LUKE AND RACHEL DAVIS: THE MIDWEST WANDERERS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 2/6/17
For the eighteenth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are so excited to be speaking with Luke and Rachel Davis. You may know them as the Midwest Wanderers.
Luke, Rachel, and their daughter Charlotte have taken up residence in a very cool and very stylish bus. It’s immediately clear their sense of style and design was not something they had any intention of sacrificing when transferring their home to a bus platform.
As more and more people look to redefine the idea of home life, it’s clear that slight adjustments can yield giant returns. Starting any family is a big decision and adding the unknown of moving a new family into a bus can add even more uncertainty to the situation. Based on the conversations and photos with the Midwest Wanderers, it seems a lot less daunting.
Luke, Rachel, and Charlotte are great reminders that in order to make your dreams a reality, it only takes the confidence to get started in that direction, to make them start to come true.
Tell me about your vehicle – Year, Make, Model?
Our vehicle is a 1992 Amtran Genesis, powered by an International diesel DT360.
Did you name your bus?
We kind of named it unofficially.
What do you call it?
We usually call it home but our unofficial name that we call our bus is Walter.
When and how did you get it?
We bought the bus in April of 2015 from a used bus dealer in Arizona. My brother and I flew from Chicago to Phoenix, bought the bus without having ever seen it in person and drove it 1800 miles straight home.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the ones you bought?
Someone had asked me if I knew what a ‘skoolie’ was. I did not. After an in depth conversation about full time life on the road in a bus I was in love with the idea. I cant say I ever considered other vehicles to call home, the bus just seemed right. Within a couple months of this life changing conversation, Rachel and I had found a solid, rust free bus with utility boxes and low miles for a good price and we went for it!
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
There is an unending list of things that we did to make the bus our home. As far as the actual bus itself we have replaced the water pump, doubled the radiator size, relocated/re-piped the turbo intercooler, and I am currently replacing the transmission. Exterior upgrades include a 20” roof-raise, new sheet metal, replaced bus windows with double pane insulated RV type windows, exterior lights, retractable awning, and solar panels. For the inside, lets just say we built a home inside.
What do you consider to be your current job or goal?
As far as actual jobs go, we have both quite our jobs. In a different sense the job we have given our selves, although not a paying one, is to travel the country in search of a new place to eventually settle down and call home. We had already decided that we wouldn’t be moving back to Illinois when our full time adventure comes to an end. As we travel and explore new areas of the country, our goal is to simplify our lives, spend more time together, and make time for the things that actually matter to us. Also we go out of way to support small businesses rather than chain stores, all while having almost no impact on the environment around us.
What is your favorite part about it living out of your vehicle?
For me it’s knowing that wherever I go, I’m home.
What is your least favorite part about it?
My least favorite part is how quickly it becomes a mess!
How many miles have you put on it?
Since we bought the bus we have put almost 14,000 miles on it.
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
Its so difficult to pick just ONE. Colorado was amazing and we can’t stop talking about Maine as well.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
I think Rachel and I can both agree that Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway are the most memorable roads we’ve driven.
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?
I would tell them it’s not impossible and it doesn’t have to remain a dream. I think that anyone that truly wants this lifestyle can attain it. Don’t listen to the naysayers.
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’ve always had a kind of alternative view on things, so it wasn’t hard to talk myself into this lifestyle. As far as enjoying the journey over the destination, well that seems like it became apparent the first time I drove the bus. It was just so much fun driving it home.
What values do you think your hometown instilled in you that you take on the road and bring to your trips?
I think Rachel and I both have the stereotypical Midwestern values instilled in us. We both value hard work and above all we try our best to be genuinely loving toward every single person we meet.
Do you see yourselves as someone who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
No doubt, it was a leap of faith. We had careers, a home in the burbs, and a daughter under a year old.
Where do you want to go next?
Honestly there are a lot places on our radar but we have no clue where we are actually going next, but we kinda like it that way. We have a few more weeks to get a plan together before our next big trip.