The Gypsy King of Recycling

Arranging to sleep in a school bus on Johns Island I met Johnny Reaves, a man who can recycle anything into love.

On a road trip to South Carolina I only had three places marked as destination points and the rest I left up to the good wind. The first place was the only confirmed sleeping reservation I had made and it was a recycled school bus on Johnny’s property. Discovered on Airbnb this adventurous sleep came with a comfy queen sized bed and an outdoor shower where inhibitions weren’t invited.

After a series of delays I arrived late at night during a thunderstorm and my gracious host expressed no worries other than my safety. The converted 1972 school bus is located on his property near his tiny house that he made with his bare hands. His dog Raisin greeted me with warm kisses and an overzealous tail. I was led over a small wooden pathway past an outdoor gazebo in the making and through a small sea of bamboo to the bus he originally converted for himself to live in while he was building his home.

What is most inspiring is that Johnny converted the bus and built his home with no construction background and used either free, deeply discounted or recycled materials. He politely said good night after giving me the 411 of the place and immediately I was thankful for the comfortable vibe Johnny and Raisin were putting out there.

In true gypsy fashion the bus is decorated with an artful and eclectic taste. Countless essentials were at my disposal including a microwave, fridge, books and air conditioning. Next to the bus, outside, is the composting toilet and shower. I will be honest those particular amenities did raise an eyebrow but by morning I had stripped away my clothes and my hesitations to enjoy a hot shower with nature. The toilet ended up being nothing to fear.

What makes Johnny come alive?

My stay was short and I deeply regret missing out on having more time with Johnny and his girlfriend Stacy. When asked, neither of them had a short answer for what makes them come alive but one thing was clear, even though they were strangers we were definitely from the same tribe. Connection of all kinds and colors is what seems to make their eyes widen with fire. From tending to their organic garden beds, weekly trips to the farmers market and giving massage/Reiki sessions these are two souls that are quite alive. Their connection to Earth, animals and people along with the wanderlust that breeds between them, allowed me to label them as certified cool and authentic humans.

Johnny is a massage therapist and can now put bad ass tiny house builder to his life resume and Stacy does amazing healing work and owns a pet boarding facility. They started a Meetup group to teach others how to build tiny houses, all fueled with love and compassion.

If we can learn to recycle everything from our glass bottles to our own hurt and sorrows this world would be a much greener and comfortable place to be. I am grateful I had just enough time to give high fives to this amazing couple as they live big, loud and free from the norm.

I hope it rains when you go because the rhythmic beats of nature pounding rain on the bus like a metal drum is nothing short of amazing.