Wandering Footsteps: Wandering the World One Step at a Time » Blog

An Old Shuttle Bus’ New Life

Who knew the world was so large?

I sure didn’t.  Up until a few months ago, all I knew was a placed called Phoenix.  Since my birth, fifteen years ago, I had lived there, shuttling retirees around the wide, straight city streets and trying to stay cool in the sweltering desert sun.

When I was auctioned off to a truck salvage, I made my peace.  I’d lived a good life, been well-maintained, rarely driven, kept spotless.  Fifteen years was a good run for a shuttle bus, I’d heard, and I was ready for my parts to go to greater, younger things.

Then Bruno and Brittany came along.  This strange, young couple visited me a few times, measuring my interior and testing out my mechanics.  When they bought me, I assumed it was for parts, as they immediately began disassembling my seats and air conditioning unit.  I said my final prayers.

This is me.

This is me.

Bruno and Brittany bought me from a truck salvage dealership, where I had recently been sent after being auctioned off.

Bruno and Brittany bought me from a truck salvage dealership, where I had recently been sent after being auctioned off.

My interior - 15 years of shuttling senior citizens around Phoenix.

My interior – 15 years of shuttling senior citizens around Phoenix.

And then, all of a sudden, I was being cleaned from top to bottom.  My oils were being changed, my transmission replaced, my interior filled with beautiful, new furniture.  Over the course of a few months, I watched as my interior slowly transformed into a house-on-wheels – a house, I could only imagine, for Brittany and Bruno.

I still had no clue what would soon be in store.  I had no clue that I would leave Arizona, let alone the United States of America.

And suddenly, I was in a whole new country where people spoke a fast-paced staccato language I couldn’t understand, and where the air was cool and humid and salty.

I thought this was my new home.  I thought my new job was to bring Bruno along the mercilessly bumpy roads into town each day, avoiding vehicles that whizzed through stop signs and into intersections.  Despite the roads and the strange language, I liked that Bruno and Brittany slept inside me.  It made me feel less alone.

I thought this was my new home by the sea in Baja California, Mexico.

I thought this was my new home by the sea in Baja California, Mexico.

I thought my new job was to take Bruno to this place every day for work.

I thought my new job was to take Bruno to this place every day for work.

Bruno kitted me out with a bunch of new furniture, he and Brittany started sleeping inside me, and I guess I became a home-on-wheels.

Bruno kitted me out with a bunch of new furniture, he and Brittany started sleeping inside me, and I guess I became a home-on-wheels.

Just as I was becoming used to living by this salty thing called an ocean, Bruno drove me away, with Brittany beside him.  We were back home, in Phoenix.  Back to American Truck Salvage.  I guessed I’d just been on what humans sometimes call a holiday, and that now I was returning to my true home and sad fate.

Then something even stranger happened.  We passed through Phoenix and kept driving north.  I wasn’t sure why we were doing this – and I admit, I may have shut off my engine a few times on the highway north of Phoenix in confusion and protest – but Bruno urged me slowly onwards.

Boy oh boy, have I seen things since then!  I experienced my first forest, and my first morning of frost.  It was cold yet strangely beautiful, and for the first time, the warm rays of the sun were a welcome relief.

I experienced my first canyon – and apparently it’s the grandest one of all.  I thought I was big, but that canyon made me feel tiny!

I experienced my first mountains, those monstrous snowy peaks that made me feel as small as the canyon did.  I worked hard to climb them as best I could, and I think I did a pretty good job!

Cool, lush, green, oxygen-filled forests.

Cool, lush, green, oxygen-filled forests.

The earth isn

The earth isn’t flat!

I experienced my first snow.  And was there ever a lot of it.  Sometimes it was piled higher than me on the side of a road, and one night I slept surrounded by it.  Another day it snowed right on top of me, and tickled my skin as it floated down from the sky.  I was shocked to experience my first sub-zero temperatures, but at least Bruno and Brittany had a heater to warm me from the inside.

I experienced so many new animals I had never even heard of.  I’m still learning all their names, but I know I’ve seen three moose, a mountain goat, lots of bison, elk, and pronghorns, two coyote, a wolf, a grizzly bear, and a black bear with two cute little cubs.  I thought the only creatures that existed besides humans and cars were snakes and lizards!

Sleeping in snow!

Sleeping in snow and sub-zero temperatures!

Snow, snow, everywhere!

Snow, snow, everywhere!

It

It’s even taller than me!

Apparently humans and cars aren

Apparently humans and cars aren’t the only animals in the world…

Further and further north Bruno kept driving me.  We even entered another new country – called Canada.  Here, I’ve experienced my first prairies, flat as can be, yet filled to the brim with funny little creatures called prairie dogs.  I’ve experienced forests and lakes so plentiful I’m almost embarrassed that I thought the whole world was dry, dusty, and dull-coloured.  There have been nights where my entire body is covered in mosquitos, and a whole week where we saw nothing but clouds, rain, and fog, yet we keep driving on, eastward now.

In the prairies, surrounded by prairie dogs - and another bus like me!

In the prairies, surrounded by prairie dogs – and another bus like me!

I got so many bug bites here.

I got so many bug bites here.

It was hard for me to drive in this fog - we never had this problem in Phoenix!

It was hard for me to drive in this fog – we never had this problem in Phoenix!

I don’t know when Bruno plans to turn me around and head back south – this seems like a pretty long holiday, from what I know of them.  I’m starting to wonder if, maybe, this isn’t a holiday at all.  Maybe this is my new job.  To drive Bruno and Brittany all around, from place to place, forest to mountain to beach to plain…

Well, I gotta say, if this is my new job, I love it.  I love that I have a name – Big Blue.  I love that Bruno treats me gently, that Brittany keeps me clean, that the two of them nestle inside me when it’s cold.  I love that Brittany cooks so much tasty-smelling food, and that Bruno relaxes in my front cabin with a beer and a book.

I love that I’ve been visited, noticed, and admired by so many – I never got this kind of attention in Phoenix.  I love that sometimes, the three of us all fall asleep together in the middle of nowhere, where no sounds of traffic disrupt my rest, and I’m awoken peacefully by the birds and the gently rising sun.

Brittany cooks so much yummy-smelling food inside me!

Brittany cooks so much yummy-smelling food inside me!

I love that Bruno has found his chillout spot.

I love that Bruno has found his chillout spot.

I love that sometimes we fall asleep in the middle of nature together.

I love that sometimes we fall asleep in the middle of nature together.

I love that Bruno, Brittany and I are spending so much time together, really getting to know each other, learning to care for one another.  It sort of feels like we’re becoming what humans call a family.

Best of all, I love what Bruno and Brittany are showing me.  How big the world actually is, and how even an old bus like me can have a second chance at life.

  • Rachel - This is the cutest “Getting a second chance in life” story I’ve ever read!! Our “vehicules” really do take on a life of their own beeing such an important part of our journeys…I agree that our JÉDI felt as excited as us to discover all these new places on our way to Panama! :-)ReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Ooooh, we would love to see your vehicle! Can’t find any photos of it on your blog… maybe you can help us find the right place…? Hope you’ll travel with Jedi again in the near future! :)ReplyCancel

  • Mashoud Janjua - Cher Brittany,

    Sounds like a bit of an anomaly…Freightliner with a Thor body and a 5.9 litre Cummins. As you know, Freightliners are generally big beasts with Volvo or Caterpillar diesels.
    However, for a change, some engineer had the smarts to use a 5.9 litre Cummins which can literally run on ghee and last for a million miles as long as the injectors keep working. It is akin to a 5 cylinder Mercedes diesel from the old 300 SD days.

    My rig is a Ram 3500 Crew Cab 4×4 dually with…guess what ? 5.9 litre Cummins chosen specially for dirty diesel and carrying an Arctic Fox 1150 Aluminum structure with all the goodies an old guy and gal need for off the beaten path.

    Am I an overlander? I have to chuckle at this because with the advent of the digital age, everyone seems to be writing about this rather new found phenomenon when chaps like me probably pioneered it and yet no one ever knew. I am referring to 1963… from East Africa to Sweden in a Hillman ..22 countries. Mind you, the world was pretty virginal then…friendlier, raw, innocent and devoid of violence . You could crisscross North Africa, Freely pass through the Khyber, have fun in Iran and share kebabs in Afghanistan. Of course, until the Americans and their buddies started to piss on the tranquility of cultures for nothing else but oil and hegemony.

    I think I have gone too far. Stop by in Eastern Ontario when you come home. An hour from Montreal. Other than that, maybe Guatemala in the fall.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Brown - I wonder if Toyotia is missing you?? Hope you got my B.D. wishes
    Love, GrampaReplyCancel

    • Brittany - I think she is! She’s still stuck in Dallas, because the new owner hasn’t had a chance, yet, to drive her all the way to Boston. I hope she made a few friends to pass the time until her next adventures!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Socia - Brittany You are such a gifted writer and I so love reading your blog Love this one from Big Blues perspective. We just returned from what I.m calling our”Sizzling Rocks” trip Put 1660 miles on the bike in 6 days Very hot and did we see alot of rocks! Take care Happy BirthdayReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Hi Sharon and thank you for the compliment! I’m blushing! :)

      Where did you guys go on your trip? I love the name you picked – from the sounds of it, you must have stayed in the south! Can you send some of that heat to Canada please? :)

      xxReplyCancel

  • Auntie Freya - Dear Brittany and Bruno,
    I loved your adventures from the bus’s point of view. Very touching. I’m still awaiting an email from you.
    I’m glad Louise is back in NY. She had a good time with your brother and girl friend. I’ll be spending time with her at her place in July – doing the city things.
    I hope all is well – which it sounds like.
    Much love,
    FreyaReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Hi Auntie Freya, thanks for saying hi. I really appreciate hearing from my readers so I know I’m not just writing out to cyberspace!

      It’s been tough to keep up on my correspondence this year, and somehow hasn’t gotten easier since we hit the road. I think we’re driving a lot more than we usually do, partly because North America is so huge, and partly because we have a trip planned with family and so a concrete date pushing us ever-forward.

      Say hi to Louise for me!! :) And thanks for saying hi!!ReplyCancel

  • Micheline - J’adore l’histoire de ce grand bleu… Je me réjouis de faire bientôt sa connaissance.
    Big bisous à b&b&bbReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Merci Mimi!! Ca me fait plaisir de savoir que tu nous lis. Ca fait trop longtemps qu’on s’est pas parle – mais bon, tout ca va changer tres bientot!! Trois semaines avant votre grand depart, n’est-ce pas? Est-ce que vous pouvez amenez un peu de chaleur d’ete avec vous s’il te plait?!?!?!? Gros bisous et a bientot – on est en route nous aussi. :)ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth S. - Love reading the travels from the perspective of Big Blue. You really should write a book for children!ReplyCancel

    • Brittany - If I could get Nicole Legault on board!!ReplyCancel

  • Mashoud Janjua - Really wise move to convert Big Blue into living quarters because it seems it is built so much sturdier than a conventional factory A class RV. They are put together for aesthetics but held together with bubble gum and staples.
    Got to comment on the stove…my! my ! made for a snobby French chef.

    I was wondering though . Is Big Blue diesel powered and if so, what pusher?

    Thanks for sharing and keep on trucking.

    mashoudReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Hi Mashoud and thanks for saying hi! We were especially wanting to convert our own vehicle so we could choose a design that worked for us. All the ready-made RVs have standard designs that we don’t find super practical – especially because they have tiny kitchens! You probably guessed it, but I love to cook! And I am loving my stove!! :)

      Big Blue is indeed diesel (a must-have for Bruno) and it’s a Freighliner with a Thor body. The engine is a 5.9 Cummins, which have a great reputation and should last a good long while.

      Are you an overlander?ReplyCancel

  • Nikos&Georgia - We love the last picture! Awesome!
    The bus tale is so sweet!

    So, when are you changing your front picture in the website?

    Safe travels from the bottom of our heart!ReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Thanks for saying hello again, friends! We just looked at your latest post about your home-made frisbee. You guys are keeping busy with lots of great projects! Great job!

      That picture of Totoyaya….. I think we will keep it for a while, still. In fact, Bruno just printed off 500 more business cards with the Totoyaya shot on the front. Even though we are quickly loving Big Blue, Totoyaya still feels very much a part of us! Can’t let her go just yet… :)ReplyCancel

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