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Family ditches NYC apartment to live on a shuttle bus


Today | YouTube

Sophia Swinford - published on 09/27/17

It was a risk, but the adventure seems to be paying off.

David Bowman’s bucket list consisted of two things: live on a bus and visit every national park in the U.S. So when his wife, Madison, who had encouraged him to make the list, saw the items, she had to try to make them happen. The couple, along with their kids (4-year-old Graham and 1-year-old Margaret), ditched their Manhattan apartment for an airport shuttle bus and began to renovate it for their adventures.

David told “Why settle into regular life when it’s 2017 and you can work on the internet?” And settle they did not. After purchasing the shuttle bus on eBay (and christening it “Buster”), the family set to work tearing out the seats and refurbishing the inside, installing a master bedroom, a kitchen, and bunkbeds. Finally, on May 26, they set off, driving up the California coast towards Alaska, recording their adventures on American Field Trip.

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I mentioned in an earlier post that our day cruising with @majormarinetours in Kenai Fjords was one of the most jaw-dropping days of my life. And it's totally true that we saw loads of marine wildlife and that I silently wept over every single whale. But also on that day, we nearly missed the boat, Graham threw up all over the deck multiple times, Margi had a few meltdowns, I dropped David's nicest lens on the floor (thankfully it still works fine), and we missed seeing a lot of animal shenanigans because we were busy wrestling (or mopping up after) the niños. So in the midst of all the epic beauty, some chaos: that is probably the theme of our trip so far. And though I had plenty of crazy days as a stay-at-home-mom in NYC, constantly changing our environment ups the intensity a bit. What I'm realizing, or maybe just being reminded of, is that bad days and chaos and stress and boredom and the stomach flu find you EVERYWHERE, no matter what you're doing with your life, no matter if you're quietly living to yourself or if you're balls-to-the-wall ramming your dreams through life, consequences be darned, like Mitch McConnell trying to repeal the ACA. So if life is going to be complicated and tricky and at times downright unpleasant, we might as well settle in with that fact and do what we can to set ourselves up for maximum joy, too. I remind myself of that on days when this trip seems crazy, when I wonder what in the world we are thinking, believing we can just ditch a perfectly lovely life to live out this dream and hopefully find ways to be helpful to the world and make enough money and not get eaten by bears. Maybe what we're doing is crazy, but life itself is pretty crazy. And this way, when I'm mopping up vomit or rescuing a flung beanie from going overboard for the thousandth time, I know I'm exactly where I want to be. And the view from there can't be beat. (Every family pic we got that day was blurry; it's too much to expect strangers to be both kind enough to offer to take your picture *and* adept at DSLR usage.)

A post shared by Bowmans, Nat’l Parks, Roadlife (@theamericanfieldtrip) on

“We love the idea of preserving wild places for people to go recreate, recharge, and witness the wonder of nature,” the couple says on their website. But the best part? Watching their son grow with each new challenge.

“I love seeing Graham’s confidence grow as he does things he doesn’t think he can do,” Madison said. “Whenever we finish a hike, listening to him talk about what he was able to do and the things that he saw has been incredible as a parent.”

In all likelihood, the kids won’t have any recollection of the 18-month escapade, but Madison says that traveling is valuable for more than the memories. “If it turns out to be a total bust,” she concludes, “it’s seriously the funnest bust I could imagine.”

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