School Bus RV Conversion Chapter 1 - The Find

by Tegan Strautmann on May 04, 2014

I’m sure many novel ideas can be accredited to road trips. You’re confined in a small space for an extended amount of time but your mind is free. Free to think up the unimaginable, the unconventional and the downright crazy. And if you’re anything like us, sometimes those ideas stick with you, even after you return to reality.

That being said, on our way back from our annual Smoky Mountain trip in October of 2012, we decided we wanted a bus. Not just any bus, a full-length school bus; one that we could convert into an RV or more practically, a temporary home. For months, we scoured Craigslist to find our perfect match. Around Thanksgiving, we were camping in Daytona for the Turkey Run car show & Joey exclaimed that he had found it, the “Jungle Bus”. What in the world? Justifiably, I was skeptical (but interested).

The very next day we drove to Kissimmee to check out our potential project. When we arrived, we met the seller, Alex. He took us to the bus. Out in an empty field, there she sat, in all her glory.  Numerous animals painted on the exterior. I couldn’t help but laugh. What were we thinking? Contemplating purchasing this joke of a vehicle? Before you make any assumptions though, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. The woman that previously owned the bus worked for a company that brought portable gymnastic classes to child care centers.

We climbed inside. All seats had been removed and replaced with bright blue carpet that extended up the walls. Beneath the blue carpet was padding that was sufficient for an insane asylum. It was equipped with monkey bars, a tiny trampoline & a vintage book of Lisa Frank stickers (as a product of the 90’s, this made me incredibly excited). Aside from all the child décor, it had a mere 140,000 miles on its ever-lasting International diesel engine, two functional AC units, a 5.5 kW Generac generator, air brakes that stopped on a dime & zero underbody rust. After completing our thorough check-list inspection, we decided she was the one.

The following weekend, we went and picked her up. Of course Joey had to test drive her before we made the purchase official. Alex and I sat in the back on the wheel humps and sang “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round” so Joey would feel in character. He was a natural. I think he may have missed his calling.

We drove her home that afternoon and nestled her on the side of the house, where she would sit until we began the demolition process. Good thing we don’t care what the neighbors think.


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