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  • Writer's pictureTina Lambert

Bus Life 101: Crash Course in Skoolie Living

My name is Tina Lambert, and I am/was a bus life novice. I know a little about tiny living, as I do some blogging for Tiny Home Tours, so when Chris asked me to come to Kansas and stay in his bus to dog sit his pup, Kobuk, I thought this would be a piece of cake… easy-peasy. I’ve learned a lot this past year by watching videos and blogging about the tours. I’m familiar with most things tiny; I’ve written about composting toilets, problems with solar power, off-grid living, and so many other things that a person might run into trouble with while living tiny, be it in a skoolie, van, or any other type of tiny home.

When he asked, I started getting nervous right away. I’ve heard and read about tiny living but have never actually done it, so the unknown was somewhat intimidating. Also, Chris wouldn’t be there to answer questions right away or fix anything that I screwed up, although he sent me a short video walkthrough of where things were and how to operate the essentials. My son, Jordan, came with me to help with the driving. We left at 4 a.m. on Friday morning and arrived in Kansas around noon.

Welcome to Buslife

The first thing I noticed about the bus was that the first step was a doozy! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and that first step into the bus was pretty high. Thankfully, this bus had a raised roof so I could stand fully upright. Coming into the bus, it was easy to navigate down the aisle; a nice big couch converted to a bed and was a nice place to watch TV on the computer screen in the office area. So far, so good!

The Good

The fridge was small but adequate, although many items had to lay on their sides as it wasn’t tall enough to hold them upright. We used a cooler for our drinks because they wouldn’t fit. The sink was HUGE! I loved it! I love to cook, and there was plenty of room for prepping and doing the dishes after dinner. We were able to use the stove, and I cooked a lot while we were there; we even made biscuits and gravy one morning.

The bed situation was great in the back of the bus; cozy and comfortable! It was a little difficult to crawl up into, as the only way to get in was to crawl up from the foot of the bed, and the mattress was soft.

Getting to Know the Composting Toilet

Now, to discuss some of the unexpected difficulties that I ran into. I have to share that I’m not a small girl and the bathroom wasn’t very big, of course, we’re talking about a bus here! The shower is spacious, but the toilet area is pretty cramped. The composting toilet and I had a very volatile relationship the whole four days. I had not the first clue how to use it. Chris gave me instructions, but I was unaware that things had to be done in a certain order (a bit of advice…open the flap to the compost BEFORE going to the bathroom, rather than after)! It didn’t take long to learn that lesson! Ugh!! Chris thought that was the funniest thing in the world! He laughed and laughed!

Electrical Woes

The weather was just starting to turn cold in the evenings, but it was still pretty warm during the day in Kansas. The mini split seemed to be working well with cooling the bus. All was going well….until it wasn’t. The second night I shot awake when an alarm went off. I have no expertise whatsoever in the area of solar or electrical issues. For all I knew, it could have been saying, “RUN, THE BUS IS GOING TO EXPLODE!”

But, alas, it wasn’t anything that sinister. A breaker had tripped in the shop (we were plugged into shore power), and the batteries were getting low. Eventually, they depleted all the way, so the mini split wouldn’t work, meaning no heat for the rest of the night. I texted Chris because I was freaking out, and it was cold. He texted Wess (who works at the shop in Kansas), and he reset the breaker in the morning, and all was well! Again, until it wasn’t!! The same thing on our third night. I texted Chris, and Wess reset the breaker the next morning. It was a cold, cold night and 34 degrees that final morning. BRRRRR!

All in all, my bus experience was not what I expected. I had more difficulties than I thought I would. It would have probably been easier if I had someone staying with me that was familiar with bus life or if I had stayed in a bus before going all in with the crash course.

It wasn’t all negative, though, we had fun with Kobuk, made some good meals, and were able to meet the guys from the shop Dark Wolf Artisans!! My final comment is: Chris, get a dang mirror!!

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