Bus Rider, Yippie yi yaaaaay

Hospitality is in our makeup and we are always looking for ways to engage that gift. Recently we began dreaming about hosting kinfolk on our bus, inviting friends and muso’s to travel with us. When we would put out the offer, most people would smile, saying that it would be amazing, but not take it any further.

20130816-135130.jpgAnd then we met Chaz Jones. A twenty year old student from Lafayette, LA. We met him in 2012 at Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, IL. He stayed in touch with us, sending us little notes of encouragement and even financial support to help keep us on our way. Then in March of this year he invited us to his community in Louisiana and we accepted his offer. We shared in song, story and meals. We met his mentors and other students, we mentioned our longing for others to travel with us and he said he was interested. He continued to declare his desire and we began conversations on the road to making our vision and his commitment a reality.

Some of the questions we explored were, “What would bus life look like? Expectations from our end and expectations from his end. Specifically regarding finances, roles and boundaries.”

We let him know that there was no expectations for compensation to or from travelers. If a fellow traveler felt so inclined to give a monetary gift, we would graciously accept but it was not expected. Likewise, we don’t have a budget to pay folks to join us but hope that the experience, as well as, covering the costs of room/board/fuel would suffice. The only concession would be if a person had really strict dietary issues that require expensive foods, they would have to bring funds to cover those needs. But, if we have the ingredients on board, it would be available to all. We did however, suggest having spending money, for shops, thrifting, movies or special attractions, etc…

And as for roles and boundaries. Our hope would be that travelers would participate, on what ever level they can, within the daily life on board, offering a helping hand, finding ways to be involved either in the music, bus logistics, or sharing of other gifts and talents.

We let him know that its real life out here, we are in a small space (300 sq feet), we are working out family dynamics, we don’t have hot running water or air conditioning, we all have our own personal junk but we are committed to finding harmony. The only other relational request would be for patience and openness to communicate desires, observations, and to see this experience as an opportunity to see God’s faithfulness in the daily restoration “the body.”

In late July, Chaz took a greyhound bus from Lafayette, LA to Lansing, Michigan and met us at a performance we shared  with our good friends, The Illalogical Spoon. He’ll be riding with us until mid-September. Chaz plays Banjo and has been a welcome addition to The Hollands! as well as to our family. Glad to have you on board Chaz!

Top left; Chaz Jones, Graciana, Jana, Craig. Bottom left, Banjo. Bottom Right, Joziah (our nephew)
Top left; Chaz Jones, Graciana, Jana, Craig.
Bottom left, Banjo. Bottom Right, Joziah (our nephew)

Homeschool on the Road

Sofija BurtonIn March, we sat down with Homeschool mom and “Teach Where You Live” blogger, Sofija Burton and she asked us a few questions about Homeschooling on the road.

SB:  Tell us a little about your family. Who lives with you?

JH: We are The Hollands! A nomadic family of merrymakers. We are four, Jana- Mother, Craig-Father, Graciana-Sister, Banjo- Brother. We are folk musicians and observers of humanity, encouragers of community.

SB: How did you come to live on a bus?

JH: We came to a cross roads in life where our family life was fragmented, our gifts stifled and a longing crept up for a more holistic way of life.  And so, we began to dialog and dream of a simpler way. The nomadic life came as a result. It was apparent that a drastic change in lifestyle was necessary and the idea of giving away all we owned and traveling seemed a reasonable option.

The Hollands! BusSB: What are the challenges of living on a bus and traveling?

JH: We bought the bus off of Craig’s List in 2010. It was the Casper WY Trooper Drum and Bugle Corp Bus. It’s a 1984 MCI model. We had to strip it clean and build it out from scratch. The most challenging aspects have been building the electrical and plumbing systems, then the fact that we aren’t dealing with straight lines have added to the construction difficulties. However, Craig is a learner and these challenges suite him. As for the rest of us, living in a half built bus has been a struggle at times. However, we are much more comfortable now than when we left in the bus. We have electricity and now that my kitchen is built I can offer some pretty delicious meals. We have a working toilet and cold running water but look forward to the day we have hot water, a shower and air conditioning.

SB: What are the perks?

JH: Mobility would be the greatest perk. It’s very comfortable to travel. It’s home. Another perk would be the opportunity to share in life with neighbors across the US. You are our 32nd neighbor in the last year and a half. It is a real joy to have the opportunity to observe, learn and work out life with so many kinfolk.

SB: How do you home-school while traveling? Describe a typical day.

JH: We currently use the K-12 for our 6th grade son and E-Achive for our 10th grade daughter, both are on-line schools out of our home state of Wisconsin. Each program is slightly different and offers separate perks and challenges. Our days fluctuate depending on the community we are engaging with. Some days are more focused on the curriculum and others we are fully engaged with community around us. Homeschool

SB: What are challenges of home-schooling on the road?

JH: Because of the nature of our travels, the ebb and flow of virtual school can be a challenge and sometimes feels disjointed. Although the programs in and of themselves are quite good, we are beginning to explore other options for schooling that will bring the kids learning in line with our lifestyle and offer them more opportunity to really experience “live” learning. There is such pressure from the world system to “keep up with the jones” and when this concept seeps into our learning environments it stifles real growth. It takes us hostage and invokes a deep fear of failing. Instead of learning we grow up regurgitating. We are tired of watching our children regurgitate. We long to see them really learn.

SB: What would you like your kids to learn from this experience?

JH: We would like to give them an opportunity to take “ownership” their learning, to find freedom and joy in observing and fully participating in the environments we travel in. Homeschooling is a real gift and we are excited to begin to think out side of the box and explore ways to facilitate this.

4th of July Family Caravan

The Blumreich family, our first community caravaner’s, joined us over the 4th of July weekend.

blumreichbus.jpgWe picked up Eric, Jodie, Emma and Clara on a Thursday in front of their house and began our trek south towards the beautiful town of Galena, IL. Our first stop Beloit, WI for the Blumreich annual family gathering. We enjoyed a potluck style meal, played yard games, sang songs and enjoyed fireworks.

The next morning we packed up and drove about three hours before pulling into the Palace Campground, which sits just outside of Galena. We discovered this little gem last summer and knew the Blumreich’s would appreciate the vintage aspect of the facility, including an old school pool with diving board and mini-golf course. Everything about the campground reminds us of camping back in the 1970’s and in a world that is constantly upgrading there is something nostalgic about that. It would be the ideal setting for most of the Chevy Chase ‘Vacation’ movies.

PalaceCampground.jpgWhen we arrived at the campground and set up three tents, one for Jodie, Eric and Clara, one for Graciana and Emma and one for John and Les (Eric’s parents). Then we all settled in for a fantastic weekend.

We enjoyed swimming, mini-golf, a trip to the city center to see all of the historical artifacts and shops. We shared meals, bon fire’s and song. We observed each other families, with the most encouraging conversations revolving around the joys and woes of parenting teen’s and pre-teens.

It’s no easy task to be a parent to any age group and it’s affirming to share our journey with other parents in order that we might know that our struggles are perfectly normal, that we aren’t the only ones going through it, and that we are not alone. Likewise, it was good for our children, specially our 16 year old’s, who sometimes believes that the grass is greener on the other side. They were both able to work through drama, share dreams and desires, and hopefully gain perspective by being in such close quarters.

thehollandsgalena.jpgOur ultimate purpose for going to Galena was to perform for the Galena Performing Arts Festival, which rounded out the weekend nicely. The concert was held in the historic Grace Episcopal church and was a fantastic setting. Seating about 80, we packed the house to over 150.

We were a little leery about how our children would transition from enjoying the lazy weekend with friends to performing, but they did a fantastic job. Funny enough, that day, I had spent quite a bit of time myself in the pool and personally couldn’t hear much during our performance with all of the water in my ears. However, everyone else picked up the slack and this one will go down as one of our favorite settings and behind the scenes moments. Including, Eric’s helpful hand in set up/tear down, Emma’s thoughtful prayer for us before our show, a tender moment when Craig introduced Graciana as our “beautiful” daughter, Banjo’s fun antics on stage, and the Malik family driving in from Mt. Vernon, IA to see us and say hello.

On our drive home, I asked Eric for constructive feedback on what it was like to travel with our family. He responded, “your future guests will have to be pretty laid back.” Ha! I know we beat to a different drum and we are thankful that the Blumreich family took the plunge to be our first caravan guests. We are thankful for their willingness to swim upstream with us merrymaking nomads. We love you Eric, Jodie, Emma and Clara.

Community Caravan

There is a chair waiting for you. 

One of our “dream talk” desires is to have friends and muso’s  join us on the bus and/or community caravan. As we gear up for our summer of touring we though it might be fun for you to see how it breaks down in two-week increments. Although, we’re happy for folks to join us even for a weekend. We’ve got room for three on the bus and we have guest rooms (tents) when needed. We’ve already had our first family sign up for the weekend in Galena over the 4th of July and another traveler for the month of August.

If you are interested in exploring what it means to live intentionally in community, to travel and to tour, contact us at thehollands@thehollands.org. Come on and join us for the ride. We’re looking forward to a fantastic summer.

Great Lake Plains 1
May 31- June 14 Starting off in Chicago, traveling through IA and back to IL (Waukegan). We have 4 official performances during this time period.

Great Lake Plains 2
Jun 14-28 Staring off in Waukegan IL, We travel to St. Louis and back up through Madison, ending in Green Bay, WI. We have 6 official performances

Great Lake Plains 3
June 28-July 14 Staring off in Green Bay, WI. traveling between to Door County, Milwaukee and Galena IL. Ending back in Door County. We have 5 official performances.

July 15-29 Starting off at Camp Tek in Shawano, WI, traveling between Appleton, Fon du Lac, up into Minnesota (Minneapolis and the surrounding areas) Ending back in Shawano, WI. We have 7 official performances.

Great Lake Plains 4 – Michigan
July 29-Aug 12 Starting off in Shawano, WI, ending in Chicago, IL Currently we only have 2 official performances and are hoping this will be a time of beach, community and rest.

Westward Ho!
Aug 12-Sept 1 Starting off in Chicago, IL, traveling through KS, CO, WY ending in Salt Lake City, UT. We have 11 official performances.


Sept 2-16 Starting off in Salt Lake City, traveling through Boise, ID to Bend, OR

Sept 17-24 Starting off in Bend, OR, traveling up to Bellingham, WA back through Seattle, Portland and ending in Bend, OR

Sept 25-Oct 10 Starting in Bend, OR, traveling through Roseburg, OR, Eureka, CA, Redding, CA, Modesto, CA and ending in Irving, CA

Oct 11-24 Starting in Irving, CA, traveling through San Diego to Phoenix, AZ

Dream Talk

Tonight we are alone, as a family for the first time in months. We have been on the road since October of 2011. Time for “dream” talk. This is where we all bring our struggles,  dreams, desires and hopes to the table. Hearing, praying and wait to hear direction for this year’s tilling and/or traveling.

Top ten 2013 Dreams for The Hollands Family:

  1. Warm Climate (beach)
  2. Extended stay in community (3 or 4 months)
  3. Explore other homeschooling options
  4. Grow friendships
  5. Miracles
  6. Music-growth, mentor other muso’s, record, community
  7. Family time, activities
  8. Learn Spanish
  9. Dentist cleaning
  10. 2014 Australia

Below is a detailed list of struggles we’ve encountered (not in any particular order). Followed by our dreams and desires for the future.

Craig- On bus life, long for more projects (construction, gardening, working with hands). On family, more respect and acknowledgment from kids for freedoms given. On weather, no more cold weather.

DREAMS:  Craig- Finish bus conversion // Record two albums in 2013 // Mentor young muso’s on the bus // Learn Spanish // Vacation // And for 2014 Travel internationally, hoping to visit Australia from Jan- April of 2014 // Driving the bus to South America.

Jana- On bus life, long for little bit slower pace, to grow friendships and see fruit in communities. On weather, need warmth and the beach. On virtual school, not pleased with the pace, would like to see the kids really learning, not just pushing through material and regurgitating to meet state standards.

DREAMS: Jana- Three or four month stay in community, where we can dive in, serve and the kids can connect with other students // Beach //  Launch two albums, better Hollands gigs for 2013, performing arts centers, folk radio, etc…  // Learn Spanish // See miracles, healing // Dentist // 2014 visit Australia

Graciana- On bus life, struggle with unmet expectations, longing for more interaction with 15-19 yr olds. tired of same conversation over and over with new people. i.e… “What’s your favorite place you’ve been? What do you miss most? So, how are you liking bus life?” On weather, no more cold. On school, not a fan of virtual school. Would like to explore other home school options.

DREAMS: Graciana- Really connect with friends // Beach // Learn to drive // Learn Spanish // New education options //  More family time // Workout // Learn to surf // 2014 travel internationally, long to get to know family in Australia better.

Banjo- On bus life, long for more time with peers, specially boys. On weather, no more cold. On family, less talking over each other and more listening. On school, not a fan. Really wants to “unschool.”

DREAMS: Banjo- Ride the Whoops! in Bend, OR // Unschool // Family activities, like carnivals, laser tag, water parks, skinny dipping. (ha!) // Visit NY //Learn Spanish // Visit the Andersons in IA // 2014 Australia

We also each came up with a word that we want to focus on this year as well as encourage one another in. Individually the words have significant meaning but together they are powerful.

  • Craig- Faithfulness
  • Jana- Perseverance
  • Graciana- Responsibility
  • Banjo- Gratitude

Excited to see what is in store.

Flat Tire

As we roll down the highway, it’s not uncommon to hear other drivers honk their horns. We usually smile and wave. However, this day we had a few cars in a row signal and felt a desperation in their honks. So, Craig began to look closely in his rear view mirrors and to his surprise, spark and flames flowed from behind. We pulled over and found a smoking hot trailer tire worn to the rim and ripped to shreds.

He offered a thanks for the warning and went into problem solving mode. Spare tire and once we were settled for a day, two new trailer tires. It wasn’t long before we were back in the saddle again.