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  1. #21
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    There is a reason modern RVs tend to have attributes you have commented on. Its to save weight and while the skoolie will be cheap to buy if you DIY the mods, you will end up with a really heavy rig and that means you will pay for it in performance and fuel mileage in the long run. Maybe there are some out there that are better but all the buses I've experienced had really lack luster performance- I would never be happy towing a Jeep up WV mountains in one loaded with an RV interior and supplies. A 1 ton Van(with towing package including the biggest 6.0 motor) with 4500lb travel trailer(off road setup) gives us storage and off road capability up to the point where 4wd is needed. We pass car climbing mountains. At under 25' we fit in any campsite and have a good setup to go on day trips for biking/canoeing/whatever while having a completely setup homebase to return to. Pretty much everything is a compromise when you are using a vehicle for multiple purposes so you are the only one who can evaluate how the pros and cons will work for you. But a few other considerations- factory made RVs have predictable values so you can know going in how much you pay to try it and bail if its not working. If you buy a used RV you are missing that initial big hit of depreciation and the depreciation slope is then much lower.
    School buses are not designed for off road use for the most part nor are they in the same class as light trucks and cars as far as maintenance goes- so I hope you have good info as to which ones to buy to avoid long term issues. Again, you are the only one who can decide but for me, any rig of an integrated motor coach design is more suited to glamping rather than go anywhere, do anything camping.

  2. #22
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    When I hiked the AT in 2015, my wife wanted to come along. She's partially disabled and certainly couldn't hike, so we used our 21' RV.

    We drove to GA and stayed at the campground at the top of the falls the first night. From GA through MA, we met up frequently. My wife handled supplies and tended my many foot wounds. For the most part, she overnighted along the AT in the parking areas.
    The AWOL guide has the GPS coordinates. She took a lot of short side trips to see old friends and to see the sights.

    Along the way, we met a few others doing the same thing, but the companions were sleeping in their cars.

    Ran into an issue only once where the gate of the FS road to the parking area was closed. I'd foolishly slack packed that day, so I had an extra eight miles out to the road after a 20+ mile day. It was another eight miles in the next morning. I never slack packed again until the SNP.

    She enjoyed talking to other hikers, having water for them, and giving them rides to/from town.

    As noted in the other posts, if you're willing to hike long enough days, it's possible to do this all the way. We split up in MA only because my wife had prior commitments.

    It always irked me that I hadn't done the steps on the approach trail as I started at the top of the falls. While driving in the area a couple years ago, I stopped off and finished it. Yes, I know, it was only the approach trail.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    There is a reason modern RVs tend to have attributes you have commented on. Its to save weight and while the skoolie will be cheap to buy if you DIY the mods, you will end up with a really heavy rig and that means you will pay for it in performance and fuel mileage in the long run. Maybe there are some out there that are better but all the buses I've experienced had really lack luster performance- I would never be happy towing a Jeep up WV mountains in one loaded with an RV interior and supplies. A 1 ton Van(with towing package including the biggest 6.0 motor) with 4500lb travel trailer(off road setup) gives us storage and off road capability up to the point where 4wd is needed. We pass car climbing mountains. At under 25' we fit in any campsite and have a good setup to go on day trips for biking/canoeing/whatever while having a completely setup homebase to return to. Pretty much everything is a compromise when you are using a vehicle for multiple purposes so you are the only one who can evaluate how the pros and cons will work for you. But a few other considerations- factory made RVs have predictable values so you can know going in how much you pay to try it and bail if its not working. If you buy a used RV you are missing that initial big hit of depreciation and the depreciation slope is then much lower.
    School buses are not designed for off road use for the most part nor are they in the same class as light trucks and cars as far as maintenance goes- so I hope you have good info as to which ones to buy to avoid long term issues. Again, you are the only one who can decide but for me, any rig of an integrated motor coach design is more suited to glamping rather than go anywhere, do anything camping.
    We have considered all that as well. Our intent is to make a school bus our permanent home. So, while it would afford a bit of "glamping" if you want while I attempt a thru hike, I would only be sleeping in it 1 or 2 nights per week, not much different than your average thru hiker and the number of town stays they have. Just mine comes with a "man servant" and a bed that hasn't had thousands of strangers sleeping in it. A big consideration for us in terms of how much space we need (which eliminates vans) is that my husband still works and will for a number of years.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  4. #24

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    So we are one step closer to doing this! Found a bus and put a deposit on it. Scheduled to fly to Phoenix in about 3 weeks to make a final decision and drive it home. The dealer we are working with has an excellent reputation among the Skoolie Nation so we are fairly positive that we will be driving it home!
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  5. #25

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    Best wishes! My wife, she is also my best friend, have the same goal. We are not Schoolies, we are self proclaimed Dirtbaggers, Sprinter van type. I cannot think of a better way to spend the kids portion of their inheritance.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Train View Post
    Best wishes! My wife, she is also my best friend, have the same goal. We are not Schoolies, we are self proclaimed Dirtbaggers, Sprinter van type. I cannot think of a better way to spend the kids portion of their inheritance.


    We spent many months on weighing the pros and cons of converting a van. Even built "walls" in our living room to be able to do layouts in our living room using boxes. Months! Then realized a few basic "truths" about ourselves and the things we don't want to give up as well as the fact that at 6'3" there is NO way my husband can sleep "across" the van. Sleeping the "long way" just takes up too much room.

    Good luck with the van! BTW, I met Bob Wells yesterday just by shear dumb chance!
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  7. #27
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    You may or may not be aware of this, PennyPincher, but many private campgrounds do not accept skoolies as they are not considered proper RVs. As far as I can tell there are no restrictions in national parks and forests. Something to take into consideration when doing your planning. I too am researching the skoolie lifestyle for when I retire. I plan on spending at least 6 months out of the year travelling and living in it. For ease of driving, maneuvering, and parking I'll be looking for a mini school bus. And since I live in Canada, finding a rust-free unit will be my biggest challenge.

    Planning is half the fun so enjoy yourself!

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzzz View Post
    You may or may not be aware of this, PennyPincher, but many private campgrounds do not accept skoolies as they are not considered proper RVs. As far as I can tell there are no restrictions in national parks and forests. Something to take into consideration when doing your planning. I too am researching the skoolie lifestyle for when I retire. I plan on spending at least 6 months out of the year travelling and living in it. For ease of driving, maneuvering, and parking I'll be looking for a mini school bus. And since I live in Canada, finding a rust-free unit will be my biggest challenge.

    Planning is half the fun so enjoy yourself!
    After we are in our bus reach out to me and ask how great the experience is with AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix. Rust free buses. They have a great reputation in the skoolie community.

    Yes, I am aware of the bias of RV campgrounds. I think that's only private ones. State and national parks/campgrounds I believe are equal opportunity!

    But thanks for the reminder, I will call ahead. Also plan on finding out if there are town/city ordinances against parking an RV on the street in the towns near the trail as we plan on being fully off grid capable for up to 2 weeks at a time.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  9. #29
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyPincher View Post
    After we are in our bus reach out to me and ask how great the experience is with AAA Bus Sales in Phoenix. Rust free buses. They have a great reputation in the skoolie community.
    Yes, I am aware of the bias of RV campgrounds. I think that's only private ones. State and national parks/campgrounds I believe are equal opportunity!
    But thanks for the reminder, I will call ahead. Also plan on finding out if there are town/city ordinances against parking an RV on the street in the towns near the trail as we plan on being fully off grid capable for up to 2 weeks at a time.
    Will do! Looking forward to hear about your experience.

    There are parking lots near the trail where day/section hikers leave their cars so those could be parking options although they may be too remote to have cell service for your husband's work. You may also be able to park at hostels. They might charge you a small fee but you'd have a safe place to stay with like minded people.

  10. #30

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    IMHO its bad form to park an RV/school bus for multiday camping in a limited parking area at a trailhead. Sure if its a big developed parking lot that is one acceptable case but pulling into a small parking lot and parking perpendicular across standard parking spaces wiping out multiple parking spaces is poor form. In the Whites and possibly other national forests there are frequently Restricted Use Areas (RUA) that have blanket prohibitions against camping within 1/4 of mile of road and this includes trailhead parking lots. State troopers frequently drive through the lots at night to looks out for car break ins and will normally ask overnight campers to move elsewhere. Some but not all of the state trailhead lots are posted for no overnight camping. It also is generally illegal to park in the active right of way of a state highway. Anyone trying to camp will be asked to move to a more suitable spot. There are some primitive drive in camp sites along some (but not all) of the FS secondary roads, they fill up quickly from June to October. Some but not all might be suitable for parking a large camper but there is zero services (including cell phone). The vast majority of the White Mountain National Forest organized campgrounds are primitive drive in sites (no power/pit toilets and generally set up for car campers. There are two partially developed campgrounds one has limited hookups. The Green Mountain National Forest has similar primitive USFS campgrounds.

    BTW, Baxter State Park has limits on vehicle size for length, width and height. Many RVs including the van based versions frequently exceed the height limits. There is a large parking area just outside the gate that the park seems to direct oversized vehicles to. Its a very long dusty walk along a narrow road to get to the Katahdin Stream from the gate. The limits are not arbitrary, the roads are just not suitable for large vehicles as they are frequently narrow with deep ditches off to the side, full size pickups can sometimes not have room to pass oncoming trucks and either one goes in the ditch or one backs up to wider spot in the road. The trees grow right up to the side of the road and branches hang over the road making the proverbial green tunnel.

    Much of the Maine woods where the AT is located is private forest land. Overnight camping is generally not permitted by the owners. The Maine Forest Service does maintain primitive sites sprinkled inside the privately owned forest land but they are quite popular and are generally not well suited for large vehicles. This also applies to the Mahoosucs in NH. In general once south of the whites there are many of the sections of the AT where far more planning is going to be required for long term camping near the AT. Unlike the US west, there are no BLM lands in the East. Generally a wide spot off a road has to be maintained or it will grow in quickly and sadly there are small group of folks who regard a remote wide spot as a great place to dump trash and debris. There are also folks who think that running a hose from their camper dump tank to a ditch is acceptable.

  11. #31

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    all good points by PeakBagger.

    We are not looking for him to use any trailhead parking for our bus. We wouldn't be so rude. He will find a place to park appropriately, off trail but within an hour drive of where I will likely be at the end of 5 days (Friday night). And we will be towing a vehicle, most likely a jeep. He can then pick me up in the jeep (and maybe another hier or 2) and I can do all my "town chores" - resupply, laundry, etc.

    I will likely spend Fri and Sat night with him, possibly Sun depending on where his next spot will be. I will, as necessary, take a zero day or 2 with him but I can also see myself slackpacking for a number of hours each Sat and Sun. He can drop me off late Sun or early Mon as I said depending on where he will be parked for the next week. That means I basically need to carry 4/5 days of food between resupplies. This may be a little different in some parts, notably Baxter and possibly the Whites. Maybe a couple other places? There may also be times when he needs to fly out for meetings. He currently spends 4 days every 3 months in large planning meetings (one coming up just before we go pick up our bus). But again, that may or may not affect us. We will figure it out.

    The plan is really to find legal camping spots, either with or without hookups, in public and private parks and also on "city" streets where legal or in parking lots of businesses overnight (with their permission). Where we live it is illegal to park an RV on the street (large city) and even in your yard unless your HOA specifically allows it AND you have a tall fence to enclose the yard. I also don't want him to have to move every day as it can be a bit of a chore to pack everything away securely for traveling.

    So Baxter shouldn't be a real issue. We will figure that out when we get there but basically he would have the jeep to drive in and get me (assuming I make it the whole distance) while leaving the bus outside the gates where allowed.

    I hope that clears up what we are planning.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  12. #32
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Agreed. I wasn't suggesting multi day parking at trailheads, I was thinking more about one nighters while your husband waits for you or after dropping you off. That was clear in my mind but I didn't write it in my post so I see why you thought that I was suggesting it. And I keep thinking of myself in a small mini skoolie that takes only one parking spot, not a regular size school bus that would take up multiple spaces. On that note, the East Flagstaff parking lot when coming out of the Bigelows NOBO is huge. That one might work for an oversize vehicle as there would be plenty of parking left for others. It's the biggest parking area I've seen at a trailhead and it has a pit toilet.

    I've been to Baxter State Park with my class B RV and I was surprised to see them actually come out with a measuring tape and measure it. I had read the regulations on their website and measured it before leaving home but I certainly wasn't as thorough as they were. They checked the length bumper to bumper, the width from the end of both side mirrors, and the height including our roof vent that we had forgotten in the open position and asked us to close it. I think we were within an inch of not getting in. But like you said, once I saw the roads in the park it all made sense.

  13. #33
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Overnighting in Walmart parking lots isnít a given anymore. Call ahead and ask a particular Walmart if you can spend the night.
    City rules are changing and overnight parking at Walmart is on the hit list.
    Wayne

  14. #34
    Registered User IslandPete's Avatar
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    We used our RV the whole way. Never really had a problem finding parking, and it was rarely a campground. The AT Interactive Map is your friend. Use it to find road/town crossings for mileage planning. You can see how large the trailhead parking area is. Be creative. We stayed behind American Legions, bars, restaurants, a local farm bureau. All with permission. If we were having trouble finding a spot, we called the local police department, told them what we were doing, and asked for safe recommendations. It can be done!

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by IslandPete View Post
    We used our RV the whole way. Never really had a problem finding parking, and it was rarely a campground. The AT Interactive Map is your friend. Use it to find road/town crossings for mileage planning. You can see how large the trailhead parking area is. Be creative. We stayed behind American Legions, bars, restaurants, a local farm bureau. All with permission. If we were having trouble finding a spot, we called the local police department, told them what we were doing, and asked for safe recommendations. It can be done!
    Thanks!
    Will do.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  16. #36

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    I'm planning on doing that this year (2020, leaving approximately March 15th). I have a 25 foot motor home and a small scooter and will be shuttling myself back and forth up the trail. I'm not going the whole way;leaving from Springer and probably ending somewhere in middle Virginia. I believe I can arrange to leave my motor home in Franklin TN (mile 109), at Fontana (166), Hot Springs (273), Erwin (345), Hampton (if needed prior to trail days) (427), and Damascus for trail days. I have hiked this section a few times and do not have any fears that I cannot find a safe and suitable place to leave my camper. This will also provide me the opportunity to do a few days of trail magic along the way.

    This plan may slow me down but having a place to hang out in bad weather, or hang out and catch up with life in a familiar place seems like a good option for me.

    I'm out this year to have a good time, meet new people and enjoy the hike. If you want to contact me send me a response and I will keep you up to date on how it is progressing.

    Turtle

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