Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Shady Operation

Last summer, I loved living in the Sky Bus, but during the day it could get pretty miserable - too hot inside, no shade outside, too many flies.  I realized the need to address those problems as much as possible before moving back out there, so that I won't be tempted to flee into town during the hottest part of every day.
My original idea was to build a post-and-beam structure over the entire bus; fill in the north, east, and west walls with scoria-filled earthbags; then angle a metal roof over the whole thing for catching water in rain barrels.  Well, after discussing this plan with Aly, I realized it was a bigger project than I wanted to take on just yet, and really not even necessary.  So I scrapped the whole idea (at least until after the house is built), and decided all I really needed to do was create a bit of shade on the south side of the bus.  So I ordered a 12 x 20-foot piece of shadecloth online, and bought two four-packs of 10-inch steel tent stakes and some rope at my local (yes, I admit it) big box store. 

And voila!  I now have shade and a small patio, which Graeme and I created with the leftover Saltillo tiles we got for free last summer.  Soon I'll even have a table and chairs to go there; more about that later.

Grommets are so lovely.  The shadecloth is tied with rope to handles on top of the bus.

I took what used to be a bench/wood-storage box inside the bus, covered it with last year's shower tarp, and used it to raise and prop the shadecloth a bit, then staked it down.  Even with massive windstorms last week, it's held up great!

"Interior" view, with patio awaiting table and chairs.  We also made a little "floor" for Eliana's kitchen (back left).  The spare bus tire there next to it has bee balm from last year that unexpectedly has come back, so rather than move it, I'm just letting it be shaded and hoping for the best.

It's really amazing the difference having this shade makes.  It's even cooler inside the bus now, as the south-facing windows are shaded.  And the great thing is that in the early morning and late afternoon when the sun is not so scorching, the patio still gets light.  It's pretty darn close to perfect, I'd have to say.  And the whole project cost under $100.


  1. Thanks, Tess! It's always amazing to me how I'll start out with a complicated idea, and then end up doing something very simple that works better than I could have imagined.

  2. simple, effective
    glad to see you're settling back into the summer skybus routine :-)

  3. Nice job! You're resourceful and smart - I wouldn't have my friends any other way. Now, when do we get to have drinks on that lovely new patio?

  4. Kel - Thanks, yes, simplicity rocks. As does the summer routine, especially when it's getting tweaked to be even better than last summer's.

    Deonne - That's quite a compliment coming from someone as resourceful and smart as yourself :) Drinks on the patio - yes! Lovely idea. Weekend of the 9th/10th, either day, perhaps?

  5. Sweet. That weekend looks good! We leave tomorrow for a Colorado Scampabout, back late Sunday. Let's talk early next week about details. Fun!

  6. The KISS method is best. Isn't it great to have someone to bounce ideas off of? I need to do the same thing. Last summer I used Aluminet, but it's a little too fragile to go through another season. I'm getting some regular shade cloth to keep the side of the trailer cooler. The poor dog is sweating bullets and it's not even full-on summer.

  7. Your pictures are just way too good. Gotta love that Western sunshine. Looks like things are coming together piece-by-piece! I need to check in more often; I didn't realize you'd moved out of the SkyBus!