The Bus Blog

Chapter 2: Status check: It’s complicated

January 8, 2016

Continued from Behind the Scenes 2015: The Making of Hip Image


Whenever we move Buttercup, inevitably someone follows either to pick up, or drive slowly behind her… with blinkers on.


Even more slowly going uphill. Almost going backwards uphill, in fact. Jo draws the key this time, and I’m the chaser.


Plan of action for driving on the highway:  she signals her intention to merge, then I move first and let her budge in. Except that she never signals!? I see a flash at the side, and it looks like a mirror is hanging awkwardly. A second catch of sunlight, and there goes the other mirror.


She pulls over. “OMG this is crazy! The mirrors!? And we are almost out of gas!” It turns out she IS signaling, but that bulb is burnt out… again.


Hmmm… I manage to tighten the mirrors back in place. Hopefully they stay. They don’t, but we manage to limp into Okotooks anyway.


I call this next status “It’s Complicated.”


We find a gas station four blocks from the shop, and FILL that gas tank, not just HALF, but all the way to the top! Let’s get this right! In short order, we pull up to the shop, block the wheels in case the emergency brake gives way, which would not be a surprise, I’m realizing.


“Here she is!” we proudly announce, as Howard our cabinet maker comes out to greet us. We open the side door, so he can look inside.


“It really smells like gas.” says Jo. Does she have the most sensitive nose or what? I poke my head in, and have to admit, “Yeah, actually, it does.”


We do a tire-kick walk around, admiring our baby, when I notice a dripping at the back. I know for sure that isn’t air-conditioning condensation, bending over to inspect.


On my belly, I can smell the transparent liquid. “That smells a lot like gas!” Sure enough, the rainbow streaks appear on the pavement. “Yikes!”


All rags and cushions get pulled out to soak up this spill. Inside, I try to find the source of the leak. Drip, drip, follow the source along the floor, up along the back and under the homemade wooden bench. No longer a drip, but a steady little stream coming from behind.


We dismantle the skeleton 2x4s, revealing the source of the leak. Exactly where ‘someone’ before us had screwed the 2×4 INTO THE GAS TANK? As we pull out the pieces, we discover not only one hole that was the source of the leak, but FOURTEEN HOLES that were ‘patched’ with bolts and rubber washers.


I cannot write the words that came out of my mouth at that moment, but I know I paled, before giving Jo the biggest hug as if she had died and come back from heaven, because she really could’ve died, in a slow moving fireball mirrorless kind-of-way.


We laugh because we are here to laugh about it, but it could’ve been so much worse! For Jo, her scariest moment was still when the mirrors flipped, blissfully unaware of the very real danger of exploding into oblivion. Words about “only fill the gas tank halfway” rang again in my memory. So that was what he meant.

Safely being taken away. Again.

Safely being taken away. Again.


AMA is my friend now. I have them on speed dial. And Concept One and Hip Image have a special kind of recurring friendship now.


We were even invited to be beside their booth at the Show N’ Shine in the park. We’re tight. Buttercup has a new gas tank, which we can fill up all the way with confidence. Plus a new battery, for that nasty dying battery issue.



2 show and shine IMG_4811


I was actually away for the very first event, and the third and fourth too. Not a great way to be present in the business partnership, but I had already booked business and pleasure trips before the concept of Buttercup had even been imagined!


Our first event: we go Back to the Future with Doc & Marty

Our first event: we go Back to the Future with Doc & Marty


photo (1)


I redeemed my absence, however, by sourcing “Alberta Metal Works” to build our amazing sign for on top of the bus. They were extremely accommodating to do the work in two stages: first the sign so we could use it, and then in between events, they painted it.


0 new sign IMG_3282


0 new finished sign IMG_4806


At the second event, we made a wonderful impression at the Honens Hullabaloo ‘1970s New York’ held at the Telus Spark. It was such a great event for us all.


We took slow back roads, with a back-up car following, and got there really, really early. Buttercup does not have power steering. For tight spaces, Jo tosses me the keys. It really was a great event!


Line ups all night long. Wow–we’re really onto something.



How many people can we fit into this thing?


On the big screen!

On the big screen!


We had brought the trickle charger but neglected to actually put it on, because, well, we had a new battery! Moment of truth… will she start?


ROAR… she does, and we are off! Yahoo! I feel brave, nosing toward the fastest route home, via Deerfoot. Buttercup gives it her all, getting all the way up to 80 km an hour, but runs out of steam on the Glenmore exit.


Speed dial tow truck. Is it just me, or is this towing thing becoming a trend?

We spend a small fortune in towing fees


I guess I’ll see my friends at Concept One again real soon. Let’s replace the alternator this time. And another new tail light.


All the lights are on manual switches, sometimes mixed up with the wipers. Third gear is elusive at times, often popping out. This worries me. There is that recurring tail light issue, which I suspect is shorting out, but not sure how to source that problem. It’s just easier to change the light for now.


By the way, if anyone is considering Plastidip on their car, I will just quote the sign at the detail shop, “We do not recommend Plastidip” . It is a cost effective, inefficient, short term solution. It looks okay from far away, but the details are just not good enough for our little bus! Thankfully, it is also very easy to pull off!



Lesson #3: Never give up.

These are the memorable early days of our journey in the Hip Image 1972 VW Bus named “Buttercup”.


We love her, we’ve cared for her, and we’ve had a chance to participate in some pretty fun events: Beakerhead – (My parish priest even came for a “Geek Confession” at Beakerhead!) East Village opening, some crazy 50th and 40th birthday parties, Marda Gras, the Wedding Expo, a law conference, a ball tournament, Canada Day celebrations, Stampede parties, Christmas parties… Whatever the event, Buttercup will be sure to bring smiles to all who see her.

CBC's Doug Dirks & Jenny Howe ham it up inside Buttercup for the CBC Stampede Breakfast

CBC’s Doug Dirks & Jenny Howe ham it up inside Buttercup for the CBC Stampede Breakfast


So many events in 2015--good times!

So many events in 2015–good times!


Hip Image is expanding, and let’s just say, Buttercup will soon have a sibling to share the glory.


Stay tuned for more on our adventures in 2016!


Smile & wave!


Monique at the wheel

Monique at the wheel


Check the coolest photo booth in Calgary!

Email        Instagram        Instagram @hipimage        Facebook
Email     Instagram     Instagram     Facebook
Home      About      Booths      Accessorize      Hashtag Printer      Corporate      Tradeshows      Weddings      Bus Blog      Contact