Photos by: Lance Harding and David Van Atta
'Catching Up With' is a new series, which aims to highlight past and present members of the ski community, who are doing things differently, be it within or beyond the ski industry.
In this first installment, we check in with a good friend of ours from Breckenridge Colorado, Cody Cirillo. Cody is a professional skier as well as a talented designer who has worked with many outdoor brands over the years including Faction and has designed some of Bob Culture's outerwear pieces.
What kind of bus did you convert and where did you find it?
The bus is a 1962 Chevrolet C50, with a Superior Coach chassis. It's pretty much an old grain truck with a school bus body. I found the bus on Craigslist in Idaho. There were only a few sketchy photos of it, so I thought it was a no-go, but something about the vintage year and its curves consumed my mind. The owner said it ran well (it didn't), so I decided to give it a hail mary and head out to good ole Blackfoot, ID to check it out. After a few unsuccessful trips trying to bring it back home to Breckenridge (blown engine, etc.), we finally got it back before the start of winter to begin the conversion process.
What was it like repurposing it for winter roads?
There's a beauty in having the freedom to create your own space - I think this is what really prompted us to build it out in the first place. Sure, you can go buy a converted sprinter van, but being able to have touched every part of the build, to have worked tirelessly on it, and feel that deeper connection to your home was something we really cared about. But, building out the bus was by far the biggest project we've ever embarked on. I was working 3 jobs when we started the build just to make it happen.
I didn't have any woodworking experience prior (just some pinewood derby cars when I was a boy scout). My father was really the backbone of the project, guiding me with his handiness and passion. With him and youtube university, I was able to figure out everything from saw work, to plumbing and installing solar panels. Things are a bit crooked, there's some blood stains and good stories all over the inside of that bus. It's not perfect, and we love it that way.
Where did your journey begin and where did you travel to?
We left on February 1st from my parent's home in Breckenridge, CO. We had finished the build the day before, and packed all our things up in the morning to head off on our inaugural road trip. We had hoped it'd be a breeze, but it ended up being that our worst imaginations came true (that's adventure though, right?). We broke down over 3 times, and as we just made it into Utah, the KO breakdown hit. It honestly felt like this dream was over before it had really begun.
We were towed back to Grand Junction, where we'd spend the next few days with a mechanic getting the bus fixed. We'd spend the day working with the mechanics, bringing the bus on test drives through the neighborhood and working out every kink. We once broke down on the "test track," and were towed back to the shop by an ATV, it was quite the sight. Days later, and armed with a new alternator, choke, fuel pump, and tuned carburetor, we made our way from Grand Junction to Salt Lake. But luckily, so did a major storm. We skied Alta the remainder of the week and had a legendary "Country-Club day," where the canyon closed and we were up there with over 20" of fresh and minimal crowds. Shout out to Atlas Automotive, they truly saved the Honey House over those few days.
What was your favorite spot along the road?
After the Utah storm cyclone, we headed towards the PNW. We spent some -20 degree nights in the bus as we pushed across Montana, got fumed out from an antifreeze leak, and got stranded at a Safeway during a huge storm on Snoqualmie Pass, but after two weeks, we finally found ourselves pulling into the Mt. Baker parking lot.
To make it to Mt. Baker was our goal, and we had finally made it. It was hard to put into words how impactful that moment was. We did it. The whole build, working for this, everything, was finally realized. We spent the next week living out of the parking lot there, under the shadow of Mt. Shuksan. We met up with Glacier local, Micah Evangelista, and he showed us all the best pillow spots, jumps, and lines. Baker man, it's unreal. Don't tell anyone.
Highs and lows of traveling in a bus?
Getting to Mt. Baker was definitely a huge high, the whole week spent up there was nothing short of a dream. But beyond that, honestly the first night Kelly and I spent together in the bus in an Idaho Falls Walmart parking lot was a high for me. We really made a beautiful space, and even though we were in a Walmart, it felt like we could've been anywhere.
Lows, lots of em, haha, but it depends on your perspective and letting that influence how they'll affect you. In the beginning, things affected us more in that way for sure. Constantly worried about breakdowns, freezing our asses off, whatever. But over time, these experiences just became something we learned to love, no matter how difficult they were.
We were stranded at a Safeway in Cle Elum for a few days because the highway was closed in both directions. Our wood burning stove had a creosote build up and ended up pouring smoke into the bus when we tried to use it. We ran out of the bus gasping for clean air, smoke billowing behind us. I'm sure we looked insane. To make us new Safeway locals look even better, I ended up climbing on the roof later to brush out the chimney. I was covered in soot, on top of a bus, in a snowstorm, in a Safeway parking lot. Oh, the joys of "van life" haha.
I think you learn that not every day is going to be easy, but that's the romantic part of it all. We get to learn about ourselves and grow, to treat every day as a new challenge, and to feel autonomous in every decision we make while on the road. Yeah, we could do without the 10-degree mornings and everything freezing, but they make the good days just that much better. On the way back to CO we broke down in Rock Springs, WY...and were stuck there for over a week waiting on a new part. I will say that did suck.
Does Faction do a thing with vehicles? All their riders seem to have more interesting whips than everyone else? Is that just a coincidence?
Haha yeah, it seems to be that way huh. Faction was born out of counter-culture, influenced by art and making things different and unique. The brand definitely draws those types of people, be it me, Dan, or even Johnny with his motorcycle. A vehicle is such a cool way for self-expression, and I'm stoked that we're all doing it in ways that manifest who we are.
So thankful for Faction and the support in this project (think we've got a Honey House cameo in the new flick).
What's next for Cody, Kellyn and the Honey House Bus?
Looking for some warmer weather definitely haha. I think we're still thawing out from the winter spent in the bus. But looks like we'll have to fix a cracked radiator before that happens, so we'll keep you posted.