Friday, June 14, 2013

Mile 611: We Live Here Now

Yep, we live here...

     It's still a little difficult to wrap my head around this one. We have been living on the bus (our mobile homestead) for well over a year now. During this time we have moved several times and taken a few trips just for the fun of it, but we have always been rooted in a single place. We had our car, our jobs and our network of people. In a sense we still have those things, but our reality has shifted significantly. Now our home is our car. Our new social network includes a smattering of friends, family and other connections that are dispersed across the entirety of this country. Our jobs...well, I guess are jobs are simply to explore and learn from what ever opportunities we encounter and share them with you! We live where we are.
    Right now we live in Portland, Oregon. A few days ago we lived briefly at a closed weigh station on a desolate stretch of RT 14 in Washington state. A day prior to that, we were living by the clear waters of Lake Pend Oreille in the northern pan-handle of Idaho. It's hard to believe that it has been less than a week and we have already had so many memorable experiences. I am happy to report that none of those experiences (as of yet) have included breaking down. The bus is actually driving really well, albeit a slow-moving and very thirsty beast.
...and here...

       Having our home and all of our worldly possessions with us is quite an experience. I have always prided myself on being a light traveler. My luggage rarely exceeds one canvas shopping bag, which is actually a significant improvement over the disposable plastic shopping bags that I previously toted on many of my excursions. We are now playing a much different game altogether. On this trip, we have every luxury of home at our finger tips.  We can continue to make delicious meals from scratch, brew our own beer and keep up with this blog whether we are parked in the middle of a cornfield or on a downtown city street. We do pay the price, quite literally, in diesel fuel which feels a bit hypocritical considering our stance on burning non renewable resources. We realize that this is not a sustainable lifestyle, but we are getting as much out of it as we can. For what it's worth, we try to offset some of our expanding carbon footprint with solar electricity generation and by using our Vespa motor-scooter (which at 60mpgs is slightly more efficient then the bus) or our bicycles to run errands while we are parked.
      Possibly one of the most worthwhile benefits of the bus so far, is the amount of curiosity and interest that it generates. Nearly every rest area, gas station and grocery store parking lot becomes a venue to meet people and to tell the story of Wild Blue. We have already met so many interested and interesting people along the way. One family, who is pursuing a similar dream to ours, invited us to see their own bus project and to share some great conversation over some good beer at a beautiful farm perched high in the evergreen clad hills above the Columbia River Gorge in Washington. The farm where they currently live and care-take is piece of paradise etched out of the dense northwestern forest. The setting was almost too perfect on that beautiful sunny day with its old overgrown shade trees, bubbling brook meandering across the property and several inviting farm buildings that had been renovated into guests quarters. The whole family greeted us warmly. Bill, a friendly and inquisitive man with a big blonde beard and large brimmed straw hat was hard to miss as we coasted to a stop in the driveway. Bill's wife Melissa, excitedly greeted us with her warm and talkative spirit, while their daughter Paige seemed most intrigued by our more cuddly (though not particularly enthusiastic) passengers Lemon and Ryder. We showed them our bus and they eagerly complimented our work and peppered us with questions about our home design, what we liked best and what we might change if we were to do it over again.
Melissa, Bill and Paige in front of their "Living Bus Project".

         Then it was our turn. They led us across the lawn to see their current project. Their bus, slightly larger then ours, is well on its way to being one of a kind. Having just begun the insulation and building process, they were happy to share their ambitious vision of their future home/bus. Heidi and  I were both inspired by their commitment to using only renewable resources and "green" building materials. They have committed to strict set of building criteria set forth by the Living Building Challenge.  They had already begun insulating using cork and a natural wool based insulation in the floor. Neat stuff! Bill also explained several of the systems they were designing in order to accomplish their vision. One of these that sparked my curiosity was a water filtration system that could make clean drinking water for any source, even collected rain water. It was great to experience such an inspiring and innovative skoolie project. Even more wonderful was the experience of meeting such an open, generous and adventurous family.
The attention to detail is apparent in the bus's first round of custom-cut cork insulation.

       Before hitting the road again, we shared our life experiences over some cold Sierra Nevada's and found that we shared many of the same values. All of us are on a path that embraces community, sustainability and living with a openness to world. It is this very openness that led us to meet Bill Melissa and Paige in the first place. Bill's best advice for us on our travels; if you ever don't know which route to follow just go up and to the left. If up and left brings us to more places like this, I think that is advice that is well worth following. You can learn all about Bill, Melissa and Paige and their bus project at their blog Our Cascadia: The Living Bus Project     

Wild Blue returns to its roots in the beautiful neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon.


Lisa Lynn said...

Sounds like a great family and a fun trip :) Thanks for sharing it!

William said...

I glad to see that you journey has been a pleasant one, with no break downs. I look forward to traveling and meeting people like you two and Bill and Melissa.