This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Smithfield, Utah • A Cache Valley family is in the process of selling their house and possessions and converting a 1978 General Motors Buffalo bus into a tiny traveling home in order to gain a more widespread, cultural life experience.
Though they don't have a time frame for when their adventures will start, Brad and Raecale Stull have constantly been fantasizing about their adventures and the lessons their children will learn from seeing a new backyard every couple of weeks.
"We've always enjoyed living here, but we've always felt like this was going to be a short-term stay for us," Brad Stull said. "Good jobs and comfortable living kept us here for long enough. We're ready for a change of scenery, a change of pace."
Brad, Raecale, and their five children, Mazy, Hope, Laik, Oedi and Ecco, moved to Smithfield in 2006. Originally from Michigan, they were enthralled by the beauty of Cache Valley's surrounding mountains.
"We like the quiet atmosphere of Cache Valley and the solitude you can find up the canyon," Brad said.
Though they love Cache Valley for its natural beauty, the Stull family felt isolated by the valley's culture, stimulating their desire to move. In September 2014, Brad and Raecale started thinking about the idea of purchasing a bus and converting it into a traveling home, enabling them to see the change of scenery they desired.
They purchased a bus from Brigham City and started tearing it apart to see how they could fulfill their desire, but their dream was still far from coming true.
"The bus had a gas engine. My husband is 6 feet tall. It didn't meet our needs," Raecale said.
Raecale started searching endlessly for a coach bus, and they narrowed down the list of a few different coach buses they felt would fit the needs of their family. After scaling Craigslist and other search engines for a while, Raecale came across a 1978 General Motors Buffalo Bus, made in Michigan with a Detroit diesel engine.
With their roots in Michigan, the Stulls knew this was the bus for them.
For Christmas 2014, they flew to Arkansas to get the bus and made their first drive across the country.
"It took us 10 days; we had this plan to geocache all the way home." Raecale said, explaining that her family's plan to play along in a treasure hunt using GPS coordinates didn't quite work out.
A breakdown just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico changed their plans, and they drove from Albuquerque to Colorado and back home, coming through Moab, failing to explore everywhere they had planned.
Regardless, the Stulls said it was a little preview of their adventures yet to come.
"We found online communities who said, 'Prepare for breakdowns because they're inevitable,'" Brad said. "We've set money aside for emergencies and things like that."
The plan is to take off on their journey once the bus has been refurbished and once they've sold all the possessions they cannot take with them. They work on the bus whenever they can, mostly on weekends, Raecale said.
Selling their possessions: a 'want' versus a 'need'
To expedite their plan, they aim to sell their possessions as quickly as possible and have held a few garage sales to start getting rid of their possessions. They have already put their home on the market.
Raecale feels that one of the most important things she and her husband can teach their children in preparing for their journey is that there is a difference between possessions they want and possessions they need, and the bus is too small to fit everything they have.
"It has taken me this long to understand that letting go of stuff it's really just stuff," she said. "At first we decided we'll definitely keep our leather couch, we'll definitely keep our turquoise shelf. We've got to think different, we've got to let go of this stuff. It might be my favorite piece of furniture, but I'm not gonna move my family to Colorado and build a house just so I can have it."
In teaching their children this lesson, Brad and Raecale have frequently asked their children to sort through their clothing and pick out what they rarely wear to either be donated or sold in a garage sale.
"You attach a sentimental meaning to all of the possessions so that makes it more difficult to get rid of them," Brad said. "It's difficult to try to get rid of everything."
Getting their children excited for the journey has not been a challenge, Raecale said. Their children are already home-schooled, which Raecale and Brad feel gives them more of a reason to easily take their teachings on the road and leave life as they know it behind.
Preparing to leave the valley
Though they are not sure how long it will take to sell their house and finish preparing the bus, the Stulls cannot help but daydream about the adventures they will have after leaving the valley.
"We really don't have too many ties," Raecale said, justifying her family's excitement to pack up and endure life on the road. "We've created our own piece of land inside of Cache Valley, and we're really not too much in the community. As transplants anyway, probably (we'll miss) the safety net of Cache Valley, maybe the cleanliness."
Brad and Raecale feel their family needs to let go of that safety net and open their eyes to the surrounding world.
"As far as family goes, it's a great place to raise a family as far as what they're exposed to, but on the other hand, it seems that not exposing them to the way the rest of the world works could be a drawback," Brad said.
"It's safe here. But safe is sometimes boring."