Living in Tight Quarters


Posted on : 8:29 AM | By : Anonymous | In : , ,

I'm not sure I want to post a picture of this but I will later once everyone is awake and we get everything squared away for the day.  Yes, we are camping in an unfinished bus, but our living space is not the whole bus.  I have explained before that our actual living space is an area divided off with plastic that basically fits our queen bed, the playpen and two sleeping bags.  There are also a few corners for homeschool books and the buffet stove and toaster.  The area we've been in for the last 4 weeks is about 150 square feet, if that.  The more insulation we put in the bigger it gets, and once we also get the new windows and a proper door I'm pretty sure we can take out the plastic and live in the whole bus.

So how does a family of five live in this tiny space?  The key is organization, and only keeping the bare essentials.  We don't allow the girls to bring too many things inside and they have to entertain themselves outdoors or by drawing or reading a book.  Right now they are playing quietly with Hot Wheels cars in their beds.  Luckily, girls don't play with Hot Wheels the same way boys do, lol.

I am very strict about my cleanup schedule.  We keep a trash bag in here and every day we clean up anything on the floor and put it away and make the beds.  The biggest struggle is the crumbs.  It is mind boggling how much crumbs a family produces and it has become very visible in this small space.  Because our bed has become sort of a couch/living room/desk, somehow the crumbs end up in-between the sheets.  No one is eating crackers under my sheets, but no matter what I do, when I climb into bed it is as if someone took some saltines, smashed them into a million pieces and stuffed them around my feet and under my back while laughing diabolically.  To combat this, I vacuum all the time.

Which brings me to another interesting aspect - power.  We have one long extension cord running from the house all the way out to our bus and in through one of the windows (remember those school bus windows that are really difficult to open and close because you have to pinch the little gray tab-like buttons? I'm an expert now.) and then down to a hub with three outlets.  Even though this cord has three outlets, we can't necessarily use them simultaneously.  The heater with the fake fire is 1500 BTUs, and the buffet stove is 1000 and if I ran them together I would blow the fuse.  I can run the vacuum by itself, and I can run a crockpot alone, and I can run an iMac and charge by computer while I run the heater, but when I cook or vacuum or if John is drilling then we get chilly.

The irony of the weather is something we can only laugh about.  All through December, January and February we had balmy weather and hardly wore coats because a sweater or even just a long-sleeved shirt was enough.  March brought an onslaught of rain, sleet, snow, wind and below zero temperatures we did not see all winter.  We had said, "Well we'll start in March because it will be spring and it will start warming up."  Usually our island does warm up and you can start planting gardens and thinking about days at the beach.  But since we decided to camp, Murphy decided it was time to actually start winter, lol.

The heater does a good job and I have become very fond of it.  I think I should name it.  When we originally made plans to have a bus we were going to put in a wood stove but we have since decided that a wood stove may not be the best option.  Lots of people do it, it's true, but after much research there are some issues with putting one in.  Those tiny marine stoves are very expensive (over $1000), and so most people put in a full size woodstove which you can pick up used quite cheaply.  These big stoves draw in a heck of a lot of air, which is fine for most conversions because they have not replaced the drafty school bus windows or insulated and sealed everything very well.  By the time we finish the insulation process every wall will have at least 2-4 inches of insulation plus the vapor barrier plus extra caulking to seal any little crevasse, plus proper RV windows.  It is practically air tight and we have to install venting so we don't suffocate.  A woodstove would be a hazard not only because it's just too big for this space as far as air supply, it is also a fire hazard in such a tight area.  I'm not speaking of the box, but rather the stove pipe.  The roof of the bus is steel with a couple of inches of fiberglass insulation, but the pipe can't extend very high over that and it gets hot, heating up the roof of our bus.  Any cabinetry or wood framing we have in the living room would have to be far away, and that would take away vital living space.  Not to mention that the fire itself would be pretty hot and we would have spread out our living space much further than is practical.

So we are relying on electricity and propane for our power and eventually it would be excellent to have solar panels, which we can do in the future if we want.  It doesn't really take much power to heat 320 square feet.  One benefit of starting out the way we have, is that by the time we can live in the whole bus it will seem HUGE.

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