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BUS LIFE DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC 2020

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Why did we end bus life? What was bus life like during the initial pandemic? why did we move from az to tx and buy a house?

Hey yall, it has been a while! Lots has happened. Much like LIFE…we move on and do new things per the circumstances and situations we are in. YOu just keep going, adapting, overcoming, and growing. that is life.

What Happened?

We bought a house May 2020 after COVID caused people to lose their shit! If you remember, we were in Sierra Vista, AZ staying with some people we met via Instagram (fellow skoolie builders) and our workamping gig (they saw us parked in town at the pumpkin patch/tree lot). After the US declared COVID a pandemic, a neighbor complained that we were there and said 2 families are not allowed in one lot. We had a permit from the county for 6 months to be there, and they told us due to the pandemic they would be auto extending it. She complained/threatened our hosts enough they asked if we would be mad if they asked us to leave. Mind you, RV parks, BLM land, everything was closed down. We had been invited by this couple to stay the year til our next gig started in October. This was about March 2020, right after my birthday.We had a plan with this other family to raise chickens and garden (like a few days/a week or so before this all happened) just in case this lasted a while, because we had no idea what the future would hold. Hence, our 10 white leghorns that lived with us back then and the garden we posted about starting. We put over $1500 in amendments, soil, plants, and trees on our “side” of this yard we were renting. We had our 2 children, our dog, our cat, 10 chickens, our bus, and what we thought was a safe place to stay. We were now being squeezed. I don’t know about other people, but I don’t like feeling trapped. We definitely were no longer welcome.

As people who have been independent since 18, always had a plan, ready for anything….we acted. We had already been loking for land to purchase where we were, but we hadn’t found anything that we called to us. We decided we needed a place with some water, and I missed soft grass without stickers. I mean, I love to barefoot sooooo:). We started looking back in TX. People always kept to themselves where we lived and didn’t come on your property to tell you what to do. TX has a different mind set, at least from my experience. They aren’t completely “free” and I have not enjoyed their recent abortion laws, or the fact that they don’t let people consume cannabis, BUT people are proud of their state, they have a good mentality in Central TX, and eventually we will get to a truly FREE state, and in the moment of thinking where do we want to go now that Shit Has Hit The Fan….We both thought, Texas. No, We don’t have family here. We had met a lot of good people, and had some good friends in the different areas scattered about. I guess you could say we felt more at “Home” here. I NEVER thought we would come back here. I actually thought we would have found a place on the road somewhere or fall in love with another state. 5 years prior when we began to build the bus (August 2015) I thought, We will be in Alaska or Idaho or Washington and homesteading up there. But I had no idea what we would find, or where. The types of people in the different places. How safe or unsafe I felt in different parts of the country. You don’t know until you try.

So, our friend (also a real estate realtor/broker, Rick Ott) started traveling all over TX and showing us houses via Facebook Messenger Facetime. We put in 5 offers on 5 different houses and were beat out by over bidding, cash offers, and bad inspections. This would have been our 4th home we bought and I NEVER had such a hard time buying a house. Finally, another one popped up. It had a pool, out of the city so we could have our chickens and bus, in a small 2 street subdivision which I NEVER thought we would move to again, but never say never (as I always tell my kids), and it wasn’t 20 acres, 10, 5, even 2. It’s almost an acre. But we had the money for it, it was 14 years old so we could fix and upgrade stuff as needed, and it had enough space. It seemed like a good investment considering the housing prices were on their way up. In 2 weeks, May 2020, we closed on the home. 48 hours after signing the docs via mobile notary, we were packed up (including our storage unit of picks and tools and solar panels we acquired while in AZ and a plastic tote of chicks about 12 wks old at this point), and had already sold most of anything we didn’t need to bring with us, some stuff we had to throw away. It was a bit hectic but orchestrated. We were thrown, again, into a new situation.

The girls were 14 and 12. They had been expressing they were ready for a home again the last year, which is why we picked up our search for a homestead and became even less mobile in bus life. The eldest was starting to outgrow her bunk (she is tall yall! LOL), and they were both used to sharing spaces, adapting to wherever we went next, and living “road life”. But, even they were ready for some home school group consistency, local classes, etc for more than a few months. COVID was a hard time to find normalcy in socializing situations, of course lol, bad timing, BUT when things started to taper off it was good for them to get out and see the same faces and even have sleep overs with their old friends from near our area.

Food Storage Situation

Our prepper experience and mentality definitely kicked in. Everything we did on the homestead was converted to tiny/bus life. Since Crab was investing pretty heavily in the stock market, he was constantly ears on the ground and tapped into what was going on in the world. He was watching WorldStar Hip Hop, which we have joked on our podcast before about, but it really does give info a lot faster than the regular mainstream media. He was reading the Drudge Report. We watched Yahoo Finance!, every CDC announcement and talk, every Trump, Fauci, etc speech. They always tell us what they are going to do, you just have to learn to act appropriately to what they say. In January we started buying medicine, kleenex, some bleach, cans of soup, large orders of fruit cocktail, dried goods like sugar, flour, beans. and putting it in our basement boxes in the bus, under the couches, under the beds….all the storage spots were being stuffed. In February China was talking about masks, so we started buying 3M N95 masks from the home depots we would visit (after researching which are the best for infection prevention/spreading). We also bought hand sanitizers, wipes, things to make our own hand sanitizer, rehydration packets, pedialyte popsicles, and even Thieves oil from young Living. In March, I think was when Australia was knife fighting for toilet paper, so we started buying some TP and Paper Towels and trashbags becuse that is how I cleaned the compost toilet every 3 days. That all had to got into our storage unit, but at that point I was so HAPPY we had that unit to put those bulkier items we needed in. We even bought a Amazon bag of rags for just in case we ran out of the paper stuff. We upped our frozen and canned meats. With a RV freezer there isn’t much room for a lot, so we were going to the store every 4 days or so to restock. This was also the same time the food supply chain was being talked about being disrupted, and that’s when we got the chickens. Chickens-eggs + meat. Protein for as long as you can have baby chicks being born.

We did it. You CAN do it. You CAN survive the empty shelves AZ faced (very odd to see coming from the south where everyone had a lot of food in case of hurricanes and tornados. The water shelves were usually cleared down south, but nothing like I saw in AZ.) and types of challenges COVID presented on a traveler and to someone living on a tiny scale. But once your home is threatened or where you park it, there isn’t much you can do if you don’t own the spot…..even with all of the TP and food in the world, lol.

Some people would think that buying all of that stuff was over kill. But we aren’t the people to go fight for food if you don’t have to. Or fight over TP or PT. Or bleach. You have car insurance. You have home insurance. Life insurance maybe. Health insurance definitely. Why not other insurances? You are the only one who can provide for your family. You have to be prepared for when people act like people. Stay one step ahead when you can because you can’t trust how people will react when their livelihoods are changed. If they lose their jobs. People in their family die from this. Humans are humans. We didn’t want to be the parents of a sick child who can’t get a bed because of the overflow at hospitals, and can’t find medicine in the store because it is all gone. We were ready for all 4 of us to get sick and not have to leave the bus unless we had to.

By the time we made it to Central Texas (18 hours of driving, straight through only stopping at Gas Stations) and into our new home, when I put all of the food into the pantry it FILLED it. I did not realize how stocked we were. But I was so proud of us. I felt like I really was ready and prepared for my family, despite being in a bus on the road.

Rule of Thumb:

ACTION ALLEVIATES ANXIETY. If you freak out about something, do something about it. Be proactive with what you can control. Then you will feel prepared and less anxious. Good facts people. Write it down.

And then it was over…..

Bus life…..the universe….the world, it felt like….. was telling us it was our time to move on. Regardless of the situation we were put in, or found ourselves in, or even put ourselves in…there is always a time where you have to move with life, no matter what you want your plans to be, or if you are ready or not. Life is coming and happening. We used the experience for what it was worth and we learned more than words could ever explain. We learned about ourselves, our relationships, how to do everything we wanted to do or find the tools and resources to learn it, the confidence to just do something, try something new, be weird, be comfortable being uncomfortable….and so much more.

There is so much I miss about Chitty Bang and living in her. The freedom to leave a place (until something like COVID made it harder). The freedom from so much money having to be had to live and enjoy life. The problems were different. The views were always different. But the happiness of being with my family was what made wherever we went home. I just want to be where they are. Period. Big lesson learned throughout my life that has stayed consistent in my time on Earth.

MORE MOVING……

Not only did we move from AZ, but we had to go back to West Texas and get all of our homesteading and household items we stored in 2015 to bring to our home. AND to EAST TX to my parents to get our lawn mowers and some solar panels we stored there. and TEXAS is BIG. 4.5 hours one way and back, and 5 hours another way and back. In a week, we had all of our shit in our home and it was like Christmas lol. AND I GOT SHIN SPLINTS from all of the walking of packing and unpacking, going up and down attic and bus stairs.. YES! Transitioning from a tiny bus to a house will give you shin splints LMAO. Something you don’t even expect to happen.

Just Like That. She Is Gone.

Yes, we sold the bus in June 2022. We listed her in Summer 2021. I think by that time we realized we weren’t going to be hitting the road again any time soon. And we were finally ready to let go. Her new owners came in from Oregon and drove her back. They are remodeling and fixing her up for their travels, and even had some small adventures on their way home with Chitty Bang’s wiring that had been wiggling lose apparently over the years! We were so sad to see her go, but also happy that she would not be sitting and rusting in the yard. She deserves more adventures. More happiness found and shared. More travels and memories. And she deserves someone who can change her, add to her, and make her their own.

She looks like a bus. Something thrown away by Mesa Verde AZ Independent School District. Used up. Smelled like rubber and all things school bus. But we stripped her and created a beautiful tiny home for our family. A way to see the country our veteran went to war to protect and serve. A way to be with our kids all of the time and be in charge of their education and how they viewed the world. Be there to answer questions and give them real and honest answers. TO appreciate nature. To enjoy life and take advantage of the good times. To roll with the punches. To adapt. To overcome. To be patient. To be kind. To give. To fix things. To know you can do anything you put your mind to. To teach them what we were learning. To show them how to make money when they need it. To work hard. To work during the holidays and give back to people. To be with your family and work as a team. To depend on each other. To love one another. TO BE Together. To Trust. Chitty Bang was our classroom of life. Of the world.

I will never forget “That time we lived in a bus.”

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