Home is where the bus is

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES - By ALICE THORSON

SHE’S a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor and graphic de­signer. He’s a re­tired com­puter con­sul­tant. Three years ago Wendy Crosby and Jim Wilk­er­son bought a 12m bus, which they have trans­formed into a stylish and com­fort­able trav­el­ling home with an eye-catch­ing, cus­tom-painted ex­te­rior.

The two met in Columbia, Missouri, in the early 1980s and moved to Wash­ing­ton DC in 1990. Since 1995, they have made Stil­well, Kansas, their home base, but now that they have the bus....

How did you end up with this bus?

Jim: Wendy wrote an ar­ti­cle for Bus Con­ver­sion mag­a­zine and in the bio, said: “Jim and Wendy are look­ing for a bus.” A call from that led us to this bus. It was a tour bus in Las Ve­gas that used to take peo­ple from Las Ve­gas to the Grand Canyon and back.

Wendy: We bought it from a guy in Wash­ing­ton state. He had taken the seats out and put in a stove and sink. Noth­ing worked. But it does have a slide-out that adds three feet (al­most 1m) to the liv­ing room once you get where you are go­ing.

Jim: I re­tired and took on a full­time job work­ing on the bus. I did wiring, plumb­ing, cab­i­netry and floor­ing.

And you’ve taken it on the road?

Wendy: In early sum­mer we went to Michi­gan, Canada, up­state New York, Penn­syl­va­nia, Wash­ing­ton and Delaware. The rea­son we got the bus is we have lots of friends, but they’re in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. When we visit, we’re drive­way guests rather than house­guests. And we have three cats we bring with us.

We also own land in Mex­ico on the beach. With the bus, we can take off when a hur­ri­cane comes.

Tell me about how you fur­nished this space.

Jim: For a cou­ple years, we trav­elled with our pa­tio fur­ni­ture while we fig­ured out what we wanted. We ended up get­ting Stress­less re­clin­ers from House of Den­mark; they’re easy to fall asleep in. We also got the din­ing chairs from House of Den­mark.

Wendy: The rug is from the house. It was a big rug; we found a place that did car­pet bind­ing and had it cut to fit. Jim’s cousin re­cently made us a com­puter cab­i­net with a charg­ing sta­tion in­side the side counter.

You even have art­work.

Jim: We re­ally like Oax­a­can

Here’s a mag­i­cal liv­ing space: a bus. With room for kit­ties even! an­i­mals; they’re hand-carved by Mex­i­can artists and hand-painted. Those are Gu­atemalan pil­lows on the foot­stools, and we found that African wed­ding mask in an African shop in Florida. The wall hang­ings are from a lo­cal artist, Marg Hig­gins, who also does gor­geous quilts, in­clud­ing the one on our bed.

It’s very cozy.

Jim: I tore the bed­room apart and in­su­lated it and built in a clothes cup­board that dou­bles as a head­board. We have both 120- and 12volt sys­tems. When you’re plugged in or run­ning the gen­er­a­tor, you can run the 120-volt. I added draw­ers to the gran­ite-topped night stands on each side of the bed. There’s a builtin dresser, and also a closet.

Noth­ing here is minia­ture.

Wendy: The bed is queen-size. In the bath­room, there’s a full-size shower, toi­let and sink. The kitchen has a full-size re­frig­er­a­tor and gran­ite coun­ters. The cup­boards are red oak with a chest­nut stain. Jim built the ad­ja­cent pantry that has a slide­out kitty box on the bot­tom. The shelves are ad­justable, and there’s a broom closet on the side.

Tell us about the ex­te­rior, with the dragon on one side and the koi on the other.

Wendy: It was the ugli­est colour, a hor­ri­ble brown, the paint was com­ing off, and we got the idea that we wanted a dragon. We were both born in the year of the dragon. And Jim said, “What if we found a graf­fiti artist?”

Then the (Kansas City art gallery) Kul­tured Chameleon had a “graf-off”, with two guys paint­ing. One of them was (Kansas tat­too and graf­fiti artist) Stormy Jack­son, and he said he was in­ter­ested in the job. He told us about the leg­end of the koi turn­ing into a dragon, and we thought, “Both sides of the bus don’t have to be the same.”

We went to his stu­dio and saw a big koi painted on a ma­sonry wall and de­cided we also wanted a koi. Stormy did it with a trac­ing pa­per sketch in one hand and a can of spray paint in the other!

And you’ve doc­u­mented this en­tire bus ad­ven­ture?

Wendy: It’s all on our blog, mighty­bus.word­press.com.

What’s the plan?

Wendy: Even­tu­ally, we’ll sell the house and live on the bus per­ma­nently and find a home base in a pro­gres­sive lit­tle com­mu­nity some­where where it’s warm and bi­cy­cle friendly. – The Kansas City Star/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Home on the bus: Jim Wilk­er­son and Wendy crosby travel the united States in a bus that has been con­verted into a mo­tor home with a dra­matic dragon painted on one side of it and a ‘lucky’ koi (left) on the other. — mcT pho­tos

Would you be­lieve this kitchen is in a mo­bile home? The tall cup­board on the right has a cat door set into it to­wards the bot­tom (the white rect­an­gle) so the bus kit­ties can get to their lit­ter box eas­ily. (be­low): note the lux­u­ri­ous de­tails, such as gran­ite coun­ter­tops.

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