Do a quick google search and you’ll see that school bus and van conversions are trending in a very big way. Like tiny houses on wheels, they have steadily been rising in popularity as a more eco-friendly, further off-the-grid way to live.
However, if you dig a bit deeper, one adorable seafoam green 1992 International school bus will likely capture your attention. Featured in countless tiny house publications is the 24-foot converted bus lovingly named Fern.
The bus is dubbed Fern after the big-hearted protagonist in Charlotte’s Web, who came to learn much about the beauty and preciousness of life. Indeed, 30-something year old owners Ben and Mande Tucker would probably tell you that their Fern has taught them (and others), very similar lessons.
“Life is short and fragile,” Mande, a second-grade teacher, writes on the couple’s Instagram site, @fernthebus. “Our time is too precious to let fears stop us from seeing the world and pursuing our dreams. Let it propel you into the adventure and know you can always make changes.”
The couple – who both have real jobs and real responsibilities – launched Fern’s journey of transformation in 2016. According to Ben, the “skoolie” had everything they were looking for: “low mileage, little rust on the body, and a powerful 7.3-liter engine.”
The last detail would prove vital, as the couple ended up putting a whopping 4,000+ miles on Fern, with no major breakdowns.
A History of Skoolie Skills
Ben was not a novice when it came to school bus transformations. Several years ago, he and his friends converted a school bus that would fit their unique lifestyle. The LOST bus was an acronym for Lending Our Services Travelling.
“We spent a year and a half volunteering across the country, meeting wonderful people and finding adventure along the way,” Ben recalls. “Ever since, I dreamed of a similar journey with Mande.”
A Marvelous Metamorphosis
From painting and carpentry to plumbing and installing solar panels, the couple did all the work on the bus themselves after work and on weekends.
The result is nothing short of remarkable and that’s why so many DIY-ers gravitate toward their site. They ask for advice and maybe even steal a clever idea or two. The interior of the bus is open and light, with white-painted pine, unstained cedar, butcher block countertops and other natural textures.
Fern’s inaugural trip took them to many beautiful locales, including the Badlands National Park, Glacier National Park, as well as Banff in Canada.
“On the road, we’re able to eliminate the burden of distractions and let hectic routines fall away,” the couple writes on their website. “In a small space, you’re more tuned in with nature. We adapt to the natural rhythms of day and night and the mood of the weather.”
Changes and Adaptations
The couple is constantly adapting and modifying their trusty friend, Fern. That became even more important after the birth of their son Sawyer a year ago. Now, they love seeing and experiencing the world through his young eyes.
“We want the road to heighten our awareness and offer more vivid and memorable experiences,” Mande writes. And that is just what Fern does.
Stacking the Nutritional Deck
Mande says that on every Fern trip the family settles into a routine.
“One thing we prioritize both at home and on the road is vitamins. Feeling healthy is super important and we do what we can to stack the deck in our favor. Traveling on the road can sometimes mean we’re not eating a well-balanced meal.”
The family’s go-to safety net is Drink Nutrient’s Vitamin Booster+.
“We are loving this stuff,” she says. “It’s super easy to make and delicious to boot.”
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