SEMINOLE HEIGHTS, Fla. - A family in Seminole Heights always had dreams of traveling, but that can be difficult while raising three kids in the corporate "9-to-5" world. Still, Eric Hildebrand and Ingrid Poole had an itch to wander and see the country, and that itch needed to be scratched. Then the 2020 coronavirus pandemic challenged them.
"So Ingrid and I wanted to work remotely, unfortunately, COVID came and we couldn't do anything," shared Hildebrand. "I had just gotten laid off."
But sometimes those challenges can become opportunities.
"I had a little bit of money saved," Hildebrand continued. "I thought, maybe we could buy a school bus."
Hildebrand and Poole had been looking for an RV as a means of taking the family on the road. Not just on the road, but off the grid to see the nation.
The cost of an RV was prohibitive and not as safe for their children as they would have liked, so they began searching for surplus school buses. Hildebrand placed a bid on a retired bus in Tennessee and won.
"[I] never drove a school bus before," Hildebrand admitted. "[I was] a little white-knuckled driving on the way."
But he and Poole got that bus home and they spent their quarantine time refurbishing and rebuilding it to be their new home-away-from-home.
"The goal is, you sleep here, and then you're out exploring all day," Poole said. "Our initial goal is to be on the road for at least one year."
It has solar panels on the roof for its power system, a 100-gallon fresh water and another grey water tank.
Poole documented the reconstruction and the plans for their journey on their social media pages.
"We are redefining our life right now, so that's a life by design," Hildebrand explained. "Anybody can do that. It's hard to shift that mindset, (but) we don't know what life brings."
Their rough plan is to start at mile marker 0 in Key West and then to drive to New York to visit family. They hope to be in the Vermont and New England areas for the late August start of fall.
"Five people in a 280-square-foot bus is going to be unique," Hildebrand added.
LINK: To follow their progress, visit ‘Eric and Ingrid's Destination Unknown’ on their YouTube Channel.
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