MATT & EMILY: ALWAYS HOME BUS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 5/29/17
For the thirty forth edition in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas we are very excited to speak with Matt and Emily Myaard. You may also know them as @alwayshomebus.
They have recently converted a retired school bus into their new home on wheels. The finished product is not only charming, but it is fully ready to put down some miles and take its owners on the road trip of a lifetime.
You’ll want to stay up to date with this adventurous pair, as they travel the United States and beyond. They often travel with their fellow bus conversion pals, Ben and Mande of @fernthebus
Their bus build is extremely charming and immediately makes you want to flex your creative muscles and start designing a bus/home of your own. But what strikes me about their travels so far is the places they decide to take. Driving a bus even down an empty street can be a daunting endeavor, but Matt and Emily seems to know no bounds when it comes to limitations. I love that about them.
Matt and Emily are terrific reminders that the time to live out your dreams is passing you by every second and you alone can make the conscious choice to move towards them.
Check out our interview below.
What do you consider to be your current job or goal?
Our goal is to continue converting buses for others to enjoy! Our bus project has brought so much happiness to our lives and the adventures we have taken since then have been incredible. We want to give the same experiences to others. Several people have reached out to ask if we could convert a bus for them so we are working on building an inventory, drawing up plans, and creating a business to help others live the vanlife!
Tell me about your vehicle. Did you name your bus?
She is a 24′ 1992 International School Bus . This ole girl is named Birdie.
When and how did you get it?
We picked her up from Craigslist after good friends of ours did the same and encouraged us to jump on board with the tiny living movement. Converting a school bus into a cozy traveling home seemed like an awesome project.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought?
Honestly there wasn’t more than a few hours thought into it! We hadn’t done any research on other vehicles or even had a plan before we dove in head first. School bus conversions weren’t even on our radar until our friends called us and told us about this awesome deal that we just couldn’t pass up. Sometimes you just have to ride the wave!
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Birdie has been entirely rebuilt. We started by giving her a good deep clean inside and out and a new paint job. Then we cleared everything out of the inside to start with a blank canvas. We designed an outline for a living room, kitchen and bedroom nook and got to work! The plan changed several times during the build though and she morphed into something we couldn’t be prouder of. Our goal was to keep it simple and efficient. We repurposed the cushions from the bus and used leftover flooring and wood paneling to cut down the cost. We used a lot of wood and live edge pieces to give it a rustic, cozy feel. Turns out my husband is quite the carpenter/plumber/electrician and overall handyman! That’s what’s so great about taking on something like this. It’s definitely a huge challenge but each accomplishment is so rewarding. You build everything with your own hands and learn a lot.
What is your favorite part about it living out of your vehicle?
Time slows down in the bus. It’s a simpler life that allows for detours and taking the scenic route. And people are drawn to Birdie! I love that our conversion has inspired others to start their own. It gives us such a good feeling when people get excited to about the bus. The vanlife community has been good to us. On Instagram and on the road, people are constantly giving us encouragement and spreading good vibes.
What is your least favorite part about it?
Parking can be a challenge. When we want to head downtown or visit a busy city we find it’s easiest to park outside of town and ride our bikes. We hooked up bike racks to back of the bus and that seems to be a pretty good solution.
How many miles have you put on it?
8,000 and counting!
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
Birdie has seen some pretty incredible places. Our maiden voyage was out west. We headed out to the Weminuche Wilderness for backcountry camping, then Telluride for the 4th of July and ended our trip at Lake San Cristobal. This adventure lead us out into the Colorado Mountains along the Million Dollar Highway. If you’ve traveled it you understand why it’s called that. It is breathtaking! And a little terrifying when you’re puttin’ along in a short bus, it’s raining, at night, and there’s no guardrail. But we made it and it only made the trip more memorable.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
One of our fondest memories is driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway. We pulled over a few times for a hike and to soak in the views. Birdie has a roof top deck with built in poles for hammocking that make for a very relaxing way to sight-see.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living and traveling out of a vehicle, what would you tell them?
Have a plan but be open to changing it at any minute. Embrace the spontaneity! It will lead to amazing experiences. Also be comfortable having less. The bus life is a simple life but it makes you appreciate what you have.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those kind of people?
I have always felt that I was one of those people, but only recently became brave enough to embrace it. I suddenly realized there was always something that needed to happen before I felt my life could settle down. But then that one thing would happen and something else would come up. First you have to graduate, then find a job, get married, buy a house, have a family etc. There can be a lot of pressure to follow the traditional path. This was a bit unsettling and my husband helped me realize that there needs to be more time to relax and enjoy where you are. Don’t race towards the next destination, slow down and enjoy the journey! Your path might look different than everyone else’s too. It may be winding and have you trekking backwards sometimes, but it is made just for you. Converting a school bus was something I never imagined I would do or even could do. It took a lot of patience but it made us slow down and relish in each little accomplishment. I think people who are drawn to life on the road or traveling in a bus choose that path because they enjoy the ride. Every time we get in the bus a new adventure awaits us. We might not know the destination but isn’t that part of the fun?
What values do you think your hometown instilled in you that you take on the road?
Be kind. To everything and everyone. It is a wonderful and freeing feeling to be on the road and independent but things happen and you might need a helping hand, or to give one 🙂
Where do you want to go next?
Our next road trip will take us to Banff. We have been dreaming of dipping into the Cave and Basin hot springs, climbing the Alberta Rockies and experiencing the wildlife of Banff National Park. It has always been at the top of our list and it’s time to check it off!