San Luis Obispo, many times referred to as a “hidden gem,” isn’t so hidden anymore with an increased demand of residency throughout the county. Unfortunately this means high rent for Cal Poly students. While many houses are crammed with more roommates than they are supposed to, Alden Summer and Alex King, fourth year Mechanical Engineering seniors decided to convert a large school bus into a mobile home.
They spent the entire summer of 2016 transforming this bus into a four-wheel adventure. After they completion, they made multiple trips from Washington to Shasta Lake, and back down to San Luis Obispo. This trip wasn’t exactly traveling in glamour. Summer and King often dealt technical difficulties that they had never faced before, and ended up in a situation where they were stuck in the bus for several days.
“That’s probably the hardest thing in life, to make mistakes. And then even harder is coming back and fixing those mistakes,” Summer said.
Our group felt the hard work and passion that these two students had poured into this mobile home that they now call “The Denali Bus.” Clara Knapp who covered multimedia was surprised by how much they were actually able to fit inside the bus.
“My kitchen in my old apartment was much smaller, which also speaks to the problem with housing generally in SLO,” she said. “People don’t have enough viable living options, and so they opt to do creative things like live in a bus.”
We approached this story with an intention of covering the benefits, hardships, and also the friendships that elevated from this bus conversion. Allison Royal who covered the news editorial piece focused on making this story appealing to an audience that is intrigued by the topic in a relatable way.
“We took this bus – a topic that easily could’ve been discussed from an engineering and construction point of view – and humanized it into a tale of travel and ultimately, friendship,” Royal said.
The Denali Bus is not only a story about friendship and avoiding high rent expenses, but also holds a visual attraction from the audience. The wooden walls and ceiling create a cozy scenery that make such a visually appealing story. Maggie Hitchings covered broadcast and was excited to portray this mobile lifestyle.
“Their Instagram and Youtube channel was so visual so I was excited I got to be broadcast for this piece. I was surprised at how well they built the bus and how much of a liveable space it actually is,” Hitchings said.
The story behind The Denali Bus is appealing to many students who seek adventure in an area with so many outdoor activities as San Luis Obispo. Our group really enjoyed getting to know the creators of such a large project, which made collaboration very easy between us.
“It was a cool experience for all four of us to go see, climb, and explore the bus together as a team despite our busy schedules,” Royal said. “Working together on all the interviews and collaborating I think will make the media in our story that much more powerful.”
Converting a huge school bus into a home isn’t a quick fix, especially for two college students. However, the impact of this unforgettable experience on Summer was clear.
“This will probably be one of the biggest parts of my life. Today, I don’t know what will happen next, but I’ll look but on this and cherish it for sure,” he said.