Home sweet bus at Caddo Mounds near Alto - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Home sweet bus at Caddo Mounds near Alto

Dave Heitmann pulls out the dining table in the bus the family of four calls home. (Source: KTRE Staff) Dave Heitmann pulls out the dining table in the bus the family of four calls home. (Source: KTRE Staff)
The Heitmanns built a fence and garden at Caddo Mounds Historic Site in exchange for a place to park their bus. It's just one of many stops around the country the family does as camp workers. (Source: KTRE Staff) The Heitmanns built a fence and garden at Caddo Mounds Historic Site in exchange for a place to park their bus. It's just one of many stops around the country the family does as camp workers. (Source: KTRE Staff)
John Leighton and Rachel Cannon sit in front of their vintage modeled trailer they call Betty. They are at Caddo Mounds this month, but have also worked on cattle ranches and beet farms. (Source: KTRE Staff) John Leighton and Rachel Cannon sit in front of their vintage modeled trailer they call Betty. They are at Caddo Mounds this month, but have also worked on cattle ranches and beet farms. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Kirsten McCormmick, the mother of 5, stands in the kitchen of a bus her husband, Justin, crafted into a motor coach. The solar powered/propane equipped bus has many convenient features. (Source: KTRE Staff) Kirsten McCormmick, the mother of 5, stands in the kitchen of a bus her husband, Justin, crafted into a motor coach. The solar powered/propane equipped bus has many convenient features. (Source: KTRE Staff)
ALTO, TX (KTRE) -

Selling homes and belongings to live a minimalistic lifestyle is generally the first step taken by many host families at state and national parks across the nation. 
    
Their home is often a bus or trailer, allowing them to follow their whim to places they've never seen before. 

Three site host families found themselves at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, west of Alto, and they're making a difference for visitors.

"By no means did we have the intention of moving onto a bus first,” said David Heitmann, a work camper.

For Dave and Ashley Heitmann from Wisconsin the idea of making a blue bus named Blue Bird their only home came in stages, starting with a life that Dave says “got crazy.”

"We owned a chiropractic office,” David said. “We had grown very quickly and created a whole bunch of chaos in our lives."

At first, escapism came in the form of researching RV-ing. 

"When you look up RV-ing on YouTube you come across these crazy people who live in school buses,” Dave said.
"And at first, we thought, literally, they're crazy. Yep,” Ashley said.

Now, they are that kind of people.

"You exchange work for a place to stay and kinda the experience,” Dave said.

The Heitmanns call it “jumping off the fence,” the name of their blog. The exchange at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site was creating a garden and appropriately building a fence. 

The rest of the time Ashley is chasing two outdoorsy girls while being a distributor of essential oils online. Dave keeps up with patients the same sort of way.

"Between Facebook Messenger and Google Docs, you name it,” Dave said.

Their next-door neighbors are John Leighton, a former veterinarian tech, and Rachel Cannon, a former paramedic. Their blog is “Nomad it again.”

"Betty is our retro trailer that we picked up in Riverside, California,” John said.

They normally stay at camps that provide a salary. It's strictly volunteering at Caddo where they're setting up a geocaching trail. So ...

"Currently I'm working at Chili's,” Cannon said. “You have to roll with the punches when you're on the road."

Mentors are just a few feet away. A red bus is the home of Kirsten McCormick and her husband Justin and ...

"Nathaniel, Anthony, Mollie, Connor and Issac,” Kirsten said.

The McCormicks sold their Arlington home and now live in a bus Justin handcrafted into a motorhome. 

"We've got running water. And we have solar panels on top,” Justin said. “We have a composting toilet."

The family has traveled from Justin's native Yukon down the West Coast. With an advertising background, he's volunteering with marketing efforts. 

“Some people assume if you live in a bus, like, you're just a homeless vagabond, and other people assume that you are able to travel that you must be like independently wealthy,” Kirsten said. “But we're just a normal family that wants to show our kids the world" 

"We've been really opened up to how important it is to experience these areas as opposed to just vacationing to an area,” Heitmann said.

"You get a job to buy stuff, and here you get a job to pay for gas and food, and honestly that's all you really need,” John said.

Search living on a bus. You'll find there are a lot of travelers in agreement.

All the families have routes set for other parts of the nation. For the McCormicks' blog, click here. To follow the Heitmanns on their journey, click here. Rachel and John also have a travel blog. In addition, here's a link to Caddo Mounds, which has a new homeschooling program and lots of spring activities.

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