Four former members of a University of Florida organization are reuniting for their next adventure — a cross-country road trip from mid-June to mid-August in a refurbished 1971 Blue Bird school bus.
Gainesville residents Jeff DePree, Tara Kleemann, Vlad Pascu and Nick Logel purchased the school bus in January. They said they hope to promote outdoor recreational activities and communal living with their bus excursion.
The four met three years ago through UF’s Outdoor Adventure Recreation, an organization that focuses on outdoor activities.
DePree, a 30-year-old web developer, said although he and his friends have traveled on road trips for the past eight years, he hopes that by having more participants, this effort will promote communal living.
The group found the fully refurbished and furnished school bus on Craigslist for $2,500.
Andrea Gorder, a 26-year-old social media marketer for Stark Raving Foods, bought the school bus in Tampa in 2011. She refurbished it and used it as a workspace and for branding. Gorder later sold the bus to Brian Collins, who held it in storage for a year before selling the bus to DePree, she said.
“The seats were already removed, and the furniture was structured for a family,” Gorder said. “There were a lot of renovations to take it from the state it was in to one in which I would consider living.”
Kleemann, a 23-year-old algebra teacher at Buchholz High School, is currently living in the bus, which is parked at a friend’s home until their summer trip begins.
The bus hooks up to the house through a standard extension cord and uses the home’s electricity, she said. Six people are able to sleep on the bus.
The lights inside the bus charge while the engine is running. Outlets were installed to charge phones and other basic electronics, Kleemann said.
“The trip is more of a novelty,” Kleeman said. “It will create a community aspect that you wouldn’t get if you just hop in a car and have a few friends with you.”
DePree said each traveler will share the cost of gas and camping expenses, which will equal about $1,000 per person. He said they would like more people to join to lower the cost further.
“Those who stay on the bus will probably be people within our network,” he said. “And people we have no connection to will probably only join us for day trips and activities.”
DePree said because of work schedules, some friends and acquaintances may meet the rest of the group for mini trips and later return home after a few days.
Trip destinations include North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, the Canadian Rockies and along the Pacific coast. The group will stop in different cities to mountain bike, hike and rock climb, he said.
“We’d like to use the bus as an example of a place where we can pack people and have everything we need without a lot of space or expensive things,” DePree said. “We are much about doing well with less.”
Nelson Anderson, a 22-year-old nutrient contamination graduate student and president of Adventure Recreation at UF, said he helped with some minor details of the bus, including painting and organizing it.
“The reason I do outdoor activities is to relieve stress,” he said. “I think what they’re doing is a great idea.”
Kleemann said she hopes to encourage people to explore and take advantage of the outdoor activities available to them.
“We want people to get outside, wherever they are,” Kleemann said. “Sometimes people take it for granted.”