Coffee Time With @discomoosethebus
Updated: May 21
Well, hi! We’re Chrissy and Dom. We met over 13 years ago in college and have been together for a decade now! Speaking of college, we live in a converted university shuttle bus (more on that later) and have been officially on the road since the end of January 2020. We converted our bus with the help of family and friends over the course of 14 months. Now that we’re on the road, we’re taking advantage of every minute of effort we put into our bus - even when it makes no sense - like making fires in the woodstove when it’s hot out. You might consider this too if your stove arrived THE SAME DAY as your home on wheels, but had to wait a year and a half to be installed. It’s hard to say what we do each day, but we like to share the antics on our Instagram: @Discomoosethebus. If you like food, music, buses, plants, coffee, video games, sunsets, laughing, smiling, and people we may be a fun follow for you. Our hopes are you might learn something about this life… and maybe go for it?!
Tell us about your favorite beverage and why?
COFFEE! Espresso, and all types : ) We both really enjoy making coffee, so when we got to the Orlando Tiny House Festival in November 2019, we were in our glory meeting new friends and sharing a cup of coffee with them. It's been great to discover just how many coffee lovers there are in this community, and the many different styles of brewing - it's been fun to learn, and drink them all!
What is your current living situation and how did you decide to take up that lifestyle?
We’re in a 37.5’ flat nose bus which gives us 240sq ft of living space for the 2 of us. It’s about 90% “finished” with just a handful of projects left.
We started the lifestyle in June 2017 when we quit our jobs and traveled Europe and Asia for 9 months. We were halfway through that trip when the skoolie idea started to materialize. We thought driving, while living, on the road would be a great way to experience our own country. It also met our long time dreams of wanting to learn how to build things. Prior to our travels, Dom was working as an accountant in the media industry and I was selling marketing & event programs in the renewable energy industry; needless to say we had no prior experience in construction, but we wanted to learn. Carpentry, welding, plumbing, diesel mechanics, etc, have been exciting to us and we saw this bus as our way to teach ourselves as much about those skills as we could.
Currently, we are working on a farm in Washington and trying to lay low during this odd time. We weren’t on the road long before the pandemic started so we’re not entirely sure what this lifestyle will look like for us. For now, we are enjoying our favorite part of skoolie life; being able to pivot from one adventure to another, with our house taking us there.
What was your inspiration or key motivator that led to your choice to live an alternative lifestyle?
It was a combination of things. We were approaching 10 years of working corporate lives. We were getting tired of our commute but didn’t want to pay more rent to live in New York City, closer to our jobs. We had just gotten married and were talking about our next steps when we realized our current work/life grind was not really fitting our visions. We learned so much, loved our cities, our friends, our families, and even our jobs but were seeing ourselves slacking in each of those areas, just not really able to sustain the entire lifestyle we had sort of built. Once we had that realization, things just steamrolled from there.
Can you tell us a little bit about your home?
We have a 2004 IC FE3000 diesel bus. It wasn’t set up like a traditional school bus, but we think it would be a 66 passenger bus if it was. We have 3 rooms; a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen/living room. It’s hard to say what our design is but we keep hearing we have a retro theme - maybe because of the disco ball in the living room - and typically we like mid-century modern things with a splash of anything we find along the way.
Some of our coolest features are our wet room bathroom and heated floors. We worked hard at recycling as much of the bus as we could so you can see that in little spots throughout the build and the big things like our walls and ceiling. Most recently we made our fireplace and tv unit out of extra metal scraps from the original ceiling and walls.
There’s so much history in this bus! When we purchased it all we knew was that our bus had spent its last service years as the shuttle bus for the University of New Haven in CT - not too far from the school Dom and I had attended. Then one day we found in the walls of the bus a dusty, old, university ID card from our very own college, Fairfield University! This, plus a few more discoveries, has us thinking our bus was operational on our campus while we attended school together. It only took a trip to New Hampshire, 11 years after we graduated, to make friends with it again!
Many people want to live an ‘off-grid’ lifestyle and find ways to become more sustainable. Can you tell us about how you power your home?
Our home runs off three 100 ah lithium batteries, that get powered by our 550-watt solar set up on our roof. This powers our DC and AC electrical systems. Additionally, we have propane for our heat, hot water, and oven. We also have a wood stove for another heat/cooking source, but also just because we love it. Last but not least we have a backup gas generator. The generator doesn’t get used often now that we’re in sunnier climates, but it saved our frozen butts when we were finishing our build in the overcast Connecticut winter.
What is your favorite part about your home and you could not live without, why?
Ooo that's a tough question! For Dom, it’s our big L shaped couch and living room. It’s our own cozy place to lie down, watch tv, play video games, it’s even big enough to play board games with friends! For me, it’s the windows. I like the panoramic views they give and feeling like I’m outside when I’m in. They’re also a cool reminder of the transit style bus features we’re outfitted with. Higher ceilings were also a perk of that.
What is the one thing that you regret about your home and how would you do it differently now?
This may sound ridiculous but we regret not having a skylight in our bedroom. Our bus didn’t come with any exits on the roof so we had to cut holes to install our two fans and living room skylight. The next cut in the roof will hopefully be to do that bedroom skylight. It’ll also double as an emergency roof exit (even more motivation to get it done) and access to our future roof deck.
While we are all drinking some coffee reading this post, can you tell us a story or event that happened to you while living your current lifestyle?
This was a good lesson to learn early on in bus life. We were pulling up to our first boondocking spot and as we took a left onto I-10 our fridge slid halfway across the floor then just toppled over.
Luckily some firewood stopped the doors from opening so all that was lost were some eggs and seltzers and no one got hurt! We now have a handful of refrigerator dents to remind us how important it is to strap all essentials down permanently or at least before driving.
If someone was considering changing their lifestyle and living more like you, what would be your best advice to take the first step?
Somebody once told me that you should plan out the type of life you want to live then find the job, house, life details that make that happen - not the other way around. It's hard to tackle a huge change like that at once, so start by writing it down, then the steps needed to make it happen. We were surprised when the tiniest steps we were taking had actually started to form a plan - a real-life plan to the made-up life we dreamed up!
A lot of people might be concerned about their own personal safety living a mobile lifestyle. What are some of your best safety tips for someone living on the road?
I think this is the first question people always ask us so we’re excited to have a chance to answer now that we’re 4 months into this life. The verdict, we don’t feel any less safe than when we lived in houses, apartments. The logistics are a little different, but I guess we just try to keep honest people honest. Get yourself a good lock system on the doors and windows of your bus, be respectful, and use good judgment on where to park and who you let in your home - ya know, the usual safety precautions! Of course, sh*t happens (where doesn’t it?) but I think most people will find the road to be a friendly place.
Finding places to park can be a hassle when traveling full-time. Can you share some of your favorite locations, go-to spots, or methods for finding parking?
The bulk of our travel in these first 4 months has been either racing from one place to another or hanging in one spot for a month or two, so we can share our approach for both options. Walmarts and truck/rest stops have been our first go-to when going from place to place - they are fairly reliable and found in most big cities. You can also check out other major chains that are skoolie/RV friendly such as Cabela’s and Cracker Barrel - we have stayed at both. When we are looking for views or to be somewhere for an extended time period we will use a combination of Campendium, Freecampsites.net, and a new app that we downloaded on our lastest trip: AllStays. Pro-tip; if you’re striking out on parking and it’s getting late try looking for a parking option that is either closed (like an RV park) or doesn’t accept skoolies (like an RV park… sometimes) you typically have the ability to park the night anyway and pay your fee in the morning when you check out. That’s when they’ll say they “don’t accept converted rigs”, but “loved your bus”!
If you were driving from the east coast to the west coast what would you be listening to for the drive?
It wasn’t too long ago since we actually did that drive, so the real answer is:
-lots of rap
-the jazz vibes playlist on Spotify
-A few chapters of The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Farris and some episodes of the Things you should know podcast
-some moments of silence when our ears would hurt from hours of blasting music, listening to the engine, and trying to have a convo at the same time.
What is one thing that transitioning to a simplified lifestyle has taught you, good or bad?
You don’t actually need most of the belongings in your life. I think a lot of items we used to have were to make our lives easier or more enjoyable to some extent, but once you have too many of those things it almost has the opposite effect. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE THINGS! All things actually haha so it has and still is a challenge to live a simpler life in that respect, but ultimately it’s somehow still more rewarding.
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