What a long, strange trip it’s been for Jason McCelvey.
The 42-year-old, who calls himself Easy, spent the last two years building the world’s first interactive hippie bus, to spread “peace, love and groovy good times.”
Chilliwack was his home for a few days last week, attracting crowds of surprised and curious onlookers, whether he parked the van downtown or at the Columbia Valley Music Festival.
“I think it’s just fantastic,” exclaims passerby Cindy Ward, after she spotted the Hippie Bus in the library parking lot and was immediately drawn to it.
She offered McCelvey a homemade “bliss bar” made of dried fruits, nuts and chocolate, which he, of course, accepted with a grateful flourish.
“It’s so awesome,” she tells him, while checking out the elaborate and colourfully painted exterior. “I wish I had one to go travelling with. It’s too cool!”
McCelvey’s project, The Hippie Trip, is an all-out celebration of counter-culture art and culture, from the 1960s to today.
The mind-boggling site, thehippietrip.com, features 4,000 clickable links based on items in the van, and it’s only about a month old.
“I’ve always been an amateur sixties historian,” he says. “There’s a tremendous amount of good will and interest in this project.”
Another VW van owner hastily pulls into the parking lot on a lark after spotting Easy from the road. He jumps out to chat about the Hippie Trip and snap a photo. His own VeeDub was a vintage 1969 number, painted a bright bubble-gum pink.
Originally from the Kootenays, McCelvey has lived on the road for years, travelling Pacific Coast Highway, the Baja peninsula, island hopping off the West Coast, and cruising the highways of Vermont and upstate New York.
“Wherever I go, freedom is the dream, and the magic of the open road is the light that illuminates my soul,” he writes on his website.
Easy has collected everything from vintage posters, protest pins, and bumper stickers, as well as retro furnishings, clothing, books and records. Almost everything was found in thrift stores and recycled for his unique project, except the tires.
The Keep On Truckin’ mud flaps date back to 1975, and they came in the original packaging, he said.
“I even have a solar-powered Easy-Bake Oven, and a bunch of other hilarious stuff to show people,” he says.
He keeps a number of hippie costumes for people to dress up in and will photograph them against a green screen. Then he inserts the figures into famous scenes from the sixties, and emails off a print to the willing subject.
The Hippie Trip van looks like half of a bus painted from a vivid, psychedelic dream, and the little unit is pulled by another classic VW bus. The mobile caravan part was welded together using two recycled vans from 1969 and 1970.
“With millions of people turning on these days to living green, tuning in to conscious living and ethical consumerism, everyone of us has developed a little bit of the hippie spirit inside,” he says.
Whether it’s recycling, eating organic, or choosing green energy, there is a desire by many to find a way to live a more earth-friendly lifestyle.
“The feedback I’ve been getting from the website is overwhelming and humbling,” he says.
Stay tuned. Next McCelvey is creating an interactive TV show on Youtube to explore all the multimedia methods to get out the Hippie Trip message.