Build Addicts: Shane and Emily of @arbourseasonexpress
Names: Shane and Emily Anderson
Facebook: Arbour Season
Hi!! We’re Shane & Emily (and baby Sawyer) of Arbour Season, an Indie/Folk music duo. We have traveled full time in an RV for 5 years across North America and are in the middle of converting a skoolie!!
What got you interested in this lifestyle? Where did it all begin?
We got our start playing music at Disney in Orlando (and other beach restaurants) and then moved into the college market… playing college shows all over the country. I realized quickly that I wanted to travel full time and never have a home base. At a gig in Florida, this guy showed us his RV that he lived in full time and I was hooked right away. Within months, I got my first RV and that was it. I then very quickly found out that traveling in a converted school bus was pretty popular (and let's face it… really cool looking haha), and I wanted to convert our own one day. Quarantine happened… so here we are in a small town in Missouri… 60 % through our build!
What made you take the leap into road life and go for it?
I started following an RV couple called “Gone with the Wynns” and I loved how they vlogged all their adventures and thinking that we had something cool to offer and share with the world, we went for it. I loved how they were able to see the world and ALWAYS have their home with them. I wanted that.
If you’re converting a bus or van, how did you find it? What resources did you use?
We started looking on all the Facebook skoolie groups where people were selling their busses and then as we were looking at a few, I jumped into Facebook Marketplace and found one almost instantly. The Skoolie Facebook groups helped me realize which bus was right for us and after we knew what we were looking for, we saw the perfect one on the marketplace only three hours away.
How long have you been building and when do you think you’ll be finished?
We bought the bus one month ago and I thought we would be done in one month. Lol. Nope. Going on our second month now and I plan on being done in a few weeks. So we are hoping for July 1st to be our finish date.
How did you come up with a layout and design for your home?
Instagram. I have been following bus builds for YEARS and a couple years ago, I started a note in my iPhone called “The Perfect Bus Build”. Ever since I started that note, I would add to it everything that I liked about other builds. Navigation Nowhere is where I first saw the fold up bar on the outside. You better believe that made my list haha.
Has your design or layout changed since you started?
This is such a wonderful question. We started with a plan we thought was perfect. After one month into the build, we realized that our couch was right across from the fridge and the stove… When we moved our fridge into the spot we had originally planned, I didn’t quite know what it was we didn’t like about it. I sat for about 45 minutes and realized what it was. The couch area was supposed to be the relaxing area and most builds I see (including the RV we are currently in)… the living room is separate from the kitchen. Having counters across from the couch is perfectly fine because they are clean (usually empty) spaces where you can decorate with plants and such… but where you’re sitting across from a fridge and a stove… for us… it just didn’t feel comfortable. So we moved some things around yesterday and feel SO MUCH BETTER about the decision.
What are some features in your build that you think are unique?
Since we travel with an almost two-year-old, we knew that we needed to incorporate a floor plan that works for him too. This is also his home. So across from his bunk bed (preparing for possible baby number two… I mean… you never know), is a little play area that will be converted into a school work zone. Also, under our bed will be all of our music gear that we will be traveling with.. which probably isn’t as normal, I guess. We also travel with a fulltime nanny so that will be fun! I would say though, the most unique thing we got going on is our electric set up. We decided the least expensive route for us (without compromising of future comfort) is having two separate outlets next to each other. We have 12 “LAND” outlets (colored white) that we will plug things in to when we are hooked up to friends' houses, RV parks, State Parks, and things like that. Next to each of those outlets, we will have a brown outlet for solar for when we are not able to use shore power.
Some people find it hard to find a building location. Where are you building your rig?
We got really fortunate to find ourselves quarantined at Emily’s sister's house in Fredericktown, MO.
Did you have any relevant skills or experience that you thought would help with the build? How have those skills helped you?
No. HAHA. I am a musician and that is it. I have found this experience VERY rewarding as it has taught me things I never thought I would learn.
What has building taught you so far?
This building experience has taught me that I really can do anything if I really want to. People can tell me all day how hard something is going to be but if you truly want to do it, the obstacles do not overpower the drive you have to fulfill your dream. I also learned that people are more friendly when you are building something interesting haha. People started changing their route on their morning walks just to look at our progress.
What resources have you used to get information on how to build?
YouTube of course has been super valuable, but I would say 90% of our success has come from either the hardware store and facetime with friends who know what they are doing. My electrician friend has walked me through every step of the way through a video call… which is intense. I have also asked our local hardware store every question imaginable. I have been such a frequent visitor that they are debating whether or not to give me my own parking spot.
How many hours a day or week do you usually spend building? How do you balance work, building, and life?
We are pretty lucky with the timeline of how all this played out. The quarantine has taken away all of our in-person gigs so we simply decide on when to do online shows and that gives me all day to work on the bus. Our online followers have been super interested in this project and, in turn, have been very generous in helping us financially see this through. I also book other bands online for the college market so I spend a few hours a day on emails. I would say I spend at least 56 hours a week on this build. I find that keeping a consistent schedule has made this process less overwhelming. I wake up with Baby Saywer around 6 am… make our healthy breakfast, read our Bibles together, and then work on the bus. During Sawyer’s nap time, I’ll answer emails and make phone calls, and then when he wakes up, get back to work on the bus. I stop once more for dinner and then after about 2 more work hours on the bus we put Sawyer to sleep and then relax for two hours before getting 8 hours of sleep just to do it all over again.
What tools and equipment are you using to build? How did you go about obtaining tools?
We had VERY little tools of our own. We have borrowed from friends that lived within a mile radius and even neighbors we didn’t know came over and offered their tools. That reminds me… I need to return a few haha.
How will you power, get water for, and heat/cool your rig?
We are all ready to plug into shore power but we are still trying to work on the solar part. We will get there though. We have a 42-gallon freshwater tank that we can fill from RV parks, churches, friends' houses, and things like that. We have an air conditioner mounted in one of the back bedroom windows and will shortly have one in the living room up front. We will be using propane heaters to heat our bus but we haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m thinking that’s next week.
What is the most important part of the build for you?
For me personally, I am really excited for my coffee bar area. It sits between the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and the living room. This is where I can do all of our travel planning and show booking while being near my family. I’m pretty sure that Emily would say the king-sized bed haha!
What has been your favorite part of the build so far? Why?
The electric portion of the build has been my absolute favorite part. I really enjoyed the work for a few reasons. For one, it is such an important part and is what powers our everyday life. It was also such an amazing feeling learning how to do something that you once never understood.
Which part of the build are you looking forward to most? Why?
I’m looking forward to laying down the wood floors and painting everything. Even though I hate painting, I’m going to love this part because this is what is going to make everything come together.
What has been your least favorite part of the build? Why?
I would say trying to build our walls and cabinets because trying to make the corner cuts is SO HARD haha. I end up cutting only a very little at a time… over and over again just to find out it still isn’t perfect and we’ll have to fill in the gaps.
What has been your biggest challenge throughout the build? Why?
The biggest challenge is the woodwork. I thought it would be the bigger things like propane and electric and plumbing but the woodwork has to be so flawless because this is what will always be seen.
What is one thing you would like to tell someone thinking about building a rig?
Keep reminding yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Be patient and know that it will take a lot of work but it’s worth it. Most hard things are. When this is done, you will have learned so much you never thought you would. Also, the community is incredible.
When you finish your build and move in, what will be your first destination?
The Adirondacks in New York. I’m ready for mountain climbing, hiking, campfires and most of all… experiencing it all with my family and our new home.