Want to live an adventure? Buy a bus.
Updated: Nov 10, 2019
The internet is magical. You can get lost in exploring adventures without even living the adventure.
We have two sons growing up ‘living’ WiFi & internet, so when we made a spontaneous decision to buy a school bus, we started to live an adventure.
It all started down under in Australia, visiting a Heritage Museum with a field full of old rusty buses. Both boys we hooked, "hey dad, how cool would it be to buy a bus and convert it to a camper!" And they remained hooked for more than a year, watching vlogs on YouTube of people converting buses, mainly school buses. Till one Friday night, "hey dad, check this out!" Ebay, an International Blue Bird American school bus. "yes, actually that does look very cool!"
After some research, 15 min of looking at other buses for sale in Europe,, we decided to make an offer. It went up and down for a while and after a little reassuring from a friend with some classics, we pushed through and finally agreed on a price. Awesome! We are now the proud owners of a 1997 American school bus! Great! .... now what?? That was Sept 1st 2017. We named it LYFE, using the letters of our first names of everyone in the family. LYFE the bus was born.
The owner, who owns a salvage yard in Sisseton South Dakota, couldn’t have been nicer. He immediately sent a video of the bus starting up, showed us the inside (with all the seats) and we took his word that we purchased a working school bus. It was blue because as soon as a bus goes into private ownership it cannot remain yellow, the stop sign comes off and the hazard lights are disconnected.
Quite quickly we decided ‘LYFE’ should be shipped to the Netherlands which is where we have our roots. Oh yeah, South Dakota is in the middle of America, about as far away from a port as you can get. 22 hrs here, 24 hrs there..... every port was more than 20 hours drive. It needed to go to Europe, so the best port Galveston, Texas. I found an agent specialized in importing classic cars from the US into the Netherlands, and they hooked us up with an agent in the US to arrange shipping and the necessary papers.
The challenge was finding a way of transporting LYFE from Sisseton to Galveston, a 24 hour journey. This was proving to be tough. After many phone calls in the middle of the night, the job ended up on a bidding board for truckers. At one stage I couldn't even remember who the initial agent was that arranged the driver. The prices varied massively. Each company promised the world. Lot's of "Yes SIR" and then they couldn't find a driver. Especially ironic was the agent called ‘Get it done’, who were going to get it done, it was all sorted, they had a driver, had a date, but at the last minute pulled out. They couldn’t get it done! Seriously left me hanging!. Anyway, finally, a driver named Trevor picked it up in Sisseton and headed down to Galveston with LYFE on a trailer. Not sure what agent he came through, must have been the guy called Jeff! Spoke to Trevor a couple of time during his trip..... "I'm dropping it off at a house in Galveston and getting cash in hand there" ...... Oh, seriously! "sorry Trevor .... it needs to go into the Port of Galveston.... to get on a ship! " I ain't go'en no port! ... too much hassle!!" Those were his famous words, I can still hear him now and it now puts a smile on my face. Not then! I'm in Singapore, 2am, talking to a truck driving that wants cash in hand and is refusing to take the bus into a port. Great! I won't go into how I solved the whole problem, but it took a couple more hours and a few beers!.
The ship set sail at the end of Nov 2017, with LYFE comfortably tucked in for the ride. Pheew.
As you would expect, it was a little delayed getting into Belgium, But we had a fantastic company in Holland that assisted with all the paper work getting it clearer and eventually on Jan 4th 2018 LYFE was loaded on the back of a truck and was on the way to us in Holland. We knew the route it was taking and met it half way. That was super exciting seeing our bus pass on the back of the truck. It was off loaded in the parking lot of a football field about 500m away from where we had planned to park it...... that's another story ..... Once LYFE was off the truck we eventually started it and managed to drive it to a perfect spot for all the work to begin.
The first massive stage was complete.... LYFE made it!