(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Some homes have five bedrooms, a jacuzzi, and walk-in closets. Others have hanging gardens, spiral staircases and kitchens with kilometres of granite counter tops.

And others are smaller.

Much, much smaller.

Like living-in-an-ambulance-small.

Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. After New Years, they plan to drive it to numerous ski hills across B.C. In March, they’ll continue to Mexico and when they drive back to Canada next spring, they aim to visit all the national parks along the way.

“I’ve always known I want to do a long trip, it was just where and how,” says Miller.

“Spending money on hostels, rentals, or whatever else felt like a waste of our income that we worked so hard to get so it made more sense to put that into our own home.”

They say they chose an ambulance because of the cost and potential for personalized space.

The couple bought the ambulance off Kijiji in Cranbrook for just over $6,000. After some research on the vehicle, they discovered it was originally from Beartooth, Montana and before that, New Jersey. It was also in New York during 9/11.

Thus, they’ve called their new home Beartooth.

Turning Beartooth into a home hasn’t been easy. The couple have redone the ceiling with wood, put in laminate floors, wooden countertops, tiles, a wood burning stove, a sink, solar panels, and wallpaper.

Looking at it now, it’s hard to imagine that Beartooth may have once been engulfed by the dust and remains of the World Trade Center 17 years ago.

The ambulance is now bright, cozy, and stylish. There’s even hanging plants.

Miller owns an interior design company in Revelstoke.

“It hasn’t been easy working with a space that’s so small. There are so many things to consider,” says Miller.

“You don’t want tiles too big that break when you go over a bump, you have to use a special grout with the flooring, you can’t use anything that’s too thick because then your head space is wrong.”

They even sliced a hole in the roof for the wood stove and chimney.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” says Smyth with a laugh.

Impressively, the roof has yet to leak.

There are some laws when it comes to buying and using an emergency vehicle. For example, the words “ambulance” cannot be displayed and the driver cannot run the lights or sirens.

“As far as insurance goes, it’s basically insured as a cube van,” says Smyth.

The couple says that people have a multitude of reactions to Beartooth, such as confusion, excitement, and intrigue.

“A lot of people when we’re driving will pull aside and kind of question if we’re an ambulance or not. We get a lot of people noticing from behind that we’re not an official ambulance anymore. Then they try to pass us to see what’s going on and who is driving,” says Smyth with a laugh.

The couple says their upcoming travels will be an opportunity to experience different cultures and appreciate what they’ve left behind.

“We’re going to have to be really conservative with our water usage as we only have jugs,” says Miller.

“A lot of other countries have to do that on a daily basis. We’re so lucky in Canada that you don’t think about it. It will be a good lesson on how to live with less.”

READ MORE: UBCO student uses van as a creative outlet, by living in it

If Beartooth survives this adventure, the couple says they have others planned. Next fall they hope to drive back to Mexico and on to Central America.

“That trip is a lot more open-ended,” says Smyth.

“We don’t have an end date. It all depends on our money and time.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)                                They couple love to play crib. Sometimes they have a game bet on who will make dinner for the other. Miller made the cribbage board herself.

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review) They couple love to play crib. Sometimes they have a game bet on who will make dinner for the other. Miller made the cribbage board herself.

It’s equipped with a kitchen (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

It’s equipped with a kitchen (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. They plan to travel North America in it (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. They plan to travel North America in it (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. They plan to travel North America in it (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. They plan to travel North America in it (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Just Posted

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Hotel Zed Tofino. (Westerly file photo)
Two Tofino businesses up for building awards

14th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Garden centre manager Jack Olszewski and Chris Beaudoin say business has grown by 50 per cent at the Sooke Home Hardware Store. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
Flower power: COVID restrictions fuel bloom boom on Vancouver Island’

More people seeking flowers to add colour, says Sooke landscaper

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read