In Portland, Oregon, January of 2013 Lisa Marie decided that she wished to take her career as a Bikram yoga teacher on the road. With an aversion to the dull beige interior of RV’s and a limited budget, she began to search for alternatives. When she stumbled on The Good News Bus website she knew she had found what was right for her.
It was not long before she purchased a 24 foot long Chevy 6.5 L 2000 bus and though she admits “I had almost no previous experience with woodworking, none at all with electricity, and as far as vehicles go… Well, I know where to put the key.” She leaped into the conversions without really knowing what she was doing. With a background in engineering, and a veteran seamstress she was equip with the vision to see the end objective, and knew she could learn as the job progressed. She had one super solid friend who not only provided muscles but tools to do the job. Still the sexism that she faced was undeniable. When purchasing supplies she got “that’s an awfully big job sweetheart”, uncooperative sales persons, and was told “the build… would be an accomplishment for a city girl”. Lots of naysayers and negative people tried to curb her enthusiasm and stand in her way. Not only were the obstacles verbal but she actually had a general contractor quote her $400/hour for an electrical job! All said and done Lisa had to fire most of the skilled people that she hired because they would not follow her direction. Owed to her strength and determination she moved forward despite the lack of cooperation. She felt it “amazing how explaining your every move ten times a day increases your conviction that you are doing it right. “
Unfortunately, one of these “professionals” not only failed her in terms of being unable to understand her vision. The truth is that one of them nearly cost her $2,000! When driving down the highway she was flagged but another driver because her generator and jobox were falling off, due to a failed weld. Fortunately she had someone who was on the ball and concerned enough to give her a heads up so this was just a matter of repair instead of loss.
When nearing completion her bus was named Grace. Lisa explains that this is because “because the project demanded that I dig deep to remain graceful under circumstances that really made me want to spit and kick and swear and scream and maybe throw things. “
After all of this her main regret is that she chose to go with a generator instead of using solar and using the back rack where the generator now sits, to house a scooter rack so that she could have a cheap easy mode of transport when she is on the road. But not knowing the difference between AC and DC, relying on information given to her by others she failed to realize that there was a better way to wire.
At the end of the build, she has made about a $15 K investment but now Lisa owns Grace outright and she is a sweet conversion! It remains a big yellow school bus on the exterior but the inside brings to mind the dark wood comfort of a 1940’s cigar room in a posh club. Grace’s interior has many layers of gold paint and the effect is that of having been coated in gold leaf. The selection of old cabinets, wood floors and darker toned finishes gives the impression of stepping into a totally different world than the one outside. Grace possesses a cozy, rounded, warmth which has nothing to do with her high efficiency boat heater and everything to do with a followed vision for her new life.
Lisa moved into Grace on October 25th 2013 and despite all the obstacles she faced her advice to others who are considering this path is “DO IT! Look, you never know what you are capable of until you try, and if you don’t try, you don’t know and you don’t grow… Now imagine a whole (little) house, where every detail had your hand in it. A whole house that you know what is behind the walls, what the floor is made of… A home, your very own home, that, if something breaks, you know how to fix it. A home that you get to actually hang out in, because you don’t have to work eight hours a day to make to mortgage. Your home, your love, your vessel to protect you and comfort you through the seasons and the years. The joy and sense of self worth that comes with such an accomplishment is priceless, worth far more than anything to be gotten by simply handing money over to a stranger. Independence, confidence, and pure and simple joy to be alive and a thinking human being – PRICELESS!
Do it. Worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears!
We have one life to live and it should be the one of your choosing. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived in grace?
For more photos click here.
Laura Moreland is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings. She lives in a tiny woodland cottage near Kingston Ontario with a pack of dwarf dogs. Her woodsman ensures that she never accept apples from old ladies. You can learn more about Laura through her website “Tiny House Ontario” here.
Want to get great tiny-house related stories like this sent directly to your inbox? You’ll also get new tiny houses posted for sale as well, absolutely free. Click here to join us.