51. Came Here II: “Schoolbus,” by Val DePillo.



bus from front

Like many a new arrival to Floyd County, Val dePillo rolled in, but her moving van was her house, its paint dusted with West. “When I was that close to contentment, there she was: Valhalla. Well, maybe it was just a yellow school bus with a For Sale sign. But my mind suddenly pictured me in the driver’s seat roaming the U.S. of A.!” Photos by Val.

Into the back yard she went. “The curved lines of the interior became my inspiration. After determining the placement for a galley, bedroom/bath, and grand room, I gathered up cardboard and paper and made templates, sooo many curves! After several bad cuts and tears galore, I finally got the wooden interior to melt into place.”

Fifty-eight weekends later, Valhalla was completely converted to a home on wheels. 

Interior bus

After giving two months’ notice at work, then selling all my stuff, I was behind the steering wheel heading into my dream world. I traveled sixteen states, worked with animal awareness groups, and visited with longtime friends and family. It was an added joy to happen into a beautiful area and end up staying for an extended time while exploring nature, and of course getting to know some awesome folks.

Utah totally surprised me with its special hidden treasures. Above Richfield was Fish Lake, which happened to be full of Native American spirits (real nice ones). Then Mystic Hot Springs, with huge tubs placed in folds of the side of a mountain—filling with, then overflowing with, hot pure spring water. No accommodations, just a huge old building with a ping-pong table (bring your own paddle and balls). I parked Valhalla in the yard overnight with ten other school buses creatively painted, some with elaborate murals, each one left to rest there. One other very special area was just past Portland, Oregon, on the Columbia River. I ended up staying for eleven days in the Viento Campground hiking in extreme hot climate, but finding four huge wondrously beautiful waterfalls.

bus from rear

Two decades of serving our animal population inspired me to continue my service while on the road. It was the most wonderful, creative opportunity. I could travel to all kinds of events and stay in my cozy bus while partnering with several local animal-welfare groups, as well as with ASPCAs and Humane Societies, that sponsored spay-and-neuter clinics along with adoptions events. [Val’s help with stray cats is recorded in Chapter 14.]

Val with dog

Hurricane Katrina hit while I was working in Florida. I followed my heart and ended up spending the last two years on the road as a part of the disaster relief service for cats, dogs, horses, chickens, and alligators (well maybe not alligators, though they suffered as well).

In 1999 I read many writings by Edgar Cayce, one of which mentions this area. Very curious, I had hoped to visit a lot sooner than I finally did. During Thanksgiving of 2011 I flew in for a visit and made the decision after a mere three days to make this my final resting place. (Laugh.) Loved every thing–the mountains, water, and this loving community! In July of 2012 Valhalla found heaven: beautiful Floyd, Virginia!