Riding on a hippie bus from Dillon, MT to Calgary, AB.

A week ago I jumped aboard for a ride on what many people simply refer to as “the bus.”  It’s a psychedelically painted spaceship called “The CoLaboratory” that has driven from Calgary to Guatemala and back.  It runs on dirty vegetable oil and has given rides to hundreds of artists, musicians, and activists from all over the world.  I first got on the bus last year on the way to Burning Man, and then spent some time with the crew at the world rainbow gathering in Palenque, Mexico.  The bus is like an energy vortex that brings about what seemingly could be described as magic any chance that it can.

The CoLaboratory sitting under a double rainbow.


The trip for me started outside of a grocery store in Dillon, MT where I told them I’d be.  The safeway acted as a kind of congregation point for the thousands of people coming and going from the national rainbow gathering that took place 60 miles away.  I was number 18 on the bus and we ended up picking up 2 more while we were there.  Most of the folks would be dropped off in the nearby town of Butte, and only 9 of us would make it all the way to Calgary.

The 850 kilometer (528 miles) trip took us nearly 6 days with some days having us traveling only a short distance to the next small town.  This slow pace of travel had some utilitarian purposes but was mostly due to what the captain has coined as “fuckery”; doing anything other than what needs to be done.

The trip would take us through places of the world that I have never seen before and would leave me spellbound at not only the beauty of the land but also the incredible generosity of its inhabitants.  We lived on the fringe of society in a way that might appall a lot of the people in my life, but for our tight knit crew of gypsies, it has been a time of delightful abundance where we felt safe amongst the chaos of the world.

driving the colab

I’ve always wanted to drive a hippie bus.

We lived off of the waste of a society that has lost touch with reality.  We pillaged food from the dumpsters of grocery stores and pizza places and even stopped off at a thrift store in search of goodies.  Because the bus runs on waste vegetable oil, it was necessary for us to stop along the way to find more fuel.  We often would scope out the oil behind restaurants during the day and then under the darkness of night scamper off to siphon their tanks to keep us moving forward.

Our crew was made up of a group of incredibly beautiful and kindred spirits from different walks of life.  Our ages range from 19-35 but none of that stuff matters when you live in a world where time is typically measured by the amount of daylight left.  We all had something to contribute in our own ways while we all taught, learned, and shared with each other.

The crew of the CoLaboratory.

Some of the crew.

It took us 3 tries to get across the Canadian border.  The first attempt had 3 people denied, and eventually we had to leave one person behind in order for us to get through.  Those nights near the border were some of the best.  With nothing to do and no where to go we just hung out as a family sharing ourselves with each other.  While dumpster diving a nearby pizza place a young women asked if were looking for food.  After telling her where the bus was parked she came by with grocery bags full of food for us.  We feasted at a nearby park, shared a couple of drinks, and then I slept under the stars in a hammock.

Some of my favorite times were just sitting in the parking lots in small towns hanging out.  People would come by to take photos, ask about the bus, gift us with stuff, and come on for a minute to see a glimpse into our lives.  I think it’s a beautiful thing living like this and it’s important that we’re out here doing and showing people examples of alternative ways of life (not to mention tons of fun).

Hammock at a playground.

Sleeping in the park has never been so awesome.

It feels good to live like this.  It’s a life where magical things happen and you meet amazing people.  4 years ago when I set off to live a life on the road, I learned secrets about the universe through experiences.  I learned that if you follow your heart, it will never lead you astray.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have food, water, money, and your bus is broken down on the side of the road in the middle of Alberta; the universe is a magical force that will show you the way if you just stop to look at what it bestows at your feet.

I’m going to hopefully write more about this journey as it unfolds, but for now I am going back on the bus and taking a nap.