Restoration Dreams

Norma the Bus ~ And Me

Hi everyone, my name is Mandy, and this is my Bus Norma, a 1955 International School Bus. I love how she seems to be smiling in this picture. I think her smile is what made me fall in love with her in the first place. I found her on craigslist almost two months ago, and I knew instantly that she had to be mine.

I have had dreams of owning a bus and running away to travel across the country for some years now; and after a 10-day, 2200 mile road trip snuggled up with my tireless road warrior of a man, my son, and two dogs in a ford truck...I was so ready to make an impulse purchase of a giant rig that would also be my home. About a week later, we found ourselves driving an additional 150 miles, to Whitefish, Mt to meet Miss Norma in person. There are no words for what we found when we got there.

Okay there are actually a few words I can think of, like "Holy s#!t", and "I am so sorry I made you drive up here for this". It was apparent at the moment we laid eyes on her, that she was going to be a huge project, bigger than anything we have taken on before, together that is. I was pretty speechless for a few hours, all I could do was just look around in disbelief and awe. My man, my loving partner, on the other hand, was rooting around inside, underneath on top of, literally everything. Sometimes he looked confused, sometimes baffled, and a lot of the time, he just looked concerned. It was like I could see the little calculations happening in his head. I was almost positive that we were gonna walk away from Miss Norma, but for some reason, we were just so drawn to her. One thing was very clear from the start, and that was that somebody had previously spent a lot of time living in and loving on Miss Norma.

Looking forward
I found myself a quiet spot at the back of the bus, checking out the view. I am sitting in the master bedroom area, looking towards the front of the bus. The wood is cedar. They skylight is broken from the weight of snow pressing in on it over the years. The wood stove looks like it is paper thin, and must have kept someone very warm for a really long time.

An old man from across the road came along, curious about our curiosity as we had been there well over an hour, and most people leave almost immediately.

He told us that his brother used to own the property that we were on, and he had passed away the previous year. His stuff was finally being sold through estate sales, and the guy selling it to us, was just one of the investors who made a bulk purchase.

I asked the man how his brother came about having this bus. I was really hoping for a great story about an old hippy who made it for the love of his life and himself to travel around the country until they were old and gray, and that the bus just sat after they had died.

But the story went more like, "my brother liked to gamble drink. One day he was doing just that down in Kalispell, when the last Rainbow Gathering traveled through here ten or so years ago, and he won it in a drunken game of poker. Wow. Just Wow. Par for the course in Montana if you ask me.

But still, her smirk, her grin, when you are looking at her, tells me that she had sat here waiting  half her life for another hippy to pick her up and get her out of broke down hillbilly hell. Poor girl. The old man told us that over the years, some kids have come and vandalized the bus, breaking the windows and partying til the wee hours of the night. I bet that made her happy to have some company on those lonely winter nights.
Yea I know, She needs a lot of work

After the old man left, Matt and I just sat inside in silence for a really long time. Finally, I spoke up and said, "I wont be upset if you say that this project is too big for you~I am ready to walk away" But for some reason, Matt was ready to take on the project. He too felt her love and warmth. So on June 29th, we purchased Norma.

The terms of purchasing Norma were sweet and simple at first. We agreed on her price, and the fella said that he had a friend who could tow it to us 150 miles away for 150 bucks and a case of Budweiser. Sounded like a sweet deal. We planned to have it delivered after the fourth of July weekend. We left and came home anxiously awaiting the day that Norma made it home.

Follow this blog to keep up with Norma's trip home, and our pending restoration of her once she makes it here. Feel free to leave me a comment :) I would love to here what everyone thinks of Norma.

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