Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Need help (advice) where to park our bus in MD
Dear skoolie community:
We need help with finding a place to park our bus. We live in Montgomery County in Maryland, close to DC. We are open to creative ideas about where we could park it even after it's finished (maybe a campground in the mountains so other people can use it as well?)
This is reposted from our FB post, so that's why it's very personal....
Friends: we are looking for a new parking spot for our bus. I'll get to that later, but first some history.
Many of our friends have asked us, "What are you doing with the bus?" Well: settle in, folks. You know how the whole world can be contained in a breath? Well the whole of a life aspiration can be contained in a bus conversion. That's the main thing I've learned since Stana and I bought it this past winter. I've also learned how to repair rust, how to frame a bed, how to use Rust-Oleum to do a gigantic paint job, and how auto insurance companies, local governments, rental contracts, and various other civilizational institutions don't really contemplate the possibility of a couple converting a school bus into an adventure camper. Still to learn: rudimentary plumbing, and enough electrical to get our solar panels functional.
But let's back up a minute. Stana and I bought it somewhat on a whim, but also after long contemplation. We had both been interested in the Tiny Home movement for a while, and both had been interested in burnishing our construction skills on a tiny home project of some sort. It's not that we planned to move in to a Tiny Home (I mean, one day, maybe?) so much as we aspired to live a simpler, less cluttered, less expensive life. We didn't know what we would do with the Tiny Home if we built one, nor did we know precisely what we'd do with the bus once done. One thing I knew is that I envied all those couples, charting their journeys on YouTube and Instagram, who were living out of a bus, traveling the country, doing whatever it was they loved to do, which was usually hike, climb, mountain bike, or in some ways live their life outdoors. I knew the reality couldn't be as lovely as it looked - and that's something I now have first-hand experience on.
Those of you who have known me a long time know that I spent a good deal of my high school and College years outdoors. One year I actually spent more nights in a tent than I did in a bed. After doing a NOLS course in College, I seriously considered becoming a NOLS instructor and making outdoor education my career. But, then I got hired at the newspaper, really enjoyed journalism, and the rest is history. Now in my mid-30s, though, part of me wonders whether I missed out on something. This is why, in the Instagram profile I set up for the bus, I wrote: "Wondering if I misspent my youth by getting a real job."
That may seem a bit "mid-life crisis" like, but the fact is this is how I've always been: always questioning. Always considering, is this the way I should be spending my days? Is this the path I want to take? Because, tragically, time only runs forward, and each life choice is simultaneously a choice not to follow other directions. How you spend your days is how you spend your life. On Saturday, Stana and I spent 11 hours sanding, cleaning, and painting the bus. And now she looks beautiful. We named her "Dom," for our three kids: Dmitri, Olin, Maya. In some languages, it's also a root word for "Home."
Yesterday, Stana took some of these pictures in the hopes that they would motivate one of our friends in the area to agree to host the bus while we continue the renovation. The land that it's on north of Germantown is no longer an option, and we need to identify a new parking spot for it some time in the next few weeks.
It's difficult to understate how much stress this has caused us (for more reasons than are outlined here). All over a little bus. We live in downtown Silver Spring, with no driveway and no space. We have contemplated simply selling it, likely swallowing most of the cost of purchasing and the construction. The money is not a big deal. But what is a big deal, is ... how do I say this ... the loss of the aspiration. To us, the bus represents that simple life of freedom, as I'm sure it does for many in this community (which is all organized by hashtags. Try searching for #buslife or #skoolielife on Insta and you'll see what I mean). We have some dreams for ourselves and our family, and we don't want to give those up. We dream about a months-long cross-country road trip with the kids. Maybe we drive from climbing area to climbing area, or from national park to national park. Maybe I work during the weekdays, and we climb and hike when we're not working. I dream of an outdoor classroom for my son, with the bus as our traveling home. Instead of waking up early and going downstairs to play with his legos, my son wakes up early and goes outside to play in the woods or in a nearby stream or climb a tree.
Perhaps this is all unrealistic. We have real jobs, and three kids, and - omg - parenting agreements with ex's.
Maybe the way we are all living now is the unrealistic way to live. Perhaps it's the big houses, the huge mortgages, the lengthy commutes, the busywork, the screens, the many many screens, the cubicles, all the superhero movies, the air conditioning, the meetings for coffee or drinks at bars, when we can all find the time, that is, where we pay $9 for a pint and $16 for a cocktail. Maybe THAT is all stupid and unrealistic and unsustainable.
Who knows? Here's what I do know: We're not ready to sell the bus. We want to be able to keep it. We want to be able to one day use it, if only for a long weekend trip to the mountains or the ocean. And yea, maybe one day we'll be able to drive it around the country with our kids.
But first, we need a place to park it and continue working on it. Preferably this is with someone who is as willing to step a bit outside of what "normal" society thinks is normal and proper as we are. It needs to be someone who has property either that the neighbors can't see, or who doesn't really care if a sensitive neighbor doesn't entirely approve. Having said that, let me also say: parking the bus off-street is perfectly legal anywhere in Montgomery County and/or DC. It's 27-feet long, or about the length of two Prius's. And it has a Queen-sized bed already installed, in case you have a guest that wants to try an occasional overnight in there.
So. Any takers?