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Sask. couple finishes home on wheels after nine months, starts adventure

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Karlen Janiver, left, and Shanny Kirby, right, left Saskatoon on Saturday to begin their travels in a bus they spent the last nine months renovating to be a home on wheels.  (Dayne Patterson/CBC News - image credit)
Karlen Janiver, left, and Shanny Kirby, right, left Saskatoon on Saturday to begin their travels in a bus they spent the last nine months renovating to be a home on wheels. (Dayne Patterson/CBC News - image credit)

It's a surreal feeling, Shanny Kirby said, right before closing the wooden door to the creamsicle-toned 2002 Bluebird bus that she and Karlen Janvier spent nine months renovating.

Before the Saskatoon-based couple met, they wanted to renovate a bus and travel in it. When they met, and Janiver said he had the same dream, Kirby joked she only thought he was trying to flatter her.

It appears he wasn't.

The couple bought a bus together on December 19. Just a day short of nine months, on Saturday, the two pulled out of their driveway and started toward their first destination: the Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island.

"There's people making a stand to support the … old growth forest out there from being totally clear cut," Kirby said.

"So, [we're] going to go out there and help support them however we can and then explore around the island a bit."

Their original plan had teetered on the pandemic easing up before their planned departure in September. They hoped to travel to the United States and South America. A resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic's fourth wave made them reconsider.

Home on wheels

The bus is outfitted with nearly everything they want: a composting toilet, rooftop solar panels, a shower on the back.

There are some small additions, the couple said, like an awning off the side for rainy days that have yet to be outfitted for the bus.

Dayne Patterson/CBC News
Dayne Patterson/CBC News

"We had a totally different plan in the beginning, like it reached a point where the bus was almost building itself," Kirby said.

"The layout was different than we initially planned, but it's just as you go you have to problem solve and just tackle each problem one-by-one and ... I'm in love with the bus."

Shanny decorated part of the interior with colourful tiles, and Janvier made his mark with artful, wooden pieces on sections of the walls.

Dayne Patterson/CBC News
Dayne Patterson/CBC News

But what matters the most is that they built it themselves.

"It's just special because we've been in here the last couple nights [and] it's like every time we roll up a curtain or turn on the water or open a cupboard drawer, start a fire, it's like 'We did all of this. We made that happen,'" Kirby said.

"We built everything ourselves and that's a really satisfying feeling."

They said they're not sure how long they'll live in the bus, now that the wheels are going round, but the tentative answer is "as long as we want to."

"My family doesn't particularly love that answer," Kirby laughed. "Maybe a year, maybe a couple years, maybe only half a year, we don't know."

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