Consider this: You’re in a relationship, you love working with your significant other, and you both want the freedom, flexibility, and adventure of making a living on your own schedule. And what if you love traveling, spend your vacations driving around the country on back roads, and want to see more of the world?
If you’re Samantha B. and Craig D., you leave your corporate jobs to build a business through TaskRabbit, spend years scouring Craiglist for the perfect bus, and renovate it together with plans to travel the country while tasking on the side. The couple of thirteen years got their start as Taskers two years ago, when Craig was laid off from his research analyst job after a company merger. With over 300 tasks completed between them (from furniture assembly, to minor home repairs, to computer help), they haven’t looked back.
Now, Samantha and Craig are tackling their biggest task yet: building “Pickle,” their dream tiny home on wheels, which they hope to drive across the country while continuing to task. And they’re taking us along for the ride! Follow along here and on Instagram at @life_with_pickle for updates on the renovation. To kick off, Samantha and Craig share their plans for Pickle, the story behind the name, and the ins and outs of parking a bus in their LA neighborhood.
The idea for Pickle came from Craig and Samantha’s love of traveling. “When we worked full-time, for vacation, we would rent a car and just drive all around the country on any back road we could find,” Craig says. When he and Samantha saw a video tour online of a van-turned-home with a handicapped door in the back, they immediately latched onto the idea of a bed that “opens up onto the world” so they could wake up to views of wherever they were traveling.
“The whole design stemmed from that door,” Samantha says. “We had to have that door, and it had to be in the back of the bus.” After three years of saving their tasking earnings and combing listings, they struck gold. They found a Craigslist ad for an old airport shuttle — with the elusive handicapped door in the back! — in nearby San Bernardino, and decided to take the leap.
Why “Pickle?” Samantha chose the name after the Sweet Pickles children’s books that she read as a kid. “I would get so excited to get the pamphlet to order them. It was the same joy I felt when I got the bus — that amazing feeling of the best thing ever.” She and Craig drove Pickle home this past April, parked it in front of their house, and got to work.
“The moment we realized it was going to be much more work than we thought…”
Since the bus serviced an airport, Craig and Samantha assumed it had been regularly maintained under the hood. They plan to preserve the motor, rip out the interior, and create a gypsy caravan-style home on wheels with a closed-off bedroom in the back. Craig used his experience as a computer programmer to mockup a 3D design on Google Sketchup, but they’re all too familiar with the delays and deviations from plan that go hand in hand with renovations like these.
The list of tasks is long, and each one seems to unearth a few more things to do: repair water damage by the handicap doors and waterproof them, pull up the floors to fix some rust and rot, fix another leak in the front of the bus, pull off walls to get rid of mold — and that’s just the structural work!
“We’re hoping to be done by Christmas!” says Samantha. “We have the rough idea of what we’re going to do, but we know we’re going to change as we go.” She and Craig currently work on the bus a few days a week while continuing to task. They’re accompanied by Maynard, their 13-year-old, 90-pound pitbull who has accompanied them on all of their road trips. He supervises the demolition from the floor, where they’ve laid down sleeping bags to cushion his achy hips. “He talks to you without talking to you,” Samantha says.
It Takes a Neighborhood
If you think parking a bus that’s 2.5 car lengths in an LA suburb might be almost as hard as renovating it, you’re right. Samantha and Craig are constantly moving the bus for street cleaning and trying to nab spots before they fill up. Thankfully, the neighbors have their backs and often save parking spots for Pickle.
“We’ve actually made more friends with our neighbors in the time we’ve had this bus than we have in the decade we’ve lived here,” Craig says. As luck would have it, theirs may also be the handiest block in LA. Their neighbors include welders, auto mechanics, and carpenters, so reinforcements are never far away. “Any help we need, I can just go down the street,” says Craig. “It’s like a community effort.”
“They also kinda think we’re crazy. We kinda are crazy,” Samantha laughs.
There’s no doubt Pickle will have more surprises in store in the months ahead, but to Craig and Samantha, the risk is worth it. When Pickle is completed, they’ll take their tasking show on the road — first around LA, then to northern California, Oregon, Colorado, and beyond. “We’ve started our own business, and want to put everything into that,” Samantha says. “That’s the dream!”