Interview with Florida Outdoor RV

The Hollands! – Merrymaking Nomads

December 3, 2013 By  

Jana from The Hollands kindly offered to do an interview with me! They travel the world singing and bringing joy to people everywhere. Enjoy it and let us know what you think!

The Hollands! Bus

What inspired to you to hit the road and do full time RVing
or I guess “Busing” in your case!

At the end of 2010 we, The Hollands! (Americana Folk Band and family) recognized a huge disconnect in our marriage, family, spirituality, global footprint and finances. Typical to most middle American families, we were working full time, pursuing our musical passion, school committee’s, organizing neighborhood gatherings and with what energy we had left, dreaming about a slower more deliberate pace. A pace that included deeper connectivity, reconciliation and purpose. Thus began the process to align all of those areas in our lives.

We started by casting a dream/vision for a life that was simpler, less fragmented and community driven. We released our possessions, bought a bus and began a journey converting it into a home on wheels, learning to home school, connecting with communities across the US and Australia and making music.

How has this decision affected your life? Your Family? Your lifestyle? Your values?

A paradigm shift has taken place in our ideology about most things in our life, especially “wants” verses “needs.” The effect has been more than noticeable.  Downsizing from 2000 sq ft home to 300 sq ft bus has been quite the process. I would say especially for our children, ages 17 and 12. (girl and a boy) They share a 7 x 71/2 bunk room and each have 4 drawers and shared closet. We left in a bus that was unfinished and have been building it on the road. The first year we had no plumbing, but somehow found plenty of toilets to use. I will say, however, that when the plumbing was finally installed we celebrated.

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Our living quarters 2011
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Our finished living quarters 2013

Through this process our family has grown tremendously closer. We live in a small space and the four of us are together 24/7 so it’s obvious when the harmony is off. We respect each others space and process but the commitment to finding that harmony again moves much quicker than when we used to live in a large home, all going our different directions.

We’ve also found a deeper connection with our music, performing over 90 shows a year, writing new material, and having other musicians travel/tour with us. It’s proving to be a very good education for us all.

I’m not sure our pace is much slower than our former lifestyle, but it is much more purposeful. Over the past two years we have traveled to 32 states and all but a handful of nights were spent parked with “host” families.  We’ve connected with most, if not all of the ‘host” families through our social media networks or from referrals from friends. Those times when we did not find a host family or needed time to ourselves we stayed at State Parks or RV Parks.

Our greatest joy on this journey has been being invited into the lives of so many families, to share in community and see all sorts of different ways to do life, from carnivores to vegans, Republicans, Democrats, Anarchists and everything in-between, a plethora of religious ideals to those who claim no faith.  We’ve had the opportunity to try all sorts of foods, music, sports, outdoors activities, etc
 We’ve been invited to share sacred space, learn new customs and rituals, and have heard stories of trials, pain, betrayal, hope, joy and faith.

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What does a normal day look like for you?

It looks different every single day. There is no normal.

What advice would you give to the beginner full time traveler or RVer?

If you are a family, the most important thing we could advise is to move forward with purpose. Discuss as a family what your hope is in traveling, are you looking for the crux to be educational, service, rest, exploration, tourist, or a combination of those. Revisit that conversation regularly. Dialog about your strengths and weakness as individuals and as a family whole, decide to use those strengths for the greater good, lift each other up in your weakness and be open to the entering the unknown. Be open to moving upstream.

Please visit FLORIDA OUTDOOR RV for more fantastic stories of FULL TIMERS.

Back In The Saddle Again

We landed in Denver, CO after thirty hours of travel. It had been seven weeks since we last lived in our bus (Celu’haven) and we were anxious to see her. Thanks to the folks at Radiance Church, our bus had been parked in the back lot, safe and sound.

Our minds were filled with all of the amazing adventures from the past two month in Australia but quickly had to move into survival mode as the reality of living in a half build bus was more than apparent. We had no food in the fridge and struggled to find comfort in the 90 degree heat with no plumbing or air conditioning. Thank God my sister only lived 1 1/2 hours away in Estes Park. We drove up to her home and enjoyed a shower and her speciality, Enchilada’s Verde. Yum! The next few days were spent working on the oil leak in the engine, gathering supplies and reconnecting with folks in the US. Our daughter especially enjoyed getting her phone back on-line. (Although, I will say, the seven weeks phone free down under was a nice respite.)

We got our driving legs back on and began to forge our way towards the midwest. A few hours later we hit another oasis in North Platte, NE. Our global/local neighbors, Job and Gail Vigil, owners of Da Buzz Coffeehouse, had this precious text welcoming us. When we arrived there was a hot meal and another shower waiting for us.

 

Bus Conversion – celu’haven Update

We fly to Australia on Monday, March 7, 2012. Before we go, we thought we’d leave you with a little glimpse of our current living conditions.

We purchased the bus in early September 2011 and with the efforts of over 50 helping hands, we now have our living space nearly finished. Our table collapses and turns into a guest bed. The kitchen is nearly functional. With a refrigerator that hold just what we need and stays cool up to eight hours as we drive. Our propane stove is a new addition and allows for us to host many delicious gatherings in celu’haven. Floors and upper cabinets are the last projects for that area. The bedrooms are also quite livable. The kids each have a bunk with storage for clothing and personal items. They have a closet for homeschool materials and desk to work from. The master bedroom is 7×7 and holds our queen size bed, closet, under bed storage and a side table. The bathroom is our last space to finish but it currently works as a storage space and emergency toilet thanks to our friends at www.altrec.com.

The installation of the electrical system has revolutionised our experience, allowing us to plug-in the school computers, refrigerator and of course the tea kettle. We also have three electric heaters and can sleep comfortably in 20 degrees or more.

The under cab storage is like our basement with a bay of electrical, building supplies, tools and musical equipment. We also have a bay of tubs with items waiting for a place to go on the bus.

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Next on the agenda, plumbing for our kitchen and bathroom.

Emotional Inventory – Lessons Learned

Lessons learned.

On Feb. 12, 2012 we crossed from Oregon into the state of California. As we made our way down I-5, we realized that this was our first moment alone as a family in a long time and it was our first stop where we were not staying with friends or family. The Gateway RV Park welcomed us to Redding, CA and as we pulled into our site (late night arrival) we found the ground to be uneven. Grant’s pass was not kind and we were exhausted from the drive. I could tell Craig was limited in the energy he had and I didn’t want to nag much about the leaning of Celu’haven but I did voice my concern just before heading into town to pick up some groceries. I was gone for about an hour and during that time I had resigned myself to the fact that we were probably going to end up sleeping with a tilt.

The site was quite upon my return and as I crawled in bed I propped my pillow up so the blood wouldn’t flow to my head all night. I had a restless night sleep, tossing and turning as I felt myself slipping head down. The next morning when we woke Craig asked how my sleep was and I answered, “horrible, I felt like I was falling all night.” He lay silent and offered no empathy or mutual concern. As I made my way back from the community bathroom I noticed that the left wheels of the bus were up on blocks. I was in a quandary. I thought, “What?! When did he do this? Couldn’t have been when I was in the toilet as there wouldn’t have been enough time and I would have heard him.” And then it dawned on me,  “he did this last night, when I was at the store!” I rushed into the bus and had a look. Sure enough, it was level. I went back to my bedroom, it was level too. I slept all night totally convinced that I was on an uncomfortable angle!

I went to the main room and everyone had a big smile on their faces. I lowered my eyes and said, “So, it seems I’ve deceived myself.” We all had a good laugh. Funny thing is, this is quite common. We walk around believing that we are the victim, truly believing it and all along our perception is wrong.  If only I would have been open, maybe trusted that Craig was really going to look out for us, maybe investigated a little, I would have had quite the restful night. In the end, it was a good lesson to learn. The lesson that my emotions aren’t always the end of the story. The lesson that we are on this journey as a family and the biggest lesson in learning to trust that we can trust one another. Really trust.

The Rig

For the past few months we have been exploring buses, RV, 5th Wheels and everything in between. After our visit with fellow travelers at Cornerstone Music Festival we felt the bus was the way to go. We knew we needed a bus with undercab storage for Craig’s tools and music gear so we narrowed in on the MCI or Eagle. Our budget, $7,000. That’s what we have saved over the past two years. The pickin’s were slim as most of them run about $40-120K and the dream seemed to be a distant cloud.

Craigslist seemed to offer a little hope with a few findings in the $15K range. Could we take out a loan? Hmm. We really didn’t want to have to do that as we are so unsure about what the road will bring financially, so we kept looking. Then, two weeks ago, on our drive up to Minnesota we pulled up the Eau Claire Craigslist and there it was, a 1984 MCI-9 with 215K miles for $9500. We called right away. After a 1/2 hour conversation with a lovely and kind fellow we decided to have a look. You know how you get that feeling where you just “know”? Well, that’s the feeling we all got. The history of the bus solidified our feelings as it was a bus used by the Casper WY Drum and Bugle Corp. Our kids started dreaming immediately. Trying to see themselves in the bus, where they would sleep, visit with friends and most importantly where they would watch TV. 🙂

Ah, but $9500, we only had $7K and the seller was pretty solid on his price. We called the bank but that was a no go. We called the seller and told him our plight, his response floored us. “Just pay me what you can and we can set up a payment schedule for as long as you need.”  What? really, I said. And that was that. Last week wired the money in exchange for the title and this Friday we pick it up. And, as Ma Holland says, “Praise the Lord!”, we do.

So, now to the conversion. This will take another miracle as we only have 6 weeks to get it ready and our bank is back down to zero. Things to get in order;

  • Clean out the upper unit to have ready to rent by Sept. 1.
  • Plan our Super Sale/Bus Fundraiser for Sept. 17.
  • Research and find recycled materials to use in our conversion.
  • Look for sponsorship.
  • Get our lower unit ready for rent by Oct. 1.
  • Booking for Fall/Winter on the West Coast.
  • And Sept. 1 the kids start Wisconsin virtual School.

Whew! Yep, it’s gonna take a miracle and most importantly community. We really need you!  If you would like to help:

Looking for helping hands, meals, financial resources or folks/business interested in sponsorship, creative souls, organizers and treasure hunters. Most importantly we need your prayers.

Wish list for the bus: If you’d like to donate please contact via janahollandmusic@yahoo.com

For financial donation we are working through PAY PAL. Thank you!!

  • Batteries
  • Generator
  • Invertor
  • Water Tanks (x3)
  • Water Heater
  • Veggie Oil Conversion
  • Ceiling Air Conditioners (x2)
  • Solar Paneling
  • Furnace
  • RV Windows
  • Flooring
  • Metal studs
  • Plywood or other recycled building materials
  • Shower
  • RV Toilet
  • Sink
  • Stove
  • Fridge
  • Kitchen Sink