Frequently Asked Questions:

What inspired you and your two soul sisters to hit the road in such an eco-friendly way?

Natalie, Caitlin, and I (Jamie) were living in a community that we co-founded called “Roots EcoVillage” in Austin, Texas. The idea for the RAGE Bus Project was born out of a desire to travel and visit other sustainable-minded communities, bringing with us the tools and community-building skills that we had acquired during our time at Roots. We wanted to see what makes communities successful and what makes them fail, with the long-term goal of once again creating a sustainable community in the future. We also had a strong desire to live more harmoniously with the Earth and take another step away from the consumerist based lifestyle. I do want to mention that we are a diesel-powered bus and do not claim to be eco-friendly because of that fact. We do claim to be “self-contained” which means that we are capable of living off of the grid.

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Do you live full time in your bus? What model/year is it ? Any nickname ? Did you convert it yourself ?

The RAGE Bus is a 1966 Flxible “New Look”. Her name is “Bessie,” named by her previous owners. Bessie operated as a downtown LA city transit bus from 1966 to 1982. We have been on the road for two and a half years, traveling through TX>NM>CO>UT>NV>CA>OR>WA>OR>CA. Caitlin went home to go back to school after about a year, Natalie went home for family reasons after a year and a half, and Jesus came onto the bus about the time Natalie was getting off. A few others have lived on the bus for a few weeks at a time, and sometimes we travel in a caravan of people.
We converted the RAGE Bus into a tiny house ourselves using mostly recycled materials. The bus features three sleeping bunks, a wood burning stove, propane stove and oven, a gravity-fed water filtration system, a pedal-pump powered sink, compost toilet, a vegetable and herb garden, solar panels, and a swing (everyone loves the swing).

Over the past two and a half years, we have lived at farms, friend’s yards, diesel repair shops, national forests, and BLM land for different lengths of time. We have only paid to stay at a campground a handful of times and we don’t really have a need for the hook-ups at RV parks. Our adventure has led us to arrive in a city and park in different areas until we meet locals that want to hang out with us.  We let anyone who is interested come inside and get a guided tour of our conversion and talk to us about what we are doing. Through this experience, we have realized how much this project inspires the people who see it. Over and over again, people say “oh my gosh, I really really want to do this. This is my dream, you are living the dream!” It has opened the door to many great conversations about the next culture shift and what we can do to build a better world together.

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Where are you now and what have you been working on lately?

Today we are living at a really interesting community called “Slab City,” which is located on the East side of the Salton Sea in South California. They call it the “last free place” to live in America and it’s been around since the 1960s. It’s largely a snowbird community, with thousands of people flocking to the Slabs in the winter and the full-timers braving it out through the summer. It’s a beautifully broken place that is both humbling and inspiring. Currently we are on a path east to Texas to renew the state papers for the bus and visit our family and friends along the way and in Austin.

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What did you learn from the tiny home/bus life so far?  What keeps you on the road?

The bus life so far has been beyond my wildest expectations. I didn’t really expect to work on the mechanics of the bus so much, but I should have since our bus is from 1966 and sat in a pasture in Arkansas for a good twenty years. Since the beginning we have been changing our own fluids, filters, belts, and gaskets and learning about how our engine works. At one point, we had to deconstruct our engine entirely to get our heads rebuilt (we hired a mechanic to help us rebuild it), and we have had to learn how to operate and maintain our air braking system. Learning these skills has not only helped us save money, but it has given us the ability to be able to troubleshoot issues when the bus is throwing a tantrum out in the wilderness somewhere. People are definitely interested when they  see us covered in grease and grime messing with this ancient engine. I once had an older man ask me where my husband was while I was checking on a leaking hose. He wasn’t even joking, and got visibly upset when I told him my self-identified male partner was in the kitchen cooking me dinner while I fixed this transmission leak. To me, it’s just my life and I don’t think of it as strange. I also think it’s an important part of our journey to expose our lives to other people and show them that there are possibilities outside of the box.

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What is your favorite place you’ve visited so far?

Our favorite places are the places where you can’t hear the white noise of passing traffic or the buzz of the power lines. The endangered wilderness. There is something very magical and healing that happens under the canopy of the trees and in the free flowing waters that come straight out of a mountain. We once lived at Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon for two weeks and it was definitely one of the most beautiful places that we have been too in the bus.  Unfortunately and understandably, Umpqua Hot Springs is currently shut down due to abuse and overuse. There is a collective desire amongst all of us to spend time in nature and get out of the smog of the cities, but we must be aware of the impact that we are leaving. Too many people do not understand the absolute necessity of disposing of our human waste in an environmentally responsible manner. Even micro-trash can be detrimental to the Earth, so it’s important to “leave no trace” everywhere we go. Respect your Mother.

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What’s the weirdest thing that happened to you on the road?

.Natalie and I were driving the bus through west Colorado (on I-70). Just outside of Grand Junction we decided to check out a canyon on BLM land that was home to one of the last remaining herd of wild mustangs. It was cold and snowy, and Natalie and I would take our dogs out for a walk every day to look for the horses and explore the canyon. One day we heard a goat crying from on top of a cliff on one side of the canyon. We thought it must be a mountain goat, but the goat seemed like it was stuck and it wouldn’t stop crying. It was totally impossible for us to do anything for the goat, and it was getting dark so we went back to the bus. The next morning, someone knocked on the door. It strange for us because we had not seen another person in the three days we had been there. We answered the door to meet a man in his early 50s, with a goat tied up in the back of his truck. “Is this y’alls goat?” he asked. We kind of laughed and said, “No way! We live in this bus… we don’t have a goat! But we are so glad you were able to rescue it!” So we named the goat Cliff and brought the man inside of the bus. We talked to him for several hours about his life (his name is Dana) and how he rescued this goat at sunrise to prevent the sheriff from shooting it down (he showed us the video!). At some point he mentioned that he was a diesel mechanic by trade. We decided to start up our engine so that he could have a listen and make sure everything was tip-top. Natalie started the engine for him and immediately turned it back off. Something was wrong. With a look of shock, Natalie reached down by the crankshaft and picked up a broken bolt. To us, this was tragic. We had broken these bolts before, in Texas and the mechanics had told us that if they broke again, we were done for. Dana was unphased, and immediately went to work pulling out tools from the back of his tiny truck with a huge toolbox on the back of it. Over the next three days, Dana would return to us with gallons of water (we ran out!) and we worked to extract a total of three broken crankshaft bolts from the harmonic balancer. Dana and Natalie left at some point to go buy new bolts and found a new home for Cliff at the auto parts store! Finally, we got the harmonic balancer realigned and the new bolts locked in tight. We drove out of the canyon and went to Dana’s house to meet his family and say our good-byes.  From that point, we continued our adventure west. We have remained friends with Dana to this day and love telling this story as an example of the magical things that are born out of precarious situations.

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Give us a useful tip for successful boon docking.

Successful boon docking all depends on successful preparation. We have supplies to last about two weeks off-the-grid if we are careful with our water and the weather isn’t too hot. We do not live with an air-conditioner or a modern refrigerator, so we try to travel with the weather and pay attention to what the temperature is going to be. We are currently traveling to Texas here at beginning of summer, and it’s impossible to keep fresh produce for longer than 2-3 days. We try to park in the shade, keep all of the windows open and keep the fans blowing.

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Give us a useful tip for a couple to live in a tiny space.

When Natalie got off of the bus and Jesus got on, we also had four other people join us for the adventure to Oregon and Washington. It was a crazy time to be on the bus! We spent most of our time cooking and feeding people as we traveled up the coast. And washing dishes until we wanted to throw the dishes across the parking lot.  After three months the last of our friends parted from the bus to continue their traveling adventures to Mexico, and Jesus and I had the whole bus to ourselves! It felt so liberating and the bus felt so big and empty! We also rebuilt the bed, which was meant to just sleep me and my dog. We have lots of friends that are traveling and living in very small cars, so we are forever grateful for our mansion on wheels.

 

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What’s the worst thing about the bus life?

Let’s face it, we are living a non-traditional lifestyle. Much of how we live our lives is considered “criminal” by the state and as a result, we end up talking to the police fairly often (sometimes several times a week, depending on which city we are rolling through). We’ve been categorized as homeless, transients, hooligans, hippies and gypsies. We make money while traveling in lots of different ways. Busking can be really fun if you are creative. Sometimes we play music, we paint faces, we give walk-through tours (for donation) of our bus, and sometimes we sell things that we make. Once I hula-hooped and played the ukulele on the roof of the bus in a parking lot and got plenty of donations to fill up our fuel tank.
Sometimes the police come and detain us for violating such-and-such code. No sitting on the sidewalk. No loitering. No parking. No sleeping in your vehicle. No camping. You need this permit or that permit.  We have regulations up to our eyeballs and I can see so clearly how we have all been boxed in with this dead-end system. I want us to break free. To do something different with our lives. It’s up to us as individuals and as a community to find ways to ween off of this capitalistic-parasite that is killing our planet.

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Our favorite pictures:

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Life: Blessings

Blessings can appear in the most unexpected places, in the most unexpected ways. Like dental surgery. Who thinks of dental surgery as a blessing? I recently went back to our hometown of Austin, Texas, to get a wisdom tooth removed… perhaps against my more stubborn nature. I mean, who is to say which teeth are more necessary than others, anyway? My thought is that I was born with this exact body, and it just doesn’t make sense to make big permanent changes to it, just because the majority of others do. That to me spells industry, as in the body hair removal industry, or the fitness industry, or the clothing industry. All are designed to capitalize on the insecurity and the difference of others.

But I digress… One of my teeth was causing health complications, and it need to come out. So back to Austin I went. The blessing here was that I got to spend time with my family for a week. I scheduled my flights to allow for a week-long stay in Austin, because oh so much can happen in one week, especially when living the lifestyle we have been living for the past year, and I hate to miss out on the goings on of bus life. There is a certain transitional period, as well, when one is shifting back and forth from living a certain lifestyle and daily routine, to living a completely different one. That is all fine and good, but like I said, time is pretty dense around here, so a day or two can feel like eternity. When one of us leaves the equation, its like we all have to re calibrate and readjust to the energy shift. And we are just more powerful together. I think all humans are.

I cannot fully express how comforting it feels to come back to a place and know exactly where you are in the world, know the different areas, have the ability to navigate your way through the city without a thought. Familiarity is a treasure I did not fully appreciate before this trip, but I have certainly found it now. Ahhhhh, Austin, the city I am from! Though it has changed tremendously, and continues to change and grow every day, being back still brings about that same sentimental feeling that I love. There is a sweetness that comes with it, a feeling of surrender into precious memories and times gone past, and also a tinge of sadness. Driving in to Austin at 9 pm felt especially rewarding after the trials life faced me with that day. They were nothing I couldn’t handle (after all, life never gives us more than we are able to handle at any point in time,) just little stones that I maybe stubbed my toe on or tripped over as I walked along the path. It had been a loooooong day, starting at five in the morning and including many busses, a plane, a train, and some good ol’fashioned hitch hiking. Needless to say, I was pretty wiped out and extremely relieved when I finally arrived to my final destination. Blessings can be disguised even as long days that test your patience.

My time in Austin was pretty low key, but still so special to me. Actually, most of the time I spent was in Dripping Springs, in the hill country just south west of Austin, where my moms new house is located. The hill country is absolutely beautiful. It always smells of cedar and wildflowers and sunshine, a scent I associate with childhood, with freedom. The wind blows lazily there, through short shrubby little trees and tall, gnarled oaks. The humid air traps heat better than a spiders web traps pesky flies, and makes your clothes cling to you with perspiration within moments of walking outside. The soil is clay based and filled with limestone. Because Texas has been in a severe drought for so long, it is also rock solid and dry, making yard work a bit challenging. The sun sets paint the whole entire sky with the pinks, oranges, yellows and purples of some tropical flowers, and contrasts so wonderfully with rolling emerald green hills, the limestone cliffs. This is home.

Recommendation: when visiting the hill country, be sure to go swimming in at least a few creeks and rivers. Its part of the experience. My mom and I went swimming in the lazy Cypress River that flows through Wimberly, where I also had the pleasure of visiting with a friend we had made in the beginning of this journey, an all around awesome Mr. Fix-it named Ray. Ray is the father of one of our first mechanics, Jesse Darnall, who helped us with our harmonic ballancer, before we had even left Austin. Both Jesse and Ray are very kind hearted and generous, and their help to us when this whole mess got started has been invaluable. So it was a treat to see him over a year later. The Cypress River is mildly cool, slow flowing, and lined with willowy Cypress trees, their twisting roots, slithering towards the water, their branches stretching languidly towards the open skies above and providing shade for swimmers bellow.
I also insist that, if you ever find yourself in the area, you make it a point to go to Barton Springs. The water is brisk and clear and poors from an underground springs which the Natives of the land have revered for its healing power for centuries. Those healing powers are very tangible to this day, though, unfortunately, they have been comodified. Still, whether you find yourself enjoying the “pay side” swimming pool, or the free side, where dogs and human alike are welcome, just a dip in the crisp, cold water will wake you up in more ways than one. I hung out with a new friend, also from Austin, whom we actually met on the road, while we were stationed at a mutual friends house in Tijeras, New Mexico. Leaving home can be an immeasurable blessing, as it has been for us. Just taking yourself out of a comfort zone and expanding your horizons really opens up doors where before no doors existed. We have had the great fortune of running in to many of the same characters many times on this journey, all friends, old and new. Looking back on all the new connections we have made, and continue to make, I am filled with excitement at the strength we are building in our web. The more we all connect to one another, the smaller this planet feels, and that much more possible conquering the great darkness we are faced with is. Together we can do anything. Community is such a pivotal part of the equation.

I got to visit with other friends and loved ones while in Austin, though our time together was shorter than I wanted. I even got to be there for my little sister Lila’s 15th birthday. I am so proud of her. I remember being that age, and how alienating and pointless life could be at times. Lila is all sunshine and flowers. She is so optimistic and smart. I see her going far in life, and it’s pretty dope that I get to watch it all unfold for her, unfurling petals of opportunity and experience as she continues along her life’s path. She is even more determined and stubborn than me… this should be interesting. Being her older sister has definitely been a blessing in disguise. I am the oldest sibling of three. We were raised by a single mother, who at times looked to me for support and help, and in response to this dynamic, I developed some unhealthy patterns. I was bossy with my siblings, and acted as if I knew all of the answers and was superior. It came from love, but also from fear. But I am rewiring the circuitry in my brain. That is what this journey (among many other things) is all about. Taking out the old, inefficient patterns so that I can rebuild better patterns, patterns that will serve me and enable me to create only growth, positivity, and love. Its been a true gift to learn all of these lessons with Lila, Simon, and my mom. I don’t know that I could pick a more loving, patient, and understanding group of humans to grow up with.

The most unusual blessing in disguise of this trip, though, came to me on the morning of my departure. My mom and I were a little late getting out of the house to catch my flight. Tardiness is a family trait of ours. But this time we were later than a little late, as in you are supposed to get to the airport like an hour before departure, and we got there ten minutes before, and I missed my flight. And thank goodness I did! I had booked my flight back from Texas to arrive in San Francisco, because back when I was booking all of this, the bus seemed to be in tip top condition again, and we were expecting to be stationed somewhere in the Oakland area upon my arrival. But, once again, the Bus brought us a lesson that we seem to just not be able to fully learn: you can’t plan. You just can’t. The future is unforeseeable, all we truly have is the present. This lesson came in the form of yet another mechanical hiccup that hindered us from getting where we were trying to go, and also presented us with a test in patience, focus, and self awareness. We found ourselves stuck in Los Angeles again, and I found myself with a non-refundable or transferable flight to San Francisco.
But blessings will always present themselves, if you believe and open your eyes wide enough to spot them.
On the last day of a very pleasant visit back home, my response to a stressful situation was tested, as we pulled up to the terminal with only a few minutes to check in and go through airport security. I breathed and reminded myself that it would all be okay, that this is certainly not the worst that could happen. The woman at the check in counter told me I was too late for my original flight…. and that there were seats available on stand by on a flight to Los Angeles, only 25 minutes later. Did I want to take that flight? Absolutely.
A flight to the place I really needed to be! Meaning I wouldn’t have to scour the rideshare page on craigslist, or hitchhike all the way back down to L.A! I was amazed.

Blessing after blessing, life unfurls its petals before me. Like a rosebud in bloom, these petal blessings seem to never cease, each one more fragile and delicate and precious than the one that came before. Every single thing is a blessing. If your eyes are opened wide enough.

So now I’m back in the city of Angels with the bus and the girls and the dogs, my beloved home and family. We’re still chilling at the shop in East L.A, finding stuff to fill the time. We work on bus projects, home projects, communication, our relationship, and rewiring our circuitry. Sometimes we go off on adventures, and sometimes we stay home and craft. It’s all part of a whirlwind trip called life. Unfurling its petals, endlessly, gracefully, with such complex symmetry, life is in full bloom.

Love Love love,
C

And the bus rages on…

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      Los Angeles, California. We never planned on sticking around this town for very long. After our unexpected 6-month stint in San Diego, we were eager to move the bus North and enjoy the Pacific Northwest before the cold of the Winter sets in. But plots twist and plans fall through, so here we are in our third week in LA. Three weeks ago we made our first attempt at escaping the city, but we only made it as far as Bakersfield before a tow truck came and carried us kicking and screaming back to a repair facility in Southeast LA. PartsBoys here in Maywood has been a true blessing to us. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to the amazing humans at this little shop situated in the heart of industrial USA. So far, Danny and Ernie have adjusted our fuel injectors, rebuilt our fuel pump, and cleaned up the air compressor. We are also in the midst of another fuel/filter change, just to be certain that we have the best possible chance at making it through the next leg of the journey.

     Finding mechanics that have heard of a “Cummins 470” are a rare and valuable treasure. Danny and Ernie have been blowing our minds with their knowledge base, and the love and support we get from Art Sr., Art Jr., and Ed has made us feel like we are in full bloom! No stone may go unturned when preparing Ol’ Bessie for an adventure. She is very insistent on having a complete physical exam before being released into the wild. Otherwise, she will not hesitate to go belly-up on a narrow shoulder just over the crest of a hill at 2am on a busy freeway. So we check the fluids and change the filters and tell her how much we love her and please please don’t make us call the tow truck at 2am again. 

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      Enough with the technicalities. While we wait for Bessie to give us the “green light” to point the ship North, we have been focusing our energies on cultivating the rare and valuable Cummins engines inside of ourselves. I’ve shifted my focus to studying up on what the heck we are doing and why we are doing it. It seems like an obvious question. I should know what I am doing and why I am doing it, right? But it goes deeper than that. Way deeper. I am not the first one to have this seemingly spontaneous desire to buy an old bus and travel across the country with a band of hippies. We must have a message, right? Positive vibrations and free love, RIGHT? What are we “RAGING” about anyways? So my fellow bus-mates and I sat down and scribbled out a “mission statement” for “RAGE in the name of LOVE”

If you haven’t had the chance to check it out, here it is:

“Radical Adventures for a Greener Earth is the manifestation of three sisters who envision a world where all beings coexist in a sustainability and equality oriented consciousness.

Since March 5th 2013, Jamie, Natalie and Caitlin have been building a foundation for change towards an overall more balanced way of existing in their own lives. Today’s culture is dominated by patriarchy, consumerism, wastefulness, and disconnect from each other and the Earth from which we came. By choosing an alternative lifestyle the RAGE women have invited the concepts of simplicity, internal growth, DIY culture, non-violent communication, feminine empowerment, radical consent, consensus-based decision making, water conservation, recycling/reclaiming, income equality, application of anti-oppressive language and locally sourcing/growing one’s own food into their daily lives and practices.

Their purpose is to aid in a worldwide cultural shift where these concepts are not the alternative, but the standard.

A decomposing 1966 LA transit bus sat stagnant in a pasture in Arkansas before RAGE took her home to Austin, Texas  and began the DIY process of converting her into their tiny house on wheels. “Bessie” features 95% repurposed materials, a pedal-pump powered sink, compost toilet, wood burning stove, solar powered charge station, homemade water purifying system with Berkey filter elements, vegetable and herb gardens, and an up-and-coming vermiculture compost bin. Besides representing sustainable living and equal rights concepts constantly when connecting with others, RAGE spreads this love culture via tours of “Bessie” the bus, distributing radical zines, non-violent resistance activism and community organizing as they travel the so-called United States. 

RAGE recognizes that driving a 10 mpg diesel bus around is far from sustainable. This lifestyle offers many advantages towards the long term goal, but is still a ways from being whole. When possible, “Bessie” runs on bio-diesel and will one day run primarily on waste veggie oil. The RAGE bus continues to evolve, as do the hearts and minds of her inhabitants.”

So there it is, for today. Tomorrow it may be different, so don’t get attached to it, or us.

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Jamie Rainbow’s RAGE On the Road Reading List: (ever evolving)
   — Into the Wild (by Jon Krakauer)
   —Brave New World (by Aldous Huxley)
   —My Name is Chellis and I am in Recovery from Western Civilization (by Chellis Glendinning)
   —Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (by Hunter S. Thompson) [*currently reading]
   —Women Who Run with the Wolves (by Clarissa Pinkola Estes)  [*currently reading]

Have a book recommendation? Leave a comment or e-mail us at ragebusproject@gmail.com!

Love & RAGE!
Jamie Rainbow

From One Reality to Another

   Wednesday March 5th, 2014

     I was unable to express my true gratitude to those whom I love as I was saying goodbye to them this evening. I was so consumed with being choked up, hardly any words came to me- or out of me.  I wish I had told my brothers what warriors I see in them. I wish to tell them how proud I am to be close to them, to have such talented, smart, creative inspiration so directly connected to me in this life. I want my parents to know how impossible the feats I’ve tackled would have been to conquer, had I not had the constant stream of love and support coming from them that they’ve always given me without hesitation. What brilliant light beings are they. Grandma, too. I want my grandma to know what a light house she is. She guides those she loves and encounters over troubled waters, through her unconditional empathy without even knowing it. Ohhhhhhh… and that man… that man I love who loves me too. That man whom I scale mountainous feats with. Who hears me and sees me and embraces every facet of my being and current personality. I could still be miles underground without his helping hand. I could be in denial of the possibilities of life long love still, without our partnership- which has illuminated all of that which our love is capable.

Soon, so so soon, we will all unite again to create a life together which supports our needs of autonomy, health, happiness and love more fully then ever before.

Till then, my task is to be as a sponge. To absorb every ounce of nectar that I can squeeze out of every situation filled with life’s never ending juice. I must take it all in, and process it, and send it forward for the betterment of us all: for me, for the girls, for my family and my love, for my dear friends and distant ones, and for every soul-spirit who dwells and will dwell on this Earth. I will do my part to be a shining light within this trying and, at times, dark experience that we all chose to selflessly endure. I love you, me. You… I…WE will fulfill it all. All which we are meant, which we chose ahead of time. We will strive to give and receive unceasingly so as to one day realize our human potential (and beyond) fully.

“I have a question….. When did we stop loving ourselves?”

Tuesday March 11th, 2014

     My entries seem to be becoming more and more spread out these days. Interesting. Maybe I’m finding peace in the present more easily and therefor don’t need to vent to this journal. Yeah, yeah, let’s go with that. 🙂  I’m currently on the green line. It’s the train we take from El Cajon to San Diego. A simple and effiecent transit system they’ve got going on over here, for the most part.

     I’ve been putting out more effort to hang with my girl Allie since I got back from TX, and she was so kind as to pick me up from the airport. She actually attempted to pick me up THREE times.Succeeding once. Ha. Her mistake on Monday, my mistake on Tuesday and finally success! on Wednesday. I think I am finding it refreshing to hang out with a new female energy that shares our values but at the same time has a different take and perspective than we three on a lot of it. She works in massage too and maybe it’s because I know that, but, I get a “healer” sense from her. I’ve been around Gerry, the manager of HB Industries where we’re parked for now and working out our internal engine leak, and he is a healer. Though he hasn’t been very skilled with empathizing lately. Perhaps he’s just been needing so much himself, that he hasn’t had much to give. Things have been topsy turby around here. With that in mind, I don’t mind. Us three are likely the only place he’s getting any from at all right now anyway..

     So while I was in Austin, I was talking to Austin a lot about how we are actually totally in control of these lives and what happens in them, IF we realize it, then we can manifest anything we want. It may not show up when or how one imagines, but it does show up. He was having some trouble believing me. So I took him out to sushi dinner Tuesday night, thinking my flight was Wednesday and that that would be our last hoorah. It was so lovely and yummy, but when the bill came, it was much more than I had thought it would be. I looked Austin straight in the eye and repeated, “Money comes, money goes,” and went to pull out the $100 bill my mom had gifted me. (Another manifestation story in and of it’s self). Then, BAM! I unfolded what turned out to be TWO $100 bills. I smiled huge and glanced up at Austin, who met my smile with a bigger one and disbelieving eyes. He knew what had just happened and so did I. Money was going, and so had it come already.  We laughed, oh we laughed, and he could hardly believe it. Then, as we were leaving, I received a phone call. It was South West Airlines letting me know I had just missed my flight.
In the car I heard this recording, and Austin saw the stunned look on my face. I hung up my cell and shook my head. Then I looked up and laughed, proclaiming, “Maybe the Universe knew I wasn’t ready to go!” When we arrived at ROOTS (his home, the co-op) I called up reservations to see what I could sort out. The lady on the phone quoted me a $350 charge for a next day same time flight. I was open with her and said, “Woahhh that’s expensive..!” She was silent. “How far in the future does it have to be to be under $100, because that’s about all I can afford…”  She responded with, “Next Thursday, at $135”.
“Hmmmm…”   I  mumbled. Silence.
“Well, it looks like I’ll be able to do a one time waive of the fee for you to travel tomorrow at the same time flight.”
“Wait, you mean, for free?”
“Yes maim, I’ll waive it this one time.”
I exploded with “thank you”s and then bombarded Austin with explanations of manifestation in the works. I ended up with the flight I thought I had all along! And I believe, it is because I BELIEVED it fully, and created that reality for myself! This is how manifestation works! It’s been happening for me left and right. I think I’ve turned Austin into a believer. 🙂  Or at least gave him a good start. ❤

     Gerry said something the other night which reinforced a concept Austin and I had previously discussed. He said, “Love is, or, being ‘in love’ is two people willing to show up and create it.” That notion helps me to feel soooo good about what Austin and I have. We do that! We show up and create it- together! Well… I show up most of the time… eventually. Now, is it this “everlasting” fairy tale situation I’ve been conditioned to search for? Not exactly, but what more could I ask for? We have this outstanding ability to create it in the now, and that’s all there is to know. There are no guarantees for anything in the future, so all I can even do is be open, and wait and see. The only things that could make it not work are time and space never running our lives parallel again, or someone simply choosing not to show up any more. There are many things I see that are going to keep us running parallel for some time I bet, as long as we’re both still willing to show up and create it. It being LOVE. All I can say, is for now, I am so showing up.  What unearthly reason could my fears come up with to make me think I don’t want to show up anymore? Surely I’ll find out.

     Ewww… yucky train sick feeling… No more writing for now.

That is all for now. Thank you all for reading. Thanks for living, loving and breathing.
Pura Vida
Natalie Sun At Water

The Bus Life

What is it like living on a bus? Before embarking on our adventure, and when I was still daydreaming about the freedom of the wide open road, that was a question I imagined I would be frequently answering. In reality, its not, but I’m going to go ahead and answer it anyway…

The Bus Life is very different from the more frequently traveled life paths, that is for sure. I don’t have my very own room to decorate exactly as I want. Instead, I share my 240 square foot living space with my two best friends. With everything we do to our living space, we consult each other first, resulting in a co-opperative creation filled with color and texture and ideas that would have never come to fruition had any of us done the designing and building solely by ourselves. We’ve managed to miraculously include a decently sized (almost) fully functioning kitchen, composting toilet closet, three cot style bunks, a clothing dresser, and a small sitting room into this tiny abode, but this bus is by no means oozing extra space. We do a great deal of dancing and shuffling around each other on a daily basis. Sometimes it can get pretty crowded in there, and my old claustrophobic neuroses show their ugly faces. In those times, I’ve learned the most productive response for me is to simply walk away from the bus. Living with two others in such close proximity has taught me many valuable things about myself. I now know that if I’m feeling overwhelmed or closed in, it is because I haven’t taken adequate space for myself. When living on a bus, taking literal space is not always a possibility, so I’ve also learned to get creative with how I take my mental space. I’ll write in my journal, get enrapt in a good book, or work on a crafting project while listening to music. If I absolutely NEEEED physical space, that’s on me; usually I manage this by taking a walk, run, or skip through some wilderness, if I can get my hands on it. Bus life can be small, and, at times, cloistering, but it is so satisfying .

Of the many many things that differentiate my life from the typical path, I don’t work a regular job to pay for my living space, nor the bills that go along with it, which is nice. But there are several obstacles we have learned (and are still learning) how to overcome in regard to the jobless, rentless, and utility-less (?) aspect of our lives. We don’t enjoy the convenience of endless running water, flushing toilets, or the electrical capacity to run a juicer, a circular saw, and a food processor all while charging a couple laptops and playing music over a speaker system. Showers are now a treasured luxury to us. To keep up with our personal hygiene, we use washcloths and dr.bronners. Sponge baths do the trick for a while, but there is truly nothing so refreshing as getting really clean in a shower of continuously flowing water. We’ve been very blessed along our journey to be offered showers from strangers that we meet, and surprisingly, the average time we go between showers is pretty much a week. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. If we haven’t found a shower for a while and are starting to smell stronger than feels comfortable, we seek out a nice, chlorinated hot tub to sneak into. Bonus points on sneaking into the hot tub of an apartment complex or hotel: we live to break the rules, and succeeding in this pumps us with some adrenaline and feels very satisfying. If you’re a rule follower, you might ask yourself why you are following a particular rule. Is the rule breaking hurting anyone in any way? Does it make sense? Are you only following said rule from fear of getting busted? If that is the case, stop doing that, and start governing yourself based on your own internal moral compass. Life is too short to do what others tell you to.

Like, “Go get a job, dirty hippie, you stink and you aren’t doing your part as a cog in the machine. Do us all a favor and become a wage slave like the rest of us. We are not down with your liberation…” Yeah, no thanks. I don’t have a “job,” my one, meaningless contribution to the perpetuity of the capitalistic system, because I believe my time is worth much much more than a paycheck will provide me. I don’t have a “dependable”, steady flow of income, but I also don’t answer to anyone but myself. All of my energy isn’t drained working eight hours, five days a week, just to support myself. Instead, I can focus my energies on things that actually interest and enrich my life. Like making home made, health giving meals from scratch. That stuff takes time, y’all! It’s no wonder so many american families turn to frozen, prepackaged, pesticide and preservative laden microwavable meals to provide their sustenance. The demands of civilization to keep up with the status quo continue to get steeper and steeper, robbing participants of their precious time and energy, and totally zombifying them in the process. I believe that life is too precious to waste doing things I don’t want to do, even if doing those things ensures that I will have financial security.

Now, my being jobless does not mean that I am lazy, unmotivated, or incapable of making money to support myself. Quite the contrary. I’m going to take this moment here to brag a little, because a little self bragging every now and then is healthy…… WE BUILT THE INTERIOR OF OUR HOME BY OURSELVES, USING RECYCLED MATERIALS, AND ARE LIVING AND LEARNING EVERYDAY HOW TO SELF WEEN FROM DEPENDENCE ON CONSUMERISM!!! It’s something I am pretty proud of. It has not been easy by any means; the path less traveled is shrouded in brambles and sometimes you have to navigate your way across roaring rivers without a bridge, or over steep mountain ranges, in the darkness of a new moon night. But the important thing is that we did it against whatever odds we faced, not because we felt it was expected of us, but because we want to grow and change for the better of humanity, and this just happened to be the path we had to hack our way through. Okay, brag session over. The truth about making money on my own time…. is that it is completely my own time. I alone am responsible for motivating myself, for finding the discipline to get the hard, tedious stuff done so that I can bring in the cash without torturing myself. And I have not got the hang of it yet. But hey, everything worth doing takes effort. I’ve done many odd jobs to make a little extra cash, such as face painting, cleaning an old bus out, helping a friend move, belly dancing for tips, and offering up my organization services.

A typical day in the life looks, roughly, like the following: I wake up according to my body and the natural circadian rhythms it follows, which is generally a short time after the sun rises. I don’t rely on alarm clocks, unless I absolutely have to, which is rare. Instead, I let my body and mind get the adequate sleep they need, and as a result, I usually wake up in between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. with no resistance. I immediately swing down from the pull up bar connecting my and Natalie’s bunks and go into the compost toilet closet to pee into a white cup that says “Love” in bright red letters on the front. Since urine is completely sterile and choc-full of nitrogen, we typically find some plants nearby to pour our pee onto. I then drink a glass of water, take vitamins, and put on water for breakfast tea/warm water with lemon juice. Mornings are a sacred time for me, because I have the quiet and space to do stuff for myself, uninterrupted. I will sip herbal tea while I write in my journal about my goals and to-do’s of the day, read, or listen to music, mentally preparing myself for whatever lessons the day will present me with. Natalie typically wakes up sometime closely before of after I wake up. Unless we are going somewhere specific that day, Jamie sleeps a little bit later than us. After waking up, I do something physical, like yoga, stretching, walking, hiking, running, or biking somewhere. Then breakfast, about an hour after initially waking.  The rest of the day has no real kind of routine to it. It all depends on where we are, what I’m doing at them time, who we’re hanging out with, and whether or not the Bus is having mechanical problems, which take precedence over most other things. Really, our days are filled with whatever we feel like/need to do. I like filling my days with love and laughter, with music and creativity. I like exploring unknown areas. I like trying new foods, as well as doing necessary kitchen things to prepare for our meals. I’ll go into detail about that in a future post. Sometimes I feel like crafting or reading or writing all day long. From the outside it may look like we don’t do much in a day, but please don’t let appearances ever determine your perception of the whole picture, because often, appearances are deceptive. The things I deem of highest importance are preventative health care, self love, and learning. So a great deal of what I do in a day revolves around food preparation, since food, along with water, air, sun, and sleep, is a direct and irreplaceable source from which we draw life energy. Because we live without a refrigerator, I’ve been slowly but surely learning food preservation alternatives that will meet our needs without depleting us of too much energy. We have a pressure cooker that we use to can food, and I am constantly trying to creatively incorporate any leftovers into our next meal so that no food goes wasted. I’ve recently started fermenting extra vegetables too, which is super exciting! More on that later…

Anyway, back to a day in the life: currently we are in El Cajon, California, semi-permanently stationed at a bus conversion shop while we work on diagnosing and fixing our coolant leak. So lately, we have incorporated mechanical work into our daily grind. Other things being at H.B. Industries has brought to our lives: a secure place to live, for the time being! It is such a relief to know where the bus is parked, and will be till we say so. Parking on city streets, there is ALWAYS a sinking suspicion, no matter how minuscule, that we will get back to the bus after a day of running around and exploring to find a parking violation ticket stuck to our windshield, or, worse yet, we will arrive to the spot the bus was parked to find it towed away. Oh, the horror! So its nice to know where Bessie will be. When we are living between semi-permanent parking spots, we park wherever we can. Usually, we’ll find a spot either in a parking lot (its never too long before someone comes a knockin on our door to tell us we have to move, but we do what we can…) or on the street. It’s always interesting to look out the living room window and see unsuspecting passers by walking only a few feet away from our bus. From the shop, we can go to the city via public transportation to busk at farmers markets, or do errand runs with our pal Gerry, the head honcho here at the shop, and come home to the bus, surrounded by about a dozen other bus conversions, and know that we can be here, safe and sound. Having a secure place to be is also allowing us to work on the never ending list of personal bus projects; we’ve already completed a few. We’re constantly working on storage and organizational solutions that we hope will improve our daily quality of life (though life is what you make it! We all have the choice to feel happy and blessed with exactly what we have.)

So yeah, I guess that is a not so short summary of a day in the life of a bus dweller. This bus dweller, anyway…

Happy Birthday, RAGE!

It has been one year since the three of us traveled to Summers, Arkansas to embark upon the most magical adventure of our young lives. It took a lot of determination, communication, and imagination to pull this project together. Everywhere we turned, we were told “no!” and “don’t do it!” and “you are going to die if you do this!” But we pushed forward in spite of all of this, and now we have reached our first anniversary in our bus!
    Our bus is no ordinary bus conversion. Our conversion focuses on simplicity, sustainability, and creativity. We have chosen to do without the modern conveniences of RV life, shying away from pump systems, heating/cooling appliances and plumbing. We wanted to find more sustainable options, choosing instead to build our own water pump system out of a foot powered pedal mechanism, a homemade composting toilet and a DIY solar charge station as a power source. Roughly 80-90% of our conversion process was completed using reclaimed materials. 99% of the conversion was completed by the three of us, Natalie, Caitlin, and myself (Jamie).
The majority of our conversion took place from April-June of 2013. We literally stopped everything else that we were doing and focused 100% of our time to the RAGE Bus Project. With little to no experience in vintage buses, diesel engine repair or construction, the three of us immersed ourselves into our 1966 Flxible “New Look” and pulled out of Austin, Texas on September 1st, 2013. We have since traveled through 8 states, mentored with 7 different mechanics, and have made countless memories along the way. We can perform most routine bus maintenance ourselves without much oversight (changing belts, filters, fluids, and adjusting the air brakes), heck– we can even EZ-OUT bolts and heli-coil threads!
Over the past year, I have taken hundreds of pictures documenting our adventure. I am still trying to find the best way to project it out into the world so that everyone can be a part of this experience. The following pictures are some of the highlights of the conversion process.  So scroll down and watch our bus become awesome!
   

March 5, 2013
“Guess what, Mom! I just bought a bus!”

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Muldrow, Oklahoma

April 6, 2013|
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Pre-deconstruction

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Before we started the conversion, we loaded the bus up with all of our ‘excess’ and had a donation-based yard sale.

May 28, 2013
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Our first project inside the bus! We constructed our bunk beds out of the city grip handrails that we pulled out of the bus.

June 4, 2013
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Framing out the dresser while we were parked at a mechanic shop in Wimberley, Texas. The drawers are wine crate boxes from Costco.

June 22, 2013
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The kitchen is really starting to shape up! We found this sink on the side of the road! Unlike most bus conversions, we decided to put our kitchen in the back of the bus.

June 23, 2013
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It’s starting to feel like home! We started sleeping in the bus at this point.

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The solar charge station. Right next to the door, so plenty of air flow!

August 25, 2013
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We love colors!

November 30, 2013
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We purchased this little stove from a mechanic in New Mexico. It’s an old coal burning stove, either used to heat water for laundry or was used in the caboose of a train! $90. The platform is a wooden frame, covered with concrete backed boarding.

December 1, 2013
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We glued on the mosaic for our stove while camping at a hot springs in Boulder City, Nevada. The mosaic is full of rocks that we have collected along the way, and pieces of a mirror that broke.

February 11, 2014
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Building more overhead storage in the kitchen for bulk grains. One day, a vegetable garden will be in this back window!


February 25, 2014
And now, one year later, here is what our bus currently looks like.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to check out the RAGE Bus Project! Remember to stay connected with us via facebook (facebook.com/ragebusproject), twitter (@ragebusproject) and instagram (@jamierainbowwarrior). We also love getting e-mail (ragebusproject@gmail.com).

Home on the Wild Horse Range

Keeping up with this blog is proving to be a challenge! All three of us keep personal handwritten journals, and we rarely have access to wi-fi on the road, so this page doesn’t get much love. I am back in Austin for two weeks, so I am going to use this time to catch up on things that I have been putting off, like this here blog!

The RAGE Bus arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado sometime around November 20th (I don’t really keep up with dates very well). We were heading West in search of warmer weather when Caitlin received news of a friend’s passing. There was a sudden shift in energy and it seemed to swirl all around us in a chaotic whirlwind, and within hours Caitlin had hitchhiked back to Denver to catch a bus to Austin. Natalie and I found ourselves taking a moment to reassess our projected path, unsure about moving forward without Caitlin on board. We decided to camp outside of Grand Junction for a few days, since it seemed like a good spot for Caitlin to be able to return to us.

20 miles East of Grand Junction, just outside of Palisade, Colorado, there is protected land that is home to one of the last remaining wild horse herds, called Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range. It was dark when we left the interstate at exit 46. The only light to break up the darkness of the canyon was a glaring Halliburton power plant entrance sign next to the Colorado river. Our only option was to drive down an unmarked dirt road in search of the Wild Horse park. We cautiously drove the bus over a one lane bridge and into the vast nothingness. The road twisted and turned in the darkness until we finally stopped at a dry creek crossing. It was obvious that the bus would not make it across this point in the road, so I jumped out and stood behind the bus as Natalie slowly backed up to the last turn around spot. We did not observe any “no trespassing” signs or “private property” notices, so we decided to just park at the back of the turn around and explore the area in the morning. Finally! We were away from concrete. Away from florescent lights and billboards. It was just us and the stars- and the mysterious shadows of the canyon walls all around us.

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range

We spent the next two days hiking and exploring the canyon with our dogs, who kept bringing us flesh covered deer bones. Pretty soon the dogs had recovered the remains of an entire deer carcass and were happily munching away on the bones in the middle of camp. In the distance, we heard a goat crying! We cried back and forth with the goat until we finally saw a tiny white dot pacing back and forth on a tiny ledge of the canyon wall. We had no idea if goats were native to the canyon, but the goat seemed alone and anxious on the ledge. But it was growing dark and the temperature was dropping, so we returned to the bus and bunkered down for the night.

The canyon wall where we first saw Cliff the goat! She is the tiny white dot near the top of the canyon wall.

The canyon wall where we first saw Cliff the goat! She is the tiny white dot near the top of the canyon wall.

The next morning, we woke up to the sound of a truck pulling up next to the bus. Natalie went outside to greet the man, who asked her if she lost her goat! Natalie told him that we didn’t have a goat, we lived on a bus! I heard the goat crying, so I got out of bed and joined them outside. I was introduced to Dana, who was untying the goat from the back of his truck. The goat had a rope loosely draped around her neck, and she immediately began snacking on the grass at her feet. Dana told us that the goat appeared on the canyon wall around the same time that we arrived in the canyon. She appeared to be a domesticated, friendly goat, perhaps abandoned by someone in the canyon. Dana rescued the goat by himself by tying a set of ropes to rocks and pulling the goat to safety.

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range

Inspired by his act of kindness, we invited him into the bus for tea and breakfast. Dana is a native to the Palisade area, and he comes to the canyon every day to pray for peace and healing. He pointed to the great mountain on the horizon, “That’s Grand Mesa,” he said. “That’s the holy mountain. My face is on that mountain.” He opened up his laptop and started to show me his collection of pictures. “Here is a slain lamb, and here is a cross, but if you turn it this way, it is an angel.” One by one, we flipped through ariel photos from Google Earth, each one with a story. Dana warned us of the impending nuclear holocaust, and reminded us to do everything that we possibly could to prepare for catastrophic disaster. “You need to be able to survive underground for at least 45 days.” Dana spent time at a Hopi reservation in Arizona, where he was told that he was “the one who turns off the power.” Weighted by the gravity of fulfilling this prophecy, Dana has turned to writing passionate letters to the Human Rights Commission in hopes of reaching someone who will agree to switch to more sustainable energy sources. “No one will listen to me. I try to tell them what the cure is, but no one will listen.”

At some point during the conversation, we learned that Dana has worked as a mechanic for most of his life. Natalie asked him if he would mind listening to our bus to see if we had piston slap (someone in New Mexico mentioned that we may have a piston misfiring). Dana agreed, and we started the bus. Dana placed his ear up to his wrench and listened intently to the engine. “Nope! It sounds fine! But your harmonic balancer sure is wobbling.” Natalie turned the engine off. She explained to him that we have had problems with our harmonic balancer in the past, but it does seem to be getting worse. Natalie shut the engine off and Dana bent down to assess the balancer. “Well, here’s your problem…” Dana pulled out a broken bolt from the center of the balancer. Natalie walked over to me with a serious look on her face. “Jamie, it’s bad. But we are going to get through this and everything is going to be okay.” She opened her hand and showed me the broken bolt.

Panic. Panic is always my initial response. Is this really happening again? Oh my God, we are so far away from town. We are in the middle of nowhere! I felt my heart jump into my throat and I grabbed Natalie’s hands, “Oh God, no! No no no no no!” We joined Dana at the back of the bus. “Hey! This isn’t such a big deal. We’ll just take it off, take the bolts out, and put new ones in!” If only it was that simple. We have had an issue with our harmonic balancer since the day we bought Bessie. We spent a week in Muldrow, Oklahoma getting broken bolt pieces extracted from the crankshaft. The temporary fix lasted 11 miles and our belts flew off somewhere on the highway. We were towed to Atoka, Oklahoma where a family friend extracted broken bolts once again and replaced the belts. That fix lasted 250 miles, and the bolts snapped again. Finally, we were towed home to Austin and spent a month at a diesel repair shop in Wimberley, Texas getting the balancer fixed for real! The mechanics in Wimberley drilled out the bolt holes on the crankshaft and heli-coiled the threads. Our harmonic balancer is obsolete, so you can’t order a new one. Cummins searched a global database and turned up empty handed. The bolt holes in the balancer were damaged from the continuous wobbling, and were now oval shaped instead of perfect circles. Finally, we found a harmonic balancer that had the same bolt pattern, but a different pulley assembly. Jesse, the mechanic in Wimberley, was able to detach the pulley assembly and machine our pulley assembly to the new damper. I was certain that this would fix the problem! The balancer was placed onto the bus and locked down with the strongest bolts you can get, Grade 8, and sealed with red locktite for good measure. Even after all of this, the balancer still maintained a slight wobble. It was not completely “true”. Jesse warned us to not travel too far from home in the bus. He said, “It may last 50 miles, or it may last 5,000 miles, I just don’t know.”

So here we were, in western Colorado, with a handful of broken Grade 8 bolts. Dana began to take off the belts and disassemble the balancer. He began to pull a plethora of tools from his tiny truck. In a few minutes, he had the entire thing pulled apart and began to assess the threading with a caliper. He could tell I was worried. “Let’s take a break!” We went back inside and I began to focus on my breathing. I felt like I had not taken a breath since Natalie brought the bolt to me. It was all happening so fast! We began to make a list of the materials that we would need. An EZ-OUT screw extractor set, a set of heli-coils and a tap, 5 Grade-8 bolts, 5 lockwashers, 3 new belts and red locktite. I began to have deja vu. I had witnessed and participated in this process 3 times so far. Each time, it had taken hours to extract the bolts with a drill. Would our solar batteries support such an intense draw? Breathe. That’s all I could do. Natalie and Dana headed to town to retrieve the materials, and I was left to babysit Cliff the goat. Cliff was very anxious about being left alone, so I grabbed her rope and we took off walking. Cliff was happy to lead the way, and kept turning around to blink her creepy square eyes at me and smile. I’m not sure if she was smiling, or if that’s just how her face looks. Regardless, I felt a lot of reassurance from her. She seemed to be telling me that everything was going to be okay. We were all here together in this beautiful canyon at the base of the Grand Mesa. Where else could we possibly choose to be? Just a few hours ago, she was pacing back and forth on the ledge of a cliff, hungry and alone with no hope in sight, and Dana just appeared out of nowhere and extended the hand of mercy. Was I now the goat on the cliff? How do I surrender control and just stand witness to the magic of the Universe? Breathe.

Little Books Cliff Wild Horse Range

Cliff and I walked back to the bus and took a nap until Natalie and Dana returned with the supplies. They even found a family that wanted a goat! By this time, the sun had made its way behind the mountain and the temperature was dropping. We decided to wait until the sun rose again before continuing our work. Dana stayed a bit longer and told us about the golden discs he made to read Bible codes. He said that he may have been Daniel the Prophet in a past life, and he has in his possession all of the Mormon artifacts. The golden discs, the shield, the sword, and the location of the true Zion. I tried to focus on his stories and not worry about the condition of our bus. Our house! Our only home. It could be gone in an instant. I reminded myself that the Universe put me here for a reason, and focused on being present and aware of my surroundings. Submit to the Universe. And right now my Universe was Dana, so I listened intently to the stories that he was telling me. “You see, it’s Eden that you girls are seeking, and you are well on your way. Right now, you are out of harmony and balance. But we are going to set you straight and fix your harmonic balancer. You will get to where you are going. And who knows, maybe you will end up right where you began.” Dana told us goodnight and drove away to take Cliff to her new home.

The next morning, Dana returned with several jugs of water. Water is a precious commodity on the road. Our 40-gallon water tank lasts us about 7 days. I was growing concerned with the amount of water that we had remaining in the tank, especially considering we had no idea how many more days we would be in the canyon, so we had switched to emergency power saving mode. All water was now reserved for drinking. Which meant we had a lot of dirty dishes and very dirty hands.  With Dana’s gift of 4 jugs of water, we cooked up a batch of potatoes, washed our faces, and sat down for tea before beginning our work.

Finally, it was time to assess the damage. Using a caliper, we measured the depth of each bolt hole in the crankshaft. Then we measured the depth of the holes in the harmonic balancer. We determined that the balancer must have developed a wobble because the lockwashers were not put on at the shop in Wimberley. This allowed for a very small gap (about 1/8th inch), which was just enough room for the centripetal force to get the balancer out of line and snap the bolts. I found a can of penetrating lube in our toolbox and sprayed the inside of the bolt holes. Dana managed to remove 4 of the bolts without the EZ-OUT. The last bolt was broken in half, so we would have to drill a hole in it to extract it. Luckily, our friend Ray from Wimberley had gifted us a really nice power inverter! The peak 2400 watt inverter handled the draw of the drill without a problem. Within 30 minutes, Dana had drilled through the center of the bolt and placed the extractor bit inside. Car mechanics reminds me of performing surgery. Like Bessie is someones grandmother who suffered a myocardial infarct, and we are in some post apocalyptic cath lab in the desert. We slowly reversed the bolt out, praying that it would all come out in one piece. Along with the bolt, we  pulled out a piece of a broken bolt from months ago! Hallelujah! The next step was to pull out the old heli-coils, drill out the bolt holes, and run a tap down the lumen to cut new threads. Cutting new threading into metal is quite the task. Dana, built like an ox, had no trouble rotating the T handle while keeping the tap nice and centered. When it was my turn to give it a go, I exhausted myself in less than 5 rotations! And Dana cut the threads to 4 of the bolt holes! My appreciation of his presence, his skill, his knowledge, and his patience swelled.

Little Books Cliff Wild Horse Range

After the heli-coils were finally in place, it was time to reassembly the pulley. Natalie and I took over from here, lining the bolt pattern up to the key on the crank. One by one, we secured the bolts with the red locktite and lockwashers. Dana retrieved a torque wrench from his magic toolbox and we torqued the bolts to 60. We said a little prayer and started the bus. The engine roared to life, and the harmonic balance flew into motion. For the first time since we have had Bessie, the harmonic balancer spun true. Which means, no wobble! She was as smooth as the day she was born. I couldn’t believe it! With no wobble, that means that the centripetal force should never spin the balancer into an imbalance ever again. (Unless there is an underlying unknown catalyst that we are completely unaware of!). Natalie and I danced like we have never danced before. Jubilant! We squeezed Dana tightly in a group hug, as if that could even come close to thanking him enough for his kindness.

The next day, Dana returned and took us on a ride in his truck through the wild horse canyon! We were not able to make it very far down the road in our bus because of the creek bed. We didn’t stand a chance of seeing the herd from our camp, so it was super cool that Dana took us for a ride! Along the way we saw 9 different wild horses, and we just stood with them and shared the silence. I felt a sad tug in my chest as I heard the humming of the Halliburton power lines running the length of the majestic canyon. Even here, in this reservation, they couldn’t leave the land alone. They fenced the horses into this canyon and call them wild. Land of the free. No one is free.

As if Dana had not shown us enough compassion, he offered to let us shower and refill our water tank at his home in Palisade. We decided to sleep in the canyon for one more night because it was starting to snow heavily in the canyon and we were worried about the condition of the road. The next day the sun was shining and the time felt right, so we drove out of the canyon and met Dana in town. We gifted him with a necklace that we made for him out of braided hemp and a wire-wrapped heart shaped stone that we found during our hike.

Dana taught me a lot of lessons during these past few days. He reminded me to surrender to the Universe and allow the magic to wash over me in a fit of glory. I am not in control of any of it, life just happens as it is going to happen. I am merely an observer. And once I learn to stop fighting it and just LET GO, then everything will fall into place the way it was meant to be. Dana also reminded me that we are on an important journey, and bestowed upon on us his blessings in our travels. Sometimes I feel like I am not quite sure where we are going, but I know that one day we will arrive.

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range    1120131125[1]    1119131457c[1]

Time doesn’t exist to a seed

If it seemed to me that time was warped before we left, I might as well be living in a new dimension entirely now. Its been only two weeks since Jamie left us in that striking gold canyon in Nevada, headed for our home base of Texas, but it feels like months and months. I’ve come to believe that without all of the distractions of modern life, like work and bills and cars and shopping and shiny, bright ads on every corner telling me I will never ever be enough, no matter how many shoes I buy, no matter how thin I get, no matter how rich my boyfriend is, because we must always have more more more…with the absence of all of that in my life, I believe, existence is vaster and denser than I could ever have imagined.

Of course, I can’t really escape the ads. They stand there, 100 feet tall on iron legs, proclaiming with a booming voice what happiness and success are supposed to look like, and just how much it will cost you, in a tidy, brightly colored packages complete with the perfect tag line All unsolicited and unwanted. No matter how much we don’t want to see see these incredibly mind altering images, we can do virtually nothing about it because the companies that put them up also own the property they are standing on. So we see images of thin, scantily clad women with “perfect” proportions selling clothing, fragrances, makeup, sex. We see men in positions of power. We see shiny new cars and savory, nutrient deficient food. Drilled into our minds over. And over. And over again. No wonder this madness has been going on for so long. They’ve got their brainwashing techniques down to a science.

The difference for me now is that when I see the billboards, I scoff, roll my eyes. Or I just try to flat out ignore them. Still they stand there, pounding their messages of inferiority and scarcity and fear into all of our brains. Its these parts of modern civilization that can send me tail spinning towards despair at any second, if I let them. It’s features like this that drive me to desire seclusion from the rat race more and more each day. How I miss Gold Strike Canyon, nestled in the southern tip of Nevada. I spent five pages in my journal just describing the intricate and wild beauty of the 6 mile hike down to a naturally flowing hot springs that overlook rose colored boulders , emerald moss and chartreuse fern cascading toward the Colorado River. We only spent four or five days in that canyon, but in that short amount of time, I began to really heal. I find it so easy to regain balance away from all the roads and consumption and advertisements. Away from the poison of civilization. So we hide away, when we can, for as long as our water tank and food will last us, till we have to go back to the cities to make some money and restock on our necessities. This bus adventure is definitely not any sort of solution. We’re still so dependent on the capitalistic system and its excess. That, also, could easily make me crazy if I let it. I have to remind myself that we are still babies in our journeys towards balance and health. We still have so much to learn about the world, community, and ourselves. This is happening right now to prepare us for what lies ahead, whatever that may be. I’m hoping that its land we can settle down on and begin to really fully sustain our own lives by our hands and ours alone. But I guess we’ll see…..

Anyway, time is really warped around here. Each day holds so much detail, a new lesson learned, new clarity to be appreciated. Or it holds so much weight and sorrow that I’m almost crippled with it. On those days, all I mostly do is  write in my journal and make good food and take walks and listen to music and cry, trying to nurse my own wounds so that hopefully some day I can nurse the wounds of others. This is a time of growth and self care, I remind myself. I imagine I lay deep in the earth, surrounded by cool, damp soil. I am a sprouting seed. I see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing, smell nothing, taste nothing. I am just able to be. I absorb the nutrients needed to become a little sproutling. My roots begin to spread out underneath me, grounding me to where I came from and soaking up the water droplets that have made their way down to give me life. Some day I will be a tree, but trees, like humans, take a very very long time to grow. So for now I am incubated in darkness, just beginning to be.

The Land of Enchantment

I woke up this morning and stared up at the canvas cot that holds Caitlin’s sleeping body a few feet above my bed. Jade rubbed her wet nose against my face and burrowed down further underneath the warm blankets, begging me to go back to sleep. I opened my window to let some of the fresh mountain air into the bus. A man was walking down the sidewalk, pausing for a moment when he saw Jade and I peeking out of the window. I wondered what he was thinking. I can only imagine what we must look like to people passing by. Are we in two different worlds entirely?
With each passing day, I feel more and more connected to the real world. The movement of the trees, the glowing sun, the songs that the birds sing and the distant reverberation of the hazy purple mountains. I feel the wind moving with me, and in me, passing through me and leaving goosebumps in it’s wake. My body feels so open and relaxed, happy to have been released from a prison of office chairs and computer keyboards.
As I pull myself from my warm little cave, I stretch my arms up to the pull bar between the bunk beds and hang for awhile. The bear in the cave stretches as well, and jumps out of bed. We walk outside and head down the residential neighborhood, looking for a place to pee in the landscaped yards. We finish our business and head back to the bus, where Natalie is making eggs and vegetables for breakfast.
During breakfast, I focus on my intentions for the day. Breathe. Appreciate. Love love. Rest. Be.
We are spending a few more days in the Land of Enchantment, and then we will point our spaceship North towards Colorado. This life is so full of magic and wonder! It’s an adventure to be had, should you be wise enough to leave behind the comforts and security that are enslaving your spirit. In the words of Alexander Supertramp himself, “nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”
The wild is calling.
Jamie.