I am just now seeing this category for intros. Otherwise, I'd have posted already.
My name is Michael. The better part of me and our lives is Carolyn.
Carolyn and I recently bought a 2003 Chevy E3500 short bus (at least that's what the registration says). I have been interested for some time now in "van life" but was unwilling to take the leap because Carolyn was quite uneasy with the thought of it. Not just the fact of two people living in a van, but just the concept of being in and living out of a vehicle full time. After months of just general conversation whenever it would come up, Carolyn began to show some interest in the concept, but not in a van. Understandbly so. Had I just been referring to camping here and there or road trips I'm sure she would have been much more open to the idea as she is just an overall open-minded person. There isn't a whole lot we won't try at least once for the experience - especially if we think we might have wished later down the road that we'd tried it but didn't. As you can tell, we are short bus owners now. It's great to have Carolyn on-board. Could I do by myself? Of course. Did I want to? Nope.
Carolyn and I are former business owners of our own cleaning company - Iowa Cleaning based out of (you guessed it) Iowa. (Go Hawkeyes!) I supposed technically we are still business owners but we've scaled down - way down - and it's just the two of now for the next few months until we take off full time in our new short bus. Carolyn was self-employed for nearly all her adult life cleaning while I have held many, many, MANY different jobs over the years in what seems about any industry you can imagine. Uh, well, as long as it's moral, heh. Sorry, no male stripping here. I've never stayed put in a job for long. It certainly isn't that I have bad work ethic, but I just simply was never happy. I was always bored after 6 months, a year, or what have you. I'd try this one and liked it for a time and then become bored. I'd jump to either another company in that industry with the same result, or I'd change industries entirely and build a skillset in another one. When I met Carolyn and was introduced to her line of work - I loved it. It might be the only industry I can say I ever truly loved and could see myself in for the long haul.
Carolyn showed me the ropes of the cleaning industry, and with the education and experience I gleened from her - I formed Iowa Cleaning. After it was up and running and we were comfortable and confident it wasn't going to tank (ha!), she joined up and we became co-owners together. Our speciality and focus was in post new construction cleaning. The overhead is extremely low all things considered and in our area of Iowa it was primed and almost dying for a high quality cleaning company for post new construction. The market is booming in this area of Iowa and so we took advantage of that. We grew our business from just the two of us to having 12-15 employees on sites at it's peak before we decided to commit to the bus life. Our company cleaned anything from single family homes that were built and ready to sell - all the way to grand multi-plexes of 20, 30 and on up to 40-50 unit buildings. We've cleaned commerical new construction as well, but residential is really where it's at in our market.
A few months back we realized even as successful as we had become as far as our brand was concerned and our involvement in our community that we simply weren't happy with where we were at in our lives and we needed change. Not a week's vacation to reset - we needed a change in our lifestyle. Life became so dang busy - and even though we were together just about every day - it just became overwhelming. We realized that there was so much more to life than working and making money just to pay bills. We can personally testify that the more you make the more you spend. And the coined phrase "mo money mo problems" is actually no joke at all! Outside of our heavy charity community involvement (particularly with Habitat for Humanity), it just wasn't worth it anymore.
So! After much debate, after much consideration - it became obvious that it was time to implement the talk of change into action. We closed the business down, liquidated it, saved some of it, paid off some debt and BOUGHT A SHORT BUS! What?!
We are currently in the building phase of our bus. It's slow going because neither of us have a lick of experience in construction other than cleaning it, ha! That and living in Iowa during the winter is not exactly ideal conditions for working outdoors in the bus. So we try to catch and take advantage of as many warmishly-cold days as we can. On the cold, freezing days we spend time watching videos, reading online, and learning what we can for our upcoming short bus life. We named our short bus "Wilson." Eventually, we intend to paint Wilson flat white with a scaled image of a volley ball - at least we hope to. And if you're wondering or care at all - yes, this name comes from Wilson the volley ball from the movie "Cast Away." We both are big fans of Tom Hanks, and both enjoyed the movie. It was probably the first name we came up with for whatever reason and it stuck easily for us. So, Wilson it is!
I can't say I've taken pictures of Wilson, but it seems people are interested in seeing other folks' builds and progress which I find fascinating myself! So I'll get some pictures for Wilson and get them uploaded. I did notice a specific category for this so I'll be sure to get them posted in that appropriate category. I'm actually pretty surprised at how many of "us" have older buses. This is encouraging to me because Wilson is older as I mentioned in the beginning of this post (which I now see has become a short story of a book). I should wrap this up.
My hobbies include music, writing (lyrics, poetry, bios, opinions - VERY opinionated this one - just about all kinds of writing), and singing. I love to sing. I believe music is the key to the human soul as love is to the human heart. I truly do. Outside of that, nature. If it can be done outdoors, regardless of whether we've tried it yet or not, Carolyn and I will do anything just about once. We're bringing our kayaks, roller blades, mountain bikes all with us when we take off after Wilson is completed. Carolyn loves reading and is actually very intelligent - particularly with the human anatomy and medical stuff. She'll tell you she's not smart, but if you ever meet her - do NOT let her extremely quiet personality fool you. She's amazing. (I'm also a smidge bit biased.) Together, our joint hobbies are - of course - Wilson our short bus, outdoor activities, and we really do enjoy cleaning stuff. Cleaning is sooo so so therapuetic. And it gratifying. You take something dirty and make it clean and it's very rewarding. We call ourselves the Jesus' of dirt. We wash away all it's sins. (That's a total lie - we've never said that in our lives, but it sounded good just now.)
As warmer weather approaches we will be gearing up and working way more on the bus. Hopefully that weather is coming sooner rather than later! Our goal is to take off on May 1st! Bring on the warm weather!! For now while it's been much colder (except this week apparently), we try to research, get ideas, and just learn what we can about the short bus life.
In closing, I am thrilled to have happened across Skoolie.net. Whoever founded this community should be crowned. And even the few people I've had the pleasure of interacting with so far have been immensely helpful. I couldn't be more thankful or grateful for how willing people are to take time out of their day and their lives to share thoughts, opinions and provide feedback to absolute complete strangers! Thanks to EVERY single person who has helped us out so far, and I look forward to "meeting" more you along the way!!
Michael & Carolyn