Driving in Sonoma
Blog,  My Travel

Travels with Bubba the Bus: Life Lessons from the Road

I imagine if you lived near a Home Depot during your Skoolie conversion, it would make life simpler. I do not. I live in the City of San Francisco, where oversized buildings are practically non-existent and mini-buildings are at an obscene premium. The housing crisis continues unabated and residents flee the City in search of affordable shores. But, I have Bubba the Bus and each day, I realize more and more, that he is more than just a bus. He is a symbol of freedom and creativity; an expression of inner values and a lesson in practicing them.  I learn—or perhaps more accurately—I remember; certain inalienable truths about life while sitting in the driver’s seat.

Bubba and I took two mini road trips this weekend, as we worked on the next pieces of our conversion project. As part of my Skoolie adventure, a couple of important aspects to me are:

  1. A) I physically do this project myself; or as much of it as I possibly can


  1. B) That I reclaim, recycle and upcycle the materials for the conversion. The latter not only affirms and validates an important ideal of tiny living for me, but also, helps my budget immeasurably. I love the challenge of finding unique solutions that are super cheap or free; i.e.: last week and my experience with Cork Man.

Buses are not made to live in, so insulation is a near necessity. After much contemplation, I had decided not to panel the inside of the bus, figuring that I could just get warmer pajamas, an extra blanket or person, for warmth inside the tin walls. Then the fall air of San Francisco set in; fortunately, an idea came; paneling the inside of Bubba with wooden wine boxes.  The idea was a good one, but, wooden wine boxes are hard to come by and expensive, once found. In this case, I went to Facebook and the lovely Madeleine Klein, a fierce female in the Skoolie tribe, sent me a link to a Facebook Marketplace ad. A man in Napa had wine boxes; allegedly hundreds of them.

Wine Boxes

Life Lesson #1:  Know your tribe. Surround yourself with people who empower you; believe in you; support you and inspire you. Your circle may get smaller, but your vision will get larger.

The first trip was cruising north to Napa, autumn leaves coloring the trees, vineyards of purple and green as far as the eye could see, plump, juicy grapes patiently waiting the arrival of crush season.  To say Napa is gorgeous at this time of year is like saying the Pope is Catholic.

Driving in Sonoma

Once I arrived, I met Greg, who did have literally hundreds of wine boxes. The boxes were being taken to the dump by the wineries, and he, being a lover of their art and beauty, rescued them. I began laying them out, pulling them apart and measuring the 50 square feet that I would need. Once I had all the boxes, I loaded them into Bubba and trekked back to San Francisco; the smell of pine, bamboo and cedar filling the bus walls.

A couple of days later, on my next day off, I made the short seven-mile trek to The Home Depot. Meandering down The Great Highway, a ribbon of concrete that gently caresses the coastline, Pacific Ocean endlessly lapping sandy dunes, salty air filling your nostrils, surfers breaking in the waves, I went to get polyurethane, floor adhesive and supplies. The Great Highway, as it is named, is one of my favorite roads in San Francisco. It is only 3.5 miles in length, along the ocean. You pass a windmill and joggers dot the adjacent path.

One of the most disconcerting things along this drive were people and their cell phones. It’s true that I come from an era, before cell phones, before the internet; even before fax machines. I’ve seen the rise and fall of compact discs and the Walkman and lived through the frenzy that was Pong. I come from a time when we went to the Arcade to play games, when parents read stories from pages of a book, not a blinking screen and we patiently waited our turn to dial a rotary phone for a few minutes of dedicated conversation. Those times are gone. As I drove along The Great Highway, people boldly went where no man/person has gone before; head down and stepping obliviously in front of 8000 pounds of Bubba metal while checking their Facebook status. Today cell phones have become adult versions of teddy bears and comfort blankets. With eyes firmly glued to phone screens, the world around goes unnoticed.

Life Lesson #2: Put your cell phone down. Your texts will be there later; the life and people in front of you will not.

Go forth

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