Friday, May 27, 2011

The Sky Bus Has Landed

Another piece of my project is now in place, and a major one at that - the Sky Bus is now parked on my land.  Getting her there was epic, a pilgrimage, and showed me once again how when plans move from my head and/or paper to fruition, they become experiences that go far beyond what I had imagined.

To begin with, this endeavor was greatly aided by my new friend, Jeremy, who I met one night at the Adobe Bar, the same place I met Rusty.  When I told him about my housebuilding project that night, Jeremy expressed great interest in it, as he does construction work, has some earthbag experience, and would like to build his own house one day.  We talked about him coming out to my land sometime, but made no definite plans.  I just HAPPENED to run into him at the laundromat the day before I was going to move my bus and invited him out.  That was the day we managed to get it started but couldn't keep it running, so he offered to tow it for me the next weekend, as he just HAPPENS to have a monster truck.  

So, last Sunday, out we went again, chained the bus to his truck and started down the bumpy dirt road from the junkyard to my land.  However, his truck started overheating after a bit, so we pulled over and he said, "You want to just see if it will start?"  We put gas in it, and lo and behold, it started right up and stayed running this time.  

It's difficult to convey how thrilling it was to drive that bus, and how very glad I am that I got to do it.  I've never been one to refer to my vehicles as "she," but something happened between that Sky Bus and me, when we were out there plowing through sagebrush and over narrow rocky dirt roads.  We bonded.  First, I started spontaneously singing to her, and then I realized I was involuntarily referring to her as "her."

Driving her was empowering and surreal, and I felt she was driving me as much as I was driving her.  I've never handled anything close to that huge or old before, and she has no driver's seat, just an old wooden chair that I had to perch on the edge of while the tops of my thighs pressed up under the steering wheel.  Also, the gas pedal is missing, and I couldn't brake because she'd die.  So taking those sharp narrow turns, throwing all my strength into turning that ginormous steering wheel, while the bus bounced and rocked and things inside it went crashing around was scarier and more fun than a roller coaster.  Imagine driving a roller coaster that has no track.  Oh yeah - I'm a ninja.  I felt like I was born for it.

She overheated twice, so we stopped for long stretches to let her cool off.  The whole journey of about three miles took several hours, including when we ran back into town for coolant.  During the second rest, Rusty showed up, and ran down to the neighbor's house to fetch us some water, since most of the coolant had leaked out already.  

We then got her started again, and caravanned to the land, the Sky Bus in the lead, Jeremy in his big silver truck right behind, and then Rusty in his little orange truck.  Right turn - bump, bounce, crash.  Left turn - bump, bounce, crash - and then straight down to the land.  Pull forward, back up and turn slowly, try not to run over that huge rock - and voila!  She was parked, backed onto my land with her nose facing east and her butt facing west.  And I turned off the engine and sat there in that immense quiet, and thought, "I'm home."

It's strange that no matter what color the sky is, the Sky Bus matches it.
Sorry about the poor quality of these photos; I forgot my camera so had to use my phone.



Me, Jeremy, and Graeme 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

Well, the countdown is on.  Tomorrow I'm having a yard sale, and so have begun the process of sorting, shifting, piling, and packing.  And filling up trash bags at an alarming rate.  I've even finally driven home to the kids that we are in fact moving out, and they are now actively engaged in the process as well.  As I sit here at my computer, I can look over at the huge pile of stuff for the yard sale that is the tangible result of many hours of work.  If you're in the Taos area, come to my yard sale!  I'm across from the Ranchos post office; you'll see the signs from the main road.

There is still much to do, but I feel like I'm over the hump now, that I've established a momentum.  Much better than the freaked-out paralysis I was experiencing a couple of days ago.

I went out to the land last weekend to move the bus, and actually did manage, with the help of a friend, to get it started, but it would only stay running if I kept my foot on the gas.  And then it just died altogether, possibly because it ran out of gas.  At any rate, my friend, who has a monster truck, has offered to tow it from the junkyard to my land, so I'm extremely grateful for that.  We'll be doing that on Sunday.

In other news, last week I had to drive to Albuquerque for a conference, and it turned out to be a (serendipitously) fruitful trip for my housebuilding project as well.  Right before I left town, I checked Craigslist and someone in Santa Fe had just posted that they were giving away about 60 Saltillo tiles, so I stopped there on my way and loaded them into the Blazer.

I'll be using some of these for the floor of my outdoor shower, initially.
Then, on the way back, I stopped in at the brewery in Santa Fe  and picked up another 100 or so bags.  As it happened, it was happy hour, so I sat outside and enjoyed a glass of beer in the late afternoon sunshine, before doing the last leg of the drive.  It was lovely, and a nice rest between the whirlwind of the conference and returning to the whirlwind of my "normal" life of four kids and five jobs - and now moving, for crying out loud.

Since the trip was paid for by UNM-Taos, my only cost was the price of that $2.50 beer.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Moving Onward, Moving Out

Image by Pamela Leigh Richards
The merry month of May is also turning out to be a month of movement.  In fact, I've felt at times like I'm on a speeding train I not only cannot get off, but have to drive.  Unfortunately, most of this has not been related to my housebuilding project but to work.  I'd like to get off this bullet train and get on the Peace Train instead, by there are many projects, many deadlines, and little time to think about - let alone do - anything else.  I really shouldn't even be writing this post right now, but grading the papers, or working on the grant and two articles that all need to be done by Monday.

However, I have finally purchased and received my plans for the Enviro Dome from Owen Geiger and Kelly Hart.  I cannot sing the praises of these guys enough.  When I was preparing to order the plans, I had a substantial list of questions that I emailed to Owen, and he replied within a half hour with answers.  I then placed my order, and received the plans in PDF files a few hours later.

I will finally be visiting my land next Friday to pick a building site and prepare to move the Sky Bus.  It hit me the other day how little time is left before I have to move out of my rental house, so I've been fighting off a sense of panic.  There is much to do, in many different areas, and it's difficult at times to prioritize, since it seems to all need doing at once.

But, I know it will all happen, and this time next month, I will be living in the Sky Bus on my land.  That light at the end of the tunnel keeps me going.  

I had no idea Dolly Parton covered this song so...interestingly.  
What's up with that weird skirt?