A Tuolumne County family is hitting the road this weekend in a partially converted school bus as part of their commitment to starting a life of mobile sustainability in their new home on wheels.
Tuolumne County native Aimee Haasteaby, her husband Aaron, originally from Chicago, and their daughters, Avani, 5, and Arrow, 3, hosted a party at their homestead in Groveland on Wednesday for friends and neighbors to help them paint the 2006 Thomas school bus green before they embark on their adventure.
“It’s an opportunity to travel, to live small, use less resources, less water, less electricity, and be self-sufficient,” Aimee Haasteaby, 41, said.
The Haasteabys got the bus for $9,000 from a Fort Mojave seller. The grownups want to call it “Abeona” for the Roman goddess of outward journeys and safe passage, but the girls were calling it “rainbow” as they painted it in their driveway Wednesday.
They have already converted their hillside homestead outside Groveland into an eco-friendly vacation rental with onsite caretakers. They intend to travel, promote environmentally-friendly, affordable housing and real estate — what they call “green living anywhere” — through their business, Green That House campaign.
They had help painting Wednesday from Mike Horvath, 70, of Pine Mountain Lake, who used to work with Aimee Haasteaby at Hetch Hetchy for the City and County of San Francisco; Tammy D’Antonio, 56, owner of All Seasons Groveland Inn; Marc Fossum, 65, of Groveland; and Melissa Stewart, 50, with SpiceStash of Groveland; and Jamie Ploffe, 35, of Groveland; and Aimee’s mom, Claudia Day, 65.
The Haasteabys intend to start out Saturday and take six or seven days to get to Chicago, to visit Aaron’s family and finish their bus conversion, and then they’ll head east to Virginia and Massachusetts, where Aaron has more relatives in both states.
“We want to stay south, to stay out of the cold weather,” Aaron Haasteaby, 37, said. “The only heat on the bus right now is for the driver.”
He said he’s been to the eastern starting point of old Route 66 in Chicago, and he’s driven the entire length of Route 66 before, so they might use parts of Route 66 on their way next week.
The Haasteabys will be seven together on their rainbow bus when they take to the road, with their 10-year-old Rottweiler, Zeus, and two cats, brother Moon and sister Star.
Leaving their homestead to move around the country by bus is part of the family’s plan to “reduce our footprint on the earth,” Aaron Haasteaby said.
Aimee Haasteaby was born in Sonora, she’s a graduate of Curtis Creek El and Sonora High School, Class of 1998, and she studied biology at Arizona State before she earned her master’s in watershed science at Cal State University Monterey Bay.
She also studied abroad in Australia and traveled extensively in her 20s and 30s, with destinations including Bali, Thailand, Italy, Germany, and with Aaron, the Central American nations of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador, as well as Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu with her mom on Mother’s Day in Peru.
“I’m a gypsy at heart,” she said. “I gypsied all through my 20s. In Australia I lived in Perth, a west coast beach town, scuba-diving.
“Now we want to travel,” she said. “The goal is to do green real estate. Buy distressed properties and rehab them with environmentally-friendly features like rain water capture, gray water use, solar power, high-efficiency appliances, and try to produce self-sufficient single-family and multi-family affordable green living units.”
Aimee Haasteaby described the bus experience as an adventure for her family, an opportunity to teach her daughters Spanish and experience the country together, while practicing the same affordable green-living principles and mobile sustainability.
Their bus will eventually be outfitted with freshwater storage, filtration and ozone for re-use of gray water from their shower and laundry, to water their bus-board herb garden, which will include cilantro, dill, and basil.
They say their homestead is eco-friendly because it has plumbing converted to divert gray water to irrigate their apple, pomegranate, cherry, and fig trees in their 10-tree orchard. They also have rain water capture, raise chickens for the fresh eggs, compost, and use non-toxic cleaning products.
Their Groveland homestead will be listed on Airbnb as “North Dome Homestead.” The place has a hillside view of Duckwall Mountain and the Tuolumne River Canyon, and on clear nights they can see the lights of Tuolumne township and Twain Harte.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or (209) 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.