I am a 19-year-old girl from Long Island, New York with a passion to travel and explore new places. Upon graduating high school I knew I didn’t want to jump right into college. I was never into books, nor was I the type that wanted to sit and study in a classroom. I didn’t even know what career I wanted to pursue. I felt that I could enjoy my life in a different way other than sitting in a classroom and if down the road I decided college was for me, then I would choose what I wanted to do and make a decision from there.
During high school and after I traveled to all kinds of different places with my mom, whether it was a trip to an island or somewhere in the states, it was always a thrill to explore new places, meet new people, and see new things. Working five days a week and saving up my money allowed me to take my time in deciding what I wanted to do.
Shortly after my first outdoor adventure with my mom I realized my love for the freedom of being outdoors, camping, and the peaceful surroundings in all the various places I have gone. My mother and I used to camp with our 1965 Serro Scotty Hilander travel trailer. It was so much fun to take it out to campsites and set up and enjoy the camping experience. My mom wanted something that didn’t need to be towed so she decided she wanted to start a bus conversion. Watching my mother build and complete hers made me realize how nice it would be to have my own little home on wheels.
I was following others on Instagram for a while watching them travel the world in both vans and bus conversions. Living in New York, I was torn on wanting a van or wanting a bus because of the frequent weather changes. Since we have long, cold winters I felt a bus would be my best choice because it allowed me to have more space since I would be inside more than outside for four to five months depending on how bad the winters were.
After months of searching the web and local ads for the right one, I found a little, pale blue, short bus with a ton of bus-life potential. I contacted the seller immediately with my fingers crossed after I found the ad hoping that it was still available. After a few LONG hours of waiting for a reply, my phone flashed with a message from the seller telling me the bus was still available and if I was interested he would be around later that night to show the vehicle.
My mother and I jumped in the car and drove out to the bus and took it for a test drive. After leaving the sellers house (which ended up only being a few blocks away from my house) I went home and thought about what I wanted to do. The next day we went back, paid for the bus and just like that, the little 1989 Bluebird stripped out short bus was mine.
That’s when “Lola” came into my life. The name “Lola” came from the nickname my mother called me growing up. I figured the name would be cute for the bus and would bring along memories with my mom in my travels.
Since my mother already completed her shuttle bus conversion, as seen in the October 2017 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine, and knew all the ins and outs to converting a bus into a tiny home, I asked her to teach me what to do and where to start. I never knew how to redo a floor, build cabinets, hook up solar panels, inverters and deep cell batteries, or even wire anything together. It was all new to me and I’m so glad she had the knowledge, patience and interest to teach me.
One important thing I wanted my bus interior to have were one-of-a-kind pieces that you couldn’t just go out and buy in stores. I receive so many comments about how unique my fabric accents are. Since my mother and grandmother have sewed all their lives, I decided it would be most meaningful to me if they both made me those pieces I wanted for Lola. All of my window and bathroom curtains, chair cushions, toilet skirt, driver’s seat cover, blankets, and tiny curtains to hide my wheel wells were handmade from scratch by both these amazing women. I gave them a vision and they turned it into the most beautiful reality.
My goal was that I wanted to be able to get in my bus and drive wherever and whenever I wanted to, and stop anytime, anywhere and be comfortable. Being only 19 years old, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to live and enjoy my life to the absolute fullest and to travel in one of the safest vehicles available. To me, it is even cooler that I get to travel with my mother and her bus conversion, to different places around the country.
I started my Instagram page as a journal to post pictures of my conversion progress, advice, travels, and of course a lot of “Lola”. It makes me so happy to see how far I’ve come in such a small amount of time. Learning new things, meeting new people, attending events, and enjoying every little bit of part-time living in “Lola”.
When I purchased “Lola” she was completely gutted. My mother and I decided on an interior layout that would best fit my living style. I wanted to be able to fit the most I could for the small amount of space I had to work with. Putting the bed in the middle allowed me to fit a bathroom in the far left corner and an end table with storage in the far right corner. Putting the bed where I chose also gave me the option to not have the back door blocked. I wanted to be able to enter in and out of the back door, when parked to enjoy the Long Island coastline view.
The bathroom has a combined toilet and a shower. The bathroom has a portable shower head, a drain in the floor, and hanging shower curtain that is stowed away when not in use for extra space utilization. The shower was made to be used both on and off-grid. While on-grid I am able to hookup to a campsites water source, and off-grid, I have a 12V water pump that is connected to a battery bank which pumps water from my 10-gallon fresh water holding tank into my shower and sink.
I didn’t want a huge bathroom because I saw that as being rather pointless for the amount of time one is really in the bathroom compared to the time spent in the rest of the bus. For me, I would personally want a smaller yet functioning bathroom, and have more “living room” space to enjoy.
The bed is arranged so that during the day I am able to set up two couches and have maximum floor space available. During the evening the couches are made into a full-size bed.
The dining area was kept simple, yet sweet for dinners, including two chairs and a slate-tiled, round table. The curtains in the dining room are split into two, so that while eating at the table I am able to look outdoors to watch nature at its best.
In the kitchen, a fridge is in a storage space under the cabinet. For cooking, I have a variety of on-grid/off-grid kitchen appliances. I also store two deep-cell marine batteries that operates my off-grid appliance use. My favorite go to kitchen appliance is the Coleman butane single-burner stove top.
I decorated my space with nothing but my own vision, which gave “Lola” character and made her so unique. I wanted my space to reflect me and what I loved and I’m so happy with the way she turned out. My style and choice of decorating was what I wanted in my tiny mobile home, and what I knew was going to make ME happy at the end of the day. My favorite part about “Lola” besides that she has so much character is definitely her exterior body color. Her exterior is an original vintage blue, and I used peach accents for the wheels, front grill emblem, door curtains and accents in the interior decorations and bedding.
Since my conversion is now complete, my plan is to continue exploring and seeing new places. Of course, there are always little things to fix or change to have better function or just to switch things up.
In the upcoming year I will be attending a lot of tiny house festivals and other Skoolie get-togethers. My mother and I will be starting to explore more of the east coast with our two buses and making our way to the Midwest. I hope to see some of you in my travels.
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