Meet Betsy Bus
Betsy Bus is a 1953 GMC short school bus. Johnpaul bought her from an interesting back yard in Bernalillo, New Mexico. He asked, "What should we name the bus?" and I said, "Betsy!" and that's how it happened.
Now, before you start wondering why we would bring a motel for spiders and stray cats to our house, there is a method to the madness. Betsy Bus is the future home of Old Bus Creations, AKA Johnpaul's woodworking shop.
There's no telling how long it's been since ole' Betsy was independently mobile. There are several church names on the back and sides of the bus but no kids have been brought to church any time lately. As you can see from the photos, Betsy has no engine, no transmission, no seats, mostly broken windows, and six flat tires. At some point, someone had tried to use Betsy as a camper but it's hard to say if that was before or after the engine went away. Maybe they intended her to be a stationary tiny house? All of this missing stuff was just as well because it made the bus lighter and easier to move - which is not to say that it was easy.
A Sign Of The Times
What Betsy lacks in mobility, she more than makes up for in character. She has such a cool classic look, complete with the front grill, rounded back end, split windshields and - get this - an ashtray. Imagine that nowadays, a school bus with an ashtray! "Put down the vape pens kiddies, four out of five doctors prefer Camels!" Personally, I think the shopping carts at Costco should have ashtrays but I've never been one to spend time with children.
Moving The Bus
At the end of the day a tow truck probably would've been a safer, albeit more expensive, option but you know what they say: hindsight is 20/20.
When it came time to address the issue of how to relocate Betsy from a backyard in Bernalillo to our property in Meadow Lake, we were faced with a serious conundrum. Obviously, the bus isn't going anywhere by itself and we don't have a vehicle capable of towing it. Fortunately my dad lives next door to us and has a truck with four wheel drive and a 20 foot flatbed trailer so problem solved... mostly.
What we thought would be quick trip up and back turned into an eight hour adventure in problem solving. With extremely limited room to maneuver the truck and trailer, and Betsy being boxed in on three sides by other vehicles that also haven't moved in years, we were faced with the seemingly insurmountable problem of alignment.
Prior to our arrival, the seller of the bus was supposed to have moved it out closer to the fence so it would be easier to approach but he didn't do that, was not present and offered no help whatsoever so thanks for that, buddy.
Anyway, it's a good thing my dad was there because his vast knowledge of good ole' fashioned git 'er done was called upon time and again to figure this mess out. For four hours, I watched my dad and my husband solve one problem after the next and all I did to help was take pictures and run to Walgreens for snacks and drinks.
The ultimate rowing machine.
The Drive Home
Because of the weight distribution in the bus, the ideal option would've been to load it on the trailer backwards. However, due to the bus's location in relation to all the other junk in the yard, this was not possible. I don't know how much Betsy weighs but suffice to say, she is not a skinny girl and, since there's no engine, most of her weight is in the back. As you can see in the photo below, the back end of the trailer is just inches from the ground. As previously mentioned, the truck has 4-wheel drive so the front wheels did all the pulling but there was another issue...
The weight distribution being so off-kilter caused a serious problem with stability. We had already planned to go slow and take the back roads but we didn't know just how slow it was actually going to be. Anytime the truck exceeded 27 mph the trailer would fishtail wildly all over the road, at times threatening to tip over the whole rig. I was following behind in my car and thought for sure I would have to call 911 while pulling bodies from the wreckage. In order to maintain stability, our caravan was relegated to a speed of 20mph. Do you know how long it takes to drive from Bernalillo to Meadow Lake at 20mph? Don't bother with the math, I'll just tell you. Two and a half hours, that's how long it takes.
It was well after dark by the time Betsy rounded the corner of our driveway and by that time, we were all exhausted, so Betsy spent the night on the trailer.
In the morning, Betsy was delivered to her new home and getting her off the trailer was substantially easier than getting her on the trailer. Big thanks to my dad's mad skillz for getting everyone home safe!
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.