Photos: Erik Hostleter
Aaron Lebowitz, 31, makes handcrafted, surf-inspired snowboards. He is the captain and commander of Soulmotion Snowsurf, and he’s explored the world and its vast ways of living. His travels opened his eyes to the idea that there isn’t a right way to live, yet some lifestyles are more suited for evolving environments and culture. This along with his desire for freedom and adventure, led him to bus-life, where he can take his career of building boards and perpetuating stoke anywhere the road leads.
Through a vision he found and purchased a ’91 Chevy G 30, named it Deep Search, as an ode to Steve Zissou’s submarine, and began the build-out of his ship. He enlisted the help of two carpenter friends, traded them Soulmotion boards for their handy work, and converted the bus into all-encompassing cabin that oscillates between snow and surf climates. Keen on creating a place that provided a sense of livable space, he spent the early part of last season snowed-in and lived cabin-style near Powder Mountain in Montana. When the snow melted, he sailed to Whistler, Jackson, and beyond, surfing through the mountains and sharing his passion and unique boards with those he encountered.
As chance would have it, we bumped into Aaron and Deep Search in the parking lot of Mt. Bachelor during the Big Wave Challenge. Aaron invited us in and we enjoyed ginseng tea, a few rollies and discussed adventure mobiles, Soulmotion Snowsurf, and the finer points of the simple life.
Read on for Aaron’s thoughts and scroll through the gallery above.
The bus is a ship for land, designed to live in full-time and sail through the mountains and down the rivers to the coast, following the cycle of water throughout the entire year. It’s packed with a quiver of surf and snowboards as a practice of active participation with the flow of water for a life crafted by blending soul and environment.
’91 Chevy G 30, diesel, 20 feet in length. It has a dualie system in the back and rear wheel drive, which makes it fun to rally. It’s a cruisy automatic thanks to the new transmission, it starts up every time with the new starter, and the battery gets revved up with a nifty new alternator.
I could imagine crafting a livable space with only essentials, leaving plenty of room to stand, move and breathe. I bought the bus in early August 2015 and had open access to a friend’s wood shop and the assistance carpenter friends, I picked up a batch of recycled lumber from Home Resource and immediately began construction. Framing and 2” insulation in the floor and walls, wood floors with hickory dowels and blue pine for the cabinets and trim.
Just the basic essentials for a simple life: bed with storage below, closet, stove, sink, counter, cot, folding table, solar panel, hammock, surfboards, box of snowboards and snow gear, propane heater, 30 gallons of water, 12-volt fridge, motorbike, portaloo, tools and the DudeDog. The side and back doors swing open to display a unique view of ever-changing landscapes.
Bus life is a modern continental version of pirate life. It’s an active life of movement. Sailing with the seasons, optimally positioning and always on the ready to plunder the treasures of stoke wherever they may arrive from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean. Freedom to roam, explore the furthest unsettled regions of the map, dock at port towns and socialize, park anywhere for a while, make handshake deals with locals to stay longer. I pick up work along the way, but only on the days when there are no waves to be ridden, because what’s the point of freedom if you aren’t implementing it daily by making choices based on the pursuit of happiness?
There are doldrums, but sometimes it’s nice to stay somewhere for a while and watch it proceed around you over time. When the snow begins to return to the mountains, I will head back to Montana, probably get snowed in for a few months, stay warm, shape boards with design ideas generated from surfboard shapes adapted to the frozen wave and continue to ride every storm.