Traveling Herbs


Anyone who has been following our journey from the very beginning, back in May of 2010, knows that I have been trying to figure out a way to  bring some of my herbs along for the ride. You may have also noticed that one of my biggest goals is that of utilizing every inch of space in the bus. And this is what led to the Traveling Herbs project……it all began when I was trying to figure out a spare place to put a few pots. And this is the only area I could find, the dash. I know, it seems a little crazy, but wait until you see the reasoning and the outcome….then tell me it is crazy.

I knew that I would need to replace the bus door before we headed out on our adventure. The idea of not being able to lock up our rig, was enough of a motivation for me to even consider taking on that (future) project. Of course, I didn’t want to actually remove the door, yet, but I began dreaming about this area being the home of our traveling herbs. I was in such a hurry to get as many projects completed before our full-time school schedule began up again (it starts tomorrow), that I was actually in the middle of 3 other projects when I finally decided to begin the traveling herbs. I needed someone who was both capable of the work and still crazy enough to not question my reasoning….

Enter Jamin. 🙂

He was more than happy to disassemble the door mechanism for me. It was such a delight watching him work through the entire process. I allowed him to choose the tools he would use and guided him along the way (taking a break every few minutes to snap shots of his progress).

Jamin got to this point of the process and said he was done. We took off the cover that was on the dash, to see if we could find a way to unscrew this obnoxious piece of steel sticking up. Nope. Nada. I thanked him for all of his work and watched him gloat over his work for the rest of the day. He was so proud of all of his work with tools….and so was I.  Then I set out to find the grinder and buy a couple of cutting discs.

Now that I was feeling brave and wasn’t able to look back, I decided to take off this ugly piece of tape and see what it was hiding…..

Hmmmm…..I definitely didn’t want to keep this broken piece of the dash, with duct tape covering up a gaping hole. I removed it.

Not too difficult to recover. I had no idea what I would use, but wood seemed like a great alternative to what was there.

After breaking both of the cutting discs right off the bat, I asked Aaron to help me cut this beast off with the sawzall……which he did. I ground down the edge that was left over (with my grinding disc) and was ready to see if the salvaged piece of wood, I had been planning on using for the base, would really work.

It fit beautifully, with just a little bit of an area that I would have to figure out a way to cover.

I decided to worry about that area later and pulled in the herbs I had potted up, to see how they would fit….yeah, I was extremely excited to get going on the rest of this project. It was at this time, that I realized that it would be more efficient to have all square pots. The round ones held less dirt and took up more head room. Thank goodness for our local nursery that has a dumpster specifically for recycling pots (both dropping off and picking up used pots)….all of my pots were free. 🙂

SIDESTORY: I had been trying to figure out how to store the herbs on the dash. I had wanted to use some wooden planter boxes that I picked up from IKEA a couple of years ago. I only had 2 containers, so I made a trip to IKEA and was unable to find any..I was extremely sad about it. I googled IKEA planter box and found someone in Missouri who had 7 for sale, at $2 a piece (and they cost $6 a piece new). I was so stoked! I started trying to locate someone who could transport them back to Utah for me and got a hold of the seller. She said they were still available (they had only been up for sale for a couple of days). I found a friend on FB who was considering bringing them out to me, but in the meantime, they were sold to someone else. I was kind of bummed, BUT……in my search for the IKEA planter boxes, I came across a ton of different videos and articles on how to make planter boxes. I knew that if I were to use the planter boxes I was so in love with, I would only be able to fit a few herbs, because they were so bulky. And I want to take as many herbs as possible, so it made more sense to use one large box, instead of several separate boxes. I just had to figure out a way to create a a box that would hold all of my herbs, with a waterproof bottom, and not portrude too high off of the dash….hey, I am getting really good at figuring out ways to make things happen that seem impossible or even crazy. And the idea of being able to cook with our own herbs, wherever we roam, only motivated me that much more.

I spent a while trying to figure out how I would put together the planter box and what materials I would be using. I chose to use the Brazilian cherry wood I had used in the bathroom, in the tea and spice cupboard, and on the headboard in the Dragon’s Lair . Are you surprised? 😉 I rummaged through all of my left over scraps and found several pieces that were at least 5″ long (which was the length I figured I would need for that part of the box).

I cut all of the wood into 5″ pieces.

I got sick of not being able to open the bus door all the way and decided to cut off the edge and begin figuring out what to do with that corner.

I drew a line across the bottom, where the heater was located (and still open….waiting for me to figure out a way to cover it up and make it look decent).

I attempted to cut it in such a way that I could re-use the edge I cut off for the new, angled corner……

I measured in to where the new edge would need to be attached and cut….

It didn’t work out as I had planned, because it was curved on one side and flat on the other. Bummer.

In the end, I had 3 pieces that I had to glue and nail together. I clamped them in place and let them dry for a while. I tried not to let the fact that it looked like Frankenstein get to me. LOL, you’d think I would be used to this part of my projects by now…..the disappointment of having my efforts turn out so different from my plans.

Luken wanted to help me with this part, so I put him in charge of wiping off the pieces of Brazilian wood, after I sanded them down really good.

I hate to admit it, but the droning of the sander became a sanctuary for me, as Luken spent quite a bit of the time explaining his favorite super heroes and their bios…..not that this kind of discussion gets old after hearing it all day long, all week long.

To change the subject, I told him that I needed him to use his multiplication skills to figure out how many pieces I had total……I think we definitely need to work on his memorization. By the way, 3×12=36.  At any rate, he was pre-occupied with math, so I was spared the life story of some random guy from some random planet…..I know it sounds mean, but those of you with kids with Asperger’s totally understand my love. 😉

I rubbed the pieces with mineral oil and began putting them in a varying order.  Then I found a couple of pieces of wood to use for the base attachment.

I had to take them into the bus, where the nail gun was all pressurized and ready to rock. I used wood glue and put each piece together, then I glued the piece of wood and attached it. Finally, I nailed the piece of wood in place, from the backside (which will soon be the inside of the planter box).

I received these plant markers a while ago, from what was left of Aaron’s grandparent’s belongings. His mom knows how much I love this type of thing and she brought them up to me. I decided to use the copper ones and set out to find some more (I only had 10 and I have 16 herbs to label). Lucky for me, our local nursery (J & L Garden in Bountiful) had some and they were 1/2 off because it is the end of the planting season. YAY!

I decided to put the scientific names on the labels, so the kids (and I) would be able to learn them easier.

I put the 4 sides together and figured out where I could put the herb box, and still be able to see the mirrors in the front of the bus.

Then I took the sides and connected them with more wood glue and some L brackets.

I took the planter box and placed it on the base and drew an outline of the inside….

Then I drilled holes in a couple of the corners and used my jigsaw to cut this piece out….with Jamin’s help, of course.

Then I put  alot of wood glue on there (I have learned that you want to have it seep out around the edges….wipe off is always better than not enough to hold tight).

At some point, I sanded the base down to raw….then attached the top of the planter box, with all of the glue and quite a few nails from the nail gun.

On of the perks of working outside, I get a lot of chances to see my little ones in action. Luken was doing such an awesome job of babysitting on this particular day…..Simon loves to ride his bike with the big boys, but I always feel safer when he is on the grass in the backyard. Wheeeeeeeeeeee! 🙂

I had been looking for a way to create a tray for the bottom of the planter, to keep the top of the dash dry and clean. I am not planning on watering the plants in the bus, but when they come back in from being in the sun and being watered, I know they will be a little wet and dirty. I found some 3×4 pieces of sheet metal at Homoe Depot for around $17 a piece, but then I remembered I had my own sheet metal left over from the free pile I had gotten from Matthew a couple of years ago. Yes, it was a MAJOR PAIN IN THE BUTT to cut. But, it saved me around $20 and gave me experience (at least that’s what I keep telling myself. lol).

After cutting a piece that would be an inch wider all around, I snipped out the corners and asked Ethan to bend it into shape….

He used some pliers and needle-nose pliers to mend and smooth the edges.

What a goof!

Here is the first attempt at getting the edges bent up and ready to attach the connectors….there were at least 20 attempts. Ethan gave up after the first 15 and I proceeded to trim a little of the edge and reattach the connecting sleeves. The sleeves cost us around $10 altogether.

While Ethan had been working on the metal tray liner, I had completed the top of the planter box with a few pieces of free wood I had picked up along the way. I drilled some holes down through the top of the steel dash and attached the base with a few screws, then covered them with wood filler. To seal the wood,  I rubbed this entire area down with mineral oil. I decided that I didn’t want to mess with any of the other wood sealers available, where our culinary herbs would be resting.

I finally had the tray down to the size it needed to be, although it is extremely tight. Once we get the electrical wire underneath removed, I will put the tray back in and use a ton of waterproof silicone to seal the connections and especially the corners.

And here is an idea of what this area will look like, once the herbs are in place and ready to roll. Right now they are all sitting outside the front of the bus, enjoying the last of the summer sunshine. Notice how much room the IKEA planter boxes take up in comparison to the planter box I built? So glad I had to think outside the box. 😉

With the planter box complete, I had some time to figure out what I was going to be doing with the ugly corner near the doorway.

I found some leftover wood paneling (that I had picked up for free, as well) and cut it to fit in this area. By removing some of the screws that were holding the metal in place, drilling coordinating holes into the wood paneling, and attaching the same screws through the top of the paneling, I could keep the paneling flush with the front of the metal face AND avoid drilling into anything not visible from the surface….that would have been a big no no. 😉 It took a little bit of time and measuring, but it turned out quite lovely.

I had used some liquid nails on the back of the first piece of paneling, and I attached a couple of pieces of wood (more scraps of my Brazilian cherry wood….don’t worry, they were the ugly pieces. They just happened to be the perfect height for this area, 3″) with liquid nails. I let it sit overnight and prayed that it would be strong enough to hold up.

It was more than sturdy enough. YAY! I attached another leftover piece of paneling, using liquid nails and using the original screws from the area.

Then I created a template out of cardboard for the top of this area. I used the wood from the piece I had cut out of the center of the base and kept cutting and sanding until it fit nice and snug in this area. The end result made me smile.

For those of you wondering, the dash on a school bus is important to keep clear, but there are a couple of mirrors that face down in the front of the bus that enable one to see better than even looking out of the windshield. I will definitely need to keep my taller herbs closer to me and the shorter ones in front of the mirrors, but continual cutting of the herbs will also be a great way to keep this area clear. I put the herbs down inside of the base for 2 reasons: 1) to give me more head room for seeing over them and 2) to  make them more stable, should we ever have to stop quickly.

I think the herbs will look much better than this silly contraption….after all, we aren’t going to be picking up kids every few minutes, along our path….we’ll just be picking up memories. 😉 Can’t wait to get started on the door. I have 2 different doors that I have been storing in the garage. Just need to get up the courage and find a good dry weekend to work on that project.

Pura Vida!


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