Welcome to Season 2 of the Outside Found bus adventure! We’ve just gotten back on the road and will start updating the blog with more regularity in the coming days. Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to since we last saw you!
Last spring was a whirlwind: turning the bus from a metal shell into something liveable was a huge project that took us hundreds of hours over the course of four months to complete. We missed our launch deadline by a few weeks and were scrambling to the very last day to make sure we had all of the necessities, like water and power.
Over the course of the summer we noticed a few things that needed some improvement, and this year we had enough time to make most of them happen.
The couple who had owned the bus before us did a quick and dirty paint job when they bought the bus, using a matte house paint material. It didn’t look too bad when we left Meadow Vista last June, but after a few months of travel it was starting to look particularly dingy. This year we sprung for a shiny new paint job from the guys at Classic Truck in Idaho Falls, ID. They paint all of the local big rigs and river rafting busses, so dealing with our little bus was no big deal for them! One big factor in deciding to get the bus painted was taking care with all of the surface rust. Not only did they blast off all of the old paint, but they also ground down (or cut out and replaced, when it was bad enough) all of the rust that was eating away at the body.
How much did it cost, you ask? We’ll just tell you what they told us when we called to ask for a quote… “About an arm and a leg!” The end result is well worth it though!
The entryway was one of the things that we really didn’t touch in our initial buildout. Last summer did quite a number on the light blue paint in the stairwell, so we decided to give it a fresh new coat that matched the blue-gray tone of the floor. Once that was done it looked so good that I just went ahead and did all of the white metal surrounding the driver’s area.
Our second addition was overhead shelves. The bulkhead area has a ton of space that wasn’t being well utilized, but until we saw these crates at Joann’s Fabrics we didn’t know what would fit there. These are great because they give us space for little knick knacks like headlamps, pens, and coins that otherwise just end up as clutter rolling around the bus.
(Don’t worry, we reinforced the crates with screws to make sure that they don’t fall apart on us!)
Dash Cam: You would be amazed at the kinds of reckless things people do when a bus is barreling down on them! Though we hope to never have to use it, a dash cam provides great video evidence in a “your word vs theirs” kind of situation. This one is neat because it hooks into the bus power and automatically turns itself on + starts recording when we start the bus up.
Fan: We originally had a driver’s area fan, but somewhere along the way it died. This shiny new version works great for keeping the driver cool in the hot desert sun.
New bulbs: Last summer we had to wear a headlamp while driving at night to see the RPM and temperature gauges – not ideal! Will replaced the burnt out bulbs and realized that the new ones were significantly brighter than the others, so he ended up replacing all of them.
This is Will’s favorite project! We added a strip of red LEDs underneath our kitchen cabinets, accessible by a little switch next to the fridge. These will be great when we’re trying to be stealthy – plenty of light to see what we’re doing, but not enough to give us away when we don’t want people to know we’re in here.
When we were choosing lighting for the bus last spring we judged everything by brightness – everything had to be bright enough to read, cook, or work by. We did so well by our criteria that our main lights ended up being a little too bright! If you wanted to sit and read a book or have a nice dinner, the overhead lights were too overpowering. We love the little sconces that we had over the kitchen, so we added a few more over the couch and dinner table. Now we can selectively light each area rather than the whole bus.
We also swapped out the lightbulbs for a warmer, less “utility” tone of light. It makes things feel a lot more homey and less garage-like.
Last year we launched with a gorgeous set of white linen curtains, handmade by my mama. Though they looked great, they weren’t quite strong enough to hold up to the abuse we put them through and quickly started to show some wear and tear. On top of that, they didn’t block a lot of light – when we camp inside of city limits, we like to be as stealthy as possible. With the white curtains any light inside the bus made the whole thing glow.
Not being a terribly experienced seamstress, I went for the easiest fabric I could find: felt. Charcoal felt is great because it’s cheap ($25 for 10yds using a Joann’s coupon!) blocks light well, and doesn’t need to be finished on all of the edges. I cut everything to size, sewed a small tube for a dowel on the bottom edge, and then used a staple gun to attach them to the furring strips above our windows. Then we just roll them up and hold them there using a little loop of rope.
So far they’re working great and do a much better job of blocking inside light when it’s dark out.
Other Mini Updates
Map storage: We collect maps like nobody’s business and last summer they floated around the bus willy nilly, driving me crazy. This year I added some elastic loops that hold them in a shelf up front, which makes them much more accessible!
Ottoman: Will’s been wanting one of these storage ottomans for a long time and I could never find one that I liked. We stumbled upon this one in Target in Salt Lake City and for $30 just couldn’t pass it up. It works great for storing Hilde’s blanket (actually a car seat cover that we put on the couch at night to save it from her dirt) and acting as an easy seat if you don’t want to pull a white chair over to the table area.
Shelves: Will built a wooden frame for these plastic drawers since their plastic frame kept falling apart. This is great because it keeps everything a little more organized and gives us space on the floor for other bins.
Want to chat with us?
We’ll be live on Facebook at 6pm PST tonight – tune in to get a tour of our campsite and listen to a little Q&A! Just go to our Facebook Page to check it out. Everyone’s welcome!