Living in a school bus in Eldora

Ryan Fox + riding life in the alpine

By Tatyana Sharpton Jul 21 2020

Ryan Fox, kitchen manager at Ned’s wonderful Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse, has lived in a 36-foot, white school bus for a little over a year.

Ryan Fox at Crosscut. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Ryan rents the bus, parked in Eldora on the banks of Middle Boulder Creek, from a friend he met pulling taps at Crosscut. It had a wood stove and stored a bunch of random furniture before Ryan moved in, which he adapted to make it cozy.

Living in a transformed, minimally insulated vehicle brings challenges, such as keeping a winter fire alive and cooling the space in summer. Luckily in summer, the nearby creek emits a steady breeze, so Ryan can just open the windows and let a fan circulate the air.

Though he fills up a gallon or two of creek water each day for his pup, Ryan says it would prove a little difficult to get water if he didn’t have the house right next door. He also showers at his friend’s house.

He has a TV, Xbox and mini fridge which he wires to his friend’s home using very, very long extension cords, but if he had to, Ryan could drive his home into town. (Though that’s about as far as it would want to roll.)

Even with the proper gear, winter in Ned is pretty f**king cold, says Ryan! Images: Ryan Fox.

Call of the wild

Born in Chita, Russia, and adopted as a toddler by parents in New Bern, North Carolina, Ryan left home in 2017 in search of adventure.

He found it.

His journey to the bus included short stints of living on the streets in Denver and Boulder when he first arrived to the area from the east in 2017.

A friend bought him a Greyhound ticket to Denver, where Ryan spent three weeks on the streets before spending seven more on the streets in Boulder. The experience represented complete freedom for him.

“Nobody can tell you what to do,” says Ryan. “You just take care of yourself. I’d go find some place either in the city or places like parks to camp out.”

He ate meals in Denver and Boulder shelters at least once a week and enjoyed the simplicity of a pared-down life. By winter, Ryan found his way up the mountain to Nederland, where for a year and a half he lived in a tent.

Luckily, he acquired some good gear from people in Boulder, including the most crucial items to surviving a Nederland winter outdoors: a four seasons tent and solid sleeping bag.

Mountain life

Lving on the edge of a national forest. Image: Ryan Fox.

Ryan loves having his own space on the mountain, with a national forest for a backyard. He can hit the Hessie Trail right from his front door or grab a beer with buddies at Nederland’s locals diner, Ned’s.

Like many others, Ryan also loves the tight-knit, relaxed community in Boulder’s alpine outpost of Nederland.

“It’s been a while since I’ve lived around a bunch of people who care,” he says, “but are also relaxed. Like… ‘you do you, I do me.’ You can be yourself.”

His advice to anyone following their own path to freedom — be open to change and maybe even a different place, because who knows what opportunities lie ahead. He also advises, “a good pair of winter boots!”

Header image: Home. Image: Ryan Fox.