How do you travel all over the USA with four kids, a cat and haul your circus show equipment (including a 25 foot aerial rig, competition sized trampoline, landing mats, sound system, etc)??? It’s called Pinterest friends! What? How? Okay, let me start back a little while.
As we are sitting in our most wonderful “aerial house” in Orlando, FL, we made a decision. We decided to put our dreams into actions instead of just talk. (Beware friends, this can change your life!!!) My husband and I had always wanted to do more traveling but having a location based business that we owned didn’t allow us much wiggle room for taking time off. Fast forward to four kids later and it was definitely something that seemed nearly impossible. Well, the impossible became possible as I started sifting through Pinterest to see what vehicle could accommodate all of us (plus a cat) and our needed gear. The class a RVs available really wouldn’t configure to carry all of our show equipment, a toy hauler could work with a diesel truck BUT we would have to have one kid sit between us all the time in the front seat. I love my kids as much as the next mom, however, hours and hours of chatter right next to me as we adventured through the US was a little daunting. I had to get creative. Over a glass (or two) of wine, I bravely continued my “perfect” rv search.
It probably took me several days to think outside of the box. Then one day I saw something I had never even heard of before. A weird idea called a Converted Bus. What the heck was this monster??? Bring on the wine and let’s dig a little deeper I told myself. (Lol, actually I don’t think wine was involved as much as I joke because I was still nursing a baby. Baby and I were working hard to change our life.) In brief, a converted bus is a bus of whatever origin, gutted and “converted” to be a legal rv. In other words, rip the seats out, put in a nice floor, add beds/rooms, bathroom, kitchen, living area and you have your very own converted bus. Okay, there’s a bit more work than that involved but you get the idea.
Now, I convinced my ever accommodating husband that THIS was our ticket out of the rat race. It’s not hard to convince him as we are of similar personalities. (This can sometimes prove to be challenging, but that’s a story for another day). I pinned a million ideas of how to do this converting bus stuff. Okay, now I understand the general idea, all from the comfort of my most wonderful “aerial house.” In other words, I had NO REAL IDEA how to do what I just learned but why the hell not? Welcome to our life! This is a theme that will come up over and over again in my life.
So without a million details on the hows, we shut down our location based business, sold or donated most of our household good and hit the road with circus show contracts, tossed our four kids (one a baby), our cat and our entire circus show in a Uhaul truck and started down the road. Wait, what about the bus we’ve been reading about??? Well, as in life, things don’t always happen as quickly as you would like right? Same here, we set off on a dream of exploring the USA with our four homeschooled kids and performing our shows in new towns each week sans the bus yet.
Let me pause for a moment and give a brief reason why a circus show, why homeschool, why do this crazy travel thing? We have always homeschooled our kids from day one, child one. This was not a big change in our lifestyle. We also have always owned our business so this was nothing new. We had to get creative on how to make money on the road to support our dreams of travel. After much brain storming, we meshed our entrepreneurial spirit with our unique skill set (aka circus acrobatics) and produced a family friendly show that all six of us (yes, even the youngest) could participate in. Now, over the years, this show has grown and changed as did our children but we are still true to the original concept. When you want to let your kids experience the world, you are willing to give up your ideals of what should be done and instead make a way to “make it happen.” Okay, maybe someday I will go into more details of this part of our journey but for now this brings you up to speed.
Back to the bus that we didn’t have yet…So, here we go with what we had at the time and started performing shows. Fast forward a few years (yeah, it took that long friends! Don’t ever give up on your dreams even when it takes a long time!) and we took our bow at the end of one of our shows. We normally are asked for pictures and people want to chat asking us the normal list of questions. We enjoy interacting with our audiences after most shows. But just between you and me, Tim and I have a signal when we want to go back in and eat/pee/get ready for the next show. If one of us is overly occupied with a guest, we will…oh never mind I don’t want to share that because it might happen to you someday (bahaha). Anyway, Tim was very engaged with a man from the audience chatting. I went and gave the signal to recue him but he brushed it off. No big deal as it was the last show in the day so we had time/energy to chat longer. About a half hour passed and I went back out thinking wow! I need to really save him. I strolled over and listened in. Woa! They are talking about converting busses! This large family homeschooled, traveled often in their CONVERTED BUS and they wanted us to come over and see it! Now, up to this time, we never had gone to anyone’s home from our shows. It’s just not something that happens because we don’t know anyone there. But, you know how sometimes you get that feeling. The one you can’t explain but know it’s the universe giving you a nudge?? Well, the invitation was accepted, we wrapped up our contract a few days later and with nothing but a phone number and some vague directions, we set off to meet this wonderful family. They could be axe murders for all we knew but the nudge to act was there so we did. (with fingers crossed!)
I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that we hit it off, had a wonderful day and was invited back in a few weeks after we finished up another contract on tour. So, back we went, this time to spend a few nights hanging out on their ranch. After having shared meals, laughs, music and bus conversion tour, we left to continue on the journey of our shows but with the real world concept that this bus conversation thing could work just fine for us!
After about a month, we get a phone call from our friend, and he says he has found a bus that is mechanically sound, in great condition, owned by a charter school so it’s been treated well, and it’s really affordable. All the pieces start to fall into place as we dream of how this bus could work for us. Keep in mind, we were at the laundromat somewhere in western USA when we got the call. We wrapped up our contracts a few months later and headed to Arizona where both our friends and this possible bus were located.
We arrived and went to take a look at said bus. It was in fantastic shape! BUT, let me pause here to let you in on a little tiny fact. I secretly hated it! Shhhh, it’s true! Why, why you ask??? Well, because in my dreams of this bus conversion, the bus was a 40 foot flat nosed diesel pusher. (Yes, I know my buses well). But this bus was a dog nosed, 35 foot diesel. It didn’t LOOK like what I wanted my converted bus to look like. Life often gives you what you need at the time not what you want and you have to receive with a grateful heart knowing that it will be okay after all. After a very brief whiney session from me, we decided to buy her, convert her and be on our way. Did I mention that most people take months and even years to convert a bus? They take their time making decisions, planning, gathering, etc. We had exactly four weeks and one day to get her done. Seriously, that was it because we had to get back on tour for shows scheduled in Colorado. Four weeks is unheard of to do such an undertaking unless you have no other choice. You can accomplish what you must in the time frame you give yourself or you can take all your life to accomplish same thing. Well, excuse the pun but it was balls to the wall time!
I won’t go into details about the conversion here, but two words come to mind: flies and monsoon season. (Did you know that June is monsoon season in Arizona? No? Me either but now I do!) Four weeks to the day, we had the bus converted and headed off to the dmv to get her licensed as an rv. Success was ours! We passed on first inspection and with the inspectors wowing our work.
We unceremoniously, tossed our kids, cat, show gear into her and took off down the road to Colorado for shows. Later, we learned a system for packing our 40×40 show footprint and our household into a comfy 35 ft school bus. That was a learning experience indeed too but for another day.
So many details and laughs that I didn’t share here for space reasons. This is a tiny little bit of how a dream can become a reality. We have been on the road for years now. We have basically seen almost everything in the USA and it’s time for us to dream a new and exciting dream. Yes, I’ve started another Pinterest board on this new idea too. But, you will have to follow along on our journey to see where/how we accomplish it. Please feel free to ask any questions and I will try to answer as best as possible.
One more thing though before I go, please please please keep your dreams alive! Know that if there’s a will there is a way. It may not be the way you thought, it may not be the timeframe you hoped but if you always keep at it, those dreams can become your reality. Then the next dream and the next and next and all the sudden your life is literally living your dream. Or as my family has come to call it: Living your crazy goals!
PS No adventure can be accomplished without the help of others. There have been so many people over the years that have reach out and helped us with so many different things. Some of you know who you are and some we will never see again but their kindness has touched our lives in ways they don’t even know. Thank you to all who have helped us. This gratitude in our hearts, is what is actually shaping this next path on our adventure. We try to teach our kids this lesson of life: Both to receive with gratitude and helping without expectation. This is an epic journey we are all on together. This thing called life! Thanks for being a part of it with us, the crazy circus family.