Looking into 2017 at Blue Sky Center
Have you ever packed up and moved to a place you’ve never been, nor heard of? I have, on two occasions. Make that three if you count when my father was stationed in Idar-Oberstein, Germany when I was about the same age as my son is now. This past fall found me and my family in such a place. New Cuyama, California. It is a forgotten town of about one thousand people in the Cuyama Valley of California’s central coast. We came to be in this place because I chased a job that didn’t exist in a place that my potential employer apparently didn’t intend to continue doing business. Which was a blessing that I could never have asked for. I brought my family here for a job and stayed because we fell in love with a place. We live in our 1978 GMC coach which is currently parked on a three hundred thirty acre property owned by a non profit foundation called Blue Sky Center. The position I find myself in is not one that I ever would have seen myself in, although I’m well qualified for the job. The town is not one I had ever heard of, let alone thought I’d live in but it is perfect for the now.
We can live in this place because less means more to us. We have foregone the career path that I set upon fifteen or so years ago. Because although it means less money, we have more time. And time is a wealth that cannot be traded. I choose to spend my time with my family rather than in pursuit of income. In the coming months I will drive a backhoe, develop an organic food co-op, welcome campers from around this country and the world, build relationships with students in the local school district, and so much more. And all the while my home will be a few yards away and my son will most likely be wandering the grounds of Blue Sky Center, his imagination the only limit to his adventures.
Over the coming months we have grand plans, both for Blue Sky Center and for ourselves. I have access to a fantastic wood shop, mere feet from the door of our bus, in which to create, piece by piece and day by day, the dream that we wish the interior of our bus to be. Even more valuable, we have Chris. Never have I met a more gifted craftsman, and humble. Chris is the only other full time resident of Blue Sky Center. He, Renae, and I work together daily, furthering the aims of Blue Sky Center. He shares a similar life, valuing the collection of experiences (and nice tools) over things. We’re not traditional minimalists in the austere sense. We tend to gravitate towards the ideal that More isn’t Better, Better is Better. A good friend once told me that the things he creates are things that are meant to be inherited. We try to keep this in mind when making an important purchase. While some might think that we make extravagant spending decisions, we feel that we purchase one thing, once, that will serve it’s purpose and not need replacing for our lifetimes, nor our son’s lifetime. It’s been called extravagant minimalism vs meager consumerism. And it’s not just a philosophical stance, it’s utilitarian. We’re not in a position to run out to Target and replace a blender, or to run to Home Depot and replace a tool. We need to count on the things in which we have invested in to do their job, whether it’s a piece of clothing, a tool, or a kitchen appliance. We purchase things to last, and the things we own serve us well.
Here at Blue Sky Center we wear a number of hats. Renae and I run the campground aspect of operations here, which means among other things, greeting campers and maintenance and improvement of the grounds. In the short few months since opening to camping, we’ve hosted people from around the United States and as far as Turkey, Australia, Iceland, and The Netherlands. Just recently Renae met with the Superintendent of the Cuyama Valley School District. He has identified a particular student with an interest in web development and art. Renae and I are going to be meeting with her for one period a week at the High School, sharing with her our collective knowledge of graphic design, web development, and other tools that should help her develop her skills and interests. We’re also putting together an organic food buying co-op, open to anyone here in the town of New Cuyama, which is thirty miles from the nearest grocery store. All the while Renae is connecting with other home schooling families here in the Cuyama Valley and hosting small gatherings to do art and life with other like minded folks and their kids.
We haven’t had the time or resources to do much work on our bus since we’ve been here but are constantly dreaming, scheming, and planning out how to best renovate to better suit our family. I’ve had the good fortune of getting in touch with a gentleman in Bakersfield, about 60 miles from here that has a beautiful vintage GMC 4106 bus that he’s willing to give me, which would be the source of more parts than I could dream of tracking down, let alone afford. It was previously converted to an RV but has since been gutted, which is perfect for our intentions. The only catch is that it needs to be trailered due to some relatively minor mechanical issues so we’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars to have it hauled here. One of the foremost projects on our list of bus improvements is replacing the door. Ours has a very rare configuration for it’s type, having double doors like what you’d find on a city or school bus.
It’s not ideal for a number of reasons, and this bus in Bakersfield has the exact sedan door and bumper configuration that would have typically come on our model of bus and could be swapped out relatively easily. That one aspect alone is worth the thousand dollar freight bill (literally, I’ve found only one such door and bumper available for purchase at around eight hundred dollars plus freight) so we’re eager to make it happen. During my in between moments I’ve been rebuilding the power steering system in our bus, which developed some problems and ultimately gave up the ghost during the last few hundred miles of our journey to California this past fall.
And this is a glimpse into what our lives look like at the moment, we wish the best to you and your family in the coming year…more to come.