Seth Farmer lives his own version of “Into the Wild.” Except his version doesn’t involve a gutted mini-bus stranded in the middle of the Alaskan forest. Instead, his bus sits in the middle of Keene State College’s commuter lot surrounded by the vehicles of fellow students. For Farmer, life is all about the experiences. “I didn’t want to live my life and then end up effectively with a journal that could have been anyone’s. I wanted to live my life and end up with a journal that could have only been possibly mine,” Farmer said. Farmer is in his senior year at KSC. Farmer is set to graduate at the end of the fall semester with a degree in both communications and economics.
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Farmer grew up in the small town of Deering, N.H. His passion for living outside the box began when he was a child. Farmer says his parents always remind him that in order for life to be memorable, it needs to consist of experiences.
“My parents have always encouraged me to try new things-be different, and live for experiments,” Farmer said, “I was homeschooled all growing up and we would go on these lengthy vacations where we would just live in the moment by packing up our stuff and leaving.”
Farmer recalls one time when his mother just packed him and his siblings up in the family minivan and headed down to Florida with no plan as to what they were going to do. “This experience was what triggered my passion for living life differently from what society views as normal,” Farmer said.
Before attending college, Farmer was a veteran at living in a vehicle. He bought a van and drove around the United States for a year while living in it. Farmer then realized that it was time to put his travels on hold. “I was tired of learning about the world from one perspective and I wanted to learn about it from a more academic perspective,” Farmer said. For his first two years of school Farmer rented an apartment. He realized that the amount of money spent on rent was money that could go toward traveling. Once summer was over, Farmer decided to spend the remainder of his money on a school bus. “I had already done the whole living in a vehicle thing before so I knew it was entirely feasible,” Farmer said. It took two months for Farmer to transform the inside of his bus into a living space.
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The old exterior of the bus is deceiving to what’s inside. The driver and passenger seats are the only things that remain from the original interior. A black curtain separates the two seats from the rest of the completely gutted out bus as a way to provide privacy. The smell of cinnamon and Macintosh apples fill the small, confined space from a lit candle on the unfinished wood counter top on the left side of the bus. Farmer said he made the countertop to function as multiple purposes. It serves as a single-burner stove, a desk and a table. Across from the stove is a wooden couch that fits two people. Farmer used an old bed sheet to cover the thin layer of padding to give it some appeal. The back of the bus is his bedroom. Farmer uses a futon for a bed and built shelves on both sides to store his clothes and shoes.
Farmer has developed a daily routine. During the day he parks his bus in the campus parking lot while attending classes. After, he proceeds to Spaulding Gym where he takes advantage of the free facilities to freshen up. He then returns to his bus where he travels the two miles down the road to park in the parking lot in the same location as the community skate park. “I make sure that I don’t stay in the same place for too long. I understand that my bus may weird people out which is why I try and only stay one or two nights parked down a side road. But, besides that, I haven’t had any problems so far parking in the skate park,” Farmer said.
Farmer knows people question his bus because he has heard people talking about it while walking down Appian Way. He has never said anything to anyone because he said he enjoys the fact that people don’t know. “I have heard people say that they think it belongs to a band or that someone actually may live in it,” Farmer said. One KSC student commented on noticing the bus. Brittany Kunkel stated, “I never knew what that bus was. I remember seeing a picture of it on someone’s Twitter asking what it was. I kind of enjoy it being a mystery.” Farmer indicated his friends and family said they believe what he is doing is amazing. “My parents were all for the idea of me living in a bus. They think what I am doing is interesting and support me for doing it,” Farmer said, “My friends on the other hand think I’m crazy for living in a bus. They don’t understand how I can live without television or a bathroom. But they still support me and always offer me a place to stay if I don’t feel like freezing to death when it gets cold out.” Farmer referred to the night when he and his partner, Zach Reed, had their first date. “The entire time during dinner I dodged answering any questions about where I lived. It was going good, and I didn’t want to scare him away. When we walked back from the restaurant, we passed the bus. He stopped for a second to check it out but didn’t really say much. I knew that I had to figure out how tell him, ‘Oh hey, by the way, you know that bus we walked by the other night, yeah I live in that,” Farmer said.
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Reed said he didn’t think much of it other than he was amazed at Farmer’s ability to live in it considering it was December and it was freezing outside. “Although the man I love lives in a bus, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Reed said, “He is always trying new things and he is the type of person that definitely learns by doing it himself. When he puts his mind to it, he can accomplish anything.” Farmer looks back with no regrets. “I’m not ashamed of living in bus. I did something that not a lot of people would have willingly done. One of my favorite quotes to live by is actually from the movie, ‘Into the Wild’ when Chris [McCandless] says, ‘the core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences’,” Farmer said, “Life is too short to live everyday the same and I hope that I can pass my experiences on when I sell the bus after I graduate.”
Monique Troiano can be contacted at