Leaving Missouri to Find Community in the Desert

December 18, 2023 I looked at Travis as the wood stove was loaded with firewood, the house had just been filled with a new TV, a comfy leather couch, soft carpets on the floors, and a windowed sun room. Yet it was only 53* inside, with a chill that ran through my bones. I was already tired of being cold the past 6 weeks. I could feel myself falling into a seasonal depression, not wanting to make food 3 times a day, looking forward to going back to sleep when the sun set at 5pm to sleep away the winter. This was not the winter I had been looking forward to. I was longing to create the space in the woods to plant new trees, create warm laughter filled memories by the cozy fireside. Yet, instead I would feel ravaged by the cold, huddling over the wood stove, growing ever more stagnant in body and inspiration each day. I felt a nudging within to remember all possibilities. The bus was still sitting right in front of us. I cooked inside of it, and with upcoming weather being in in the high 30’s, continuing to live out of the bus another winter did not sound like what I wanted to be experiencing, yet again.

“Travis, what if we went to Arizona for the winter?” I asked him. He looked at me bewildered and shocked.

“What?! I just got the house ready for winter.” He exclaimed.

“The house is not really ready for winter. We tried everything we could and spent all the resources we made all year, to get the house to a level of comfort and warmth. But it is really not that warm. It is still uncomfortable. And already we know from the past two winters here, that it will cost more to live here then it would to drive out to Arizona, living in the desert for the next 2 months.” I shared every other reason I could think of with him as well. Really knowing that this was an option that I hadn’t thought of in the past 2 years. I had begun to believe that I was stuck on this land in Missouri. I began to think of what to do with the animals. The dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and ducks.

I knew I could give the animals away, but after getting the bus ready in a week to leave, which included:

– putting solar panels back on the roof

  • putting battery bank, and connectors back in
  • Travis installing tile counter tops in the kitchen
  • Packing up food, clothing, toys
  • Storing away all things that could get eaten or destroyed by mice
  • Taking my entire apothecary and making it fit into storage spaces on the bus
  • Gearing up mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to go out into the world again
  • Culling chickens to fill the freezer with food
  • Putting the ducks down at the spring
  • Releasing the rabbits in the yard
  • Piling 3 dogs and 2 cats into the bus

We left Missouri in the hopes that the bus would get us to Arizona to spend New Years Eve with other bus families.

We made it to Buckeye, AZ on December 31, 2023 to be circled up with 4 other bus families. Spending a magical 2 weeks with enough friends, fun and laughter to fill us up.

Then we left on Jan 14 to go to Ehrenburg, AZ to get ready for Skooliepalooza that would run until January 31, yet we ended up leaving January 28.

Skooliepalooza January 2019 was our first time attending. We had heard about the event after going to the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) hosted by Bob Wells. A man that has changed the lives of many who were forced into homelessness and living in vehicles to it being a choice that is a viable option and can lead to a live of freedom.

After leaving a mainly retirement aged community of RTR we pulled up in our Yukon and Toy hauler to about 70 converted school buses in a giant grid that made the community feel welcoming and accepting. We began to walk around and talk with a few of the individuals, all welcoming us into their homemade spaces of wonder and creativity. It was inspiring, exciting and quickly got written onto our white board on the frig: Buy Bus. Convert.

It took us an additional 6 months of looking but we did buy a bus in July 2019. It cost us $1000 from a preschool. It was an incredible deal with only 110,000. It has taken us across the county 6 times from the Midwest to the West. We are blessed everyday by our choice to live in a skoolie.

Skooliepalooza 2020, I got a call from Nick and Russ to ask if we would be willing to host Skooliepalooza because we were not going to be able to make it as their bus was having issues. We were excited to create a safe, fun space for people who converted buses into their homes. We made some YouTube videos sharing a new location, inviting families out and sharing about all the aspects that they could look forward to being there. Including bus sales company who would be sharing maintenance tips and tricks. Build support, community meals, community bon fires and more! We also organized volunteers to help fit everyone who came into BLM space while making sure that each bus that arrived felt welcomed and safe. It was one of the best events that we have been a part of. Yet we knew that it was not the same in the years since.

In 2021 we choose to vend during the majority of the event and came the last few days, after everyone was burnt out and perplexed at how vastly different the event had turned out compared to the year before.

We decided to give Skooliepalooza 2024 another chance this year. We went into it with the intention that we would create family camp as a safe space for the families that were going to show up, even if the new owner did not. We knew in the past that families had found themselves parked in spaces that they had felt unsafe, so it would be fun to create community again! When we arrived, I immediately began walking around finding other families. Letting them know that there was a space for them. We began to get to know those around us, sharing our intention and asking for them to be a part of creating the community space with us. All through the 2 weeks we were there, this happened. I would chase down buses that had multiple bikes hanging off of them or could see kids in the windows, inviting them to join our skoolie neighborhood. It turned out to be a magical space. Community giant bonfires, potluck dinners, drum circles, kids games, dance parties, Pokemon tournaments, D&D campaigns and meaningful friendships came from these weeks spent in community.

With all that being said, Travis and I are incredibly excited to create a Skoolie Family Gathering in the Winter of 2025 without all the politics, partying, division and bullshit that happened outside of family camp. We feel encouraged and rejuvenated that building community for nomadic families is needed. We are jumping into various ideas that have been coming to us, and are excited to create sustainable living options for families that are living on the road.

After homesteading in Missouri for the past 2 years, having lived full time on the road for 3 1/2 years, we know that there can be a magical balance to creating space to live in community with other families. This is a possibility that we have been dreaming about ever since Skooliepalooza 2020, but Cov-d happened and shifted that dream until this moment. Now we have had the experiential knowledge of homesteading, building, sustainable living, to create the community of which we have been dreaming!

Once again all of our experiences are culminating to show us what is possible when we step into the flow of universal trust while letting go. We are ready for all the possibilities of what 2024 will be bringing into our lives!!


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