Ditch The Bus

Yep, you read right, we’re ditching the bus. Well, at least for a little while, or maybe longer,  who knows.

It all started when we decided to book another music tour to Australia. While in the planning stages we had lots of conversations as a family about all we’ve learned in the past four years about ourselves and our creator through full-time travel. We recognized that our family is built to come alongside and encourage. We also realized that we are “learners” and we thrive when our theology and understanding of the world is rocked to the core and deconstructed. And, boy have we been rocked!

And so, over the past few months of conversations we’ve started feeling a stirring in our souls. That same longing that first invoked us to dream and take the leap of faith, giving our possessions away and hitting the road began to roar and we began to ask, was there something more?

Over the past two years we have been meeting and nurturing relationships with people  from all over the world but mostly in Southeast Asia and those interactions inspired conversation about potential visits. And, so as we were planning our very practical musical tour, we found that the question of how long we would stay over and when we would return was open for debate. And so, we did what we alway do when we don’t have the full picture, we moved forward.

We bought a one way ticket!

I mean, why not, we already live gas tank to gas tank, what’s the difference if it’s a bus tank or an airplane, train or van tank that need filling.

As soon as we bought that one way ticket, we knew we were entering a new chapter in our journey of faith, community and creativity.

Photo by Kara Counard; Bloom Photography
Photo by Kara Counard; Bloom Photography

We don’t know how long or exactly where the road, sky or water will take us but we do have a light outline.

We will be flying out of Albuquerque Sept 15 and landing in Melbourne Australia the morning of Sept 17. We will stay for a week in Melbourne before flying up to Cairns for the Wallaby Creek Music Festival. From there we will fly down to Brisbane where we will try to source a vehicle (preferably a small bus or van) that we will travel/tour up and down the east coast in until November. (tour dates at http://www.thehollands.org)

November 18, we will fly to Manilla, Philippines where we will come alongside our friends the Hommels and learn/serve at JAZ Home, a residential home for young girls, offering solace and security in a hostile world. From there we will visit with filmmaker and musician, Tinh Mahoney in Vietnam to see life through his eyes, learning about a school he founded in his hometown and playing music. And, by early December we’ll be in Cambodia where we will connect with our friend Craig Greenfield at Alongsiders International and participate in a roundtable discussion on The Heart of God for Justice and our response through  Worship. We are also in early conversations with folks about possible visit to Indonesia and Thailand.

Jan 5, we know we’ll be flying back to Australia for another two month music tour, and from there we are open to possibilities continuing on in Australia or heading north again to Southeast Asia or going even further up into China or west towards India. We also have aspirations to connect with kinfolk in Europe. So, we’ll be waiting to see it all unfold as you are.

So, stay tuned! And if you feel inclined you can partner with us at MODERN DAY.

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Canadian Travel Log

It’s a rare treat to get ahold of Craig’s travel log, but today he let me have a gander. Here are his notes from our recent trip to Canada, in his bus language.

 

IMG_4037“We just ran our first trip into Canada, 1600 miles over two and a half weeks. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect crossing borders with the bus but everything went real smooth on both sides. We entered Canada from Maine at the Calais/ St Stephens crossing and headed up the New Brunswick Coast. Cell coverage was limited so went back to using paper maps for the two and a half weeks, which I prefer anyway.

 

IMG_4068First stop was the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy. On the way we drove through Fundy National park which I’m glad we came from the Sth because the climb coming the other way looked pretty serious. The coastline along the Bay of Fundy was pretty awesome as well as walking the sea floor when the tide was out.

 

We then drove hwy 11 North through Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbelltown and then onto 132 over to Rimouski. The section of the drive on 132 between Cambellton and Rimouski was my favorite, followed the Matapaldia River most of the way with some really long covered bridges to see. Not really any climbs and then a gorgeous drop to Rimouski and the St Lawrence River. Oh by the way everything was in French once we crossed into Quebec which made for interesting navigation, especially when it came to road works and detours. Being an older bus I had to make a cheat sheet of Miles/ KM conversions so I could figure out my speed. We stayed at an Rv park called Camping Motel de l’Anse in Rimouski that had cool views over The St Lawrence, really nice park and real helpful with restaurant recommendations etc.

 

 

Next stop was Quebec City where we stayed for almost a week with some friends about 45 sth in a village of 250 called St. Severin. Loved our time here, taking in the local French culture and driving into the city was quite beautiful. Everyone has been so nice especially as we can’t speak french. The food here has also been amazing, found a local Gin we’ve been enjoying called Ungava.

 

 

Headed to Montreal for a few days, stayed just west of town, parking thanks to a referral at St. Edwards of Canterbury in Beaconsfield, right near the St. Lawrence River. Was a busy city to drive the bus through, glad we have a toad for going back and forth into the city. Loved the markets and neighborhoods of Montreal and would definitely go back. Had trouble starting the bus to leave here, ended up purchasing new starter batteries and seems to have fixed the problem.

 

 

 

IMG_4802Our last stop in Canada was Toronto and I have to say after all the scenery of NB and Quebec, Ontario all of a sudden became quite flat and predictable. We liked Toronto well enough but were kind of itching to get back to Quebec. We visited Niagara Falls on the Canadian side and were wowed by the size and power of all that water.

Our trip went real smooth, Canadian dollar was favorable to us from down Sth. As long as I remembered that the prices didn’t bother me. The weather was awesome and after doing it once, we can’t wait to go back. Next time we want to spend more time in Quebec, New Brunswick and also explore New Foundland, Nova Scotia and PEI. ~Craig”

Stuck In The Mud

One drizzly day, on a rolling paddock in Western Maryland, The Hollands! bus got stuck in the mud. It took one tractor, seven farmers, five musicians, and two solid hours to pull that sucker out.

Filmed & Scored by Jana Holland, at Savage River Farm.  Music by Thomas Dutronc

 

Photo Journalist

545371_10150940796765376_1314888666_nIn 2010, Kara Counard started coming regularly to our local shows in Northeast Wisconsin. She would show up with her son, friends and a handful of brightly colored hula hoops. Her spirit was humble and as she engaged with our music, a joy would permeate through out the venue. If there was a show where she wasn’t present, we would all make note afterwards, stating that we missed her dancing and jovial hooping. At a certain point, I remember approaching her and declaring how much we appreciated her presence and noted her commitment as a “fan” but that we were keen to share community and story with her and wanted her to be our friend. She shyly agreed to joining us for dinner on our patio one summer evening and that was the beginning of our dear friendship.

Besides being an excellent hooper, Kara has a natural gift and honed talent as a professional photographer. In fact, her eye is prolific, capturing not only the perfect composition but seeing and embracing the light that makes life look absolutely beautiful.

At the beginning of 2015, a conversation began about her desire to ride along on the Hollands bus, as a photo journalist, documenting life on the road. This spring she flew to Asheville and rode with us for a solid week, camera in tow. She chronicled intimate family time, exploring Asheville, a house concert in Pittsboro, historical Richmond, and a beach day in Virginia Beach.

Prior to Kara’s arrival, our son, Banjo, had developed a desire to try his hand at photography. He had been researching camera’s for months and hoped to purchase one for his 14th birthday. So, while Kara was on board, he really sought her expertise on the subject, discovering even more information about brands, lenses, and the art of photography.

IMG_2500A few days into her time with us, her camera started acting up and we had to visit a camera store. Although it was unfortunate the problem was solvable and she had a rented camera within the hour. Her inconvenience ended up being a blessing in disguise for Banjo, as the forced visit to the camera store accelerated his purchase and he walked out with a used Nikon D90 and 50 millimeter lens. Immediately the photography lessons commenced and before the day’s end, with Kara’s guidance, Banjo conquered the Nikon’s components, ready to practice honing his “eye.”

It’s been a blast watching him explore his new-found love, especially with his sister, who is always looking for a photographer for her Dutchygazelle Blog. Big thanks to Kara for taking time away from family and friends, for honoring us with her amazing gifts and talents and for being our friend!

To see more of Kara’s awesome work visit www.bloomphotographybykara.com

Bus Meet Up in Montreat

Sometimes we find other bus owners along our way, meet up and share homemade ice cream, bus stories and songs.

IMG_2257busconversion.com has a bus forum for those wild ones out there who have made a decision to try the tiny house on wheels idea, converting a bus into a home. It’s a great place to share stories, wisdom and practical information about converting a bus. Craig actively uses the forum, mostly when we are in need of advice for a blow tire, brake job, etc… But sometimes when someone reaches out he gets social and sets up a meet up with fellow bus owners. And, that is how, on a sunny afternoon in Montreat, NC we met Jim and Beverly for little bus rally. And, yes they brought homemade ice cream! Lemon flavored to boot.

IMG_2253We learned about their transition into the bus, how they currently function in the bus and dreams for things to come. We also learned that Jim hand crafts banjos, which he brought along, because they brought their whole house, and he played for us. We shared a song or two as well, and finished off our afternoon with a farewell song from Jim, while Beverly looked on with a gentle smile and warm spirit.

Big love for our bus kinfolk! Here’s to more Meet ups!

Back The Bus Up

Parking a 40x8ft bus is no easy feat. However, over the course of the past three years of practicing it, our driver extraordinaire Craig Holland has become quite the expert. He has parked in all sorts of driveways across the US and this quick video of Craig pulling out of a 10 foot Oakland, CA driveway showcases his mad skills. (By the way, with only a few inches to spare on either side, he pulled into this drive way, just a week before)

We’ve done our share of camping in State Parks and RV Parks but our favorite place to park is in someones driveway. There is such a richness to life when we get to neighbor alongside our kinfolk,  sharing meals & hearing their story, hopes and dreams.

We’ve parked in all sorts of driveways from suburban cul-du-sacs in Albuquerque, NM and Carlsbad, CA, city driveways in Nashville, TN, Milwaukee, WI and Oakland, CA, to country life in Mt. Vernon, IA, and Lafayette, LA, street side in Bend, OR and Lexington, KY, Lakeside in Austin, TX to Mountain side in Golden, CO and Poolside in Phoenix, AZ. Plus so many more!

If you’d like to have us for a visit but you’re just not sure if we can fit in your drive way. Have a look at these brave neighbors.

 

So, if a friend of friend tells you, “Hey I know this family that travels around full-time in their bus, singing and neighboring with people. They are coming your way, and you should have them come park in your driveway.” Have no fear, all we need is a safe, relatively flat driveway, at least 10 feet wide and 40 feet long and we’re golden. And, if you’ll have us, we’ll be there with bells on, and probably our instruments too.

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Sing My Joy

10409290_971041472909311_6025193075287294830_nYou remember Chaz Jones, don’t you? He was our first bus rider. We met Chaz at a festival in 2012 and he kept in touch. In Feb of 2013 he invited us to visit his community in Lafayette, LA. We met many of his kinfolk, sharing song and a meal. Near the end of our visit, Chaz mentioned that he was keen to ride our bus and wondered if we would be open to that idea. Over the next few months we chatted about what that might look like and in late July of 2013 Chaz took a greyhound up to Michigan to meet us for a five week tour that would take us across the US, finally getting off the bus in Boise, ID. It was an exciting time for us all, learning how to communicate needs, desires, boundaries, encouraging and challenging one another. By the end, there was no denying the intensity and deep connectivity of living in community with Chaz. He was endeared to us as family and his mark would forever be upon us as we travelled forward.

A few months later, we had new enquiries about riding the bus so we reached out to Chaz and asked if he would offer any feedback or insights into his time with us. Anything that might help us be better hosts with new riders. I was ready for the skinny, thinking there surely had to be some admonishment coming. You see, it’s a tricky and humbling thing to live in community with outsiders, allowing them to come into the fold. Although, he was always gracious with us, I don’t doubt Chaz saw all of our ugly. It’s very difficult to play perfect little family, specially in 300 square feet. And so, we wanted to hear his heart, allowing him to put everything on the table, sharing what he had learned, the good and bad. His words caught us off guard.

He wrote: “Man, I could probably write a book. Let’s see, Before I arrived, I was a real people pleaser. I felt like I always had to explain myself in times of uncertainty rather than just being vulnerable and saying  “I don’t know where i’m going or what i’m doing exactly” I realize now that when I arrived my passion was lacking but I was hungry for purpose.

During my time on the bus, I was able to reflect on my life and saw that I had been half-hearted in just about everything, especially my relationship with God and with the people that I love. I met so many people during my time on the bus and I learned that you can never go to a place or meet a person and think you’ve got it/them figured out. I found that coming into these new situations gave me fresh perspective and understanding about that place/person, which gave me even more understanding about myself.

I learned to really live in the moment, to not just spend the present thinking and worrying about the past or future but to most importantly just BE. There’s so much growth that takes place when traveling in community. I know that being with The Hollands has helped me grow in my communication skills. I really loved being able to go into various types of people-groups and find common ground, especially within the church.

I’m so thankful for the fellowship with The Hollands and really felt at home among family. I’ve learned to “step into the mystery” and I look forward to more times of living and laughing together.

Highlights: Jana’s cooking, of course! I Really enjoyed enjoyed floating in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Colorado was just lovely. Meeting Trippnwk. Craig’s morning coffee pour-overs. Visiting Jpusa, and camping at Lake Michigan.

Suggestions for other who may travel with The Hollands: Be open and just fully live in the moment. And hold your nose when the bus is leaving to take off! Ha!”

10801946_971125486234243_957717618970174661_nIt has been a year and a half since Chaz rode the bus and on a cool December afternoon in Lafayette, LA, we celebrated the marriage of Chaz and his new bride, Victoria. The country farm setting of the Gotreaux Family farm was the perfect backdrop, with a large Live Oak as the cornerstone and a vintage Volkswagen van as the sidekick. Victoria’s styling was shabby chic 1930’s with a touch of retro 1970’s. Her dress was beautiful and her bridesmaids complimented the styling with pale pink, peach and cream colors. The fella’s wore browns and whites with bow ties and suspenders. Their ceremony was short and sweet with music compliments of two of us Hollands, along with two of Victoria’s brothers and a friend of theirs. Chaz played banjo when he toured with us, so it was no surprise when he asked for a few numbers heavy on the banjo. Their wedding party consisted of dear friends that they had both met at Masters Commission in Lafayette, LA.

The reception followed naturally right after the ceremony, with guests meandering under the oak trees, enjoying appetizers and signing the guest book. A lovely cajun dinner was served, capped by a delicious white wedding cake with rosemary. Beautiful speeches were given by family and friends and us Hollands! finished the night with merrymaking and delight.

It is a honor to be invited into the lives of others, to share each others woes and joys. We are thankful for our time with Chaz and excited to see what all may come for he and Victoria as they embark on their own journey!

All Photos by Claire Vogelgesang: http://lcvphotography.tumblr.com/

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