I’m fresh into bus life, moving me & the boys into a 22’ Short School Bus. Dirty Hairy is her name, and getting us around is her game.
Why a bus?
I’ve tried many-a-RV including a pull-behind camper, and lived in my Ford F150 on and off for 4 years.
A short school bus sounded like the perfect mix of size, and functionality. I loved the idea of fitting into majority of parking spots / locations, and the best part; parking, stand up inside the vehicle, and having my home all ready for me. There’s nothing quite like getting groceries and being able to put them away in the parking lot. The truck was fantastic, but moving between the truck bed and cab along with the puzzle storage that was required, it was exhausting, especially in bad weather. But Trucky did prepare me for knowing exactly what I wanted and needed. So when I met some bus builders on my travels last year that agreed to custom build me a short school bus, I was stoked.
All about Dirty Hairy
This bus is a 2005 Chevy Express Thomas Built with 121K miles. Painted black with a white roof. The dark color helps it stay incognito, proven by the many people squinting their eyes in unsure confusion as I drive by. The name of the bus recently came to me, being always dirty (bugs mostly love to explode all over it) and hairy from my 2 dogs, and I love a good pun.
One of the most custom aspects of DH is the hitch mount; a custom built swing hitch for my Segway 160x dirt bike. It can hold up to 500 lbs, so one day I am hoping to get a big girl Honda Rebel to hang out on the back. One day…
For my solar junkies, DH has 480 watts of solar panels, two 12V lithium batteries (Battleborn), a 2000 watt inverter (Renogy), and a dual battery charger (I am hoping to replace with the Victron), and a 30amp shore power connection.
The inside contains an oven with stovetop, AC via window shaker mounted in the back, sink with moveable water faucet (aka can spin it to shoot out the window for a shower), water filter, and a 40 gallon water tank to make it work. To answer the number one question I know you’re thinking, no, I do not have a bathroom. I have a pop-up shelter, and toilet with bag system if needed, and outdoor shower capability. I wanted to keep it simple with no black/gray water tanks, and since I am a vehicle dweller veteran, I know how to make it work. My biggest request was to have DH designed with dogs in mind, so there is an easily climbable queen size bed, a mural depicting silhouettes of my two boys, and room for an extra fridge for their food. As required, DH contains lot’s of storage, and best of all, it’s designed for me with simple white interior accented with a lovely wood lined ceiling and floor. Black, white and wood tones, simple, I love simple.
The Entire Story
I certainly had a lot of people in my ear asking how I could trust these people, and even more concerning, the Hippies laughed and told me I was too trusting as well (that was not a good night), but I still stand by the ideology that trusting overall is better than not, so when I drove the bus off into the sunset, and the check engine light came right on, I tried to keep the faith.
I won’t lie, there were many times I was nervous at the integrity of the bus. An older (2005) bus that’s seen winters in Ohio since it’s creation seventeen years ago. I saw crazy amounts of rust, and I voiced that concern, but was told it was normal, safe, and a promise it would be OK.
Once it become apparent that the problems were adding up, mechanics were finding all sorts of things, and skoolie people in the community informed me that this was a trend, I began hustling to get to a big city to hopefully take care of any outstanding issues. I am grateful for the community helping, and have learned a lot about how DH works. If you ever want to get into this life, it’s honestly a really hard time time to find a good, honest build, but never give up!
*Note: I first wrote out the legit entire story including text messages, emails, and photos, but I want to feel good about this being my home, no matter who built it. I will say that I refuse to give up on believing people are good, but are doing the best they can with what they have, and will continue to work diligently on voicing how it affects me, and move along. I have been invalidated my entire life, I know it won’t stop right away. But the power of listening and a mere ‘I’m sorry this is happening” goes a long way. People can think what they want of me and the situation as they see it, that’s the freedom, the entanglement is when I get hung up on what I can’t change, and so I try to let it be.