ll continue to post more as we progress more into bus life. We still need to do a lot of finishing touches, plumb our sink and build our shower.

We’re also thinking of starting the Etsy store back up too since Jamie has a lot of free time on her hands when not teaching children in China. The weather has been absolutely horrible for photography. The Etsy store would have Jamie’s steampunk beetles, jewelry and Surges dream catchers.

 

We’ll see, as it would be great as a little extra income for the bus. Jamie used to do really well on Etsy but after a few years it seemed to dwindle a bit and we’ve heard that from a lot of people.

Jamie & Surge

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One week to go!

This is it! T-minus 7 days til move in and the bus’s first major trip. We’re working hard to get all we can finished. We were supposed to have someone help us finish our electrical but after a huge promise that they would they completely flaked on us. It’s set us back a bit because it’s taken Surge a little longer to wire everything himself. As Surge was working late last night he had a visitor! The trash panda was so unafraid of people he thought he may have jumped in the bus.

Also, we did have an awesome neighbor come through for us today and check over the electrical Surge had done and he said it looked great and most importantly was done correctly. Yay! So that’s a relief but doesn’t do much to our stress levels. The plan is to finish electrical tonight (or morning should I say) and start spray foam tomorrow. Let’s hope it all works out as it needs to be a certain temperature to spray and it may be too chilly the rest of the week til Friday.

Included in that electrical install is our tankless eco smart water heater. It requires its own 30 amp breaker.

Paint!

Let’s talk about paint! I have been wanting to paint for months now but it kept getting pushed aside. We want our bus to be muraled but we knew that that would be way down the road however, if we’re planning on staying at any rv parks (which we are) it obviously can’t stay yellow. It looks like a big long block of velveta cheese too. So we decided that while Surge is finishing electrical and starting spray foam I can paint. I should be able to start tomorrow! I’m really excited because it’s something that is going to make such a visible difference and really make it feel like home. As if all we’ve been doing isn’t those things already. So what color is she going to be? That’s the question. Of course we know but no one else does. People seem to be pretty convinced that they’ll be some purple in there or teal or the partridge family colors! We shall see!

I just felt the need to do a small blog, maybe to get in the knack of doing them more often or maybe cause there’s so much going through our minds at the moment! There’s just so much to do in such a short amount of time. Not including condensing our lives into 300 sq. Ft. It does feel nice though to be getting rid of so much. It makes you realize you don’t need as much as you thought you did. Life is about experiences, not stuff!

-Jamie & Surge

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New Years Resolution

Wow we are really bad about posting on our bus. We’ve been more about doing the work then writing about it. We started a write up a while ago and life does what it does and a couple months later we find it’s still in the draft bin! Well maybe in 2018 we can change that up. Especially since at the end of this month our lease at our apartment is up and we are making a mad dash to finish up/ make livable. Livable is more like it. We’re currently installing the 110 house electrical, RV power converter, recessed led lighting in the ceiling with dimmer switches, etc.

We also have the plumbing to worry about. Which includes plumbing the propane system for our newly acquired gas stove/ oven. There is a lot to do in a very short timeframe!! We’re going to try and get as much done as possible. Lastly, we are also looking into options for towing our car behind the bus when we make our way onto the open road. Missouri will be our first stop. In only two weeks at that. Surge is going to work at Tattitude Studios in Poplar Bluff as a guest artist. So like we said, our New Years resolution is going to be to try and keep more frequent updates. We’re going to try and give a quick summary of all that’s happened in the last few months.

Tiny House Festival

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Can you spot La Extrana Cosa? Photo courtesy of “All in the Bed of a Truck”

We got a lot done for the tiny house festival in Elkton,FL but we knew we were showing it incomplete. We wanted people to see a bus in the progress stage and so people could get an idea of how much space there really is to do what you want. We were amazed at the great people we met and the awesome skoolies/tiny houses we got to tour. We had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people as they visited our half built home on wheels. And to all our new skoolie family that attended the show, we had an amazing time and it was so awesome to meet such wonderful people who have built or are still building their skoolies up. We have gotten so many great ideas for the bus. Oh, and Jamie drove the bus for the first time (in an empty field of course).

We seriously can’t wait to do another one. There is the Georgia Tiny House Festival at the beginning of March that we may possibly make it to. We will see. Anyways, we’re not going to talk too much on this but we’ll leave our video from the festival:

Life in the Slow lane

I can drive 65!!! For being 40ft long 8ft wide and over 10 tons. To be honest I really don’t need to go much faster then that. Driving the slow lane kinda helps you appreciate the trip. Having the bus governed out at 65 makes for an automatic cruise control. After the Tiny House Festival we went to Surge’s Family for Thanksgiving across the state in Englewood. It was quite a long journey in a bus on Florida’s notorious I4 but it was a nice Thanksgiving and Surge’s family got to see the bus for the first time which was pretty exciting.

So after all this we got a taste of how it feels to live in the bus, even though we just used extension cords. The kitties also got a week in on the bus too! The old man cat, Bo Thomas didn’t mind it one bit but the younger more skittish one, Heisenberg DID NOT like the fact that this house moved. He finally got a little bit used to it towards the end.

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Bo Thomas relaxing on the way to Englewood

We are set to have the electrical done by this weekend and our propane converted stove done as well. These are such huge steps as this is what is going to make it livable. We also got our spray foam in but we can only spray when it’s 65-85 degrees and once we have the electrical done too. Since Missouri is going to be so cold I hope we can somehow manage to squeeze in the time to do it down here. Florida is in the middle of a cold snap so it looks like there will only be one good day to spray. There’s so much that has been done since our last post that it’s hard to keep track so we’re mostly going to just post photos below.

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The RV Power Center we got. It charges batteries (once we get a battery bank), converts DC power and manages all of our power in one source.

We also ordered our water tanks. We eventually will upgrade but for now we got 2 – 55 gallon barrels. One for our grey water and one for our fresh water. We are going to wait on building the shower until we get to Missouri but hope to have the sink at least running.

We found our stove to convert to propane for $60! It’s one of those tiny 24″ apartment stoves. It was kind of unfortunate that it was white but they make high heat spray paint and we’re going to try our hand at using it. So far it isn’t too bad.

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We also happened to be driving down the road and found the perfect solution to our couch/front bed. It was a $25 find! We’ll eventually be painting/staining it but we’re just glad we found such a great deal and it saved us on the time it would have taken to build one. Plus there’s tons of storage underneath! It’s perfect for what we were thinking and all we need is a mattress for it.

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We also got the bookcase up just today.  It looks great and is putting us closer to the bus looking like home. 

This sort of gives you an idea of what La Extraña Cosa looks like at the moment. There’s a lot to organize, clean and get rid of/sell  at our apartment so we’re going to be doing that for the next 10 days too! We hope we can get a video going at the end of this month to document the bus’s  first big adventure.

-Surge & Jamie

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Blog much?

Well no, not really… we mean well, we promise! Since our last post we’ve gotten a fair amount of visual changes for the bus. We’ve been in high gear for the last month or so. We’ve also been accepted into the tiny house festival St. John’s County Fairgrounds November 17th through the 19th. This has especially kicked our butts into high gear with doing as much as we can with our resources and time. In the last post we had FINALLY gotten the roof painted and it’s been holding up just fine. The emergency hatches on the other end are still a huge pain in the gas can. We still need to figure something out about the back one as that will be the one we’ll be keeping still. The front hatch will be replaced with a rooftop RV a/c unit eventually.

Surge has been busy with Daytona Biketoberfest and the Panama City Biker rally. For Biketoberfest we got the opportunity to take La Extraña Cosa out for our first dry camping adventure. Well for starters it wasn’t really that bad. We definitely need screens for the windows though as the bugs were quite annoying (it IS Florida). The weather was great though, however without insulation the bus can become a hot box. We aren’t going to do insulation till after we get electrical wired and the plumbing done…. Gotta love the little wins we finally got our Nature’s Head toilet…..hurray we can poop today! It was a HUGE investment but it was something we wanted to get out of the way and have, even if we’re dry camping somewhere. We’ll update about how we like it.

We also got the window block panels in 2 double and 3 singles. Unfortunately they were all an inch short so we had to make some modifications to get them to work (we’ll blame the sheet metal company lol…).

We also got our refrigerator from Home Depot, it was on sale and we just couldn’t pass on the deal. It was exactly the right size and color that we had been looking for.

We finally got new shoes for the bus! 6 standard semi truck tires, 11r 22.5. We had the guys at Boulevard Tires in Daytona on Nova Road do them for us. We got there Friday morning for our appointment and it didn’t take long at all. A BIG thank you to Jamie’s Grandma for making new tires a possibility. We can now drive anywhere without worrying about bad tires. It was weird seeing them lift up the bus and remove the tires.

We have a lot to do before the festival and it’ll be here before we know it so we’re going to try and do as much as we can. Jamie is planning on doing details such as painting the countertop/cabinet, laying pennies for the counter, making screens for some of the windows and other small things to pull it together. We’re hoping to get the bus painted beforehand but not so sure that will happen due to the amount of prep work needed and time we have left before the festival. Jamie also just got hired at vip kid, which is an online company that teaches children in China the English language. She’s really excited about it cause she can choose her own hours and it’s very rewarding. We’re hoping to do a video very soon showing off everything.

Surge and Jamie

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Week 3

So week 3 has come and gone and as of yesterday we have had La Extrana Cosa 3 weeks exactly! A lot has happened in that time frame!

Last week we discovered during a heavy rain that there were quite a few leaks. Not surprising by any means and we knew it’d be a likely possibility. So that was the first course of action the following week.

First things first was to get a the appropriate roof sealer along with roof caulking. We decided to go with a white elastomeric thermal roof sealer and a special roof leak caulking. We want to ensure that the roof is SEALED. However, of course before she’s roof painted we needed to wash her. There was heavy mildew on the top from sitting. Let me tell you, that was a chore in itself. It was like washing a whale! We used a degreaser, water and a brush and the mildew easily came off. And once that was done we also took some diluted bleach and did a final wash to make sure the mildew was completely off.

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I surprisingly got up on the roof! Being scared of heights it wasn’t easy at first!

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The beautiful end result. The roof looks a million times better!

Once that was done and dry Surge started on the roof caulking, the very very messy tar like substance that seemed to get everywhere. Im pretty sure he had some of the stuff stuck on his arm for at least 2 days (2 days of scrubbing to get it off that is).

So while he started on that, I started on brushing off the rust on the floor with a wirebrush wheel on the angle grinder. Well when I complained that it was like washing a whale… I take that back. Id rather wash a whale any day. The amount of dirt and rust that was created in our bus, not to mention the awkward angle of brushing the floor; it become the great dustbowl all over again. I’ve seriously never had so much dirt and grim on me! I didn’t get a photo but I definitely should have!

So hopefully the caulking sealed the leaks and the sealer will just be an extra step in making sure no water gets through. Surge also finished grinding open the ceiling for wiring and insulation.

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The last ceiling panel being cut!

Once the holes in the floor are patched, it’ll be ready for rustoleum. We also used this week to tweak the floor plan a bit along with additional details on plumbing/wiring and storage. We’re going to make an entire post on just the floor plan shortly.

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Me in relation to the size of the bus. I can barely reach the lock on the door! (We are also on a small slope, I’m not THAT short). 

 

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We have a new bus pet apparently. Somehow he keeps coming back no matter how many times we remove him and his web. I guess he just needs a name now!

The next following weeks are going to be very busy for me and my photography but we’re still going to keep up with the blog and the bus as much as we can! We can’t wait for the bus to be livable!

-Jamie

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Week 2: More Demolition

Okay, so time needs to slow down, where has this month gone? Oh right, half of its been working on the bus lol.

So after ripping out all the floors we got her down to the bare metal floor where we could assess the known rust that would be there. Luckily we don’t think its too bad, only surface rust. We started the process of sanding off some rusty areas towards the back with the angle grinder but haven’t completely finished it yet.

 

So in the last post I made we were taking apart the dashboard apart for cleaning and to paint. It was a lot of fun as Surge and I both have an obsession with cosmo spray painting and what better way to express it then on the dashboard! I love the way it turned out. Definitely unique for sure!

So after we reinstalled the dash we started ripping out the insulation in the ceiling. We could see the white foam sticking out of the light/speaker holes and decided to just get it out of there since we know we’ll need to. Well, that was easier said than done! It was pretty stuck in there! We are not going to remove the ceiling entirely either, we are planning on just cutting 6″ wide slits from the front of the bus length ways to the end of the bus. That way we can wire those open areas for lighting/electrical and then we are thinking of placing a wooden beam over the area, length wise. We are also thinking that that is where the lights will be as well. We shall see!

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We also decided after pulling out all the insulation to remove the vinyl and seat from the back of the bus. It was a pain in the butt! Seriously. And on top of it being a pain in the butt we found a lot of moisture under the seat and some serious mildew/mold on the foamboard that was on the top part of the seat. Luckily, it was all contained to the board and did not affect the metal on the top, no rust on it whatsoever.

So last Thursday we had a torrential downpour (much needed with the current wildfires in the state) but we discovered quite a few leaks coming in from the roof. Now we get where all the moisture was coming from on the seats in the back.  It was kind of disappointing but considering how lucky we’ve been with everything else….  anyways, this is the main issue that needs addressed as soon as possible. We need to clean the roof, caulk all the cracks/holes and then seal it.

Also, for any engine people out there who’d like to see what our awesome Caterpillar 3126 B serious Engine looks like here’s a photo!

-Jamie

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Week 1

So week one was interesting! We went to Polk County last Monday to pick up the bus. It was surprisingly way easier than expected that’s for sure. We had the maintenance men on hand to help us in getting the bus jumped (as it had been sitting for a while) and explained to Surge how to drive this behemoth of a machine. Surge got it in no time and off we went, 3 hours Northeast back to Daytona. The trip couldn’t be complete without torrential downpour of course. At one point I-4 was traffic jammed and I could barely see the bus in front of me. But other than that we had no issues whatsoever. We got it to our temporary location in Daytona where we’ll be prepping it to get it registered and ready for Missouri.

 

Now the fun part: removing the seats. From what we read we knew this would probably be the most tedious thing on the bus. We first removed all the bolts along the outside of the seats (bolts closest to the windows). This was not too bad for the most part, just a lot were corroded and a tad difficult to get out. But onto the hard part, Surge thought that taking an angle grinder to the inside bolts may be the easiest solution but that was not the case. With the exception of the few seats that were not easily accessible under the bus  the rest of the seats were removed by one person on the bus and someone else under the bus holding the nut for the bolt. It was lengthy to do it this way but worked efficiently enough. The angle grinder to ALL the inside bolts would have taken even longer.

So as of Day 3 the bus seats have been completely removed. We are planning on scrapping them but we aren’t sure what we will get for them, hopefully something worth the time and effort but we will see. We were told that the bus more than likely needs a battery as it needed a boost to start. However, we have been starting it every single day with no issues, which is great, one less mechanical thing to worry about. In fact, everything is running perfect, the oil pressure, water temp, etc are all normal. The only issue we have at the moment is that the rear signal lights don’t work (probably a bad fuse). We are going to address that issue at a later time when she is closer to getting on the road.

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One of the few seats left

After we got all the seats out we started removing all the metal trim on the floor. Once we got all that out we started working on removing the actual plywood floor. It was incredibly heavy as the rubber flooring added a ton of weight! As of day 7 we had scrapped the bus seats, a measly $38 but hey that’s still $38 dollars we didn’t have before. In this time frame Surge also started taking apart the dashboard for cleaning and modifying. He figured that the cockpit of the bus should be taken care of first since it will be utilized first when being driven all the way to Missouri and I think that makes a lot of sense.

For one week I sure feel like we got a lot accomplished. We in no way have unreal expectations that the bus will be transformed overnight. We know it’s going to take a loong time and a lot of hardwork, blood, sweat and tears. Week 2 coming soon as well!!

-Jamie

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