Wheel Life Adventure: ‘Skoolie’ families turn retired school buses into homes on wheels

(WSVN) - School is almost out, so you won’t be seeing many yellow school buses on the road anymore. But some families love those buses for a different reason. 7’s Brian Entin has our special report “Wheel Life Adventure.”

Meet the Lawson family: Steve, Charlotte, Owen, Michelle, Jacob, Liam, Matthew, Joshua and Caleb.

When you’re a family of nine, a regular minivan doesn’t cut it.

They needed something big, and they went all out.

Steve Lawson, converted old school bus: “‘Why don’t we do a bus?’ And Michelle said it to me, and I was like, ‘A bus? We’re going to convert a bus? How in the world are we going to convert a bus?’ And then here we are.”

The Lawsons bought a retired Miami-Dade County school bus, painted it light blue and turned it into this.

A home away from home with a kitchen, a bathroom, a master bedroom and bunk beds for all the kids.

Joshua Lawson: “This is the bed. This is my favorite. Best part of the whole bus.”

For months at a time, the Plantation family goes on the road.

Steve and Michelle own a wedding photography business and have shoots all over the country.

The kids are homeschooled, so they learn on the go.

Michelle Lawson, converted old school bus: “It’s really cool to be able to look in a book and read about something, read about a place, and then be able to actually go there and walk around and learn hands-on. It’s just something that most kids don’t get the opportunity to do.”

“Wild and free.” That’s how the Lawsons say this bus makes them feel as they travel around the country.

There is so much curiosity about the bus and their family that they created an Instagram page called “Wild and Free Lawsons” so that people could follow along as they “wander around the country.

In two years, the Lawsons have put 40,000 miles on their bus, traveling from coast to coast and taking pictures along the way.

Steve Lawson: “How do you like driving the bus, babe?”

Michelle Lawson: “For me, it was intimidating the first few times I’ve driven. I can’t drive around smaller areas. I can go on the highway only. But this guy — I mean, he can parallel park this thing in between cars. It’s crazy!”

When they first got the bus, the Lawsons said their neighbors looked at them like they were crazy.

But it’s actually not that uncommon.

Bus families call themselves “Skoolies.”

They meet up at gatherings to show off their rolling creations.

This bus has solar panels on the roof, and another even has a built-in bathtub.

Armando Perera, auctioneer at Bidera Auctions: “The Miami-Dade County logo is removed.”

Miami-Dade Schools auctions off more than 100 retired buses a year, and the auctioneer said families are becoming popular buyers.

Armando Perera: “The benefit is that they’re cheap. You can buy one of these buses for under $3,000.”

Brian Entin: “Wow, $3,000?”

Armando Perera: “Three thousand dollars.”

Brian Entin: “An entire school bus?”

Armando Perera: “An entire school bus. The motor alone is worth more than that.”

The Lawsons and their friends did all the interior work themselves.

Brian Entin: “Is it fun?”

Michelle Lawson: “Fun is an understatement.”

Steve Lawson: “Yeah. I dream of being on the bus all the time!”

This summer, the Lawsons will be heading to Maine.

If you see their big, light blue bus on Interstate 95, give them a honk and say hello.

FOR MORE PICTURES AND INFO ON THE “SKOOLIES” IN THIS STORY:

Wild and Free Lawsons:
https://www.instagram.com/WildandFreeLawsons/?hl=en

Wanderlounge:
https://wanderlounge.net/

Vicaribus:
https://vicarib.us/

The Great Yagl Adventure:
https://www.instagram.com/thegreatyagladventure/

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.