At KCPR, we talk about a lot of stuff.
Typically, this leads nowhere. One time, it led somewhere.
A few of us were having a conversation, sparked by what we see as a booming trend in alternative living set ups. It prompted the question, “What sort of irregular living situations are Cal Poly students in?” Around the table, we really only knew fellow students living in apartments and housing. The resulting dissatisfaction lead to a search. Here’s the result.
School Bus for Good Vibes
The 1987 bright green Chevy short school bus feels a little out of place on Orange Drive, the heart of Cal Poly’s greek neighborhood. The doors of Scout Vernon’s bus open to reveal an old-style interior full of new-age innovations. Wood flooring, a platform bed, a fold-out couch and solar panels – the list goes on. Pictures from past trips and contributions from artsy friends cover the walls. For Vernon and his tribe, it’s all about using the most out of a little space.
The bus has an industrious past as an ice cream truck, motor home and surf wagon – the nostalgia project of someone reviving the early days of SoCal surfing in the 1960’s. Vernon sees the bus as a project in creative construction. But really, the bus is a vehicle to bring people together from all over. He says the memories of trips and times spent in the bus put it at the crux of his network of friends. Every adventure that comes around brings unexpected excitement – and new ideas for additions to build.
A Water Woman’s Paradise
When Idahoan Whitney Engelmann came to Cal Poly, she traded mountainous cabin life for the ultimate childhood dream – life on a sailboat.
The 32-foot Catalina, (soon-to-be dubbed, “Earlene”) sits in a slip inside the serene Santa Barbara Harbor. Engelmann and her family have considered the vessel a second home for some time. While her family is back home in Idaho, she handles it all: cleaning, fixing leaks, installing equipment and even diving under the boat to untangle gnarly kelp from the submerged inboard motor.
She takes every opportunity she can at the harbor, often spending multiple nights on board. With a full kitchen, two beds, loads of books lining the walls and a love for the sea, it’s hard to stay away.
The Denali Bros
After some collective experience living in a VW Rabbit and an E-150 “white creeper van,” outdoor adventurer Alex King sat with fellow wild man Alden Simmer for a coffee and cooked up the next project. They needed something that could handle all adventurous travel needs.
A Craigslist post and a phone call later, the two Cal Poly mechanical engineers had their very own 2001 Thomas school bus. After some major conversions, the bus became a home. They call it, “The Denali Bus,” complete with wood furnishings, a kitchen, three beds and running water. They prefer a lifestyle that involves basic amenities and as few possessions as possible. That econo-mentality leaves the bulking bunch of metal almost lightweight for life on the road with ease.
King and Simmer-style journeys require a willingness to go with the flow and the patience to look past complications. They say it’s not all about the Instagram likes or color palettes edited to perfection. In reality, it’s tough to find a bus-sized parking space or even get a moment to visit the ‘ol john. They’ll still take your follow @thedenalibus.
Taylor Mohrhardt is a KCPR DJ and Cal Poly journalism junior. She wrote the copy and captured the photos. In addition, she handles the airwaves at KCPR San Luis Obispo 91.3 FM and KCPR.org on Fridays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.