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The Breezy Bus Blog: Week One on the Road

Updated: May 1, 2023

Hey there! Bri and Zoli from The Breezy Bus here with a little (let's be honest - long) update about our first week of life living in the bus and traveling full-time. This journey is a dream come true after two years of blood, sweat, tears, laughs, and an unforgettable labor of love, and we are so glad to finally be able to share a bit of our story with you as we go.

We're still trying to figure out the best way to share our personal and collective experiences in a coherent and reader-friendly fashion, so please bear with us as we continue to navigate the delicate balance between individual and joint storytelling.

We'll begin with Zoli's account of the first few days on the road, and then transition into a narrative written by Bri that details the second half of the week, so you can hear both of our authentic voices in the same piece. Cozy up with a hot or cold beverage of your choice and enjoy our story at your leisure!

Zoli's Reflection

Friday, April 14th

Liberty, ME → Portland, ME

As we made our final preparations and downsized for a final time, we said our goodbyes to Bri’s mom Susan and her two dogs, Stuart, and Fenwick, and started down the road with a feeling of “Is this really happening?"

After so many false starts and an extended timeline in Maine (two years after starting on this bus build journey that we naively thought would only take 6 months), it all felt a little surreal. However, the weight of leaving Maine was minimized by an agreement we made with family friends in Belfast who are in need of a house/cat sitter this coming August while they go on their own road trip to the Arctic Circle, allowing these next few months in the bus to be a trial run to figure out what works and make adjustments to what doesn’t, all while re-grounding in Maine at a beautiful time of year!

Our first destination was Popham Beach (Fort Popham is the “local secret” where parking is free and dogs are allowed to enjoy the beach while avoiding the crowds) to soak up the sun with my brother, Zack, his girlfriend Jac, and their dogs, Luma and Pollo. As seals played in the water and ospreys soared overhead, we let Kali and Luma have one last boisterous beach romp, where they wrestled like siblings and played in a way that would look startling from an onlookers perspective. We enjoyed the sage advice and blessings from Zack and Jac and embraced before saying our farewells.

We continued onwards down the coast to Portland, where we landed at the Eastern Promenade, one of the few places where overnighting is actually allowed in the city. A quick and delicious curry dinner left our bellies satisfied and our souls nourished. After a long walk, we settled in and were gently lulled to sleep by passing cars and the distant sounds of the ocean.

Saturday, April 15th

Portland Prom → GearHub (Portland, ME)

Waking up to the sunrise over Casco Bay, it felt like everything was beautifully unfolding as it should. My good friend Tim joined us for an inaugural roof deck breakfast, where passersby waved and honked at our million dollar view.

My father and his partner Mary also happened to be in Portland that day meeting their friend Jerome for breakfast, so they joined us at the bus for a final goodbye and a last-minute bicycle tire upgrade. Unfortunately the new tires were the wrong size, but Portland is a popular place for bike shops, so we got our home in driving order and headed off about a mile down the road to a local bicycle repair shop called the GearHub.

While Bri was going to get the tires swapped, I intended to grab some last minute provisions from Trader Joe’s, so I went back to the bus and tried to start it…and tried again…and again…and realized that we may, once again, be in a pickle. Bri came back to our 15-minute roadside spot and I jokingly said, “Whelp, I guess Maine doesn’t want us to leave!” And of course, good ol’ Murphy's Law has made sure that whenever we’ve encountered mechanical difficulties, it’s always seemed to land on a weekend.

We put our thinking caps on and started troubleshooting what the cause may be. The fact that the bus had started 10 minutes earlier and gotten us to the GearHub with the batteries reading full voltage ruled out a dead battery, which was a relief but still left us scratching our heads about why the ignition wasn’t turning over.

Zoli & Jack trying to jumpstart the bus at the Gearhub

Our excellent RV roadside service, CoachNet, said they could get us a tow to a local commercial mechanic, but the shop wouldn't be able to assess the situation until Monday, so we held off with that option, since it could have been something as simple as a fuse or starter that needed to be replaced.

Unfortunately, CoachNet wasn’t able to find a mobile mechanic to come out and assess the situation on a Saturday afternoon (no surprise there!), so we held tight in our roadside spot. My dad, Mary, and Jerome showed up for moral support and attempted to jump start the bus, to no avail. While we collectively brainstormed about what could be wrong, a painted and possibly converted short bus passed by and my dad shamelessly flagged the driver down to see if he had any mechanical advice, since his bus was almost the exact same make and model as ours.

The bus driver happily pulled into a nearby lot and hopped out of his cream colored bus. Farmer John was on his way back to Bethel after selling his produce at the local farmers market and was eager to help, which we were grateful for. He phoned up his mechanic friend and explained the situation. Similar to what we’d found on a quick Google search, Farmer John’s mechanic friend said the issue was most likely related to the starter relay fuse or the starter itself.

My dad generously offered to let us borrow his car to go to a local auto parts store to see if we could pick up a new starter, in case that was, in fact, the issue. One benefit of the style of bus that we opted for is the availability of parts, since the whole front end is essentially a Chevy cargo van. We were able to find a new starter at VIP AutoParts quite easily and headed back to our bus home within the hour so my dad and his partner could drive their car two hours home.

After watching a couple of YouTube videos, I was fairly confident that I would be able to replace the starter on Sunday if we weren't able to find a mobile mechanic, so we said our final goodbyes to family and felt so grateful that this first real “breakdown” happened with so much support around. And to top it all off, we happened to be parked right outside a nondescript concrete building with a neon sign that glowed “Sauna,” advertising a public bathhouse called the Washington Baths, one of Portland’s best attractions.

We spent the rest of our night at the bathhouse where we enjoyed a sauna, an outdoor cold pool, and a steamy and relaxing hot tub. The whole experience served as a reminder to slow down and truly enjoy the places we land and to make the most of an otherwise unfortunate situation.

Post-sauna Glow (and check out our ingenious clothes line for hanging our wet towels)

The thought did cross our minds that maybe the universe was just telling us to stay in Portland and find work here rather than set off on this adventure after all, but as things unfolded on Sunday, it was clear we were meant to go. We accepted that the plans we had for being in Massachusetts and seeing friends and family on Sunday would have to change, but that’s the nature of traveling - to accept, adapt, and trust in the flow of Spirit.

Sunday, April 16th

Portland, ME → Scarborough, ME

We awoke Sunday morning to great news that our roadside service, CoachNet, was able to find a mechanic that would come out and look at the bus in the early afternoon, so we enjoyed a leisurely morning and prepared for the arrival of the mechanic.

Fortunately we were parked far enough away from the curb that the starter, which is located on the passenger side of the vehicle, was able to be accessed without the danger of traffic or the tight squeeze of the sidewalk itself. The mechanic, Drew, showed up earlier than expected and instantly got to work after I explained the situation and filled him in on what we’d already tested.

He wanted to check the starter before replacing it, so he showed us a trick of “jumping” it with a screwdriver and sure enough, we were up and running again in no time! We pulled off the road into a parking lot so that he could have easier access to actually do the starter swap, and within an hour we were all fired up, with the bus starting better than ever (she actually purrs now!).

Mechanic Drew patiently answered all my random mechanical questions and walked me through some good tricks for the future, all while being super excited for our journey. He shared his own dream of building a similar home on wheels to travel someday and appreciated getting to peek inside ours after the work was done.

We exchanged contact info and he said to call any time we need mechanical advice or a walkthrough of how to do something. The serendipity of our whole experience in Portland made it hard to doubt that things were indeed unfolding as they should and that it is always important to slow down and listen to the signs all around us. After the whole ordeal and a nice long walk with Kali in the afternoon, we decided it didn’t make sense to try to get anywhere too far as there was no longer a rush to get to Massachusetts since we’d already missed our initial obligations, so we opted for a cozy rainy night in the Planet Fitness parking lot in South Portland so we could start bright and fresh in the morning with an energizing workout.

Monday, April 17th

Scarborough, ME → Saco River (Biddeford, ME)

After an early morning workout and shower reset, we headed off to a local cafe to try and get some logistics figured out since all of our first week plans of visiting people in Massachusetts were now out the window. While we were still in Maine, it also felt important to commemorate our delayed three year anniversary.

We’d planned on celebrating over the weekend, but given the circumstances with the unexpected mechanical repairs, we agreed that it made sense to wait until we were both feeling more grounded and certain that the bus would be okay. We found a local spot at the Saco River where we could stay for the night and I started crafting a celebratory salmon dish while Bri took Kali for a walk around the boat launch.

As I prepared the meal, I reflected on how returning from my trip to Taiwan three years ago unexpectedly led to this relationship not only surviving, but thriving through a global pandemic, countless living situations and the endless “schtuffle” of moving our belongings from place to place while continually downsizing, personal and collective losses filled with grief and silver linings, numerous wild adventures, profound joyful moments, and of course, this co-creative home-building process. The reality of this life was finally setting in as we were beginning to taste the fruits of our labors. We dined on the delicious salmon pesto pasta meal with candle-lit ambiance and were gently lulled to sleep by the pitter-patter of rain on our solar panels.

Enjoying our anniversary meal at the boat launch

Bri's Reflection

Tuesday, April 18th

Saco River, ME → North Andover, MA

Were it not for our false start due to the faulty starter delaying our departure from Portland, we would have missed seeing and staying with Bri’s family friends who feel like family - Joan and Larry and two of their three children. Bri’s mom, Susan, met Joanie in nursing school back in the ‘70s and they became fast friends, living together for a while and then raising their children a few states apart with frequent visits between Maine and Massachusetts.

Staying with Joan and Larry granted us the opportunity to not only swap hilarious (and deadly serious) road stories, but also allowed us to be grounded with stable Wi-Fi and the amenities of home (shower, laundry, etc.) to help us ease into the transition to full-time bus life, which was rocky from the start due to the bad starter. We are beyond grateful for their generosity and glad we were able to gift them one of Zoli’s hand-carved spalted spoons along with a book and hand-written card from Bri. Thank you, Joan and Larry!

From there we ventured on to meet up with Bri’s Aunt Nan, who’s been one of the biggest supporters of us and the bus since the inception of our relationship, at the Montague Book Mill in Western Mass. While en route we noticed a small turtle in the middle of the road about a mile from the Mill, and of course we felt compelled to pull over and help the turtle cross. The Breezy Bus is chock full of turtles, and although the bus itself is named Berta, one of her original nicknames was “Turtlelini,” since we feel so much like slow-moving turtles with a protective shell while we’re traveling in the bus.

Unfortunately, the small painted turtle with the shattered undershell needed to be euthanized by a local emergency vet, but the whole experience helped to attune us to pay closer attention to the wild (and sometimes domestic) animals who live on the precarious margins of human society, constantly skirting around lightning-fast traffic and forever fleeing for their lives from ever-encroaching two-leggeds. A few days later, on a highway headed due west into the Catskill Mountains of southeastern New York, we spotted the ruffled feathers of a road-killed turkey and couldn’t help but stop and lay the turkey to rest on the edge of the road, away from the oppressive din and danger of fast-moving traffic.

After visiting with Aunt Nan, we made our way to a beautiful farm in Colrain, MA to visit with our dear friend and eco-activist Erin, who treated us to a magical stroll through a sun-dappled forest and a picnic along the creek behind their cabin. Connecting with friends, family, and fellow activists is a major part of our journey and we are delighted to have the opportunity to visit with so many loved ones who are engaged in radical decolonization work along the way.

Wednesday, April 19th

North Andover, MA → Hudson, NY

The night before we found the turkey we’d fortuitously overlapped with one of our most influential and indispensable teachers in the Hudson Valley - Sara Jolena Wolcott. Sara’s eco-theological organization Sequoia Samanvaya is one of the few remote educational institutions we know of that is wholly focused on the intersecting issues of climate collapse, structural racism, disconnection from the land, and the entirety of colonization, with an explicit mission to dismantle colonizer consciousness and re-enchant the world, one story at a time.

After our brief visit with Sara, we traversed spiraling mountain roads through thick and viscous clouds to get to Kaaterskill Falls, a popular destination where Bri grew up exploring as a child when she visited her grandparent’s second home in the Catskill Mountains. The waterfall, which was considered sacred to the original inhabitants of the land, the Mohican people who called the Catskills home, was glorious even in the fog, courageously cascading 260 feet straight down to Spruce Creek flowing below.

From the Falls we moseyed on south to Daydream Farm in Hamburg, Pennsylvania through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a gorgeous 40-mile smooth ride along the Delaware River, the largest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. We arrived at the farm around 8pm after driving through a torrential downpour on a narrow highway under construction. We’d stopped briefly just before the storm began around 6 o’clock to throw chili ingredients into our InstantPot, so we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal immediately upon arrival, an unexpected perk to traveling with solar power and a full kitchen.

Thursday, April 20th

Hudson, NY → Hamburg, PA

The next morning we met up with Richele, the founder and sole owner of Daydream Farm, for a tour of the barn and a memorable meet-and-greet with the newborn foals. Their spindly legs bowed beneath the weight of their equine bodies, struggling to hold the fledgling foals upright. Richele had expertly employed oddly shaped horseshoes to help counterbalance the natural asymmetry of infant horse legs, and she assured us that each and every foal in her care would mature into strong, healthy horses in a matter of weeks. She knew their transition into adulthood would be considerably easier with the addition of the special shoes, so she did what she could to contribute to their growth and well-being at an early age, sometimes even forfeiting her own needs to respond to the despondent whinny of a yearling in distress.

We absolutely loved our first week of bus life, especially the opportunities to visit with friends and family who we don't get to see very often due to distance and the global pandemic. We hope to share a weekly reflection of our time on the road with reflections on the lessons we're learning and plenty of photos for your enjoyment, so stay tuned for next week's update, which will cover our travels through the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, as well as our idyllic stay in a faerie forest at Willow Run Farm in Harrisonburg, VA, where we also got to practice goat yoga!

Till next time,


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