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The Honeyhouse Bus

Featured Image: David Van Atta & Lance Harding

Cody Cirillo and Kellyn Wilson cool down the pace on the roads of North America

When creative minds meet,  great things tend to happen. That’s certainly the case for this Breckenridge, Colorado-based couple, Cody Cirillo and Kellyn Wilson. Adopting a 1962 Chevrolet C50 school bus as their “home on the road,” these skiers transformed the vintage truck into a beautiful, cozy vehicle intended to chase North America’s biggest snow storms.

In its first winter, the rig, dubbed the Honeyhouse Bus, certainly had its fair share of troubles; but what Cirillo, a pro skier on the Faction athlete roster, and Wilson learned first-hand is that arriving at the destination is just part of the adventure. It’s a van-lifer’s cliché, but these two are making the most of their new life riding the highways of the United States and Canada.

While the couple was chasing snow last winter, we corresponded via postcards to catch up along the way, and, once they arrived back home in Colorado, we sat down with them for an interview about their first winter in the bus. Here’s what they had to say…

So, you guys refurbished a bus. What was the catalyst that made you actually go ahead with the project?

Kellyn: We did a trip up to Canada the winter before this one [in] my Jeep. We stayed in the cheapest hotels every night, or shared a friend’s couch, and we realized this would be so much better if we just had a place to stay and way to travel where we could [house] all of our stuff and do it right. This winter, we ended up doing the exact same trip; this time, we took the bus.

Cody: But back even further, the whole idea for building this out like a tiny home was that we’d always talked about having something all our own and giving ourselves that sort of creative opportunity to make something from the beginning. That idea was super appealing. That, and having the flexibility to be on the road and go wherever we wanted to go.

How did you actually find this bus? Was that process difficult?

Cody: While Kellyn was studying abroad in Chile, I started looking on Craigslist religiously. I knew the rough size that made sense—mid-sized, not a short bus or a huge van—but a bus made sense because it was within our price range. Then, one day, I stumbled upon this super old bus in Blackfoot, Idaho. 

Kellyn: I knew it was in bad shape because when I was in South America I wasn’t getting a lot of details from Cody. I was like: What does it look like? How does it run? 

Cody: But I saw this bus and saw potential in it. I didn’t realize until I got to Idaho how much baggage came with it.

There was a lot of work to do on this thing?

Cody: [laughs] Yeah, it was daunting once I saw it in person. I went to Idaho to check it out and it didn’t really drive. It was a rainy morning and the dude who owned it and I brought it to a mechanic and it barely made it there. The brakes weren’t really working—he was just downshifting the entire time. Once it got to the mechanic, it died. 

Kellyn: And he still bought it!  

A look inside The Honeyhouse Bus. | PHOTO: Kellyn Wilson

The inside of the bus is beautiful. How did you go about sourcing the wood and finding all of the pieces?

Kellyn: We knew, in essence, what we wanted. We just had to figure out the little puzzle of where to put everything.

Cody: We needed a wood stove to stay warm, a full bed in the back, a small but working kitchen. The wood-burning stove is great because it dries out all of our ski stuff. And a lot of the [decorative] wood was actually from my parent’s house. They just finished building a place in Breckenridge and they knew the Honeyhouse project was in the pipeline so they saved a bunch for us. All of this wood by the couch is from the siding of their house.

Kellyn: The old barn wood [on the wall] is from a man in Leadville who just has this awesome yard full of reclaimed wood that he‘s found at little farms and ranches. I’d lay them all out on the lawn at this guy‘s house to envision the wall. 

Where do you store your ski stuff in the winter?

Kellyn: We’ve got all these little magnet hooks and, because everything on the bus is metal, these guys stick everywhere. We just hang our gloves and anything else that needs to dry in the winter. Our little sauna-shower turns into a gear closet, too.

Alright, so what are some of the quirks of this vehicle?

Cody: Well, just mechanically, when you turn the lights on, the tachometer stops working. The speedometer doesn’t work, the gas gauge doesn’t work…

Kellyn: We have a little handwritten Captain’s Log of our mileage. We have to manually keep track of the gas…

Sounds like a lesson in self-sufficiency.

Kellyn: A lot of the lessons learned are “greater” lessons. We get pretty philosophical on the bus.

Go on…

Cody: It’s a lot of learning to deal with things when they go wrong. When shit hits the fan, how should I approach it? On our first day driving the bus, Kellyn’s greatest fear was breaking down. And what did we do? We broke down probably four times on that first day. The first time was really stressful and we had to scramble to figure out what to do.

Kellyn: We had the best luck when we got towed; they were the best mechanics for the job. It was this older man and his dad, who was 88 [years old] or something. The fix was so slow-paced, during that downtime I realized there was nothing really to worry about.

Cody: At first, we were all stressed out about getting to the destination and a hiccup like that on the first day set us on a different path. It ended up being the right path. We didn’t need to be in Utah a day earlier. Once we made it to Utah, we got there just in time for a “country club day” at Alta. It was one of the most epic days I’ve ever skied there. 

Kellyn: We would have missed it if we were there on time!

How has building out the bus and traveling in it changed your perspective on skiing?

Cody: Feeling more comfortable with the unknown and accepting it. We don’t know what’s gonna happen on the bus, it could literally break down at any minute. But instead of being stressed and worried—whether it’s about a new line, a cliff, a [mountain] face or whatever—having that kind of thought process of, “I can handle this,” is what it has taught me.

Kellyn: You can handle a lot more than you think, especially when you don’t let it overwhelm you. Something about it being better in the long run. I wouldn’t have remembered a flight to Utah to go ski that day—the whole experience was better for it.

Eventually, you guys got the bus up north to film with Faction for its new film, The Collective?

Cody: Yeah, we met up with the squad [Tim McChesney, Duncan Adams and Alex Hall] in Golden [British Columbia] to go shoot around Rogers Pass. We actually didn’t stay in the bus while we were there; it was the only time all winter that happened. 

While we were there, we’d leave the house at like five or six o’clock in the morning, drive an hour, skin for four or five hours, then you’d be skinning more or building jumps, whatever it was. After all that, we’d head back to the car, drive over the time zone change, eat dinner at seven o’clock, wake up and do it all over again for two weeks.

How were the conditions?

Cody: The conditions were alright at the beginning because it was so cold but it hadn’t snowed recently; by the end, it definitely warmed quite a bit. We were constantly shifting the plan depending on how the snow conditions were. It wasn’t a huge winter up there, and these big lines that you wish you could ski just didn’t cut it. We still had a great time and were able to get a lot of great stuff out of the shoot.

Seems that the bus has taught you to adapt to the conditions and learn to be content with what you have.

Kellyn: You don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else. The bus is slow. It’s not the most efficient way and it’s not the easiest way. But we’re doing our own thing how we want to do it. Everyone has their spot and skiing has that aspect, too. The bus is kind of like that. You don’t always have to follow the group or think how everyone else is thinking. Skiing has a place for everybody. If you want to go a little slower and experience the journey, you can do that too. 

What advice would you guys give to people who want to undertake a similar project?

Cody: We’ve heard a lot of people saying: “Oh, I wish I could do that one day,” or sharing these thoughts and dreaming about doing something like this. Some people don’t ever follow through with it and just live in this idyllic dream-state. That was this project for a long time, too. It just took that first step to really manifest what it is today.