Tragedy in Boston & Bus Update

IMG_8527[1]Our last night at the St. George, SC Pilot Truck stop it poured. Xoey and Griffin stayed in a hotel across the street while Jeff and I spent the night in the bus. We thought it would give them both a break from the parking lot while providing a little more safety. The poopie tank on the bus was getting full and we did not want them walking around this (or any really) truck stop while we were sleeping.

Hotel room = safer. They had the ability to contact us quickly and we had gotten to them in under 60 seconds if needed.

Not to mention they had Copper with them, the little alarm. If anyone even thinks of looking at Xoey cross-eyed that dog goes berserk. He turns into a little barking, attack machine. The rest of the time he’s just a cute, lil, quiet fluff-head. But if Xoey’s safety or emotional state is in question he gets protective.

Jeff and I actually found we slept well in the lot. It was best rest in a long time. I joked it was all the carbon monoxide emissions from our neighbors - the tractor trailer trucks - running all night. Jeff didn’t appreciate the joke but I can’t help think it might have a small amount to do with it. The rain rattling the metal roof on the bus made the sleep all the cozier.

The timing of this breakdown was ideal. I mean if it had to happen. We literally were not expected anywhere until today. We were in no rush. The only major problem we were facing was financial. Waiting on payment from some clients, having just finished a stop at a campground (something we don’t normally do) drained our funds enough to be concerned. I made the decision to post a request for donations on the Unschool Bus facebook page. Something I don’t decide to do lightly, especially when I just announced another fundraising project! Despite everything our followers came through for us. We received $680 in donations.

We woke early. And headed over to round up our stuff in the hotel room. Jeff made the necessary calls to the tow company he’d found and the garage he chose. There were two garages that said they’d be able to work on it right away. We headed back over to the bus and waited. In under an hour the tow truck arrived. They even brought along an extra truck so that we would not feel squished in the wrecker.

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The tow company recommended us against the original shop we had decided on and instead suggested a friend of theirs. It was a smaller shop. We found their arguments compelling and (reluctantly) agreed to head to the shop they had a better relationship with. Sometimes you’re just better off trusting the locals.

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When we got there we had to wait on the mechanic. He was visiting family in the hospital. Xoey was thrilled there was a small plaza near the garage with a Walmart, Sally’s Beauty and a few other anywhere America stores. There was even a GameStop for Griffin. After being stuck at the Pilot for days where the only thing close was a McDonald’s (great for us veggies! ha ha) and a two mile walk to the nearest Redbox and back. This plaza was a welcomed site. Jeff waited at the bus for the mechanic. The kids and I walked over to the plaza.

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It wasn’t too long before Jeff came over to let us know what the mechanic had arrived and had some ideas. He also needed talk to me about how we were going to handle the money stuff. They had already determined the U-Joint needed replacement. It had nearly fallen off in the hands of the tow truck worker when he was disconnecting (or whatever it is they do with) the driveshaft. So, that was a have-to but it wasn’t the problem that got us stuck at the Pilot. That seemed to be something fuel related.

The guess looked like it was either going to be a $600 or a $1700 fix. One having to do with the fuel pump the other some bigger deal. They had to wait for the part and for a little while it looked like we were going to be spending the night on the bus locked in the garage parking lot. Jeff went back after filling us in. We stayed a bit longer and then headed ourselves.

IMG_8576[1]The part was in. They were installing it when we got back. We were allowed to stay on the bus with the dogs while they worked on it, which was nice.

Jeff found a turtle in the middle of the road on the way back to the bus and put it in the sink hoping to startle one of us. Didn’t work but we did enjoy checking it out before setting it free on the other side of the road.


IMG_8565[1]   IMG_8567[1]

Once they got the new pre-fuel-pump-whatchamacallit in they had to purge the air from the lines. This was really the most distressing part. They used a lot of ether which I know from lots of people to be not so good for diesel engines. They spent a good half hour trying to turn over the engine. The whole time it made terrible noises and downright refused to start. At one point I watched from inside as 2-3 flames shot out straight up out of the engine. It wasn’t pretty. I was feeling skeptical about their diagnosis and thought for sure we were looking at the $1700 fix, or worse. Maybe the bus just wasn’t going to run again.

Of course, my concerns turned out to be wrong; within 10 minutes of witnessing the flames they were able to start the bus perfectly. Next up was the U-Joint repair. Xoey and I decided to walk back to Walmart to use the ATM again. This was just about the time we found out what was happening in Boston.

Jeff had text a good friend in Colorado to let him know the bus was running again. He text back that his son had just been evacuated (he lives in Boston) from where he was because of the explosions. I think it was before anyone knew what caused the explosions. His son was OK. He was just on his way to work. So close to home.

We are from New Hampshire. The seacoast area of New Hampshire. We’re like a suburb of Boston. In fact when I was pregnant with Griffin (our 16 year old) we lived in Somersworth and Jeff used to work at Boston Harley-Davidson (then called CycleCraft). The news shook us like it has many. I just want to be back there. I want to help. It seems so far away.

IMG_8589[1]While we walked over to the plaza we checked in on loved ones. I text a friend I knew who’s brother was running in the marathon. Xoey called her best friend who goes down to Boston five days a week for dance. And I text Jeff’s younger brother who lives in Boston. We talked and tried to find some light in all the dark. On the way over we had to walk through this beautiful field. I knelt down to take a photograph. Sweet Xoey popped her head down to try and make me smile.

Needless to say it worked.

It was right at that moment I found myself counting my blessings. She is one of them. Look at her. She’s beautiful. She’s funny. And she is sweet. I’m so very lucky to have this amazing person in my life. Not to mention my boys and Jeff too. How did I get so lucky? I’m not sure.

The total cost of the repairs came to just under $630. If you include the cost of the supplies Jeff bought to try and fix it before the tow, the cam sensor, filters and such. It came to almost exactly, $680. How perfect is that? Nearly the exact amount donated to help. The hotel was even gifted to us.

We were due in Columbia today. The repairs were finished yesterday. We made it exactly on time.

I often say I’m agnostic because I’ve witnessed too many amazing coincidences to be atheist and too few to be a believer. This was one of those maybe there is something watching over us moments.

IMG_8607[1]As we drove off toward Columbia. I couldn’t help but think of all those affected by the bombings in Boston. That’s what I want our next project Serenity to be about. I want to be there to help clean up, provide power, water, emotional support and communication services (all cell service was shut down in Boston) to people in need, secondary responders…liberty responders.

For now our love will have to suffice.

In Peace & Gratitude,



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Bus Troubles, SC Update

IMG_8510[1]There she is. Sitting in the same spot she has been for a few days now and a few nights. We were headed to the Columbia, SC area but aren’t due there until Tuesday or a little later. We didn’t really want to go all the way into Columbia until then.

I had just posted a question on the bus page that Jeff and I (and the kids) had been talking about for months.

“What if I told you we are thinking of *giving away* the Unschool Bus at the end of the year? To a deserving family…maybe with a contest…involving an essay and video…and all of you picking the winner? What would you think of that? We have some things *we* need to make happen before we could do that (on account it’s our only home!) but I want to get a feel for what you all think about the idea.”

IMG_8441[1]We’re riding along. She chugs. She clangs. She sputters. She’s not seeming to get gas. Or at least she’s not accelerating. Jeff pulls over. We both get out and try and see if we can figure out where the noise is coming from. And Jeff opens the hood to check the oil and some other things above my mechanical knowledge.

Things look OK so we try driving on. Almost immediately we realize we just are not going to get any further. We decide to take the next exit. Luckily there is a truck stop there. We just have to get across the street. It really starts to fade on the off ramp. We get another stroke of luck when the light is green so Jeff is literally able to coast through the light, across the street, into the parking lot, out back of the building and right into a parking spot before we’re done. And do it safely to boot!

He’s a mechanic (and carpenter) by trade. He’s well-versed in automobile mechanics  despite his schooling being in motorcycles. Diesel engines can sometimes be beyond his particular skill-set. He thought he might be able to take care of this issue. So, Jeff spent his time researching the issue and attempting to fix it. I worked on the writing and the Serenity Project announcement. Xoey and Griffin have been spending most of their time online. But we’ve also taken walks, cooked, done laundry (how lucky is that! there is a Laundromat in the truckstop) and tonight we are staying in a motel.

Here are a few pictures:

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IMG_8516[1]  Copper even got a bath <3

Tomorrow morning we get towed. Jeff found a shop 30 or so miles from here that can work on the bus immediately (once open tomorrow!). He also found a tow company that can carry the four of us and the three dogs. With the donations we’ve received from our Unschool Bus followers (hundreds of dollars) we should have enough to cover the cost of the repair (unless it’s sometime catastrophic of course). We’re hoping it’s not.

Jeff thinks it might be something electrical, maybe a sensor of some kind. We had a cam sensor that caused us similar problems for the first year and a half on the road. We know this isn’t another CAM sensor because Jeff already tried replacing it while we were here. What really needs to happen is we need to get it on a diagnostic computer in a garage. So, that’s where we’re headed tomorrow. Should be an adventure.

In the meantime we’ve been lucky. Lucky to have broken down in a safe place. Lucky to have done so at a time when we weren’t expected somewhere for a week. Lucky to have built a community that is willing to support us, when needed.

Tonight I will be thankful in our abundance and joy. I’m confident we’ll get the bus fixed and be on schedule to build our new project (Serenity) and give our lovely yellow bus away (with some new or updated parts too!).

In Peace & Liberty,

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Five Tips for Traveling Full-time Inexpensively

People are always, and I mean always asking us how we afford to live on the road full-time. Most times I explain it’s more about what we don’t pay for than what we do. People still don’t seem to get it and of course it’s not all about that either, sometimes it’s about recognizing opportunity.

But for the purpose of this entry I want to give a list of ways to make full-time RV’ing (or extended travel) work for your family.

  1. Commit to being homeless, actually homebaseless. I know. I KNOW. It sounds scary doesn’t it. But it’s the number one thing you can do to make life on the road more possible. Don’t believe me? Crunch the numbers. How much do you pay for rent? Mortgage? Electric bill? Water bill? Cable? Heat? Etc. If you don’t release yourself from your stationary home (or at least rent it out someone else) you’ll be paying for two places and that can get really expensive.
  2. Be interesting and honest. When you are interesting and kind all kinds of opportunities open up to you. We’ve had countless adventures happen for us because we were open to them. In Louisiana we got a three hour private tour of the bayous, in Orlando (recently) we were gifted three free tickets to Epcot and we are almost never without a car as people are generous and allow us to borrow theirs when we are parked for an extended period.
  3. LOWESBoondock. Yep, park your tiny home on wheels at a Walmart, or our little secret find, a Lowes – they have the fastest WiFi and they leave it on all night. If you are not into parking in the concrete jungle you can often find boondocking spots – especially out west – out in the boonies.  You can also park on jobsites, if you have jobsites! :) We find this is one of the most useful things. Jeff does carpentry work, often for homeschoolers, and we’ll stay right where the work is. It has the added benefit of keeping the commuting to a minimum.
  4. Research local and FREE things to do. You don’t have to do all the touristy things and if you do you’ll go broke fast! There are plenty of FREE or cheap things to do in almost every place you visit.
  5. Be generous. If people want to talk to you about your life; share. If you have the opportunity to; volunteer. Your goodness comes back to you.

Just a few ideas to get your brain going.

In Peace & Liberty,

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IMG_7627[1]I’m experiencing a awakening. The nature of it being immensely difficult to describe. As I write thunder cracks outside, light flashes behind the curtains of the bus and rain rattles atop the metal roof. Given my fear of lightning it all seems eerily fitting, perfect really, and the writing -oh so- necessary.

That green dot. That’s me. Right now.

I’m agnostic: neither an atheist nor a believer. Although, admittedly, I am spiritually curious and decidedly open.

Recently (very recently) I’ve come to an understanding about my being. My purpose. Maybe it’s not so much an understanding as I’ve always understood it.

It’s just I fought it for a very long time. I’m still fighting it a little right now.

You know what I mean though. Right? When you hear the soft whispers or see the little signs. The ones from, I don’t know where. Maybe the universe? God? Nature? Your soul?The whispers and signs that give you little glimpses of what your life is meant to look like?

Maybe you ignore them? Tell yourself they’re wrong? Or worse… Maybe you convince yourself they aren’t even real?

I did all those things too.
You know what happened?

The signs got bigger and the whispers grew louder. And frankly, I’m tired of telling myself things like..

I’m not that important! I mean, I’m not. At least not in the scheme of all time and space. I do realize that! But I am important in my own life, in the lives of my loved ones and in the lives of the people I connect with.


This isn’t meant for me. I can’t really do it. Because you know what? That is really just a bunch of crap. These messages are for me. I’m the one seeing them for freak’s sake. I can do it. It might just be a little scary.

Where is this coming from?

I’m turning 40 in a little over a week and our eldest son, Wolfgang Erik, is moving out in a few days. Neither is a bad thing but I’m really still working through Erik‘s death and these things keep the death fresh. Erik’s ashes sit, protected, in my clothes drawer until Jeff decides to release them. We both have ideas on how and where to do so but it’s really not my decision and I don’t see Jeff being ready anytime soon. I don’t blame him one bit either. Erik was his brother. The one person he’d known his entire life. The one with whom he shared the experience of multiple families (birth, foster and adoptive),  pain, joy…just so much…but all of that really isn’t my story it’s Jeff’s.

For now I take comfort I can keep him safe until Jeff is ready.

I haven’t written about the how of what Erik did. But the more I think about it the more I am compelled to share. It was very significant and I think it was filled with so much meaning, to him, that I almost feel like we’ve been doing him/his memory a disservice by avoiding it. At the same time I don’t want to claim I know exactly what it meant to Erik and I also don’t want to assume I know what’s right for anyone else. If you can’t (or don’t want to) talk about it. That’s OK. But me? I need to. And I feel like I need to for him. 

I have only theory about his choice of method and timing but parts of it bring me comfort. And, hopefully, what I share may bring some comfort to others as well.

Erik, to some degree, considered himself Buddhist. I know it was the religion which resonated with him the most. I know from conversations I had with both him and others close to him. I shared his love of Buddhism, although, Taoism resonates more deeply with me.

For Buddhists, self-immolation can be considered a selfless death; while other types of suicide are looked upon harshly. Self-immolation was something Erik contemplated for years. I’m not sure he openly discussed it (in regards to himself) with anyone. Maybe he did. I don’t know. I know he talked about suicide with family and friends, including me.

I remember once a few years ago I was hit particularly hard by one of his declarations that he was done with this world. I got unusually desperate. Maybe I thought he was serious. I don’t know but after trying to talk to him on the phone I wrote him rambling and begging he reconsider. I asked him please talk to someone, please don’t do it and told him both Jeff and I loved him so. He dismissed my concerns and told me he loved me and Jeff too. I didn’t stop. I shared what I saw as his value to the world. I told him things he could do, opportunities he yet to see and places where he might wish to go. And Jeff did his own pep-talk too. In the end we both told Erik that it was his decision to make but we wished he’d choose life.

That time, he did. And other times too.

storm-Pink_Floyd_Wish_You_Were_HereErik had a poster of a monk self-immolating when he was in college, maybe even before that. He quipped, “Sid’s Therapist?” on an image of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album cover he posted on his facebook.

This is something he’d considered for years. This wasn’t an angry lashing out. This was an artistic and meaningful end to his struggles and his pain, I believe.

We are in Florida, the Tampa area. Jeff is working on a bus conversion for a midwife who plans to use the completed conversion as a mobile prenatal care unit for disadvantaged women. It’s a pretty amazing project we feel lucky to be a part of. We have our bus parked right by the bus Jeff is working on. Jeff’s daily commute consists of stepping off our bus and walking 15 or 20 feet to work.

It’s a pretty awesome gig. We are parked under a beautiful big tree, surrounded by strawberry fields and have the nicest “neighbors” – we feel pretty grateful for this opportunity.

The other night we had a little campfire. Those that know me know I love fire. It’s part of my soul. It heals me. It feeds me. When Jeff and I separated nearly five years ago it was fire that brought us back together. We’d sit night after night and talk in front of our fire trying to cauterize gushing holes in our hearts. The soundtrack of our reunion was NeedToBreathe’s The Heat. Eventually, we found ourselves whole again and celebrated with a huge bonfire and friends.

Although I don’t put too much stock in astrology, I have found whenever do a star-chart it’s (laughably) pretty darn accurate. I’m an Aries, a fire sign. Jeff is Sagittarius, a fire sign. The other night at the campfire, Wolfgang asked off-handedly, “Mom if you could control any element. What would it be? I mean like Avatar. Fire, Water…”

I interrupted him with, “Fire!”

“Really? Not air? I’d totally be air.”

Griffin even jumped in, “but if you control air you basically can control anything.”

Wolfgang, “and Fire would be…you picked the only one that can’t fly with.”

“Still fire. No doubt.”IMG_7489[1]

I’ve started hooping, regularly. And later that evening I found myself almost transformed in another world (or time) as I hooped around the fire listening to the album Joy, by Phish. I felt myself shifting through time by the lyrics and the hooping carried me back to years when I would dance an entire set alone in a corner at a Phish show.

Erik loved Phish too. I remember the first time Jeff took me to meet him in at his dorm on the Plymouth State campus. Jeff introduced me all excited, “And she likes Phish!”

Erik looked me up and down skeptically before pausing to ask, ”How long have you been listening to them?” When I replied the first time I’d seen them was in 89 or 90 on some farm in Vermont he seemed satisfied and hugged me. That meeting was in 1993.

Phish, Twenty Years Later

I’ve pulled through air, though I feel I’m alone,
I stick with the others to the skin of the stone
I stop for a stranger just to give him a lift
I cling like a lizard to the side of the cliff
I treat every minute like an hour and then,
It seems like a year has flashed by again
We build a foundation but where do we stand
When all air is water and all water is land
Twenty years later, I’m still upside down

It’s a small world, and it’s turning real fast
(We’re upside down)
It’s a new day, and the morning has passed
(Turned upside down)
It’s a short road, but the mountains aren’t tall
(Lived upside down)
It’s a small world, and we all start out small

Feel it turning in circles and you’re never the same again
Spin slowly while sounds cascade and decay
Upside down

Immersed in the moment with the smell of smoke, the softly-lit shapes of my sons and husband, the cool breeze mixed with the heat from the fire and the wisdom of those lyrics. I wished he was there. I thought he should be sitting by the fire playing guitar with Jeff laughing and swapping the happier stories of his youth with my boys. It hurt realizing that was not something that could ever happen. Or could it? Obviously, not in a physical sense. In that way he is gone but why not in spirit?

That’s when I felt it. Powerful. Joyful. And grateful.

He’s been helping me shift through this transition. He’s been giving me purpose. Reminding me of my value. I owe him gratitude. I wish, no I hope, he knows that. Somehow.

Phish, Light

I can see the light between me and my mind
I can feel memories fall behind
And the light is growing brighter now
And the light is growing brighter now

I see the future is less and less there
And the past has vanished in the air
And I’m left in the now with a wondrous glow
I think I’m still me
But how would you know?

It takes a few moments of whirling around
Before your feet finally leave the ground
And fending off fears and hearing the call
And finally waiting for nothing at all
And the light is growing brighter now
And the light is growing brighter now

Obstacles are stepping-stones
That guide us to our goals
Fences are filters
That purify our souls

Erik once asked me to be his therapist. He was having trouble finding someone he liked and trusted. He didn’t trust women. It was about 10 years ago. He and Jeff had built a recording studio in a shed behind our apartment building. After the kids would go to bed I’d come out and sit. Sometimes after they were done playing Erik and I would talk, sometimes for hours. I had just gone through a few years of dealing with another close family member and mental illness, I was a mom to three little kids and was doing my best to help Jeff through his own emotional struggles. I told him I couldn’t do it.

I said all the things I was supposed to. I’m sorry. I’m not a therapist. I don’t have the training. I can’t.

I knew I could help him. I felt I could. But I was just too overwhelmed with where I was in life. I regret deeply not being – at least – open to finding some way to make it work. I could have tried. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming myself or his death. It’s not my doing. It’s his. He started that fire. But I wonder how far back the idea developed and if there was anyway, along the way, any of us could have…put the breaks on the idea? Or was this always part of his fate? Is there even such a thing?

When I sit down to write lately all that comes out is Erik. It’s like it’s not even coming from me. It just pours out of me. Inspiration. Connection. Memories. Ideas. Philosophy. Conversations. So, I stop writing. And I come back and sit down and try and write again about anything…what we are doing…where we are…how life is…and…It. All. Comes. Back. to Erik.

Phish, Steal Time From the Faulty Plan

Got a blank space where my mind should be
Got a cliff bar and some cold green tea
Got clouds that seem to follow me
Got strange demands piled up on me

Got memories, got memories
Got memories, memories of being free

He had a fascination with fire and a love of Buddhism that paralleled my own, although, we never really connected over either. We read some of the same books and admired many of the same artists but for (often) opposing reasons and our interpretations of the same philosophy rarely fell in alignment with one another. But there was a mutual respect and love between us.

skeletons coverHe admired my work as well as Jeff’s. I remember when we first showed him the cover of Skeletons. It’s a very dark image.

He said, “That’s the most beautiful fucking thing I’ve ever seen!”

I responded with something like,  ”You like it then?”

He replied smiling, “I’m so fucking jealous.”

After he died. I forced myself to look at images of monks self-immolating. Yes, it sounds incredibly morbid but I needed to. And, quite frankly, there are some beautiful images. (It’s graphic don’t click if it will hurt you–>).One that stands out is a monk walking, no he’s running actually. The image is striking.

Erik loved art. When I saw these images – the beautiful ones – I felt for a moment sad I wasn’t there to see him, to capture it for him. I know, even more morbid but I felt like he loved art, so much, he wanted to be art. I know (in my heart) he looked through these same images. I think he saw the same beauty I did. Not just the imagery but the political statement behind them, a complicated and multilayered beauty.

Erik enjoyed my photos and would be sure to let me know. He even asked to use some of them for projects he was working on. I’ve never got to see the finished work or even know what he was using them for.

There were times when he saw a future. Last summer he asked my (and Jeff’s) take on some video projects he had done and requested my help navigating his relationships with his nephews and niece. The last time we spoke was about a month before he died. It was a great conversation. He said he was happy and doing well for the first time in a long time. He was working on getting his head back on straight and wanted to start making art or creating music again.

Phish, Kill Devil Falls

How could you leave me? You heard what I said
I’ll be at the waterfall clearing my head
Soaking up nature and thinking of you
But leaving’s the last thing I thought you would do

The biggest part of my processing of Erik’s death is where did I fit in?

After we left New Hampshire this past December - after having returned for Erik’s memorial – we made a few stops and landed in the New Orleans area. It was about a week after we arrived. We went to a Mardi Gras parade. It was our second one and it was called Petite Rex. All of the floats were shoebox size. The kids were enjoying themselves. Jeff was smiling and all around we were enjoying life and this new experience. I glanced across the street and there was this little girl.

She reminded me so much of a little girl I once knew. A little sister of a kindergarten classmate of Wolfgang’s. The resemblance was uncanny. I pointed her out to Jeff and the kids. The kids didn’t remember the family and Jeff was a happily preoccupied. This girl would be Xoey’s age now (15) and in New Hampshire – so clearly it wasn’t her. But she never left my line of sight the entire night and she floated in and out of my mind over the next few days. Then one afternoon my mother called. She asked if I was alone and if it was a good time to talk and other odd sorts of “feeling me out” questions.

Turns out she had news for me, news she and the rest of my family were trying to keep from us until they thought we’d be ready to deal with it. Who knows when anyone is ready for news like this? Shortly after we left New Hampshire - just a matter of days after - that same kindergarten classmate (who’s sister I’d been thinking about and seeing) committed suicide. It had been years since we’d seen the family. At one time we were pretty close with the family. It hit me hard. Not only did I feel terrible for the loss of little boy I remembered and a deep sadness for his parents, his brothers and his sister but I felt so guilty. It had been almost a month since he died. How do you manage condolences for something of this magnitude, that late?

Both Jeff and I sent messages to his parents. And then, for me, things started to get a little weird. The sister, has a very unique name (I’ve literally never met or heard of anyone else with this name), and her name started showing up for me everywhere. I’d see her image in my Facebook or Instagram feed. I’d wake up dreaming about her. I started seeing her name everywhere…on a license plate and street signs. We arrive at this job in Florida only to find the town next to where we are parked bears her name. There is even a bottled water here with her name. It’s everywhere.

I felt haunted. After hearing a song that also shared her name (while in a store), I figured there must be meaning to this! And I started trying to figure it out. Maybe I’m supposed to reach out to her? But what the heck would I say?! She doesn’t know me! Maybe I should tell his parents? No! That would be cruel. The last thing they need is some crazy old friend contacting them over a “weird feeling” and some odd coincidences. I dismissed all those ideas outright and just tried to put it out of my mind.

It’s been going on for a month now and today when I saw her name just before reading a message of support from someone who loved Erik. And it all sort of clicked for me.

I think it’s the answer to my struggles: What was my place in Erik’s life?

I was his sister. I really was his sister. Our relationship was as deep in friendship as it was complicated in family. We had a shared love for both Jeff and each other. I am so grateful I had an opportunity to be a part of his life, as complex as it was.

Phish, Kill Devil Falls

And I stand at the base of the mountain, don’t follow me
And I step right up to the cliff side, gotta learn how to leap
And I stare straight into the future, tell me what do you see?

Birthdays have always felt like New Years to me. My very own clean slate, a rebirth of sorts. And this year my birthday (my 40th) falls on Easter. As I said, I’m not a religious sort of person but I can’t help but feel the opportunity for rebirth more profoundly this year. Truly a time for new beginnings/changes…A metamorphosis of Joy and Enlightenment.

Phish, Joy

When we were young we thought life was a game
But then somebody leaves you and you’re never the same
All of the places and people belong to the puzzle
But one of the pieces is gone and it’s you
It’s you, it’s you, Joy, it’s you

We want you to be happy, don’t live inside the gloom
We want you to be happy, come step outside your room
We want you to be happy ’cause this is your song too

In time we’ll weather this storm inside together
You’ll see the change when the sun shines through

I’ll miss you Erik. I’m sorry and I want to thank you for believing in me…more than I did. Let the rain pour and the thunder crack. I won’t be afraid anymore. And when I see the lightening I’ll think of the fire and feel comforted. <3

In Peace,
Kelly Halldorson










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Banksy’s Umbrella Girl

wolfbanksyWe have been staying in Lacombe, Louisiana with our friends the Deeves for a couple of weeks. Not only have the Deeves provided us with a place to park, great friendship and local intel on all the Mardi Gras festivities but they have also lent us a car to use while we are here.

Yesterday Jeff was headed into New Orleans for a job and we all had plans to hit some parades in the evening. Wolfgang decided to ride down to the city with Jeff and I. We plan to meet up with the others along the parade route in the evening.

There was little for Wolf and I to do at the jobsite so we decided to poke around the city. Our first stop was the Walmart we called home for a week during our last stay in New Orleans two years ago. As we mulled around outside while trying to figure out to spend the next few hours, I noticed some graffiti on a lamppost around the corner of the building. It was a stenciled style. A girl. It reminded me of the work of Banksy and pointed it out to Wolf.

Erik (Jeff’s brother) was a big fan of Banksy and Denise our friend in Lacombe mentioned that after Katrina Banksy made a visit to NOLA. We had plans to search out some of the pieces. I didn’t want to break those plans but agreed to go in search of the Umbrella Girl – just the one - with Wolfgang. I’ll save scoping out the others for when Denise can come.

We found it. It’s on the corner of an old abandoned store covered by a sheet of plexi, almost unnoticed by all the life buzzing around it. That’s really the beauty of his work isn’t it?

We also made a stopover at the Sculpture Garden outside the Art museum. It was nice to spend some time alone with Wolf. I find *lately* he and I are the two in the family that butt heads the most. The time alone gave us an opportunity to talk, laugh and take some photographs.

This re-enactment of the Spiderman kiss with the upside-down statue is probably my favorite. IMG_5397

The day didn’t end there. We had a night of Mardi Gras parades, family and friends. More of which we’ll have on these days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Days spent with Wolfgang, like yesterday, are fleeting. Soon Wolfgang will be off on his own, making his own life and eventually family. He’s 18. I need to take a deep breath and remind myself of the value of these times…not take a moment for granted.


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Where to Start?

My name is Kelly. My Instagram profile reads:louisianabusjanuary2013

autodidactic. mother. wife. traveler. peace activist. vegan. photographer. writer. artist. philosopher.

That bus in the picture. It’s my home, well not just mine. I live on that converted school bus with my three kids (18, 16 & 15), husband and three dogs. We travel around the US. We don’t do school. We learn through living, together.

So, far we’ve hit 35 states in the two and a half years we’ve had the bus. Some highlights include, Key West, the Everglades, Bonnaroo, Las Vegas, Austin TX, the Smokey Mountains, Zion and many more. The California coast and the Pacific Northwest has so far eluded us but I’m confident we’ll make it there eventually.

Right now we are in Louisiana, near New Orleans, parked at the home of some lovely friends. No, we don’t always park at the home of friends. Sometimes we boondock, a fancy way of saying camp for free. Sometimes we go to events, anything from a music festival to a political debate. Sometimes we stay at campgrounds. Sometimes we stay on jobsites (Jeff is a builder/carpenter/general wiz fix-it guy). And sometimes we even park out back of a presidential candidate’s campaign office for a week – true story, in the dead of winter too!

Mostly we try do things that don’t cost a lot of money. We enjoy living without a car payment, electric bill, mortgage or rent. Yes, we still have to pay for gas but it’s not generally in a commuting capacity.  We also like to give back either through volunteer work or helping homeschool families with repairs they couldn’t afford without our flexibility.

We hail from New Hampshire and are big supporters of the Free State Project. We started on this journey in an effort to give our lives a simple rebirth. My husband Jeff and I nearly split up (for good) four years ago and this adventure was a means for us all to reconnect and focus on what is of most importance.

erikThis past December we got another reminder of that purpose. We lost a loved one to suicide. Erik, Jeff’s brother, took his own life less than a month after his 40th birthday. I miss him. We all miss him. His death has put much into focus for me and blurred lots of other things.

I want to write again. Now. I don’t want to wait until I have a fancy new blog design or we are deep into an adventure. I don’t want to  won’t put my ideas on some back burner only to be forgotten and charred.

I’ve written extensively about our first year on the road in my old blog Unschooling Liberty. Slowly, I’ll get some of those entries moved over to here but for now I’m going to focus on starting this new blog by writing – if even only a little – every day.

Right here. Right now.  No excuses.

In Peace & Liberty,
Kelly Halldorson

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FOX Carolina! :)

Life has been busy. We have been traveling and making plans and oh so much more.

And a few videos and updates here and there through the end of the year. For now enjoy this little unschooling interview we did for FOX Carolina in Greenville, SC.

<video missing>

:( – it was a great interview

Thanks for reading!

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Why New Hampshire Matters (NH Primary) & other stuff

Wolfgang and I are working on a little project together. We’d like to make a series of videos probably mostly on politics. Maybe it’ll free up some time for me to work on some videos of our travels! :) You know if I get all the political stuff out of the way.

Anywho… here is our first video. We need a lot of practice and I need to smile more but I think he did a pretty good job filming it.


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Where does the Poopie go?

Jeff answers our most commonly asked question about the bus…

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Was it Hard to Decide to Homeschool?

if I’m to really fight the photographobia why not go all out and post a bad photo of myself ;)

Anyway…we’re in Nebraska, Lincoln to be exact. We hit some bumps on the way here and a few since we’ve been here (including I drove the bus for the first real field trip and it broke down – fill you in on that later) but we’ve also had some good luck. I’ll fill you in on that too in the next blog entry.

For now I’m going to stick with the commitment to do more video. And post a second “vlog” prompted by a question on facebook from an old friend. I also had Jeff answer the same question because our answers are quite different. :)

Kelly answers: Was it hard to decide to homeschool?


Jeff answers: Was it hard to decide to homeschool?

If you have any questions for any of the bus inhabitants feel free to post them here, email us or facebook us and we’ll do our best to give you a video answer. :) Thanks for reading, watching and listening!

In Peace & Liberty,



Posted in coaching, consulting, unschooling | 3 Comments