RV News

An odyssey around North America in a double-decker motorhome

This California couple gave up lucrative careers to travel in a German-engineered bus

by Denis Begin

The term odyssey comes from a Greek word and has come to mean an epic voyage. Louise Hornor and Sean Welsh of San Jose, California, named their motorhome Odyssey because it is their home on wheels as well as their epic voyage.

Welsh was in the high tech business and Hornor owned a publishing business, but they gave it all up to travel. They rented out their condo and purchased a piece of land in Washington state for a permanent residence on paper, to simplify dealing with government bureaucracy. Welsh had always dreamed of traveling across the United States in a bus and convinced Hornor to share his dream. In August 2004 they moved aboard with their dog and two cats, setting out to see America.

Their double decker motorhome quickly attracts attention. Hornor and Welsh, however, refer to the Odyssey as “the bus,” being fulltime RVers. It’s a converted Neoplan Spaceliner built in 1985 by Neoplan of Pilsting, Germany, and originally converted into a motorhome. The couple selected the Spaceliner for many reasons, including its smooth ride, durability, storage space and an engine capable of a million miles.

The motorhome measures 13 feet by 40 and weighs 47,000 pounds. The engine is a Detroit 2-stroke, 8V92 diesel, with a 748 Allison transmission and the unit is equipped with air brakes. The engine has 475 horsepower, goes 6.3 miles per gallon and carries 350 gallons of diesel.

Hornor and Welsh were the second owners but following their purchase in 2001 soon realized the Odyssey needed major remodeling. From 2002 to 2004 the bus was renovated from top to bottom by Infinity Coach from Sumner, Washington.

The bottom deck is used for storage, onboard systems such as water and sewage, and also houses the cockpit for driving. The upper deck consists of what the pair call their penthouse, salon, galley, bathroom and bedroom. The third level is the front eight feet of balcony on the roof.
Solar panels produce 330 watts with a Xantrex 4024 Inverter. The power source other than shore power at 50 amps is eight 8D AGM deep cycle batteries producing 920 amp hours. If battery power fails, there is a 17 kw Kubota generator.

The bus is equipped with three air conditioners, a furnace, two electric awnings, an ice maker and even a portable hot tub. There are enough gauges, switches and systems to keep a 747 airline pilot happy. The couple do not tow a car, preferring two small Suzuki motorcycles for local transportation.

Hornor and Welsh have traveled extensively throughout all the 48 lower states and six states in Mexico. Sean has a good sense of humor about their travels, stating that “Hawaii will have to wait until they finish the tunnel.”

Hornor often uses the term “misadventures” to describe their travels, which have included a window coming out on the highway, blown tires, getting stuck partway on a Mississippi ferry and crushing a tailpipe. Most RVers can identify with such mishaps, perhaps minus the Mississippi ferry.

Welsh and Hornor maintain a website which details their life on the bus. You can follow their travels through their blog and photo site. Communications is not a problem, as they have a Datastorm Dish for high speed internet connection, which also locates their position. In addition, the bus has Direct TV, XM Radio, GPS, CB and two cell phones.

We crossed paths with Sean and Louise in Death Valley, California. The bus was certainly the center of conversation. When I asked if my wife and I could travel with them, Sean gave his standard answer: “No, you’ll have to get your own bus.”

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