As of today, I have been on the road for 28 days, living in the bus for 64 days, after having spent 63 very long, exhausting days, working on the build out.
I purchased the bus back in February, from a woman in Bangor, Maine, who had purchased it with similar hopes…to use it to travel and camp in. When I first stepped foot inside, the seats had already been removed (thankfully!), but no other interior work had been done. She had a cot, some sheer curtains that moved along a wire, held up by magnetic hooks, rugs covered the old rubber and metal floor. She had tried to make it as homey as she could, with stick-on floral decals and what looked like crafts her grandchildren had gifted her. It was sweet, and exactly what I needed. I wrote her a check on the spot…yeah, I know. It had recently passed inspection and aside from an odd issue with sporadic stalling, was in great shape.
Because the bus wasn’t starting, and it being dead of Maine winter, we made a deal that I would have it towed once the weather improved. By the time the bus made it to me, it was May!
I started demo the first week in June.
While I grew up in a very able family, who strongly valued hard work, independence and resourcefulness, I had never taken on the challenge of a build that involved an engine and wheels! So, excited as I was to get started on the construction, it was beyond challenging. I was working solo. In the beginning, I had a hand with a few things…but that goes into a story I’m not presently prepared to write about, and you are certainly not prepared to hear about.
This past summer in Maine was the hottest on record, with days on end of high heat and crushing humidity, and I was toiling away, often for over 14 hours a day, in a garage with zero air circulation. Everything I did was a learning curve. I never used a level, which made for some frustrating wrong cuts, but some real character! All the times I had to put everything down to drive back to Lowes for the 2nd or 3rd time in a day because I forgot something, ran out of something, or bought the wrong thing…all the times I was balanced precariously, heavy drill or saw in hand, while being attacked by horse flies…the time I missed that nail, and hammered the side of my finger off! I had a full body fiberglass rash, worked through a horrific sunburn, and everyday, soaked in sweat. Needless to say, it was a long two months!
Injuries and meltdowns were met with accomplishments and moments of excitement, however, and a part of me was perhaps going to make it work, not just for myself, but for my dad, who would have loved helping me build it, and though he passed away years ago, rides along with me on every new adventure. I thought too, of my mom, who has been so supportive and optimistic and my brother whose skills with these things set a bar for which I reach.
In addition to the physical build out of the short bus, I was still a one man show with the planning and organizing of the project. I spent countless hours on emails and research. I compiled files for each brewery I was to work with. To this day, though, I have still to finish some parts of the planning process! Admittedly, I was so singular, so deep in the process, and so paralyzed by unrelated things that unfolded throughout the summer, that by the week I was to launch, I had lost all excitement for the 48 Beer Project. Any feelings I had for it had been sucked into a vacuum of nothing.
But on the day of the project launch at Liquid Riot, I saw the excitement in the eyes of friends and strangers, and that little pilot light grew into a flame, and has since been burning on high, as I continue to be approached by strangers and industry and press and everyone is looking to Fearless the Bus to offer a positive spin, in a time of negative news. She earned her name, and it represents more than a name, more than myself…but a perspective we should all take, with the best of intention.
Somehow, it all came together, and I can’t thank enough my incredible sponsors and supporters, who have made this whole thing possible. These people saw something, that even I couldn’t really explain, that offered a new take on the craft beer world, on the arts, and in the community..they believed in what I was aiming for and all the potential to follow.
We are now on collaboration number 5! I’m wearing my bus construction pants in honor of the summer work, and looking forward to the road ahead.