Dean and Marie's Bluebird Bus

I first met Dean two and half years ago in Portland.  Driving up 42nd street, I noticed a handful of Vanagons and old Volvo's parked in front of garage.  Pulling a U turn,  I came back around to check out the vans.  I had just started the Vanlife project and left no potential van undocumented.   Pulling to a stop just past the garage,  I jumped out with my camera in hand to take photos of a beige Vanagon with Volvo badges.

"What does that have in it?" a bearded and ponytailed man wearing a mechanics suit asked, motioning towards my Syncro.

"An Audi 2 liter," I answered turning around, still brandishing my camera.  "Its called a TICO conversion."

"In-line 4,  on its side?"

"Sure is,  35 degrees I believe... Whats with that Vanagon over there with the Volvo badges?"

"It has a Volvo engine from a 240 in it."

"I gotta see that."

After twenty minutes of looking at each other's vans, Dean had to get back to work.  I took his card and went on my way towards California. After winter spent surfing in Southern California and Mexico,  I was back in Portland and needed an oil change.  Retracing my steps back to the garage off of 42nd in North East. Dean had an opening and I sat around as they changed the oil. In addition to a slew of Volvos and miscellaneous VW's, a Bluebird bus with a Vanagon attached to the roof sat in the driveway.

"Whats up with that Bus? Its epic."

"It's my girlfriends, we are getting it set up to live in."

"No way,  What year is it?"

"2002 bus and an 86 Vanagon."


When I sold my Syncro to my mom a year ago,  Dean kept working on it and, they too became friends.  Dean and his girlfriend, Marie, had since moved into their bus in South East Portland.  They wanted more space for a garden and animals and asked my Mom if they could park their bus on some property she owns in the Columbia River Gorge.   Six months ago, they moved out of a driveway in Southeast and into the Columbia River Gorge.  They are setting up a greenhouse, extensive garden,  rabbits, pigs, outdoor shower and 400watt solar set up.    This summer, Marie's honey CSA will be up and running and selling honey from bee's that live in the area.  It's called the Bluebird Apiary.

Wood floors.

Wood storage

Animals of low moral standing.

Wood storage and wires running from the solar panels to the battery bank.

The buses heater and cooking stove.

The chimney comes off a above at the window level of the Vanagon when its time to drive.  The bus gets 8 mpg on the highway. The Vanagon, or penthouse as Dean and Marie call it, is where the bed is.

The sink with running water.

Making tea on the trash burner stove.   They don't actually burn the trash but this style of stove is called that.

It's been very inspiring to see Dean and Marie's bus take shape.  They've done all of the work themselves and found most stuff on Craigslist.  It's built for function and theres a beauty that goes along with that.  I'll update more as their place comes along.

Here are some more links,

Dean's Car Care (Yelp).