For Christmas we unwrapped the bus!

The bus unwrapped
The bus unwrapped

So as we are getting closer to being finished and our departure date, we have started looking into what we need to get the bus registered and insured to get on the road. We are planning on getting our insurance through National General Insurance who will insure a bus converted to an RV. When we sent them photos we were told we needed a little more work done before the underwriters would approve our policy. First we needed to remove¬† where is said “To advertise call …” which we had planned on removing anyway. This gave us the motivation to stop procrastinating and remove all the baseball team logos. We left the baseball playing surfer dude because we liked him. Luckily for us beneath the vinyl wrap was a great green white and black paint job.

The other requirement to get our insurance was that we had our walls up. So Trevor has been hard at work finishing those up and the bus is started to really look finished. We are putting the bead board on most of the walls but we covered one in the kitchen with cork tiles. This way we can post pictures, maps and anything else that strikes our fancy along the way. We also acquired our counter top, thanks again to craigslist. The counter has a nice rounded over hang that we can use as a table for eating at. So the counter has been installed, and the cabinets below it secured to the bus so they won’t shift while we are driving.

Walls installed
Walls installed
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Bead board wall next to the tub
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Cork wall and counter top
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Check out the nice finishing details

We plan to hang curtain to divide the space and create privacy in the bathroom and bedroom. There is a post Christmas mattress sale going on at Macy’s of all places so tomorrow we are off to buy our mattress so we can get the bed frame completed and the bedroom walls done. We intend to put storage under the bed for everything we need to transport down. We also going to put some shelving up in the bathroom area. The will be a bench that runs next to the stove that will have additional storage space. When going tiny, you want storage anywhere you can put it.

Our planned departure date is coming up soon and we can’t wait to get on the road. Santa brought a copy of Road trip USA to help us start planning our route. We also ordered a ton of maps from AAA and our anxiously awaiting their arrival. If you want us to come visit let us know!

The bus unwrapped
The bus unwrapped
Detail of the bus unwarpped
Detail of the bus unwarpped
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A light to shine the way home

So right before we left for our Thanksgiving trip to Oregon we finally got power to the bus. Trevor got all the panels connected and we hooked up the first strip of DC lights and we thought all was in the clear. The day before we left all he wanted to do was connect the charge controller and make sure everything was running correctly. However, nothing runs as smoothly as we would like. When he turned it on instead of one light coming on all the lights were lighting up. We read the manual, tried trouble shooting the problem and still had no luck. Eight hours later and two calls to tech support it turned we had a defective product. They sent another controller out while we were away and the first thing we did upon returning was connect it. Success!! In fact it was fairly anticlimactic when it turned on. My brother’s friend Chris Anderson was nice enough to donate an old wireless router in exchange for a tour of the bus and we can now monitor exactly what is happening with the solar array. 

We have been blessed with unseasonably warm December weather (fingers crossed that it continues) so Trevor has been working on some outside projects. He reassembled the engine and the bus still runs. He also finished attaching the rack at the front of the bus that will store the kayaks and any other items that we find are too large to fit inside. We have had some small leaks that we can’t find the source of so Trevor has also been sealing the roof trying to keep the water out. The last big outdoor project will be to mount the water tanks underneath the bus for fresh water and gray water. We have two 46 gallon tanks that will be used for this. 

Inside we have been finalizing the placement of all the kitchen cabinetry and appliances. These will all need to be secured in some fashion so they don’t shift while we are on the road. Along with this we have been deciding exactly where all our AC and DC outlets will be needed. That way the wiring can finally be completed and Trevor can finally put the electrical on the completed list. 

With the completion of the wiring we can get the walls finished up. We want to use the 2inch styrofoam insulation on the bedroom walls to help with cooling if we decide to get an air conditioner for the baby. This will be covered with same white bead board we used in the front of the bus. Trevor also wants to frame in the wall to the utility closet so it will be able to support the AC electrical components. 

Almost everything we need has been purchased by now. We have gotten our water trough bathtub and a porta potty toilet. We are still hunting for a good deal on counter tops – I’m hoping Craigslist comes through with something. There are a few other items we also need but the end is insight and Christmas is around the corner :). 

Aurora Gets her 6 month shots January 27 so our tentative departure date in February 5. We applied for her passport and are getting all our ducks in a row for our Nicaragua return. Before we know it we will be home!

 

Trevor wiring the electrical
  
Water tanks
  
Bedroom lightswitch
  
Water wall- bathtub, washing machine, sink and refridgerator
  
Toilet
   
Aurora loves to play in the bus
  
USB charger and outlet for the fridge
  
AC outlet and USB charger
  
Completed Kayak roof rack
  
Rack mounted to the bumper
  
Roof rack
  
The bus
  
A light to shine the way home
 

Cob Cottage Tour

So we are behind on our blog here but we have had lot’s going on. We went out to Oregon for the Thanksgiving holiday to visit Trevor’s family so for a few weeks we had a break from the bus conversion. We’ve been back for a week now and everything is in full swing again. While we were in Oregon we took the opportunity to take a road trip out towards the coast and visit the Cob Cottage Company, some of the leaders in the cob revival movement.

The visit was inspirational and we left even more excited to get on the road back home and start building again. Linda Smiley and Ianto Evens wrote The Hand Sculpted House, the book that has been our bible while planning and building. We got the opportunity to meet them and see how they structure their space. We went with our camera prepared to take tons of photos. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain and we didn’t get all the photos we wanted. One thing we did really love was their use of cob walls to create little nooks and crannies around their property. Trevor and I have long talked about using paths and walkways to create individual private gardens and areas to make our property feel larger. It was was awesome to see such a spectacular example of it.

I think Trevor and I were both impressed with how warm and cozy the cottages were despite the dreary weather. While they use rocket stoves to heat the buildings most weren’t burning during our tour. ¬†We also had the opportunity to discuss different methods of natural flooring, a project we hope to be working on soon after our return to Nica. While we weren’t able to get many photos outside, we did take some of interiors and other finishing techniques. I encourage you to check out their website for more photos of the project.

All and all, the visit was a real pilgrimage for us and I’m really glad we made time during our visit to Oregon to go there. We hope to visit with other natural builders and schools along our trip to Nica so if any has any recommendations on where we should go let us know!

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Bale cob building in progress
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Bale cob building different angel
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Natural flooring
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Woodworking detail
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fresco work
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Roofing detail
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Built in storage
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Bathroom mosaic
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Sculpted detail
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Toilet
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Sculpted cob
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Sitting room- Laughing House