One of the most frequent complaints leveled at the nomadic lifestyle and the whole downsizing trend is that they're not doable in the long term. Alyssa and Monarch are here to show that this doesn't necessarily hold true because they've been doing it for years.
Monarch is the name of Alyssa's second home on the road, which also happens to be one of the coziest and most functional shorty conversions around. A shorty is a short bus, which in this case is a Bluebird Micro Bird, so a Ford E-450 converted into a home with a two-week off-grid autonomy. Monarch is designed and built as a one-person home, but it's also made to go off the beaten track while still offering maximum comfort to the person inside.
Monarch came to Alyssa with 68,000 miles (109,500 km) on the odo. It still has the original Powerstroke 7.3 diesel engine but now boasts an 8-inch (20.3-cm) roof raise that adds headroom (done professionally), proper insulation, and a layout that leaves nothing to chance. Even though this is a five-window short bus, Monarch offers all the features you'd find in a much larger space, including a deep but wet bathroom, a dinette that doubles as a guest room and entertainment lounge, a cozy bedroom, and ample storage options.
Perhaps more surprising is the fact that storage extends to books, which is not something you're likely to see in most builds, whether DIY or professional projects. Because she's an avid reader, Alyssa included a library inside the secret cabinet over the dashboard and additional book storage on the wraparound open shelf.
The bathroom and the bedroom take up the rear of the bus. The bathroom is a wet one but designed in such a way that the swiveling rain shower makes it possible to shower without getting the toilet wet or, more importantly, the wardrobe hidden in the wall above it. The bedroom is the sleeping area, a cozy nook with a large bed framed by windows on one side and art on the other.
Monarch is more than a pretty mobile house: it's an off-grid-capable one, as well. Alyssa counts on 1300W of solar on the roof and a 13kWh lithium battery pack that gives her two weeks of autonomy, including running the freezer and the mini-split AC. She also has a five-camera security system, a 2kW diesel heater and a mini-split, 100 gallons (378.5 liters) of freshwater, a 55-gallon (208-liter) diesel tank, and tank level monitoring for all systems. She's been living in Monarch full time as of earlier this year, both during hot summer days and freezing winter temperatures, and she's never had an issue.