Let's Get Into This


Converting a bus is hard.  Forget the actual work, turning the wrench and all that fun. 

It's the research. It's the figuring out which way to turn that wrench. Then it's the cost.  Materials, labor when possible and then materials again because you didn't research enough and/or correctly. 

Or often in my case because you made a delirious purchase of something you read about at 3am and you're sure of.  I've always been handy or at least capable with a tool box.  My father is a master carpenter and I worked with him after I graduated H.S.  

Working with my hands is nothing new, I've framed houses and turned wrenches on state of the art Italian motorcycles.  I once was a studio maintenance manager on a sound stage and can build Ikea furniture in the dark.  Converting a bus is different.  The bus project has proven a more than worth adversary.  I'm drained.  I'm mentally more exhausted than my body is tired and I hardly sleep. 

When I'm not physically working on the bus I'm logging and editing footage; working on the bus. When I'm not editing footage I'm shooting new footage and working on the bus.  In between I'm reading about how to work on the bus and trying to find time to RESET.  Write a blog post, reflect on our summer and take joy in the success of our journey.  Still weeks away, but wow I'm in awe if I let myself stop pushing forward for two minutes and think about it.  We've come a long way both literally and figuratively.  Kj has been nothing short of stunning.  Working harder than I could have imagined, putting up with my constant absent minded mistakes and second guesses of our plan.

Then the two minutes are up and I'm settling whatever went wrong that day or printing shipping labels to return bad purchases.  Or cross checking our to do list from the day before and that list just seems to grow. 

We're doing this so Kj and I can travel the country and find our new home to settle into.  That home is figurative.. The bus is our physical home and it will be for a long time coming.  We'll transform our rolling home into our traveling escape.  

Our means of exploration. Not just of this country but of ourselves. We'll use it as a tool to meet others and get a feel for their community. We'll laugh, we'll joke about finding 'another' town we just have to live in. 

We'll have it all.  But first we'll finish the bus and post a video.  See you on the road. 

 

WE'RE DOING IT!

Kayley and I are doing it. It's been an insane couple of months. Since traveling and picking up the bus on St Patrick's day in Springfield, OR. we've covered some ground. 

We left our apartment and CA life behind for #BUSLIFE and adventures on the road. 

 

We went from Los Angeles to Arizona. Got a hotel in Tempe. Drove 80 miles through a dust storm. Slept at a truck stop in New Mexico. Watched a band and had dinner in El Paso, then a gorgeous dinner and visit in Seguin, TX. Hung out in near Houston with college friends for 3 days. Then headed north. Had lunch in Dallas. 

Stayed with more college friends and saw a baseball game at my old college grounds (SIU)  in southern Illinois.  I graduated from there in 2008. We spent two days in Chicago and celebrated Kayley's 24th birthday. We went to an epic 18 inning Cubs vs Yankees baseball game (but VERY sadly left early) for our first time at Wrigley field. 

After Illinois it was a straight shot to NYC more or less. We slept on the side of the road and a truck stop once more along the way. 

We arrived in NYC, drove onto Long Island.  Moved into an apartment in Bayport and parked the bus in Riverhead on a farm where we'll convert it into our tiny house all summer long. 

Conversion has started.  I ripped all of the seats out and am trying not to rush things.  EVEN WHEN I'M THIS EXCITED.. The conversion vlogs and videos are coming weekly. We can't wait to share our experiences with everyone! 

Local Love

I sit at this kitchen table in Marion, Illinois waiting for footage to transfer.  Kayley is showering and I’m suppose to be cleaning and organizing the bus for our push to Chicago only moments away.  This trip has taken way, way longer than expected. 

The bus is governed at 60 mph and calculating in the many stops for gas and rest, we probably average about 40 to 45 mph. We spent 3 nights in Texas hanging with Landon and Angela while we took care of responsibilities.  Now we’re hanging in Southern Illinois where I went to college (Dawgs Up!) and have great people looking after us. 

I can’t help but feel motivated while sitting at Ian and Natalie’s kitchen table.  Kids are playing, chickens are being delivered and my view of their lake is nothing short of stunning.  This is what Kayley J and I are after.  Simplicity in existing.  Having land, animals, a family of our own and time to spend with one another. 

Every place Kayley discovers is another place she wants to live.  I’m so excited to be able to share with her; her first impressions of this vast and beautiful country. 

Our country has so much to offer and people are so different and terrific in their very own ways every couple of hundred miles.  We’re making the right choice, we’re going to discover who we are and what it is exactly we’re after.  

We’ll find our plot of land and serve coffee to a tight knit town and sew ourselves in as a part of that community.  I’m over the moon and we haven’t even converted our house yet.  This is why we’re doing this, this is why I bought the bus.  It’s not so much the physical vehicle but more the theory of this vehicle and the options it now provides for us. 

We can be in love, we can travel, we can stay put, we can have it all.  Travel with us. Help us experience your town's unique community.  Recommend your favorite towns, places, restaurants, water parks even!  Whatever you feel we NEED to see before we leave your great state.  Please, tell us. Help us see the best in every land across our amazing country.  Roll with us!  See you soon.

I bid. I won. Now I drive a bus.

On the 13th of March, 2017, everything changed. I won.  I bid and I won my dream bus.  Going into this bus buying thing, I had specific requirements. With the intentions of converting it into a tiny house dream home, that would immediately scour the states for our upcoming home and coffee shop,  I had 3 possible motor and transmission combos.  At the top of the wish list the Cummings 8.3L 24 valve engine with an Allison MD3060 transmission stood alone.  KING, with no challengers that dare.  That transmission is an electronic 5 speed with the ability to unlock the 6th gear, with a letter from Allison approving it. This power combo is rare to come by in a school bus.  Most schools have no need for that type of power on local bus routes.  Whenever you do come across them, they're always listed at a dealer for $25k-$40k.  Worth it, if you can afford it and that’s what you need for your road plan, but FUCK that's a hefty price for most of us.  I decided on the second best option in my opinion.  That would be a Thomas bodies bus with a caterpillar 3126 engine and the Allison trans.  I think that set up might well be the best bang for the buck and my overall budget doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.  BUT I needed a powerful motor and transmission that could tackle anything if I was going to navigate mountain roads with Kayley and my dog, OG. 

For 6 months I watched auctions.  I took note of selling prices and began to make contacts in the skoolie community.  I didn't know anything.  Just that this idea, living in a converted school bus and traveling to rediscover passion was an attainable goal.  My friend Mike in NC, proved to be exceptionally helpful in teaching me all about buses and their powerings, how to spot good buses from bad ones, and sent me tons of videos he made explaining things to me featuring his own Thomas school bus (cleanest one out there [till mine] sorry Mikey ;).  The skoolie community has proven to be rather special.  Mike, dinner is on me when I make it to NC sir. 

Days, turn into weeks and then months and finally I have a pretty good grasp at what is a good deal on a decent bus.  On March 3rd I came across the perfect bus.  I watched it for 2 weeks and then, then auction day arrived and I wanted it.  I bid early and often on that Thomas with the Cat3126 and MD3060.  Best part?  It was about to go for cheap!  I was ahead at $1,825 with 3 minutes left when the counter bids stopped coming in.  I couldn't believe my gleaming green eyes and then with seconds left I was outbid. I panicked, anxiouslyI mistyped and lost the auction for my first near perfect bus for $1,850.  Devastation set in immediately. 

I’ve been planning this conversion and road trip since April 2016 and it felt as if time was getting away from me.  I was still waiting on my insurance settlement for the whole broken spine thing and well, I just couldn’t keep waiting, not at under 2k!  Big breathe.. I lost that one. 

Just as quickly as the devastation set in, a 2001 Blue Bird All American got listed in Oregon.  This, this bus is the elite of the elite.  Top of it’s class and I assumed it would sell for 10k even at an auction site.  None the less, I watched a few opening bids.  There it sat somewhere just over $2k.  I scraped together every cent I had.  $13,845.34was in the bank.   I calculated how much I could realistically afford to spend on a bus before receiving any settlement money.  I went back and forth regarding what felt responsible, but this bus was THE dream and if I waited for my check I may end up paying 30k for this set-up. That just seemed outrageously silly to me.  I’m not getting rich, just a helping hand. Besides if I am being serious about this dream then I need to sacrifice for it and put myself out there like I have gambled countless times before.  

With 4 hours left I was winning the auction for $4,150 and I was elated.  Could I get this bus for under $5k I thought.  No.  Can't.  Maybe.  This is killing me.  I'm pacing and rocking back and forth whenever I talk myself into the chair in front of the laptop.  The bidding war started between myself and one other guy.  My $4k suddenly turned to $6k and I had to revaluate what I was doing.  I limited myself to $6,500 , that was the most I could spend on this bus at this time.  I bid it.  It got outbid almost immediately.  FUCK! Fine, just a little more. I took the top again at $6,750 and set my proxy bid (automatic bid if outbid) at $7,200.  I couldn’t possibly afford more responsibly.  If I got beat, I got beat and I prepared for tears.  BUT not today, today I win.  I remained the the top bidder: $6,950 plus auction and wire transfer fees; I stole this fucking bus at $7,675.  At least that’s what I tell myself, I’m sure plenty would disagree as the wealth of buses out there is astonishing.  I did though, I pulled the trigger and I paid $7,675 for a go at my dream.  Seems pretty reasonable when I write it down like that.  I was taking the first major step and I was investing in the type of future that I wanted to have.  An unconventional one by most, but intensely logical to me.  

I love being uncomfortable.  If I feel calm then I must be missing something because there is always something that needs attention.  I choose not to ignore but rather attack any issues on the horizon big or small immediately.  The best offense is a good defense but the opposite is also true.  Why wait for things to occur to you or over you, when you can take the initiative and grasp at what you want the outcome to be? 

It's the 16th of March, Kayley and I are on a spirit airlines flight to Portland Oregon.  Money is tight and we’re saving it where we can.  After buying the bus, getting insurance for the bus and storage reserved back in LA the account is reading a sizzling $4,083.51, but I refuse to stress.  Tonight we land in Portland, rent a car, and check into our Airbnb studio.  Tomorrow we wake up and drive two hours to Springfield, Oregon and pick up our future home.  THEN THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. Actually, that's not true. Kayley our adventure began in August 2016.  Thanks for being my co-pilot.  I love you infinitely.  

I tried Acid and then PR'd in CrossFit

I tried acid for the first time yesterday.  I'm 34.  Kayley and I both had the day off, she was leaving on a flight later in the evening.  Well, actually let's start here:  I've always felt a bit unassuming.  In my personal life I'm pretty chill (for a NY'er).  Often my friends would be baffled at my handling the responsibility of a million dollar budget or the managing of a 30 person crew.  On the flip side;  those who knew me at work were always baffled to hear that at the end of a 16 hour day producing television I'd often head home for a glass of wine and a joint.  I'm a self appointed ' go getter' and when there is work to do I expect it done.  And done well.  This all crossed over into crossfit so nicely.  I found Logan, a local gym owner of a rad place that seemed different.  I talked about it.  I tweeted about it.  I didn't actually go, or even meet Logan in person until a year later.  I showed up and found a new measurement of hard work.  And even more so, working with efficiency, really hard.  Not with the intent of looking good (which is why I thought anyone worked out).  It was about putting in quality work for SELF IMPROVEMENT.  It was an environment that DEMANDED accountability.  And you know what?  The barbell does not lie.  I later tattooed Deuce's logo on my foot: <2> but that's for another time.  

Let's get back to the acid.  I had nothing to do and I was in possession of a gift, a small blue tincture type bottle of acid.  I've experimented with other psychedelics before.  Ever since I had rods screwed to my spine I've been looking towards alternative medicines for pain relief and generally looseness of my neck and back muscles.  I absolutely REFUSE to take "pain" medications.  From the moment I was sober enough to realize what was happening 18 months ago as I lay in my hospital bed I said NO.  I will not have a life where I depend on evil substances to get by.  Also, they didn't relieve pain, they just got me high.  No thanks.  My journey into experimenting and finding natural relievers proved difficult.  I swear by CBD.  If you don't know about it, look it up, it's incredibly beneficial and Non-psychoactive. But man is it expensive.  An ounce of pure CBD isolate is about $900. For an ounce!  I would take about a half of a gram a day.  That's 56 days of being able to function with relatively well neck mobility for 56 days.  Ouch.  

A friend invited me to a Deep Dive Ceremony of 5-Meo-Dmt.  That was a lot to accept for me.  That's hardcore I thought.  That's some new aged acid of the 70's type shit.  But it isn't, I was wrong.  I went to the ceremony.  It completely changed my life.  I didn't expect it but the next day my tightness was gone.  My neck felt like before my accident.  I felt normal.  I could move without caution.  My gate in my walk changed.  I fell back into all of my old comforts.  I was driving with my left hand on the wheel with no pain.  That was so insanely crazy I could never explain it to anyone who hasn't had to change the way they drive because of neck pain.  Then one day, days later, all of a sudden 'holy shit, I'm driving regular again'.  It was the happiest I have ever felt. I was getting my body back.  I was getting a second chance at life, but without the added discomfort that I believed I had to endure for the rest of my life sentence.  Gone.  What in the hell is that about I thought.

So, that same friend said 'hey if you want I have great acid.  I have also been administering it to people trying to cope with BLANK.  If you'd like to try it, maybe it will help you also.'  And that brings us up to speed.  

I took two drops of liquid acid around 2pm.  By 8pm I was making sense of my experience.  By 11pm I was not altered in anyway expect one.  I appreciated more.  I reflected on life.  My goals, the company I keep and those who have helped create the person I am.  Around 8pm before Kayley left we talked about responsibilities.  I agreed to meet my friend Ewan at Deuce at 7:30am for a half-Murph (run 800m, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-up, 150 air squats, then run another 800m) and it was daunting.  She said 'text him tonight if you can't make it baby, let him know'.  There was no fucking way I was missing this workout.  If I can eat acid at 2pm on a random Thursday in Venice, CA than I can damn sure work out the next day.  That's accountability.

I went.  I did well.  Since my accident, everything is a PR (personal record).  Danny calls me Pellegrino2.0 (2.0 for short), because I'm different now.  I have a shit load of metal in me.  My brain had 5 strokes, I'm fortunate to walk this earth.  This is a new start like it or not.  That old body?  Sorry kid, that's not mine anymore.  I woke up to this reality on a hospital bed and needed to see my own X-rays to believe it, but yeah, that's me, I'm a boat load of metal now.  

I completed a 800m run, 25 pull-ups, 90 push-ups, 150 air squats and a 800m run in 35 minutes.  That is a new PR for 2.0!  Now I say all of this to say: GO DO SOMETHING.  Take care of yourself, have maintenance and then accountability for what's right.  That might just be PR'n a crossfit work out the morning after trying acid for the first time.  GO.

My first Bus auction

This isn't exactly how I envisioned it, but it was a game changer.  It's 1:30am on a Thursday night.  We just walked in from the movies.  We saw Logan and poor Kayley couldn't stay awake. She's crashed out behind me, Iron Man plays in the background and I think about the bus that got away.  I was tracking a bus for the last 10 days or so on govdeals.com.  I am looking for a particular set up, drive train-wise in a well maintained bus.  I'm planning for numerous trips through the mountains and plenty of long road clips.  I need a beefy transmission and a reliable work horse of an engine.  Oh; and I want the smoother ride, I'll need the pusher (rear engine).  Not many come about.  When they do, they got a good deal of attention. So I searched, and then found and tracked and I waited.  This morning was go time.  The auction was set to end at 3:10pm EST and I was ready to win my bus!  I bid early, then I bid often towards the last 10 minutes. Bids went up in 25 dollar intervals.  I upped it to $50 increments my last two bids. Three minutes to go and I did it.  I'm ahead, the counter bids have stopped and I'm getting my preferred set up for only $1825!  I could hardly handle the anxiety of it all.  As the time ticks I anxiously curb the fears of getting this bus out of Florida in the mandatory 5 days allowed.  Something that I refused to think about until I was in-fact a bus owner. no matter how many times Kayley brought the concern to my attention. Then with only 16 seconds left I got outbid by a brand new player.  I freaked out!  I frantically entered my next bid.  I upped it it again! 1900 even!  It's mine! But, no it wasn't.  In my panic I accidentally hit the letter 'H' at the end of my bid.  'H'!  How is that even possible.  The system did not recognize what I entered as a valid bid. Wow that's frustrating.  And just like that, the new bidder won the bus for $1850 and a 12% auction fee.  Man I woulda signed up for that.  I learned though.  That was my first time bidding on a live auction online.  Next time I'll be ready.  Next time I'll win my bus and start converting my home.  

Looking Grey Out There

 

Kayley loves going to the movies.  I love movies too but I love watching at home.  Since I met Kayley I've been going to a lot more movies.  Sometimes they're good, but usually they're bad and I'm a tough critic to begin with.  I make media, I went to school to make media and I dissect the entire process anytime I watch a video of any kind, or TV or a film.  I can't help it, I love the process of production, I study it intensely.  Kayley wanted to see 50 Shades Darker.  I never saw the first film; 50 Shades of Grey, so I went into it with a clean slate.  I think about 20 minutes in I had to pull my phone out and write.  Here is what I wrote:

"I had  to take my phone out. Regular people want a juvenile, teenage-like relationship? Full of amateur lust, hostile communication and nothing but trust issues? OK. Got it  Idk what it is I've missed exactly.

The hypocrites of today. Marching in the streets for womens rights, but enamored with a hot headed, cruel, sexed up billionaire who treats them like casual sex slaves? Lies, keeps secrets, possessive and angry attitude all the time.  That women are OK with? Even seek after. Strange. Very strange world I find myself in while in this movie theater in Marina del Rey in early 2017. 

When she said she'd never be able to give him the submissiveness that the girl with the gun could. And she cried. She cried she's sorry she can't give that. That she can't be a submissive girl.  It's insane. Is this what women think is hot? Dudes with emotional issues they're trying to work out through rough sex? 

Maybe it's because Kayley and I have a great sex life. Spontaneous, sometimes planned lust and passion and we still love one another. We say it often. We show it even more than its said. That is hot. Write about that. Make a film about passionate lovers and partners supporting each other and having great sex because of mental passion along with physical.  Not some billionaire fucking creep who gets off on the woman's anguish slash unease.  It's crazy. 

In every other scene these two continue to promise each other love and loyalty. Then they have a fight. Then a surprise! A hidden secret!  Not a good one. Ever.  It's outrageous. They never SHOW their love. The words they keep repeating. They don't act like it. This is the culture of today.  This is a relationship surely headed for divorce. This is the problem. This is what people are being told they should want and should accept. A fake, fruitless relationship that looks good on the front, but no one is happy with.  Always waiting for the next shoe to drop. It's gross. 

As this horrible sex scene in the shower unfolds I wonder.. Has any woman that loves this actually had good sex?! Then I remember Kayley brought me here. What in the world do people like about this absolute garbage?"

 

Vent over.  Carry on with your awful movies.

Its 3:41 am on a Wednesday

It's nearly 4am and I'm starting my life.  Silly right?  IDK though, is it?  I'm starting this website which I bought the domain for some 6 months ago.  Either way, tonight I did it.  When I sarted doing it, the snowball began.  Suddenly I was signing myself up for a blog.  Physically creating a space that is specifically for blog entries.  It's been 3 years, maybe even 5 years since I tried this blogging thing.  I write often, I share almost never.  Mostly I write poetry, some sort of ode to something more times than not.  Usually it's a note to Kayley, a page or an email telling her what my inner most thoughts are.  I find myself caught up, I get emotional often.   When I do and it's positive I write about it.  When Kayley and I first started seeing each other I wrote her poems everyday.  I was obsessed with writing about her and my desires towards her.  I wrote her love notes, I wrote her passionate, lust filled fantasies and we took pictures everywhere we went.  Now that we live together I don't write her as often.  I try to show her how passionate she makes me feel each day.  Oh wow, anyway... 

I'm starting my life ...right.  I'm buying a bus.  I want to convert a retired school bus into a tiny house/ rv/ loft on wheels for Kayley and I to call home.  After conversion we plan to spend a minimum of 72 hours in each state that we can drive our home to.  Accompanying us will be my rescued mutt; OG.  It's not short for Original Gangster so just hold your HatorAde.  It's short for Oscar the Grouch.  When OG came to me he was only about 6 weeks old, named Oscar and peed on everything,  EVERYTHING.  I started calling him Oscar the Grouch bc I was always so frustrated with him.  OG came from Southern Illinois, Carbondale.  He went from there to living with me in Lake Tahoe, California in Carnelian Bay. After Tahoe we moved to Baltimore, Maryland.  After Baltimore we went to Bayside, Queens, New York.  When I left NY for LA, OG stayed with my Aunt and Uncle. Originally I planned on coming back for him in 6 months, that was 7 years ago.  Now I'm gearing for an epic road adventure and it only seems right that he join me.  With my Aunt's blessing my old friend will be coming along for this criss-cross countryFireball Run.

Did I mention on July 28th, 2015 I was involved in a horrific motorcycle wreck that broke my spine, forearm, collar bone, 6 ribs and collapsed both lungs? Oh that, that's quite the story.  I'll save that for my next entry.