Finding Our VW Bus

On April 6th, 2015 at 3:01pm I received a voicemail from Leo and he was yelling into the phone, "I FOUND US A BUS!" And the rest is history. Actually there is a lot of story to share-- keep reading. Why a VW bus? We aren't even sure how the idea originally came about, but we spent years dreaming of one and all the exploring we could do in it to feed our hungry souls that crave a life of adventure, near and far. We come from people who traveled the world by land, sea, and air, and those who worked with their hands to create, and valued keeping the old working like new. So, it was probably natural for us to be drawn to the VW bus being that it is the iconic adventure mobile and takes a lot more than gas to stay on the road! We dreamed of owning a VW bus that would carry us across roads less traveled and be a springboard for our business plans. We didn't know what color it would be, we didn't know the exact model we wanted, we just knew we had to have one and one day we would. There was a stirring in our hearts and it had been silently pulling us towards a new map that remained to be seen. And then Leo's coworker called out sick on a random day in April of 2015 and he was assigned to drop off parts at an auto yard, and as he was pulling away he spotted something orange peeking out from a line of cars and junk. We had been looking for buses online for quite some time and we couldn't seem to find one in our price range that wasn't a total rust bucket, and we'd been losing hope that we ever would. But on that day in April, in a small auto yard in northern Colorado, our bus wasn't going to let Leo leave without it. It may have even rolled itself back a few inches to catch his attention as he was leaving to head back to work-- wouldn't you if you were built for adventure and stuck in a yard? And then one month later, standing in torrential downpour getting soaked from head to toe, we loaded up our 1973 Volkswagen Bus onto a Uhaul and wondered if we were completely crazy...and then decided you have to be a little crazy to chase a dream-- you have to cast off the lines and sail wildly out to sea if you're ever going to get anywhere.

We didn't know then that the color orange would change our life forever.

That's what life does though, it takes turns in the pouring rain when you least expect it. It burns maps you thought were all you had, and throws new ones at you that are still rolled up with crisp edges, waiting to be withered by your shaking hands as you learn to read them. You must only be brave enough to take the first step. You must only be brave enough to let some maps burn, and unroll new ones and study them until the sun goes down, and then through the night by candlelight. It is then, that your new path will begin to reveal itself. You must only be brave enough to take the first step, and your feet will find the next ones. The same day Leo called and left the voicemail, we hurried back to the auto yard after work together so I could see the bus. We walked up to the bus and Leo opened the sliding door for me, and the first thing I noticed was the wood lining on the ceiling.. I stared up at it, and I knew right away. I knew the bus was meant to be ours. I didn't know what it would become or how exactly it fit into our life, but I knew we weren't leaving without it.

​Things have not been easy as we have embarked on this adventure, but somehow we continue to find alignment even in the smallest of details and there have been so many days when it feels as if the universe is conspiring with us.

They say that happens when you start following that voice inside of you. Not sure who they are, but they might have something figured out. We didn't realize how far in advance you are supposed to book a car trailer; so we strolled into the Greeley U-Haul office the morning we were to pick up our VW and the receptionist told us how very lucky we must be because the trailer we were requesting is usually booked at least a few weeks in advance--- and somehow they had one in stock and it was the only one currently available in the state of Colorado. We threw our card down and booked it and then headed to pick up the newest member of the family. The man selling the bus to us claimed it was running and "just needed a little work"... and it's a good thing we didn't quite believe that as we handed over our cash and signed our name on the dotted line, because the engine didn't start at all for us and we had a long list of things to fix by the end of the first day with our bus!

Leo had me sit in the bus while he used the come-along to pull it onto the trailer in case the cable snapped so I could engage the brakes and stop the roll.

There I was, sitting on our front seat for the first time trying not to cave it in because most of it was disintegrated, and we were both smiling ear to ear. We had to store our bus somewhere right away because we were leaving soon after for our wedding out of state, so we searched all over to find an open place and almost everywhere was booked! The closest storage lot we could get at the time was 30 minutes away in Johnstown, so after loading up the bus we slowly made our way over there using Leo's trusted old F150 that has been in his family for three generations. Our goal was to get the bus put up somewhere safe, and then we would get to work on a list of projects after we cleaned it out and figured out what needed to be done in what order.

The manager of the storage lot lit up when we pulled in with our bus and told us that it reminded her of the good ol' days and it was rare for her to spot one.

She assured us we were storing it in a good place and we unloaded in lot 984 with some help from strangers to push the bus into the spot that was on a bit of an incline. It was still raining, but we were on fire with excitement, so we went to work for about an hour pulling out some of the items in the bus to take home and dry out. We loaded them all up in the back of the truck and then locked up the bus before heading back home, sad to leave and already looking forward to being back soon and getting to work.

We warmed up with coffee at a gas station on the way back and quickly realized how cold we were as soon as we got out of the rain, but we didn't care-- because we had our bus. We were standing right there, in the first brave step, with nothing but a big orange bus, a map we couldn't read yet, and hot coffee to warm our freezing fingers. We were scared shitless and ecstatic at the same time while we wondered what in the world we were going to do next as it sunk in that we'd just bought a VW bus with the last of some cash we had stored and a dream we didn't even totally understand yet. We looked at each other and laughed, maybe instead of crying, and just kept sipping our coffee while the rain fell.

Click here to read about the first road trip we took in our bus, almost three years later after swapping in a Subaru engine and countless other projects we completed ourselves.


Iliana + Leo

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© 2019 The Wanderbus Story LLC | Est. 2015