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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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

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.

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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.

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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]

My First Reflections of the Trip

We left! Holy hell in a hand basket– BATMAN! We actually left (what we quickly soon realized was) our little golden bubble of open-minded souls in the south: Austin. I say that based on the observation that anywhere we go, we are a sore thumb, sticking out in many people’s awareness’ as unusual, eccentric, harry hippies… everywhere except for in Austin. I’ll always love you Austin, even if you are becoming a different place than the town I grew up in. Pshhhhh I don’t want to make that generalization! We’re only in Waco! But it was that way on our transport home from Arkansas after we bought Bessy, and on our way to and fro, and at, the beach of Port A. Anyshwayy, we shall see!

We slept in Waco last night in some parking lot near a diesel station. We had to wash cloth bathe ourselves with peppermint soap and douse ourselves in peppermint oil  in order to feel cool enough to fall asleep, but once I was in bed it sure didn’t take long. We didn’t travel terribly far, but it was SO worth it to me to leave last night- even if we were practically sleep driving during that 2 1/2 hrs of the dark AM. Yes, we left at midnight. We don’t do mornings very well…! Plus, we just had to GO! -As soon as possible… Take that leap. The first step is the hardest part… Seriously! …The universe is likely going to prove me wrong on that one… Ha. I’m prepared Universe!
This morning I got up, found a gas station bathroom, ate an apple, took Ranger on a walk.. It felt good, natural. It feels good to be on the road again. Then, a short jaunt most of the rest of the way to Tyler, to Brownsboro, and now we’re stationary again visiting Amanda and Andy (Jamie’s sister and bro-in-law) and their three hoodlums, for the weekend. It’s hotter here than Austin is right now, or was when we were there, it feels to me, but the mosquitoes aren’t NEAR as viscous. I get nervous when Ranger is around the kids, because he’s spazzy and thery’re spazzy and it’s just an all around unpredictable dynamic. Otherwise, though, he’s been doing really well. He hasn’t been overly friendly, but he has been pleasant with everyone. And not barking his head off, WHICH MAKES MOMMY CRAZY! .. Doesn’t make, my feelings are my own, but triggers the crazy deep inside!

Tomorrow I hope we’ll attach an awning that passed from Jamie to Amanda and is now coming back to her- to us- and onto the bus. Exciting! Fancy! Legit RV status!  Well… let’s be real, we’ll be helping. I’m sure Andy will be the dominant builder. It just tends to happen that way, when we have a handy guy around. (Handy Andy they call him.) They want to help… they have a need to contribute. Maybe they think we aren’t capable..? Maybe they’re not used to seeing women’s capabilities in that way. I’m guessing that folks aren’t used to girls women (wanting to retrain my lingo to be less misogynistic! We are women!) wanting to help do a physically laborious project, like that. I don’t like that generalization I’m making, though. I have observed a pattern. I will wait to see how it pans out and try not to have expectations or make assumptions. I’m looking for a balance between being real and also being in the moment and remembering that EVERY moment is brand new; a fresh start, for myself, the people around me, the world in general, to be improved, to be increasingly love oriented instead of driven by fear, and free of the baggage of the past, which is no longer real.

Yeah! Remember that, me!

I want to get some sleep.  I’d love really like (this isn’t love!) to get up bright and early and be productive tomorrow. There are always chores and projects to do. Actually, I want to actively rephrase that to: There are always tasks that promote well-being and projects that will help life on the bus be more pleasant to do.

This post is an expression of me, my experiences, my perspectives and my thoughts. I intentionally have included corrections of thoughts, language, word choice, mind set, that I noticed -in the process of transcribing this personal journal entry written on Sept. 2nd- in order to help recondition my mind to a healthier way of thinking and being than that of which was drilled into my habits by this society, the media, and  this materialism centered reality. Congruently, I hope to be an example for others, to show that it is okay that we are not perfect. It is okay that I make judgments and have these thoughts, these habits of perceiving the world from a place of fear, because they are not me. They are not the essence of my soul, which is pure and strives to live harmoniously with all things, but that was skewed the moment I was born and the conditioning of this world began to influence the way it (my soul: I) interact in it. It is okay that I am here now, because I wont be here tomorrow. And if I am aware today, I can actively choose to be somewhere new (in my mind), tomorrow. Actually, right now!

Pura Vida
May light shine upon you.
Light = Love = Universal Harmony & Peace
❤ Natalie Sun At Water ~

Port Aransas, Texas

We have returned from the beach! We lived just 20 feet from the gulf waters in Port Aransas, Texas for 4 glorious days. We are leaving Austin in just one week!! It was absolutely delightful getting to share the experience of living on the bus with our friends and families. The bus made the 500 mile trip without incident! Very optimistic about our upcoming travels!
–Jamie

Check out the photo gallery here!  http://ow.ly/nEFbP