About Charles kern
It all started when…
My story of buslife begins as most do—a young, impressionable hippy finding solace in the iron arms of a diesel-powered monster. I was 19, the bus was 40, but as they say, age ain’t nothin but a number.
I was in search of a ride to a music festival and came upon a post by a man named Dustin Huth who would come to be a good friend and business partner for the next decade. The bus we took to the Bonnaroo Music festival that year was a 1976 MCI MC8 Crusader. The coach was an ex-Greyhound that had spent the last two decades as a high school athletics bus in Worland, Wyoming. That memorable first trip was my first time behind the wheel of a diesel land-ship and the love story began there.
Dustin and I left as strangers, but returned as friends and realized an opportunity to do something fun and positive for the world. Together we started Bus to Show, a non-profit transportation company providing safe, sober, and affordable transportation to the music and art’s community in Denver. That bus, lovingly named the “Warrior” was, and still is, my first bus love and the first summer we were in business, she doubled as my own home. She was a true road going dinosaur who let me cut my teeth on buses, bus life, diesel fuel, and the fine art of running a bus business without ever asking for much in return. She took us to and fro, and was my home in-between and soon, I was living the bus life.
That business developed and started an entire new model for party busing and community-integrated transportation. It is alive and well today (www.bustoshow.org) and is one of the biggest recreational bus companies in the region. As it grew, so I continued to grow in my career as a busman. I drove school routes, field trips, party routes, weddings, music and art tours across the country, and even taking up work driving for political causes over the years. I’ve spent hot summers and cold winters living in buses converted to many degrees of ‘domestic refinement’ and over these years have owned well over a hundred buses, lived in four, converted over ten, and have never been without one since
In the fall of 2014, I decided to build the bus I had always dreamed of so I bought a 1982 Bluebird International and began the most comprehensive conversion I had ever undertaken. I wanted to raise the roof, insulate it thoroughly, take it completely off-grid, and, most importantly, make it feel like a bus I could call home for a long time to come. I saved my money, busted my ass, made many mistakes, but by the spring of 2015 I had built what was, unquestionably, a home on wheel.
The work was hard, but I met some amazing craftsmen I now have the privilege of working alongside every day, and my bus, The Queen of Peace (named in honor of the Catholic parish it belonged to) turned out better than I ever could have imagined. On a whim (my mom’s suggestion), I applied to be on a show about tiny houses and, wouldn’t you know it, they found my story and project exciting and I became the subject of an episode of HGTV’s “Tiny House, Big Living”—30 whole minutes of cable-tv fame! (Season 1, Episode 12 http://www.hgtv.com/shows/tiny-house-big-living/episodes/charles-and-dakotas-tiny-bus-house)
I loved being in front of the camera and was lucky enough to be asked back on two subsequent episodes before finally being approached to develop a special just about buses called, “Bus Life Ever”. That show is now regularly airing on major cable networks and these opportunities in television opened the door to professional work converting buses into homes for the imaginative—I had my first client before I had even moved into the Queen.
Today, I feel very lucky and grateful to have what many people would call a dream job—turning vintage school buses (and vans, coaches, trailers—anything that rolls) into thoughtful, off-grid homes for people who want to live outside the box. I get to work with a team of designers, fabricators, and craftspeople to turn dreams into reality and who are all, honestly, more talented than me.
I approach the work I do for customers draws on my experience in bus life. I’ve made my living from living the bus life since I was 19 and I am passionate about sharing my knowledge so that my mistakes don’t become my client’s and so my experience can be passed on. When you work with me, you get to work with a team with more experience than anyone else in the business of making bus life a reality.
The bus provides.