I was just thinking about fifteen minutes ago, "I don't think I've ever personally used the word foist before". Not that I remember every word I've said, necessarily, but I think I'd remember if I said foist. Today I resolve to use the word foist at least once in a natural context - so watch out for that.
When we last left our heroes, we had just taken all of the seats out of our mighty new school bus.
To get this party started, check out the official BtyB-Time-Machine satellite photo of the bus. This is in no way blantantly ripped from google maps :
Before going any further, we wanted to get some driving experience under our belts. I pulled up behind a bus at a bus stop and got out. The real bus driver was smoking a cigarette and waiting for his bus to fill up.
"I have a question... we just bought that school bus and want some practice driving it. Can we take some of your customers?"
It was an insane request, and I really had no expectation that he would allow it. He glanced at the giant school bus tentatively.
"Yeah, I guess that would be ok."
"Great. Can you come with me on your bus so that people will believe me?"
We got on the front of the nearly full bus. It was full of students, teachers, and a few families. The end of the day had come and they were ready to go home.
"Hi," I began, "Right behind this bus is another bus that my friends and I just bought. We want to practice driving it, so if anyone wants to ride on it, it's free and we'll take you to your door."
No one budged.
"It's true," chimed in the bus driver.
Slowly a Chinese family stood up. Our first passengers.
As they climbed into the bus it was obvious that they were not expecting what was inside. Five college kids filling the carcass of a school bus, with nowhere to sit. I could see that they considered leaving, but got on the bus anyway.
By the time we reached their house they had accepted the discomfort of sitting on tool boxes and the floor, and were grateful for the ride. On the way back we stopped at another bus stop and told the girls that their bus was broken and that we'd give them a ride. They didn't believe us.
We had a plan, but it was rather rudimentary. The plan was this : "build a kick-ass school bus and go to Alaska", so you can see that we had to come up with some of the details on the fly. We'd read somewhere that insulating the floor and the walls was important for keeping the temperature and sound levels reasonable (note : it did neither), so we built a new floor and walls that went up to the bottom of the windows.
When I do something, I do it right. Usually. We were in Home Depot, deciding which plywood to use, and for some reason the cheap plywood wasn't good enough for us. No... six college students traveling around the US in a giant school bus had to be surrounded in nothing but Home Depot's finest oak paneling.
None of us had any practical experience building anything. My father is a carpenter, so the role of "guy who knows what he's doing" was foisted upon me. We had a motley collection of tools, including several hand me downs from my father, a table saw stored at Austin's parents' house, and whatever other tools we could find around there. After doing something wrong with the table saw and having a piece of 3/4" oak shot at my stomach, I shyed away from future table saw use.
How is that thing even legal? I can't think of anything more dangerous than a table saw, besides a wild pack of tigers. And no one uses tigers for construction. To this day I hate the table saw and refuse to use them.
We drew out some rough plans. The bus was to have a large living room area in the front, a kitchen, pantry, and storage room in the middle, and a bedroom in the back. Then we winged it. The first order of business was building the counter for the kitchen and the storage area. By the time we got working on that we realized that bunk beds in the back were going to be far too difficult.
One lingering problem was carpeting. I did some research into it, and it turns out that laying carpet is no trivial task. Further complicating the problem, the rest of the bus was coming out so well that we couldn't have a second rate carpeting job done.
Adam and I went to a carpet store with our story ready to roll.
"Hi, we're from the Christian Students Association, and we're making a school bus to travel through the US and go on mission. Could we get a discount?"
Ok... so we're not Christians. And we're not going on missions. And also we are in no way a student association - but we did have a school bus, and that's what was important. He agreed to give us a good price, and we began shopping. We settled on a brown, hoping that it would conceal dirt pretty well. I felt a bit guilty about the whole charade, to be honest, but my only priority was to get this school bus done. We worked on it nearly every single day for three months, and it was quickly becoming our baby.
We finished the interior, and were lucky enough to find a huge sectional couch set that was exactly the right size, if not the right color. They filled out the living room perfectly, leaving enough room for the hallway through the middle. Unfortunately we never considered that we might want to try lying down on these couches, since a few of us would be sleeping on them every night - they turned out to be slightly more comfortable than sleeping on sharp rocks.
Additionally, we bought a blue recliner to serve as the shotgun chair. It was pretty awesome - when fully reclined the footrest was at the same level as the dashboard.
A mini roadtrip to Houston was executed to meet with a shady car audio guy in a flea market. We bought dual 12" subwoofers, four 6x9 speakers, an amp, and a head unit. We rigged it up as we drove home.
Next we went to a tinting place and worked out a good deal to tint the whole bus. We had initially tried to do it ourselves, but that proved to be an enormous disaster. We got the darkest tint available, hoping to keep some of the heat out of the bus. After all, we had no air conditioner.
With a week until our first trip, the bus was finally complete. The day we departed we were presented by Austin's parents with a huge sign for each side of the bus with the bus' full name spelled out : "The Great American Old School Giddyup". My mother got us a little framed Ken Kesey quote that said : "Either you're on the bus or you're off the bus". True indeed.
The trips we went on with the bus were legendary, and full of unthinkable adventure and memories in their own right. Coming soon are stories of those trips complete with pictures and video. Until then, here are pictures of the final product :
Ok.. fine... and a preview of one of the trips :
I'm a Production Coordinator out of Dallas TX and am desperately looking for an old school bus to use in a TV commercial this Friday in Brenham Tx. (between Austin and Houston) If you could pass on the contact info for the old bus dealership in Austin it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Reading this entry reminded me of one of my better stories. It took place in eighth grade. I wonder if they are related?
Two friends and I were biking around our neighborhood (lost creek) one evening when a school bus pulled up to a stop sign. Something didn't make sense as it was about six thirty PM and bass was pulsing from the bus. Naturally we followed the bus on our bikes and found it parked at a house down the hill.
Now it wasn't too often that you find a school bus that plays rap music driving around at dusk, so we decided to knock on the door and ask to see the ride. Two guys answered and gave us a tour of the bus.
Then one of the guys had an epiphany. He realized that project graduation was happening that night at westlake high school, and that we should get in line with the other buses to drop off some middle schoolers. My buddies and I then volunteered to get off of the bus in our underwear for comedic effect.
So it was decided that my two friends and I would crash project graduation in our underwear in a retrofitted schoolbus driven by two random guys from our neighborhood.
We got to project graduation and managed to get last in line with the buses that were dropping off high schoolers for their graduation party. When we pulled up and got off of the bus we where greeted by three volunteer moms who voraciously shooed us back on to the bus. Surprisingly, they didn't seem phased by the whole situation, as if the were used to seeing mischief of this caliber and the bar had been raised before us.
Since we where already driving around, we decided to take the bus to sixth street for some ghostriding. That was back in 2001 so I'm not even sure if ghostriding had gotten mainstream at that point. (Does anyone know the history of ghostriding?)
We where turning from 360 onto mopac en route to sixth, when...
we heard a loud noise and the bus jostled a little bit. I thought we had hit one of those roadside electrical boxes or run over a curb. We pulled the bus over and discovered a red Chevy Tracker behind us. Somehow this guy had rear ended us and crashed his chevy. It's front grille and headlights where crushed beyond recognition.
When we checked the bumper of the bus for damage, it was completely unscathed. That's right, not a dent, scratch, or blemish. After talking with the driver we agreed to forgo the insurance and go our separate ways. Impressed by the indestructibility of our school bus we headed up mopac to sixth street.
Now sixth street is pretty cool, right? Now imagine how cool it was for three kids, on a pimped out school bus, who weren't old enough to drive, let alone party on sixth street.
We were dancing out the windows, bumping the music, and bringing people on board, epitomizing the slogan "keep austin wierd".
The whole experience gave me a good deal of faith in serendipity.
I'm not sure if you were one of the two guys or not, I'm looking forward to more entries on the bus adventures.
P.S. Give Stephen a call and ask him about new employees. I know he likes working with entrepreneurial minds, Check out my site at www.souleblog.com.
P.P.S. I just shot one of my friends who lived in Tokyo for two years a message. I'll let you know if she knows of any cool places to live.
I am in the middle of a very similar project. Your bus looked awesome.. How did you attach the sectional to the floor?
Hey.....I'd started out looking up a site listed for an auction I saw on a door of an out-of-business shop downtown, couldn't remember what'd been there... (ended up being a restaurant supply company)anyway I ended up going from that auction site located in Kansas or somewhere, to looking at other auctions on the site, to seeing one with a huge train car for sale in someone's yard, to wondering if anybody has tried turning one into a cabin or something...thought I remembered restaurants from trains, vaguely, anyway after a couple more hours of research I found out that cabooses are no longer in use since 20+ years ago and people were using them for many things, inc. a 8 (or was it 14? 9?) 'caboose' hotel in Pennsylvania I believe. So right then I decided I was going to find one, convert it into a cabin, or an art studio or something, concentrating on a certain period for 'decor' (taking ideas from old upscale passanger trains, Then went to bed, woke up, realized that I am a housewife with four kids and 3 dogs and a couple of guinea pigs and a husband that doesn't even let me buy groceries....hey maybe a caboose oughta be my permanent residence!! Anyway, my point here...pimp out your buses and cabooses (that sounded odd) while you still can!!!!!
Thanks for your stories, never thought I'd relate so well to a 'young male pick-up artist.' :)
so where are the stories, man??
One of my favorite movies of all time is Road Trip. It's not exactly the pinnacle of cinematography, and the acting isn't going to win any awards, but it does include a couple of my favorite themes:
1. Ditching school
2. Road tripping
My first experience road tripping was when I graduated from high school. Five friends and I took one of those cool vans ("a REAL van.. this was before all that minivan crap") from Texas to Florida, and then all the way up to Maine. I got off in Massachusetts, but the rest of the crew continued on to Chicago and then back South.
We're now in the home stretch! My wife's plane will land in about 24 hours, and I'll be able to regain my position as weird guy that leaves the house for half the day and then tickles the kids (and sometimes the wife) when he gets home. Please forgive any typos in today's post. I'm currently suffering from an extreme case of sleep deprivation which I'll talk all about in the failures section. I'm not 100% sure my keyboard is even plugged in at the moment.
Archive: Day 1, Day 2
What I Learned
Little Dude Really Likes Bacon - I kind of new this because he's the only one in the house besides me that will eat it, but I was surprised by the extent. I made pancakes and bacon for dinner last night, and he was excited because he got to help. I set the bacon down on the table and then went to get the pancakes. By the time I got back 30 seconds later, he had already eaten two pieces and two other pieces were sitting on his plate...I only made five pieces.
He's Not Actually Asleep - After he went to bed, I took care of a few things around the house. Finishing those, I went to check on him and saw that he was sleeping in the completely peaceful and adorable way that he has. Therefore, I sat down on the couch to watch a little television. I was about 20 minutes into the show when I happened to look over my shoulder and see him sitting at the top of the stairs watching with me. Since I happened to be watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I think there's about to be a lot more words that I'm going to have to explain to his mother.