Howard and Ellen Best
Before we even got close to getting a bus, we decided to go to the 2009 Arcadia Bus Rally to look at buses up close and personal. Jim had done a bunch of Internet research but we both wanted to see the spaces and confines for ourselves. So we flew down to Florida. We were there for several days and we took lots of photos and met lots of people.
When we met up with one couple and they heard our plan to buy a bus and sell our house and go full time she said, “You have GOT to talk to Howard and Ellen Best; they have been living in their bus for twenty years!” Wow! That was impressive and just the kind of information we needed.
By the time we wandered over to Howard and Ellen’s bus to introduce ourselves, I had decided to do a series of articles for Bus Conversion Magazine, just like I had several times for the Falcon and Oldsmobile Clubs. One thing I have learned as an Editor is that if you want to have plenty of material to publish, you should generate it yourself. So I do.
When I approached their bus, Ellen was reading a book in her chair out under the awning and graciously invited me to join her. After we had chatted for just a few minutes, I knew they would be a great subject for an interview. As we talked, Jim and Howard joined us and we spent a good part of the afternoon talking to them. They were so experienced and knowledgeable and we were totally green and wet behind the ears. You might think a combination like that would never hit it off, but we did. Howard opened all the bays and we got a feel for what we might be in for if we decided to take the plunge and get a bus. Ellen took us on a tour of the inside and we met the kitty. All in all, we had a very enjoyable afternoon with them and exchanged addresses and phone numbers. Howard encouraged Jim to call him with questions anytime. Whatta guy!
Before the Bests’ article appeared, I wrote an article about the rally for BCM which is how we found our bus.
I did end up writing the article, The Bests in the Bus, and it appeared in the February 2010 issue of the magazine. We kept in touch with them some as they traveled the country and we were invited to, but could not attend, their annual pig roast that year. Darn. We begged them to stop and see us anytime they were near.
After we bought it and picked up The Mighty Bus in Las Vegas, and Captain Ted taught us how to drive it, we brought ‘er home successfully, just the two of us, through the mountains and across the plains. That was quite an accomplishment, but we knew we still had a tremendous amount to learn. And it was just beginning to sink in that we now owned this bus and had a lot to digest. Lo and Behold! Literally, about three or four days after we got back, who called? Howard and Ellen. They were traveling through and we made a plan for them to visit with their friends Anna and Andy. I told them that we literally had just brought it home and As soon as they arrived, Howard and Andy and Jim got busy looking things over on the bus. Jim is the thorough type and he had a long list of questions and problems he wanted to run by Howard. Jim was still pretty nervous about all the systems and things to become familiar with and he said that while they were going over the bus, Howard kept whispering, “Big learning curve…” At least Jim didn’t tell me that till later.
We had a very nice visit and dinner with them and they were off. We kept in touch, then Jim retired and really got busy.
This year we couldn’t attend the pig roast because Jim had a contract teaching job that was too good to pass up. Darn again. I promised that we would come next year and we are going – no matter what! Then they called this week and said they were on their way to Las Vegas and would be stopping through. We were so excited that they were coming and wanted them to see all the stuff Jim has done to the bus. They are traveling with their son and his wife and four kids, in two buses. We met up at Cabela’s and just as we exited the highway, I saw a bus and knew it had to be them, but it wasn’t Howard’s, it was Christopher and Jackie’s Bluebird Wanderlodge. Then we saw Howard and Ellen’s in front. It’s always fun on the highway to see a BUS, not just an RV. This was a bonus because there were two of them.
We ate some Kansas City barbecue and then headed down to our place to check out the bus. We are quite a ways from Cabela’s and it was nice of them to take the time to come. Of course, although it hasn’t rained in ages here, as soon as we came out of lunch it was raining. We need it, but… not such great timing. We showed them all the stuff we had done and Howard said to Jim, “You’ve been busy.” He noticed the redone dash right away and it was really nice to have him see it again after the first time when we were so green. We are still pretty green, but getting much more comfortable. Now when I see somebody in a bus, it really makes me want to GET UP AND GO down the road.
Thanks Howard and Ellen, for being our friends and for taking the time to think of us and come to see us. And thanks to Christopher and Jackie and the kids, Christian, Ethan, Christina and Bree. They are all heading for Las Vegas for an air show with the Thunderbirds. Jackie’s son just happens to be a crew chief for them, how cool is that? Then off to Colorado where they will spend a month in the Rockies. We won’t be able to see them on their way back, since they will be taking the southern route, but we vowed to meet on the road soon.
As they were leaving, I said to Howard, “Come see us!” And he said “We do!”
Some photos of the crew…
Howard and Jim
Christina, Christian, Bree and Ethan. Really good kids. Glad to meet you guys.
I told you I’d put you on the Internet.
Jackie and Christopher. Thanks for indulging us and letting us spend time with Howard and Ellen.
Safe travels all and come back soon!