Celebrating a Rhode Island Christmas in a Skoolie

The Chasing the Coastline family parks in their home state for the holidays


While the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss” traces its roots to the Roman Empire, it could have been  penned for the Stone family. Spike and Liz Stone, both originally from Providence, are spending their second Christmas aboard “Green Bean the Bus” with their two young daughters, Pepper and Violet. This is no experience-vacation on rented wheels: the family lives on a 48-passenger school bus that they converted into their own tiny-home sweet home.

If the notion of converting a school bus is new to you, you’re not alone, but neither are the Stones. Known as a “skoolie,” these are retired school buses gutted and refitted as living spaces. “It all happened so fast,” Spike recalls. “We had been talking about doing something like it for a year or two but it didn’t feel like the time was right and we weren’t quite sure how to make it work, but when COVID cancelled the kids’ school, work went completely remote, and the landlords decided to sell the house we were living in for twice the appraisal, we decided to go for it.” The couple bought the bus on June 1, 2020, and two months later took to the open road. “I remember clutching the enormous steering wheel and I couldn’t stop smiling for a couple hours as we rumbled northwest into upstate New York,” Spike fondly recalls.

Inside, the bus is a master class of efficiency and ingenuity. “We wanted it to kind of evoke a beach house feel, keeping everything light. We also took inspiration from Swedish design so everything folds and nests and stores. Keeping it recognizable as a bus was also important. I think the coolest part is that it’s a school bus,” says Liz, responsible for accents like vinyl stickers standing in as washable wallpaper to add warmth and graphic interest. Spike, a general contractor, built things like a sliding pocket table for the stairs, which the girls use as a desk, and a deck extension. Another clever hack was using climbing holds instead of a ladder for the bunk beds. “That idea came to me in a dream!” laughs Spike. “I just couldn’t figure out how to design a ladder into the bunk beds that I liked, and Pepper was climbing everything anyway.”

Together, the family has driven and parked around the country. They’ve hiked through the mountains of Santa Fe, soaked in a secluded hot spring in Taos, made bus friends at the Grand Canyon, strolled the redwood forest, skinny dipped in a snowmelt river in Montana, and smelled a thousand different roses in Portland. “Some of the most fun we had was also in completely random places like coincidentally parking at a cherry farm with another bus family and eating as many cherries as we possibly could.”

This year, the Stones will be parked in the Ocean State. “After our most recent adventure travelling around the whole country in our bus, we got homesick,” Spike admits. “Rhode Island really is a unique place with so much culture, great food, beautiful sites, central location, and access to the ocean. There truly is nowhere else like it.”


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  • KMSummerfest

    Love this story. Truly an education for the children.

    Tuesday, December 28, 2021 Report this