Sometimes we find other bus owners along our way, meet up and share homemade ice cream, bus stories and songs.
busconversion.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.
We 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!
We met Dustin and Marcia Price two years ago when we showcased at the Southeastern Folk Alliance conference and kept in touch with them over the years. When they heard we were coming back through Asheville, they invited us to come and park in their flat driveway in Candler, a suburb just west of downtown Asheville. I say flat, because, it’s probably the only flat driveway in the Asheville area, which sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their new home is positioned perfectly and allows for breathtaking views that overlook downtown and the surrounding mountain range.
We pulled in on a sunny afternoon, settled in and shared a meal and story that evening. We learned about their five year adventure in China and the transition back to the US. We learned about “group culture vs individual culture,” as well as, testimony about faith in China. It was inspiring to sit with them and learn, hear their story of meeting in college, while Marcia was over from Brazil, taking visa’s, house remodel, and their excitement as they were preparing for the arrival of their new baby, Esther.
One of the best thing about staying with a host family is being able to jump into life with them, exploring their tastes, likes and dislikes. And, with a sunny day on our hands, the first order of business with the Prices was to take a drive in the convertible. They decide to trek down to the new outdoor outlet mall for the grand opening. As we pulled in, the long line of cars & police directing traffic fostered a sense of excitement for this segment of the local population. We hoped on board and rode the wave, enjoying an afternoon sitting in the outdoor plaza watching people walk by, checking out the Asheville flare.
On Saturday morning the fella’s joined Dustin and did a bit of yard work while I worked on a blog. In the afternoon, we all went downtown Asheville to explore Lexington Street. Graciana and I stopped in to have tea at Dobra, enjoying a refreshing house made chai and some sweets. That evening we shared dinner, more conversation and later the fella’s went to a friends house to watch the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight. Craig and his handle bar mustache fit right in, as most of the fella’s there were sporting their mountain beards. All in all, it was a night of men being men.
On Sunday we went to church with the Prices and a few of their friends and after shared a meal at a local favorite, Rocky’s Hot Chicken shack. The menu featured Chicken and Waffles with different levels of heat intensity. At face value, we’re foodies and especially focused on organics, so the Chicken Shack wouldn’t have been something we would have though to stop at. However, the joy of someone else taking you through their list of best eats is more adventures to us than sticking with our comfort zone. And, as it turns out, we we’re all pretty smitten with Chicken and Waffles. The combination of sweet and super spicy really worked.
Another fun adventure, was a night out at the Biltmore. At $40 a ticket we could have never afforded to enter the grounds of this robber baron castle, but the Prices had a membership that allowed us to go onto the grounds and enjoy a wine tasting in the Winery that sits down the hill from the house. We spent about an hour and a half tasting the Biltmore wines, which were average but the conversation and joy of being with friends was priceless. Later we explored some of gardens and grounds, catching a back view of the castle and snapping a few photos. We finished off the night at Pour, a local bar on the up and coming east side of Asheville. The bar was unique in that it had over 80 beers and 12 wines on tap, we each got a wrist band with a fancy computer chip that allowed us to fill our glasses as much as we wanted with any of the beers or wines on tap. The computer chip calculated our total ounces and payment was taken at the end.
Our hope as we travel is to experience local like and neighboring with the Price’s offered us a wonderful chance to explore Asheville! It is the little nuances and insider knowledge that is priceless to us, as well as, the joy of being in community, unshackling from bias and allowing for a deeper flow of relationship to transpire. We are so thankful for kinfolk like the Prices who allow us to come into their world, try new things and be inspired by their zest for life.
Wilmington, NC was voted the best river city in the US for 2015, and we’d have to concur. Population 112,000, this little river town has all the admeities of a city three times it’s size, including Trader Joes and Whole Foods. But, best of all it still has all of the mom and pop speciality joints, including some of the best BBQ on the Atlantic, surf shops, Brits Donut shop, the Veggie Store, funky/artsy downtown shops reminiscent of Austin’s Congress Street, awesome Thrift and Consignment Stores, and pretty great Sushi. It’s music, food, history, river ways, and beaches offered us a wonderful back drop for blue grass jams, roadschool days, parties, lazy days on the beach and a sailboat ride.
Originally we had planned one week in this region connecting with fellow travelers, The Shanks (Herd of Turtles). During that week they showed us around their former hometown, including a double date where we shared Niki’s Sushi and went to a R&B concert at a little speak easy. Later, while the fella’s talked bus conversions, us girls shopped at some of Wilmington’s fun consignment stores, we also spent an evening dining and playing music at Dukes BBQ. Along the way, they introduced us to many of their hometown friends, which lead to conversations about parking in peoples driveways, which lead to us staying longer after the Shanks had gone.
Our first host family, April and Buck Hubbard, welcomed us to jump into life with them, learning about their work in Children’s Ministry and Film making, as well as, their love for Settlers of Catan. Their location in the city was a great fit as we were able to explore more of downtown Wilmington, as well as, catch up on much needed laundry and grocery shopping. We love it when hosts are comfortable just living life with us offering suggestions for things to do but mostly just allowing us to participate in their every day rhythm. We shared meals, watched movies, visited their friends, had a birthday party, did lawn work and Craig and Banjo were also able to get their hands dirty by helping the Hubbards finishing off their deck project for April’s birthday celebration.
One Sunday evening they invited us to go to Satellite Bar for a open Bluegrass Jam which turned out to be a fantastic night of community and song. The house band, Possum Creek Bluegrass Band, welcomed us like old friends. Their Band members are Jones Smith, Big Al Hall, Ben Chontos, with special guest Charlie Coulter on Violin and Bryan Humphrey on the squeeze box. They played all the classics, and they played them well, setting a tone of support and control, so that even a beginner could sit in with them. They were gracious to us all and especially excited to have our son sit in on cajon, and the Hubbard’s 11 yr old daughter, who plays fiddle, join in the fun. They even offered us a cameo spot to share a few of our Hollands! songs, while they sat in with us. By the end of the night, we were all good friends and Bryan’s wife, Mari invited us to their home in Wrightsville Beach for a delicious meal and another bluegrass jam.
Pristine Wrightsville Beach boasts emerald green waters, and is home to a few surf/kite surfing clubs,and the inter-coastal water ways offer awesome protection for sailing and paddle boarding. Over the next week and a half, we ended up joining Mari and Bryan for more jams, beach days and even a first season sail on their sailboat. We learned about Mari’s 3 year nomadic adventure, leaving for England with a backpack and coming back from India with nothing but a little shoulder bag. She would partner with others along the way, as well as solo, traveling the world in little VW vans, having a daughter in the Netherlands and crossing the Sahara dessert in a Peugeot 505 Sedan twice. And, Bryan inspired us with his amazing furniture architecture, sailing expertise and of course teaching us about some of the North Carolina folk music culture.
Our second host family, the Meehan’s, invited us to come, park in their cul de sac and enjoy their Carolina Beach for a few days. Carolina Beach sits about 20 miles south of downtown Wilmington and has a laid back, festive, welcoming vibe with brightly colored beach shacks, little shops, including the infamous Brits Donuts and bars that run along the new board walk. There are benches and swings that over look the beach and a band shell, which is sure to be packed in the summer. Our time at the Meehan’s was restful and spiritually engaging. We shared meals, hiked and worked out the deeper meanings of community and faith.
We also enjoyed exploring some of the historical elements and took a cloudy day trip south to Fort Fisher, later riding the ferry to Southport for lunch. While there we walked the grounds and visited the free museum, learning about the strategic placement of Fort Fisher in the Civil War and the Blockade runners (war paddle steamers that would haul supplies in from the islands off of the Atlantic to the Wilmington port.) The battle to take the fort was epic and it was said that 90 days after the fort fell, the Civil War ended. After we finished at the Fort we took the ferry to Southport. It was $5 for our carload and took about 40 minutes to cross. Once we were in Southport we made our way down to the Yacht Basin Provision Company for their shrimp and wings. The food was basic but held delicious flavors. The fella’s devoured their portion while Graciana and I shared a bowl of the homemade chowder and a crab cake. The little town was reminiscent of Baileys Harbor, WI with cute little shops and portside docks. Between the Fort, ferry ride, and lunch at YBPC, the day that started out rainy turned sunny and we finished off the evening with one last sit on Carolina Beach.
When we pulled out of Wilmington we all felt that a little piece of our heart stayed behind. Inspired not only by all that Wilmington has to offer, but by the amazing people we met along the way, the stories we heard, and the commitment to keep the culture of Wilmington full of hope, creativity and love.
We’ve been wandering up and down the Carolina coast for the past few weeks. Recently, we put a shout out on our Facebook page letting folks know we were in the Wilmington, NC area and asked if there were any kinfolk who’d like to neighbor with us.
Our friend, Julie in Sturgeon Bay, WI responded with enthusiasm that her best friend, Grace and husband, Skip, lived just two hours north of our location and that we should go visit them. The fun thing was that I had known about Grace for years, as there were times that Julie and I would be hanging out and Grace would come up in conversation or she might even text/call while Julie and I were together. So, to actually meet up, was a pretty sweet idea.
We called Grace and she said to please come, that she and Skip were going to be hosting their annual “Clambake” and we were welcome to join in the fun. So we made plans to drive our mini-van to their home in Morehead City for the weekend.
When we arrived they offer us a hearty greeting, giving us a lay of the land, escorting us to our bed rooms and inviting us down for dinner and drinks. About an hour later, neighbors started arriving and merrily introduced themselves. It felt like we walked into an episode of Happy Days with a hint of the old 70’s classic, On Golden Pond. There was a natural connection between them all and it was encouraging to be welcomed in like old friends.
The next morning the preparations for the clam bake were under way. Grace peeled carrots, chopped onions and washed potatoes. And, Skip a retired professor in Aquaculture, wrangled Craig and Banjo to help him get the clams in order, pulling them up out of the water into a wheel barrow and washing them clean. He explained the process of farming the sea and all that goes into raising clams. Then it was time to start the kettles, boiling the water bath, preparing for the vegetables and then finally the clams.
The excitement began to brew as folks started to arrive. Many brought a drink to share and an appetizer but the crescendo came when Skip announced that the clams were finished and called everyone over to the picnic table covered in newspaper. We gathered, held hands, said a prayer and watched in awe as Skip emptied the contents onto the table. We all lined up, filled our plates and our bellies, finishing the evening with a regular ol’ Hollands sing along around the piano. The food was delicious, the company was gracious and kind and the experience was one to remember.