Northern Michigan: It started with an idea, and grew into a life-changing 16 month journey across America. Find out how three guys, with a mission of "Lending Our Services Traveling," dedicated themselves to the Lost Bus and towns all over the United States, including our very own Traverse City.
Ben Tucker, Derek Evenhouse and Chad Deters grew up friends. Born and raised together, and attending the same schools, their lives always seemed to stay connected. Even as they grew older and diverged down different paths as is inevitable, they remained close friends.
With the realities of adult life settling in, the three began feeling restless, hungering for the travel, adventure and outdoor appreciation so valued in each of their lives. Then, a lightbulb turned on, igniting into an idea that would lead to a life-changing experience none of them could have predicted.
Rebounding away from the settled life and into a life of simplicity which challenged the status quo, they fixated on the idea of travel; but they wanted to make it meaningful. Ben, Derek and Chad decided to not only travel across America, but to volunteer and help out in towns along the way.
"At first we were trying to pinpoint what to do every step of the way," said Derek. "Eventually we thought 'Hey, let's just help out wherever and whenever we want." Hello, adventure!
The guys bought a school bus, decked it out for their new mobile life, and painted it bright colors that would be easily identifiable and approachable (much of the volunteer work they garnered was from people going up to the bus themselves, asking for help that was of course provided.) The idea "Lending Our Services Traveling" took solid form, and they even got a cool acronym to name their new home- the L.O.S.T Bus.
Following the temperate seasons along a very loose "intended route," they arrived in towns across the United States, often not knowing the who, what or where of their latest destination. They found work by asking locals what help was needed, and volunteered in efforts that they supported. Eventually the three guys found themselves woven into a network of people, all offering up family's houses in next towns over, and giving the guys names of friends in cities that lie ahead.
20,000 miles, 25 states and 16 months after they first hit the road, the Lost Bus rolled into Traverse City. It was to be the Lost Bus' last stop of the tour. Calling Holland, Michigan home, Derek, Ben and Chad started moving towards Northern Michigan, "dragging feet" as they went. Wanting to extend the trip just a little bit longer, they wound their way around Lake Michigan, driving through the Upper Peninsula before parking in Traverse City.
While in Traverse City, Derek said they lent their services as they did along the entire journey, "keeping our options as wide open as we could- helping individuals, large organizations, and everything in between." Hearing about a woman who was hit while on her bicycle, they visited her at home, completing work around the house that her broken back made impossible. The guys then turned their efforts towards Earth Day, culminating their crew work by participating in Traverse City's Earth Day parade. A perfect way to celebrate their last 16 months, and the end of their adventure.
Surprised at the interest in their work and the Lost Bus in Traverse City, Derek, Ben and Chad are now back home, "living life off wheels for a little bit" and figuring out what the Lost Bus' next steps will be.
During their incredible and inspiring journey, Derek, Ben and Chad discovered that the Lost Bus was not just about three guys. The Lost Bus is an idea, a movement that they hope will take root and spread, multiplying with the people impacted and the lives touched. They want others to share in this experience, on both the giving and receiving end; and now have an overall dream of turning the Lost Bus into their own volunteer organization, containing fleets of buses filled with various groups of people, all dedicated to the mission of "Lending Our Services Traveling."
Find out more about Derek, Ben, Chad and the Lost Bus by visiting their website, lostbus.com.