Before we go into detail regarding what you can find on his school bus, be prepared to be astonished. CJ spent a mere $2,100 (€ 1,950) on this 2004 Bluebird International. He invested $2,500 (€2,322) into outfitting the van, bringing the total cost of this conversion to just $4,600 (€4,273). Isn't that mind-blowing?
What makes his story and this conversion even more inspiring is that CJ did not have technical skills before starting the project – he didn't even know how to work a power tool. However, he knew how he wanted his home to look - sometimes, that's all you need, and it all works out in the end.
The first thing he did was raise the roof by a massive 25 inches (63.5 centimeters) - raising the top of school buses isn't uncommon in the camper world, only people usually choose a lower height. He didn't choose 25 inches per se; he hadn't planned the modification before, and all the metal sheets he bought added up to this height.
Regarding utilities, CJ fitted a 12-gallon (45-liter) water tank and 880 W solar panels on the roof connected to 340 Ah batteries. What's more, he added Starlink to ensure a good internet connection regardless of his location.
Once you step inside the bus, you'll discover its first practical feature, so straightforward yet handy – CJ added a pop-down wooden plank that covers the steps so he can utilize that dead space. The driver's cabin doesn't have any notable element, so let me present the kitchen.
The kitchen takes up quite a considerable amount of space. On the driver's side, you'll notice a spacious countertop, shelves, and various cabinets, as well as an oven with a three-burner stove. Being a fan of mixology, CJ also has a liquor cabinet.
On the opposite side, there's another countertop, right next to a monstrous fridge/freezer – and when I say monstrous, I mean it; I haven't ever seen a fridge of this size inside a camper. It runs on propane, so it doesn't drain the relatively small batteries.
Next up, the bathroom is very simple. It's equipped with a compost toilet, and even though it was designed to fit a shower, CJ says he found other places to shower, so he didn't feel the need to include one in the bathroom yet.
The lounge area occupies the rear part of the interior, with a loft bed above – that's something you don't really see on a camper. CJ managed to arrange the setup due to the significant roof rise. The bedroom features a king-sized bed with a small skylight above. It's perfectly positioned for him to lean on the wall and read a book comfortably.
Underneath, the L-shaped lounge can seat many people, and that's where CJ jams with his folk. The cushions can also be lifted to reveal some storage space. Given that the bus has no side windows, the rear ones help light the room up. In case the weather gets cold, he can use a Cubic Mini wood stove to warm the space.
Honestly, I love this school bus conversion – it's a reflection of CJ's personality, and you can instantly notice it's an artist's home. It goes to show that if you stay true to what brings you happiness, you don't really need the most luxurious space to enjoy van life, or in this case, the bus life.