It’s an odyssey in the making.
Emily Webb and Adam Mattinson laboured for months and spent less than $10,000 on a 2002 school bus, converting it into a house on wheels for their epic journey to Whistler, B.C., for the winter, then it’s on to Alaska next spring.
“We’re really excited. I think it’s been a long time coming, it feels like we’ve been working on it for so long,” said Webb. “We’ve always liked van living but I think to us, something really important was to have a big kitchen and we wanted to have a shower and toilet, which you can’t really fit in a van.”
The Debert couple will leave Friday, cruising up through New Brunswick and Quebec, before driving west across Ontario on Hwy 417, passing through the lakes and forests of the Canadian Shield. They will continue heading west across the prairies and over the Rocky Mountains into British Columbia and the ski resort town of Whistler, nestled in the forested mountains north of Vancouver.
However, Webb and Mattinson will not reach their ultimate goal of sightseeing in Alaska’s Arctic wilderness until next spring. By then roads will be clear of ice and the weather will be warm enough to live on their bus.
They leave with no set plans to visit any particular spot along their route, but will stop anywhere that takes their fancy.
“We’ll go wherever the wind blows,” said Mattinson.
Their bus home was planned out with sustainable living in mind. The vehicle has solar panels on its roof, the couple’s own water supply and there’s an eco-friendly compost toilet.
The couple started refurbishing their vehicle last year, using recycled wood from the home of Webb’s grandfather. The wood was used to build a closet, food pantry and kitchen storage cupboards around the sink.
“Adam worked at a school bus garage and he realized how livable this thing could be,” said Webb. “We can completely live off the grid, so if we really wanted to pull up to a scenic spot on a lake or something, I think that’s what’s nice about living in this.”
It was Mattinson’s skills as a diesel mechanic that helped the couple get their bus up and running, a career he hopes to pursue while they stay in Whistler.
Webb has experience in the veterinary field and is also an artist, but she’s unsure of what she wants to do in their new winter home.
People can follow the couple’s journey on Instagram at Last Stop Alaska.