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Having a bustling holiday

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” High above I-70, an illuminated deer lawn ornament surveys the traffic below, while giant candy canes hang from a nearby tree. Behind the decorations, a sleek 40-foot customized bus is covered in Christmas lights.

It’s Christmas on wheels with Kenny and Janet Craven at Ami’s Acres Campground just west of Glenwood Springs.

“We always make a point of decorating the bus for the holidays,” said Janet.



The Cravens are used to spending Christmas in their snug little house ” albeit a 1970 Silver Eagle coach ” even though the view outside may change from year to year.

“We might be here in Glenwood, or California or Nevada at Christmas,” said Kenny. “But no matter where we are, it’s not about a particular place. It’s still Christmas.”



Janet’s sister, Louise Anderson and her husband Ben, live in Silt, and Kenny and Janet will be spending the holidays with Louise and her family this year.

Christmas on a bus can provide its own unique challenges ” like where to hide Christmas presents in such tight quarters.

“I’ve hidden Janet’s presents in the back of the pickup under a tarp,” Kenny said, motioning towards his 1998 GMC truck parked outside.

There also isn’t a lot of room for elaborate holiday decorations inside the bus.

“We usually get a little tree and set it up on the dining table, but this year, I didn’t get around to it,” Janet said. “So I just strung lights on our philodendron.”

The coach is deluxe, and it’s also compact and efficient. There isn’t much room for extras, like, say, boxes of Christmas cards.

“I don’t send them,” Janet said. “You know what I do? I call everybody and tell them I love them.”

“Yep,” added Kenny. “That’s what e-mail is for. I send out e-mails.”

A comfortable little home

The Cravens are used to their nomadic lifestyle. Since they married 10 years ago ” on a bus, no less ” they’ve been traveling on one of two buses they own: their 1970 Silver Eagle and a vintage 35-foot 1959 model that Kenny painstakingly restored.

The Silver Eagle is quite a ride. It’s got a master bedroom, full kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, a Corian countertop and gas stovetop, a bathroom with a shower, and dining and living areas.

Kenny purchased the coach from “a real well-known entertainer,” he said. “I’m not going to say who it is.”

He said it was originally a Continental Trailways bus made in Belgium that the entertainer had converted into a coach.

But by the time Kenny purchased it for $40,000, the coach had seen better days.

“It took me five or six years messing with it,” Kenny said, which included remodeling the coach’s original tiny kitchen. “It was a mess. The windows were broken, the furnishings were awful and the carpet was in bad shape.”

In addition, Kenny had to repair the engine, the brakes and deal with a host of cosmetic issues.

Today, though, the coach is a comfortable place to be. It’s fully insulated and toasty warm. A chime clock rings on the quarter hour. Most of the interior is solid wood, and the ceilings gently curve. Two phone lines ” one for a phone and one for an Internet connection ” snake their way into the bus. A television sits recessed in a cabinet. The couple’s laptop sits on a little desk.

Two Manx cats ” Willy, who the Cravens got from Las Vegas, and Emma, from Minnesota, patrol the coach.

“They’re indoor cats,” Janet said, of the two felines. They don’t seem to mind when the Cravens pull up stakes and head off down the road. “They get a little nervous when we start up the engine, but once they get used to it, they’re fine.”

Eliminating impulse purchases

Kenny, originally from Bakersfield, Calif., said he first got the living-on-a-bus bug from friends who had given up their houses in exchange for a coach.

“I had friends living on buses, and I kind of thought it was cool,” he said.

That’s when Kenny bought his first coach ” his vintage Greyhound bus ” and moved in full time.

The bus came in handy with Kenny’s work at hazardous clean-up sites around the West.

“I could just drive the bus to the job site and be home right there,” he said.

And Janet embraced bus living when she and Kenny married. For the past several years, the Cravens have been spending about eight months a year at Ami’s Acres. Janet drives a dump truck for Alpine Trucking in Gypsum, and Kenny drives a water truck for Lafarge.

The rest of the time they spend in Pahrump, Nev., where their vintage bus is parked, and where they have a storage unit filled with their furniture, antiques, and all their belongings that won’t fit into their coach.

“We owned a house but sold it,” said Kenny. “There are advantages and disadvantages to not being able to go home to a house. The way we live now, there’s no garage, and no place to work on cars. We don’t have a patio. Sometimes I miss the house.”

And though the couple enjoy their lifestyle, they imagine they’ll be house-dwellers at some point again.

“I’m sure sometime we’ll have a house again. But having a house can have its disadvantages. The year before last, we had a water leak in the house while we were out here. Plus, you buy less when you don’t have a house since there’s nowhere to put anything. Living here eliminates buying things on the spur of the moment.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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