We bought a bus.
There’s a sentence I didn’t think we’d ever need.
Tracy’s been telling everyone we just bought our first home together. Pretty sure that’s a dig, since I’ve spent the last twenty years misinterpreting her begging to move into a new home as a sign she needs to have another baby.
We didn’t just buy any bus, either, we bought a Hino. I confess I don’t know much about buses but I’m pretty sure that’s a cross between a Hippo and a Rhino. Word on the street is, they’re good. And by good I mean reliable – but in case something happens the parts are easy to come by.
We had a few criteria when we were looking for a home on wheels to cart us around the country next year. Initially, the big thing was that it could fit us all in, but a mate of ours who drives school buses quickly put paid to that notion. Adding seats or bunks is easy and relatively cheap compared to the lump of steal in the back. Number one on our list quickly became ‘mechanically sound’ because the first thing you need to know about bus engines is they can cost up to thirty thousand dollars to replace.
Next, when the bus passed mechanical muster, we’d sit with pencil and paper and The Google, working out what we’d need to do to each bus to fit us all in. This was not an easy thing.
Which is why, last week, even though we didn’t think it would suit us, we drove out to Dalby while the kids were at school for a gander at an ex-school bus a family of nine had done up.
We fell in love with it the moment it appeared ahead of us. It was clean, which we figure we can fix, and had obviously been put together with a bit of love. The guy told us he was disappointed to have to sell but he’d left his run too late. They have seven kids and the oldest three weren’t really interested in camping in a bus.
“On our property it’s five kms to one gate and four to the other,” he told us. “They want something different. They want big city lights and beaches.”
We all want what we haven’t got. Like, we didn’t have a bus at this point, and we wanted his.
A day later we’d negotiated a very fair price and I was racing into the local Dept of Transport to apply for a learner’s permit. Nothing makes you feel young again like booking in for driving lessons and studying for your learners. I go for the test at the end of the week. If you don’t see me post something on my Facebook or Instagram wall, I failed.
So, let me boast about our new toy, because until I get this out of my system I’m going to be useless at writing anything else.
Seriously, I’ve been as eager to wax lyrical as a newly converted thermomix owner.
“We bought a bus,” I said to the Woolies check out chick on the weekend. There was no segue: a point her expression appeared to dwell on for a moment.
“Paying by card?” she asked.
I’ll have to do better than that, I thought to myself as I left.
“We bought a bus,” I said moments later to a old customer of mine from my banking days.
It’s really not an easy thing to bring up subtly. But then buses aren’t subtle.
“I know,” she said, pointing to where my wife was chatting to a friend. “Tracey just told me.”
At which point I decided I needed to get moving – clearly I would have to stay a step or two ahead of Tracey or she’d have all the fun telling people.
Which is what I’m going to do now. Because I can. And it’s amazing.
Our bus has a queen bed (in honour of Pricilla, I assume) plus seven singles, and is legally registered to carry nine passengers, with seatbelts for all. Meaning my mother is now onboard with the whole idea, because she can count and not only can we take our five little ones, she now plans riding along with us when we head off to Wonga for the family Christmas party.
Of course, there are a couple of things we’ll need to do. There’s no air con, for one thing. And no fridge. And no washing machine. The tow bar is currently sitting under our house too, and will need to be fitted. But apart from that…
…to make the inside more comfortable when we go north we’re attaching two wind-out annexes to the sides and the windows will need tinting. Then the inverter needs replacing with a bigger unit and a mate in the know suggested an additional fan on the engine. I’m also insisting on a rear camera so I can giggle about how many cars I’m holding up and we’ll probably grab a Garmin Dezl to make sure I don’t end up somewhere I can’t get out of. But apart from that…
….we’re removing the gorgeous bench seats and table to fit the RV fridge and some storage in, and probably flipping a few seats around and adding tables there for meals, home schooling, blogging and photo editing. We also have to work out whether we’re going to tow our car using a gypsy dolly thingame or opt for more storage with a flatbed trailer. And there’s seven pushbikes to take with us, and maybe a kayak or two. But apart from that…
Oh, and I’m gonna need a coffee cup holder. That’s not negotiable because safety first.
For the forty to seventy thousand dollars we’ve saved by moving our focus away from a big coach to a shorter ex-school bus with something of a more basic fit out, we think we can get those few things sorted…or do without. In fact, we’ve been sitting in the bus enjoying cups of tea a couple of hours each day since we got it, while the kids play hide and seek in the back, trying to get an idea of what we can get away with not doing. As Ray from Koolah Kampers (great guy if you’re in the market) mentioned when we were looking at a Fuso of his we were keen to have him fit out to suit us, “Spending more money won’t mean you’ll have more fun.”
I think he’s right.
Certainly, spending less on the actual bus already has us giggling.
“I think we’re actually going to do it,” I said to Tracey as we looked over our newest family member.
“I know,” she grinned. “Eeeek! We bought a bus!”
We bought a bus.
Miss4 only had one concern. She’s so our daughter.
Raising a family on little more than laughs.