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

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 ~

Less than a month until take off!!

I keep listing off all of the “to do’s” in my head, and then I start freaking out and I have to stop. It goes like this, “Okay, I have to get the bus registered. But to do that, I need to get it inspected. But to get it inspected I need to get the windshield wipers fixed. And maybe new tires. I need to get someone else to look at those tires. Oh, and get the brakes fixed. Shit, I need money. Okay, I’ll just sell my car. But first I have to put the car in the shop. And take pictures. And advertise it. I need to “stage” the bus as an RV and take pictures too. And if I have to drive the bus during all of this, try not to get pulled over or the bus will get impounded.” And that’s when I start freaking out.

The R.A.G.E. Bus Project is scheduled to set sail on June 3rd, 2013. On the 3rd, I plan on getting into the Captains seat and pointing Bessie North, no matter how prepared any of us are. I feel like if we don’t just DO IT, then we will never do it. I’m holding hands with both Caitlin and Natalie, and we are all going to jump off of this big cliff together, on June 3rd. It’s happening!!!

Right now the bus is at a shop in the cutest small town in Texas called Wimberley. Jesse the Mechanic is going to work his self-proclaimed “superman” magic and fix the windshield wiper and the brakes (including new air tanks). I feel a sense of relief with the bus being in the shop. I have handed over the bus to someone else, and it is out of my hands now. Not having the bus sitting in the driveway crying for me to come play with her has freed me up to focus on other things, like selling my car!

Today I made an attempt to get the bus title put into my name. The DMV office refused, saying that the VIN on the bus is already being used on an old farm trailer somewhere else in Texas. So one of us must be lying. I have to go back to the office with a picture of the VIN on the bus to verify the number. Little road bumps along the way just make the ride more fun, right?

The progress seems slow, but every day I am checking something off of that list in my head. If I keep this up, I think we will be ready in three weeks. But it doesn’t matter, because we are leaving whether we are ready or not!

We just finished the hardest part of this entire project, the thing I have been dreading from the very beginning; moving out of R.O.O.T.S. EcoVillage. Leaving our collective behind is the hardest thing I have done in a long time. R.O.O.T.S. is forever my home in my heart. Yesterday, we shoved everything that we own into the bus and pulled out of the driveway, all of us crying and touching everything we could as we left. Now we are stationed out at Natalie’s parents house outside of Austin so we can focus on the bus without having to worry about bills or chores or drama taking our energy. So our home right now is a little room in the back of Natalie’s dads shop. Most people would probably consider this room to be a large closet, too small to really call it a bedroom. Maybe I am just used to my 500 sq ft efficiency at R.O.O.T.S., which was small for three girls! Now our room is maybe 1/5th of that size. We are sharing a pair of mattresses on the floor (3 girls, 2 dogs, and a cat). It’s very cuddly. A big cuddle fest every single night. All of our clothes are hanging on a pole between a ladder and a shelf, just inches above our faces. If I roll over in my sleep, the ends of belts and dresses tickle my face.

I can feel the energy building as we get closer to the beginning. My anticipation is growing. I keep meeting people that tell me that we are “special people” and we are doing “great things” and while I believe them, I feel very bewildered by it, and worried about trying to meet an expectation that others might be setting for me. I keep reminding myself to let go of it, and just focus on the love. I breathe it in, and I absorb it all into my lungs and my bones and let it vibrate through me, and then I give it back.

Keep spreading the love,

Jamie.