Turning a school bus into a RV isn’t a project for the faint of heart. Most people don’t have the patience or time to build their RV from scratch. Then again, Leonard Steward isn’t like everyone else. The 62-year old solo RVer knew right away he was up to the challenge of a “skoolie” renovation project.
This Solo RVer Took on the Challenge
“I was always tinkering with something,” says the part-time traveling nurse. “So when people say ‘It can’t be done,’ I say ‘You shouldn’t have said that.’ ” Once he saw the 40-foot, 1989 Bluebird All-American listed for sale, he knew it was the DIY project for him. The former school band bus needed tons of work. Yet, the machine was solid and the inside was just a blank canvas.
“As soon as I got it I started tearing it apart,” he says. With four years and endless hours of sweat equity later, the rolling retirement home he nicknamed “Easy” (after the Lionel Ritchie song) is a man-cave dream.
Steward didn’t just do the basics, like rewire the electrical, add plumbing and air conditioning. He also went the extra mile to add original touches like:
- A walk-in, sit-down jacuzzi tub
- Dry flush waterless toilet and urinal
- Radiant floor heating
- Tankless water heater
- Craft workshop and workbench
Skoolie owners have the option to renovate with typical RV parts for the build-out or use traditional home building materials. However, Steward chose the latter and is glad he did. And, Two years later, the bus is still a work in progress, but Steward has a better idea about what he wants in his RV.
“Everything in here I can get or replace at Home Depot or Lowes,” he explains. “I’m always seeing things I feel I need to adjust, change, modify or make a different color. “I don’t think I would change the overall design as the more I live in here the more I see it as a perfect fit for me and the way I live and travel.” he says.
And, travel he does. As a licensed vocational nurse with a Texas license, Steward can work in 24 different states. He possesses a “Compact Nursing License,” which gives him more freedom to choose assignments.
“Just look at how long it would take you to cover all 24 states,” says Steward. “It’s a good way to go.” In the past he used to rent apartments when he changed jobs, but the bus has added more flexibility to his occupation.
As a result, he never worries about finding housing now that Easy comes along for the ride. One look inside the bus and it’s clear that Steward’s RV is designed with a masculine touch. For example, instead of a bedroom he has a workshop in the back.
More noteworthy is the urinal in the split-bath with jacuzzi tub. Plus, he sleeps on a lovely fold-out bed platform he made in the main living area. Although this Philadelphia native has a grown daughter who occasionally joins him on the road, the divorced dad thoroughly enjoys being a solo RVer.
“This means, I can go anywhere and do anything without having to ask what someone else wants, feels or thinks,” he explains. “That may sound somewhat selfish but it works for me. When I first married at 19 and have spent 35 years as such, it seemed I had to take into consideration what other people (wife, kids, extended family) wanted, didn’t want, liked, didn’t like or thought. Being a solo traveler I am, for the first time, beginning to realize what I want to do in life,” he says.
From working as a traveling nurse to boondocking, Steward has unlimited options on the road. When asked what his advice is for other solo RVers, he simply says “Have as much fun as you can, while you can.” See more photos at LeonardSteward.com
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.