My Skoolie Conversion of Bubba the Bus: Bus Life As A Solo Female Traveler

There is nothing more beautiful than San Francisco on a sunny morning–(although, I am partial to Karl the Fog), the sun is always a welcome surprise. Cloudless blue skies and a faint ocean breeze greeted me and I was excited to pick up Bubba the Bus and begin the journey of converting him into my Tiny Home. Although there are many things I won’t be able to do in the conversion process, some things I can–and removing the seats, carpet and other odds and ends is one of them. 

I caught the #1 bus to the iconic Ferry Building. The Ferry Building is a special place in San Francisco and when people visit our amazing City by the Bay, I always recommend that they take time at the Ferry Building. The building itself was designed in 1892 and opened in 1898. It has survived BOTH earthquakes, which is a San Francisco litmus test, that directly equates with our reverence of a structure. The clock is 245 feet high and can be seen from miles away. Today, it houses amazing markets–(think Chelsea Market, NYC), offices and shuttles people across the San Francisco Bay to Oakland, Richmond, Sausalito and all points waterward–including Alameda.

The ferry is one of my favorite ways to travel; especially when the other option is BART; (Bay Area Rapid Transit) built-in 1972 and boasting the same dank carpet, that hasn’t been cleaned since then. BART comes complete with inconsistent service, delays, and crime; all for a much higher fee than the ferry.

The SF Ferry has several stops; including a brief 20-minute jaunt to Alameda, which I took. Once at Main Street in Alameda, I got a shared LYFT–which is the carpool version of the ride-sharing service. It is a more environmentally friendly option, will save you a few bucks, and usually comes with good company from other riders. Today was no exception. We picked up another passenger, who was engaged on his phone until he heard me say to the driver, that I had been in New York twice this summer.

“Are you from the East Coast,” came the voice from the backseat. 

“No, but, I lived there and I dig the vibe. Where are you from?”

“Philly.”

“Ah, then you’ll appreciate this,” I said and related one of my grim Greyhound stories; the one where the bus broke down, and seven hours after leaving New York–I found myself in Philly–which is a mere 90 miles away. On the plus side, I got to spend some time in Philly and discovered how beautiful it was.

He told me that Philadelphia was in the running to be the capital before D.C. Conversation flowed, and we exchanged what we do for a living. He is a chef and owns, Omni World Kitchen, an exclusive pop-up restaurant that features world cuisines. I told him I worked for Starbucks. 

“Starbucks,” he exclaimed, and with this, I expected the usual litany of Starbucks grievances, which I would politely deflect. 

“I have never waited in line for 15 minutes for a drink at a Starbucks until I came to California,” he said. “Put some coffee in the cup, pour the milk, give me my drink. That’s it. But the damn barista tells me ‘no, the  milk’s gotta be just the right temperature BRA,(emphasis on Bra.)  Fucking California. People are never in a hurry for anything, time is NOT money, everyone is on a medical weed card, and life is just fine—unicorns coming out of my ass fine.” By now, he has lost all interest in his phone as he reflects upon his last six years in ‘fucking California’.  “It was a culture shock. I practically had to learn a new language out here. You can’t talk shit because people are so sensitive. On the East Coast, we are loud and that’s just how it is. It’s not personal,  but here; it’s all very touchy-feely.” Then he laughs.

“We are very fluffy, out here,” I agree.

“Sure, fucking fluffy.  And what is up with people on the escalator? It’s not a ride. Get on the left, if you’re going to stand. On the East Coast, we call it an Escalefter. Fucking California.”

The LYFT driver and I were laughing so hard at this point, tears were coming out of our eyes. 

“Wow! You definitely even got the bra part right,” I said.

“But,” he continued. “I wouldn’t have been able to start my own company on the East Coast and be doing what I’m doing now which I love. No,” he said reflectively, “that could have only happened in California. Fucking California.”

As I got out of the LYFT, he called to me; “When you get to New York, have a slice for me. Roll it up, walk and eat, at the same time. Do not sit down to eat it, and above all….”

And we both finished the sentence together, “Do NOT use a fucking knife and fork. Fucking California.”

One of the best LYFT rides ever.

When I saw Bubba the Bus, it was like meeting an old friend again. We fit together like a hand in a glove. I love that bus. I got gas and began the trek back to San Francisco.


When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my dad, as he drove his Big Rig all over. We shared laughs, made memories and I picked up a thing or two; which was good, because today as I was driving Bubba the Bus to SF, my brakes failed on the Bay Bridge. Bumper to Bumper traffic, pedal to the floorboard and Bubba is not stopping. 

I’m not gonna lie, it was harrowing and terrifying. Time stood still. Then I heard my dad’s voice again; “Stay calm, get to your exit strategy and lock the gears when I tell you….NOW.” Once stopped, I gave myself permission to shake like a leaf. CHP was there immediately and commented, “that was some good thinking, do you need a tow truck?”  “No,” I said. “I need brake fluid.”

When I arrived back in SF, the real fun began: POWER TOOLS! A couple of friends came and hung out with me, which was awesome. They were surprised that I loved country music. I asked them why they thought I loved Nashville so much, and they informed me that there was ‘other music than just country there’, which is true; in fact, the ‘other music’, probably outweighs the country, but, I can still find a honky-tonk spilling George Jones and Alan Jackson tunes. 

The seats were removed, and we had placed them on the sidewalk. I had begun to remove the carpet when all hell broke loose on our street. The rule is; we can’t leave items, garbage, furniture on the street–(although everyone does; my bedroom is practically furnished from street treasures); but, at this particular moment, the self-appointed morality police, (aka uptight neighbors), descended upon us like locusts, shouting–(literally shouting), screaming and in a word ‘losing their shit’ about the seats on the street. 

My friend had stopped by, and as we are both Supervisors at Starbucks; we went Starbuckian on them; actively and empathetically listening, and then offering to collaborate on a solution. This time our years of Starbucks training failed and the next thing is the neighbors are shouting at each other, throwing down expletives like cards in a poker game and coming to fisticuffs over ‘seats on the streets‘, that in reality, were not their concern at all. We were in front of my apartment and keeping things contained. In truth, there was probably some unrequited hostility between them that had yet to be worked out; but we quickly loaded the dislodged seats back into Bubba, and I decided to deal with the carpet at another time. 

Then, a ‘who has the bigger dick contest’ erupted, and the neighbors retrieved their muscle cars, from their respective garages, all in various states of restoration, and began racing up and down the street. We were trapped in a bad ‘80’s movie. My friends, wisely, left, and I retreated to my apartment, with the sounds of screeching tires outside. (And I live in a very good neighborhood!)

Tomorrow, I will head to the DMV, to get Bubba registered, titled and licensed in his new home of San Francisco, California.

Until then….

Leave a Comment

Join the Family!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates of my trip!

You have Successfully Subscribed!