2.10.16 ::: An update a long time coming.

I apologize for the long delay between posts. After our time at the Christmas tree lot came to a close and we spent Christmas on the Texas coast with Christian's dad, (where I was originally catching up on the other most recent posts), we unexpectedly found ourselves hurrying up to Alabama as quickly as possible to be with my sister and the rest of my family. We arrived in Huntsville on New Years Eve and were incredibly blessed to get to spend the next two weeks with my sister before she passed away after a two year battle with brain cancer.

Currently, we are in Northwest Arkansas, spending quality time with my cousins while awaiting a part to finish installing our tiny wood stove (more on that later!). We left Alabama on January 23rd and began our slow trek west, making our first stop a 1.5 week layover in Searcy, AR (where we began our conversion). We'll be heading out of NW Arkansas shortly, taking a more southern route along the way to slowly, but surely make our way west of the Continental Divide and back into the mountains.

I still want to stick to updating about the bus from start to finish, so here's the next one in line, even though it's about two months belated…

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Because we got our kitchen from the Habitat Restore, it was a lot deeper than we needed it to be. To create better utilization of that extra counter space, we decided to build a "backsplash" storage cubby. I wanted to be able to leave things on the counter while we drive, so corralling it in with a cubby seemed like the perfect solution.

We made the cubby 7 inches deep to not interfere with the propane connection on the back of the stove. It turned out perfectly, so once we had it all lined up, we took it back outside so I could stain it to match the countertop.

I did the staining, I promise! This is Christian attaching the "L" brackets to the cubby so we can attach it to the counter.

I did the staining, I promise! This is Christian attaching the "L" brackets to the cubby so we can attach it to the counter.

It looks great!

It looks great!

The next big project we had to tackle was the bench seat. It's future home would be behind the driver's seat. Our plan was just a basic box with a lid to store stuff beneath it.

Yay, it holds a person sitting on it!

Yay, it holds a person sitting on it!

And the lid works too!

And the lid works too!

We stained the bench seat the same color, but it turned out looking a bit more exciting because of the pattern of the wood.

We stained the bench seat the same color, but it turned out looking a bit more exciting because of the pattern of the wood.

That's all for now. I need to dig up the rest of the photos of progress to post in the coming updates. Since we'll most likely be hitting the road tomorrow afternoon (2.11), it might be a few days before I get wifi and am able to post again, but I promise to try to better keep up with it from here on out!

If you need a solid dose of our adventures while you wait for most posts, follow our daily journey along on our Instagram! (@TravelingTuttles)

12.28.15 - More curtains, and a tool box upgrade!

Ever since we loaded up Stubbs to go to Texas, Christian had insisted we needed to upgrade to a large rolling tool chest. With five separate tool boxes clumsily taking up precious garage space, I agreed. However, we hadn't found one that fit the space in the way we needed it to…until a trip to Home Depot took us by a limited edition Husky tool chest. It was perfect. The shorter height (of the lower half only) would allow us to roll it freely beneath the bed. It was also the perfect depth and width for the space beside the bed that we wanted it to fit in.

I wouldn't let Christian have it until we'd unloaded the motorbikes and started cleaning out the garage to actually accommodate it. Thankfully, with our time dwindling at the tree lot, he made it happen and I came home with it on one of my solo shopping trips.

He was beside himself with excitement over the box. Here he is with one of our favorite lot helpers, Evian, who helped us get the motorbikes unloaded and load the tool chest.

He was beside himself with excitement over the box. Here he is with one of our favorite lot helpers, Evian, who helped us get the motorbikes unloaded and load the tool chest.

I had finished the main "house" curtains and ran out of the patterned duck I'd used, so I ran off to a Hancock Fabrics store to see what I could find. While there, I looked for some more of the insulating fleece layer and found an even better solution that I'd known about before sewing half of the curtains: metalized mylar fleece! It was the same thickness as the stuff I'd already used, but with a special metal interior to help reflect heat.

Luckily, the remaining curtains to be done were the bedroom and the front cab area, so at least the two most important areas to keep insulated would be sewn with it.

The next curtain I set out to tackle was driver's side windows. This included the sliding windows and a triangular window beside it. I opted to do one large panel for the whole thing and add a dowel at the bottom to make rolling it up for driving an easy task.

I was very proud (and nervous) about my first non-rectangular curtain. Lucky me, when I went to fit it into place, it was perfect!

The curtain blocks every bit of light out and is easy to roll up with a dowel in the bottom.

The curtain blocks every bit of light out and is easy to roll up with a dowel in the bottom.

I have plenty more to update about, but for now, I'll leave those for later to try and avoid overwhelming anyone.

Also, for those interested and or if you might know someone who is…we finally got the Craigslist listing up for the Campbulance. It breaks our heart to sell her, but with Stubbs in our lives, having two converted vehicles just isn't all that logical.

Please feel free to pass this link along: http://littlerock.craigslist.org/cto/5376795762.html

12.26.15 Curtains, bookshelf and layout changes.

Christian and I had been a little divided on what to do regarding our planned toilet room. If you remember in the original layout plans (I'll post the photo below), we had intended to do the toilet room in the center beside the living room seat/couch. However, once we lived in the bus for a while, we began to doubt whether splitting up the space that much would work for us, so we went over our other options.

In the end, we decided to move our filing cabinets and switch their spot with the toilet room after realizing the space they were taking up was the perfect size and location for our future toilet.

We took turns sitting in the space to make sure it was a comfortable size.

We took turns sitting in the space to make sure it was a comfortable size.

One of the other top projects we needed to get done for both function and necessity was curtains. Christian had pulled the insulation off of the windows that we were using as our temporary coverings, so the need became urgent and I was sent to Hobby Lobby to procure supplies.

Christian added two layers of foam insulation to the walls before putting OSB over it for some extra insulation. Now that we had a working heater, we realized how much some simple walls and insulation would help our cause.

Christian added two layers of foam insulation to the walls before putting OSB over it for some extra insulation. Now that we had a working heater, we realized how much some simple walls and insulation would help our cause.

Here's a photo of the filing cabinets moved and the toilet room walls beginning to take shape.

Here's a photo of the filing cabinets moved and the toilet room walls beginning to take shape.

I spent a lot of time (and money, to be honest) at Hobby Lobby after hemming and hawing about what fabrics I wanted to us. We wanted thick insulating curtains, so in addition to choosing a nice patterned duck and the heaviest duty blackout fabric in the store, I also got some thick Thermolam to sew between the layers as insulation.

We had sold through our back stock of trees and weren't getting any more shipments, so we took advantage of the shade of the tent to set up our work space. Christian was working on the walls and then a book shelf while I began to tackle the large sewing project before me.

I did a lot of reading before I ever sewed my first seam.

I did a lot of reading before I ever sewed my first seam.

As a sewing technique, I went with a suggestion from my mom, which was to sew everything inside out like a pillow case and then turn it right side out to do the finished seam on the top. I ended up only doing the two sides like this and then sewing a folded over seam on the top and bottom.

As a sewing technique, I went with a suggestion from my mom, which was to sew everything inside out like a pillow case and then turn it right side out to do the finished seam on the top. I ended up only doing the two sides like this and then sewing a folded over seam on the top and bottom.

It took me all day to conquer just one curtain, but I was proudly making progress while Christian continued work on his bookshelf.

I'm extremely proud of Christian's ingenuity with his bookshelf. He had this idea to build a small shelf beneath the foot of the bed to utilize the space there. Because of wanting to be able to access the garage space when moving the motorbikes in and out, he didn't want it to be permanent. Instead, he built it on wheels and even added a spot for Loulou's litterbox that will be hidden once he puts a face on the shelf.

He also built walls for the toilet room and installed them (sorry, no photos of that…I was too busy wrestling with my sewing machine and way too much fabric).

In addition to moving the filing cabinets out, we also shuffled around the hanging space to accommodate some planned changes to the garage space (more on that later). With the filing cabinets out, it still divides the space, but not nearly as much as a walled room would have, so we're pretty happy with our decision. Honestly, we almost nixed the idea of the toilet room at all, but part of our upgrade to the bus was specifically to include a toilet, so we figured we should make it happen.

After finishing one curtain, I was both exhausted and energized. Most of the curtains would cover two windows, so it was a large amount of very thick heavy duty fabric to be working with for someone as inexperienced as I am. I kept running into issues with the machine along the way, so each curtain seemed to take longer and longer. The curtains for the living space are completely done now (I'll have to get a good photo of them later) and I'm still working on the ones for the front windows and the cab space (the odd shapes and sizes are giving me a run for my money).

They make a world of difference for light and insulation, so we're happy I went with such heavy duty materials.

12.17.15 Drawers, propane, heater and more!

Sorry for the big hiatus!  We were fast at work over on the tree lot. Mostly selling trees, but a little bit working on the bus in our spare moments as well. 

However, as of last Wednesday, we were officially done with the trees, which meant we were able to continue working on the bus until we left San Antonio on Monday. And now that we're settled into our comfy RV resort on the coast of Texas with plentiful wifi, I can start catching up on posting about the work we've accomplished.

Because we've managed to eek out so many projects during our time in Texas, loading it all into one post not only seemed daunting to me, but Christian made the smart observation that anyone reading it might quickly become overwhelmed as well.

So, I'm going to tackle blogging about one project (or, in this case, small group of projects) at a time until we've completely caught up!

 

Drawers/Propane/Heater:

One of the big projects we needed to tackle was finding ways to utilize some of the empty space in the kitchen. There were some spots where there used to be drawers, but they didn't come with the set. Christian set about to make some drawers for that under-counter space to hold our dishes, cookware and pantry. Beneath the oven space we created was also a spot screaming its unused potential, so he decided to make a drawer to hold random household objects and cleaning supplies as well as providing a spot to mount our small propane heater.

I wish I'd taken a better photo of these drawers. When I finally take the time to build a dedicated photo page for our conversion, I'll include one for sure. There are two large deep and heavy duty drawers to hold our cooking ware, dishes and pantry items in the far side of the kitchen.

I wish I'd taken a better photo of these drawers. When I finally take the time to build a dedicated photo page for our conversion, I'll include one for sure. There are two large deep and heavy duty drawers to hold our cooking ware, dishes and pantry items in the far side of the kitchen.

This is the under-oven drawer that will house the heater.

This is the under-oven drawer that will house the heater.

Christian left the propane hookups to me (I'm still not certain why he ever trusted something so dangerous to me). I had to spend half a day driving all the way across San Antonio to a special propane shop to find all the specific connectors we needed to hook up our tank to the oven and heater for dual use.

After running through the order in which I needed to hook everything up no less than three times with the fine gentleman at the propane place. I also made him retell me how to correctly use teflon tape to wrap the connections and then how to test with soapy water for leaks.

The connecting took me a while, because I did find some leaks and had to redo multiple connections or ask Christian to use his brute strength to tighten them a little bit more (tight plus grunt!).

Once we were finally confident that I wasn't about to kill us via propane leaks, we fired up our heater to test it out.

It had gotten particularly cold a few nights in a row (down in the 30s), so we had been driven by the chill to push forward with this project. We were glad we did, as the night we got it all working was a frigid one. It also provided an enormous drying power, which is arguably as nice as the heat.

Loulou was at first skeptical of the odd hissing noises and crackling sounds the heater made as it was warming up, but she quickly realized that it gave off heat and made it her business to stick nearby.

Hooking up the oven was the final leg of the propane project. It meant no more dragging out our single-burner camp stove to heat up food or water. We were excited.

In addition to the hookups, we wanted to make the propane/water storage area more travel friendly. We're fairly certain we will upgrade our water storage at some point (we just took these jerry cans from the Campbulance), but until then, we operate with two 5 gallon cans.

We decided to cut holes in the base of the kitchen to allow the propane and water to nestle into cubbies on the floor and not move while we drive. This meant dragging out the jigsaw and adding a little more sawdust to our already dusty construction-zone of a bus. (I keep telling Christian I want a Dirt Devil for Christmas, but he's not convinced.)

The cubbies work like a charm, giving us the peace of mind that when we drive we won't have a propane tank or water jugs sliding around. (We still haven't decided on a permanent grey water storage system yet…this was also stolen from the Campbulance.)

As always, I've got to include a photo of Loulou enjoying the bus life. Here she is taking advantage of the afternoon sun. (She's well-trained enough that she'll only venture out if we set her stool out for her.)

11.23.15 - Christmas trees and countertops.

We've been adapting easily to living in the bus for a few weeks now. It's pretty awesome, given that for most, moving into a short bus would be downsizing. For us, it's a major upgrade from the Campbulance! We absolutely love it and Loulou seems to really enjoy the extra space to run and play as well.

Loulou loves sniffing the air while soaking up the afternoon sun.

Loulou loves sniffing the air while soaking up the afternoon sun.

When we arrived in San Antonio, we thought we would hit the ground running, but due to a delay in shipment, we waited three days for our first truck full of trees to pull into the lot. Following closely behind (literally…30 minutes later) was our second shipment. So, just like that, we had 170 trees to unload, untie, set up, inventory, price and organize.

Prior to that insanity, Christian worked on getting the tent and decorations all set up, including repainting some of the signs that had fire damage. 

Christian cutting a space for the oven to be installed. The perfect-fit kitchen counter that we got at the Little Rock Restore is slowly, but surely, being edited to fit all our small appliances.

I spent a fair amount of time staining, poly-ing and prepping our kitchen counter to be installed. After my last coat of poly was applied one morning, Christian and I carried it to the edge of the tent to lay on some cardboard to allow it to dry in the sun.

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I headed to the gym for a shower and came back to the bad news of a fire inspector having run over the counter. It was an odd moment of defeat and anger mixed with total confusion about how anyone could be dumb enough to find the one thing laying in a giant parking lot and decide to run over it. (And then apparently try to innocently claim that they thought it was trash…[why would you choose to run over a pile of trash in an entirely empty lot??])  Anyway…it happened, and there's nothing to be done (I might still be a little sore about it though).

It's really hard to see in the photo the cracks, but the whole thing was cracked and ruined. You can see a faint tire mark.

It's really hard to see in the photo the cracks, but the whole thing was cracked and ruined. You can see a faint tire mark.

Our lot mate, Chris (also our friend that got us this job) was kind enough to let us borrow his truck to run out to the closest Home Depot to get a new piece of wood so I could begin the countertop process again.

They didn't have the same type of wood that I'd previously used, so I had to settle for a nice ply. Due to my disheartened state, I didn't document the process of re-staining and cutting the counter to fit the oven. It's now installed and it looks great, so I'll take some photos of that later for you and post them.

And here's a few photos of the trees arriving to the lot!