It’s 10:07pm. I’m in Portsmouth (NH) at my office, working: printing photos and now writing. At least one kiddo is home, another at a friend’s house and the third at his own home about three hours away. Jeff, my love, is near Manchester on the side a roadway changing the oil and working on our old friend, the Unschool Bus. Although, that’s not the name anymore. It’s now the Bitcoin Bus and it has a new family. You see we gave it away to the Blush Family (the Sovereign Living folks).
They plan to take the bus and travel with their two young children doing so using only Bitcoin. That’s why they are calling it the Bitcoin Bus.
How did this happen? It’s pretty simple really. Anyone who followed the Unschool Bus or my family likely knows I’ve been wanting to give the bus away to another family for some time now. The idea came to me about two years ago when we were making plans to transition out of the bus, be a bit more settled and possibly invest in a different type of traveling vehicle with a new focus. I had hoped/planned on doing some kind of contest…maybe one where people sold copies of my The Unschool Bus book. A book I had originally planned to self-publish like we did Skeletons Don’t Sleep but have since decided to go a more traditional publishing route (more about that another time).
In the summer of 2013 some of those ideas shifted as we found ourselves in a position to purchase a small rundown/beat-up house (in the most perfect spot ever). All thanks to the generous support of a good friend, bewildering luck and the perfect circumstances. It wasn’t all good stuff that was happening though, my grandfather’s health was in decline and I was spending nearly every bit of spare time helping him. In the early fall we moved our bus over to our new property (also in Rye) and parked behind the house. Our plans were to spend some time making the house livable but to stay in the bus until we were able to do that.
The town building inspector didn’t like that idea. We were threatened and forced to move out of the bus and into the barely habitable house. Seriously, a school bus was a safer place to live than this house in reality. That wasn’t enough for him either. He insisted we move the bus to the front of the property so that he could inspect it at all times. You know, to make sure we weren’t lying and still staying in it. He assured us “our safety” was his only concern. I still find it funny we parked for months at a time in the same town closer to his office over the previous three years but somehow that was never a problem.
We briefly got a lawyer involved. That seemed to make matters worse. Eventually Jeff went down and had a long talk with him, bowed to his authority and we promised we would stay out of the bus but insisted if we move it to the front of the property the neighbors would hate us. He agreed and backed off. He hasn’t really bothered us since. (Knock on wood). At this point my grandfather’s health was in further decline. I spent my time bringing him to doctor’s visits, doing his paperwork and being his advocate during hospital and rehab stints. Our lives had become cram packed with all sorts of eldercare and kids’ stuff. Driver’s licenses! All three got their driver’s licenses in a matter of a few months. That included endless practice driving and two of them countless hours of Driver’s Ed classes and lessons. Jeff was plunging back into the building and maintenance world.
There was no time to self-publish a book (regardless of it being nearly complete). And there was certainly no time to try and organize a contest.
My grandfather passed away at the end of winter last year and we moved the bus over to his property not long after. It’s been mostly sitting. We’ve gone over to visit, started it and made sure there were no mice or rodents living in it but for the most part it’s been sitting.
Fast forward to sometime this winter. People were still asking where the bus was and if I was still planning on passing it on. Yes, I’d always reply. If I could only find the time to organize something. We wanted the family to be just the right family. And we put money, time and energy into this bus…giving it away…instead of selling it…kind of a big deal. We met the Blush family at Porcfest a few years ago. Just briefly. We watched a couple episodes of their homegrown reality show, Sovereign Living and followed some of their adventures on facebook. I knew they had lost their farm. And they were trying to find ways to get their life shifted back on track. It’s been a bumpy year for them. Cat Bleish, the mom, posted on facebook about looking for a place to live. It turned into one of those huge threads that more closely resembled a chatroom than a facebook post. People popped in with ideas. I suggested places and somehow in that thread someone mentioned our bus…and I replied…saying I did want to give it away…and the conversation shifted to private message.
I asked a lot of questions. I explained what we were looking for in a family and what I had hoped originally to do with my book promotion. Turns out her family was purchasing a book store and when the time came they would happily help promote the Unschool Bus (book). Neither John nor Cat had much experience with mechanical things. That worried us a bit because skoolies are temperamental beasts. And even with Jeff being able to fix/diagnose nearly anything we ran into plenty of times where we needed outside help. I asked Cat to visit some skoolie forums and tried my best to share all the hard parts of owning/living in a bus. Since most of the amazing stuff is already out there for the world to read. I didn’t want them to have any misconceptions about the challenges. It’s no RV. That’s for sure.
They also agreed not to sell the bus. If they find out it’s just not for them the plan is to pass it on to another family or give it back to us so we can find one. We don’t want the bus ever sitting for a long time unloved and unworked on.
So, we talked. We checked in with each other with questions and we agreed they could have the bus. At that point the only problem seemed to be the snow. Water tanks were drained and the bus was completely blocked in by snow. I had figured Porcfest would be a good place/time to do the handoff but they weren’t coming up this year. John had an event to attend in the northeast this month so we agreed to make the exchange this week. Turns out time was pretty good as the snow JUST finished melting around the bus days before their arrival and the ground is still cold enough we didn’t sink in the mud too much getting it out. The unfortunate things were we weren’t able to get it cleaned as much as I’d liked and there was some kind of water filter crack we only found yesterday. Needless to say there will be a few things they will need to work on themselves or have worked on.
Cat, John and kids arrived in New Hampshire late Sunday night. We met up with them last evening. I’d spent the weekend with the kids saying goodbye to the bus and getting out the rest of our belongings. Jeff had come checked on the mechanical things on the bus. There was nothing we were aware of being wrong with the bus other than a brake line issue. Jeff had already fixed it by splicing it but we both requested they have the bus looked at before driving it to Texas with the kids. It’s been sitting. Who knows. The bus likes to run.
We had a great evening last night. Went over some things with the bus. John drove it around the block with Jeff, we gave them a bill of sale (for $1 – it’s how you get plates here in NH) and then we went to dinner at La Festa. Their kids are adorable and both John and Cat are pretty cool and resourceful people. And while they may not have much mechanical knowledge they do have a strong community of people that could help them if need be.This afternoon they got their plates and picked up the bus.
Things started well from what I understand but at some point they broke down. Jeff left work to go help. He’s still the on the side of the road. He changed the oil and did some other stuff. Batteries are dead so we called a tow truck for a jump (and/or tow if need be). It’s 11:30 he is an hour away and he has to work in the morning. I love him.
I asked, “Do you still miss the bus?”
“Yes, I’m good. I am fine spending these last moments with our bus. I love the bus. I feel like I’m helping real friend.”
Yesterday when I was writing out the bill of sale. Jeff looked at it. “Huh, VIN number. That’s something I’d get tattooed on me.”
I thought for a second and agreed, “Me too.”
Later I text Wolf that dad and I were going to get that tattoo. And he said, “Oh really, I’d do that.” And when we got home Griffin said the same….and when Xoey got home she did too. <3 So, maybe there is a family trip to a tattoo shop in our future.
And here is a shot Cat took of the bus and it’s new family You can follow their journeys on facebook and all around the web. http://uncoinventional.com/
It’s 11:54pm. Text from Jeff… “I fixed her. I am almost in tears.”
We’ll all miss you Unschool Bus. And please remember to be nice to your new family.