Orange Bus Adventures

By Makenna Adams

My uncle Teague owns a charming, 1976 Volkswagen bus named Juanita. She is forever cheerful—with bright orange paint the color of California poppies and a vast collage of eclectic bumper stickers documenting her many travels. Effortlessly timeless and resilient, she has remained an iconic symbol of adventure in my family for three generations. 

Throughout each season of my childhood, I accompanied Juanita and my uncle on adventures up and down California. In summer, we’d make an annual trek to the granite mountains of Yosemite. There, we’d go backpacking. 

As we journeyed throughout Yosemite, we encountered many beautiful orange things. One of my favorites; the Alpine Lily, which looks like a small tiger lily. Coffee-colored flecks dot the blossom’s fiery petals—truly a sight to behold. Emerging myself deep within the woods in my formative years exposed me to the mystery of the untouched wild. Witnessing the sights crafted exclusively by Mother Nature, I developed a loyal sense of protectiveness and responsibility. I vowed to respect and cherish the environment, knowing that there some people want to use the earth dishonorably to their advantage.

Come fall, we’d camp. As a kid, I had the honor of sleeping in the crow’s nest above the body of the van. As the final embers of the night’s campfire fizzled out, they emitted an orange light that trickled through mesh windows that lined the cozy cavern, helping me doze off. In the morning, glowing sunlight woke me with gentle warmth.

In winter, we would return to Yosemite, the home of my grandparents. Traversing winding back roads slippery with snow was tricky—but, ever determined, Juanita always prevailed. Most orange things go to sleep in winter, which made Juanita stand out even more. Contrasted against the bright white snow, the orange bus always looked especially stunning. 

As snow melted and the sleepy winter world awakened into spring, we’d trek to Southern California to bask in coastal glory. The sweet and salty air filled me with a sense of fulfillment and purpose as we traveled. We stopped occasionally along our route, to stretch and admire the ocean. The final orange moment of my adventures that stands out to me are the Southern California sunsets. Each dusk, as I watched the sun dip further and further in the sky towards the horizon, I remember explosions of color. Certainly, one could not deny the beauty that the ribbons of turquoise, lavender, and pink created as they painted the sky. The color I looked forward to most, however, never changed. 

It was always orange.