For those of you who have been following along since the beginning of our Buslife journey, you know that we have been trying to make it to Skooliepalooza since 2020. Between delays in the bus build, COVID, and an unexpected year traveling with the circus, life happened…and Skooliepalooza (also just called Skoolie sometimes) evaded us for 3 long years. Well this year we said no more–we were finally going to make it, if it was the last thing we did! Colorado snowstorm and long drive be damned, we did it y’all. WE MADE IT! And we are so glad that we did. Like every other event we’ve been to, Skooliepalooza was nomadic-life affirming and we are beyond grateful that 2023 was our year.
Andy and I have written about how life changing nomadic meetups have been for us. Between Descend on Bend and Northwest Nomads we found our people, a home away from home, a community. It’s still a little unclear about what that word means to me, “community”. What I do know so far is that it’s this ethereal concept that when present in the room feels warm, comforting and friendly. It materializes around the bonfire at night, or over a shared meal. It’s the feeling of having friends that share not only your values and lifestyle but the mundane moments of day to day life with you. It’s something really special, and something that in adult and nomadic life for years felt hard to find.
Conceptual ramblings about community aside, Skoolie was AMAZING. For those of you who have never been or heard of Skooliepalooza it’s a 10 day long meetup that happens in the Western AZ only minutes from the CA border. Over 800 rigs popped up in the same place for 10 days to gather, dance, party, share crafts, and just chill together. There were vans, buses, tiny houses, RVs, tents, cars: you name it, it was probably there. Unlike the other gatherings that we had been to this year, there is no overall structure to Skoolie…people kind of just do their thing, whether that thing happens to be hosting concerts and raves after dark, putting on seminars about cryptocurrency, or holding drum circles and healing circles during the day. There is truly something for everyone going on at every moment. This adds a flavor to Skoolie that we hadn’t tasted anywhere else: zero obligation, zero expectation, just events and offerings created from pure joy and desire. How freaking cool is that?!
While at Skoolie, Andy and I mostly set up shop outside our rigs. These events have been big money making opportunities for both of us and that’s something we simply cannot pass up right now. Between Andy’s cookbooks, my jewelry, and the beautiful pottery, paintings and photographs our friends had to share there was plenty for people to peruse in our general area, and it was a great way to get to know folks as they stop by the shop and say hey or grab a quick sample from the cookbook. The huge drawback to this is that we don’t really have time at these events to explore or see other builds. I would like to strike more of a balance between vending and exploration at future events, but for now I will settle for learning the ropes. Our days at Skoolie were bus-bound, but post-sunset, once we put our wares away, we were free to roam and experience more of the magic.
Oh, the magic.
It’s hard to describe the magic of anything…but perhaps just imagine watching the sunset while an amazing folk duo perform from atop a full-size, beautifully converted school bus, hundreds of people in the audience, sitting in camp chairs, circles of friends haphazardly scattered across the desert. Imagine meeting people face to face that you have followed or known through social media for years, and creating a connection that travels from the world wide web into reality…from IG handle to first name. Imagine there being breakfasts and dinners prepared and shared every night, set out for anyone to help themselves to. Imagine dancing the night away listening to DJ after DJ under a cloudless starry sky. Imagine your closest friends wearing fake mustaches one day to celebrate your love’s birthday and then wearing them a second night and covering them in glitter just because it’s fucking fun. Imagine 10 days when your hometown becomes a smattering of nomadic dwellings where art, laughter and generosity abide.
That is Skooliepalooza and we cannot wait to go next year.