A Hike With the Rolling Stones


We went to the bus on Saturday.  It was a good trip.  I think we saw close to 150 pronghorns.  I was fantasizing about shooting a couple only to remember that my friend had shot one and said they taste pretty terrible.  Look into the hills.  With the trace snow, the prongs blend in beautifully.  Click on the pictures if you can’t pick them out.  They’re there.  It’s almost like a Bev Doolittle painting.


In addition to our four kids, we brought along our nephew, Sam.  We went hiking and he and my eldest boys and Sam stumbled upon something.


A rock.  On top of a rock.  On a hillside.  A steep hillside.  Oh, the joy.

You heard it here, folks.  Had cavemen practice Leave No Trace methods, we’d have never come up with the wheel.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…..out.





The Ring of Fire

Me, burning poop, circa 2014.

We made a quick trip to the bus just after Christmas.  I wanted to pick up bones for carving and my wife wanted some alders for making wreaths.  I picked what was forecasted to be the nicest day of the week, with temperatures in the 20s with no wind.

Upon arrival at around noon, the temperature was -15 (f).



As much as I’ve come to hate the cold weather, I was born for it.  Colorado has softened me.  The strong sun after even the heaviest snows tends to melt everything quickly.  Where I grew up in northern Maine, not so much.


My children aren’t afraid of the cold.  They bundled up and ignored it, which is what I want them to do.  They may not be as tough as kids from northern Maine, but I’m trying to teach them how to endure.  Try all I want, children are naturally resilient.


When we first bought the land in 2013, the first thing I did was build a fire ring.  Aborigines build a fire wherever they are.  It promotes a sense of place and home within them, no matter where they are.


Unfortunately for us, the fire danger at the land is usually high.  I keep a spark arrester on our stove in the bus and generally don’t have fires outside.  As a matter of fact, I’ve had a fire in the ring once.  And I burned dung.  Just to see if it could be done.


Being that there was plenty of snow this time around, I decided to officially christen the fire ring.  No tea, no marshmallows.  Just warmth.  And it was good.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.



Get Away Land (Part 3, The School Bus Conversion)

Converting the bus was fun.  I can’t lie, I love working with tools, cheap or expensive.  I’d like to tell you that I had a plan, but I tend to play fast and loose and let visions evolve as things happen.

The first order of business was removing the seats.  There were a lot of them.  It’s a 64 passenger bus.  Most of the seats were in rough shape.  Years of gum, slime and soda were stuck in the cracks between the seats and wall of the bus.  The bolts were rusted and most were stripped.  I bought a grinder at Harbor Freight and got to work.  The kids helped me scrape up all of the rubber flooring, which is what makes a bus smell like a bus.

What’s under the rubber floor?  I’d love to tell you a metal subfloor, but it’s actually plywood.  Years of moisture hadn’t penetrated the wood much, so I decided to seal it by painting it.  We happened to have a few gallons of yellow paint hanging around, so that’s what we used.


Using recycled lumber that I got from the dump, I made a counter top over one of the wheel wells.  I sided it with pallet wood and put a curtain over the front.


Using my neighbor’s torch, I chopped up the seats for a new purpose.


They are now convertible benches and beds.

My neighbors also helped me frame up and build the bathroom.  I’ve got a toilet lid for a 5 gallon bucket.  We use sawdust and empty it after each stay.  It actually works pretty well.  We also installed carpet tiles.  We’ve got four kids, so if somebody craps on a carpet tile, we just rip it up and replace it.


I also installed a utility sink.  It drains into a three gallon bucket below and we dump it when it’s full.  My mom painted it red like a hooker’s fingernails.  To boot, the brand name is Homart.  I laugh every time I look at the logo.

Above were the initial photos.  It has morphed into a real comfy place now, with fold out couches, futons and bookshelves.  Here are recent pics.  Pardon the clutter.

We’ve utilized solar desk lamps from Ikea for lighting, as well as fold out tables and a fold out couch.  I cut the bottoms off of pallets and made them into book cases.

It’s about 140 square feet.  Believe it or not, it’s comfy, even with six or seven people.  But you have to like each other.  And we do.

Next up – the functions of staying at the bus and some scenic pictures.

Mike, Oscar, Hotel….out.