Big Ideas for Planet Earth in a A Roxbury Man's Bus

Donna Elazar and Bryan Callahan work on their bus while Lila, their dog, watches
Bus appliances operate on low-pressure propane. Callahan is adding solar panels and batteries for other electrical needs

ROXBURY NJ – Back in his Roxbury High School days, Bryan Callahan wasn’t a football star, a gifted member of the marching band or president of the student council.

He preferred running wires to running fields. His favorite instruments didn't make music; hey measured volts.

The Kenvil resident said he did receive one acknowledgment from the school, an accolade somewhat related to his passion for tinkering with wires, switches, bulbs, gauges and the like: “I graduated in 2003 with the Senior Award in Science Excellence,” he said with a chuckle.

Sign Up for E-News

Now, the kid who installed a siren and a pushbutton alarm system in his backyard treehouse, is close to accomplishing a long-held dream: He and girlfriend Donna Elazar are planning to hit the road in a 43-foot-long, 2001 International Genesis school bus on a mission to help the planet.

The bus has been converted into a home on wheels that the couple will use to roam the nation as evangelists for off-the-grid, sustainable living. This week, Callahan, 31, and Elazar, 24, were busy installing solar panels atop the huge vehicle. They hope to get the bus road-ready in time to take it all the way to Oregon next month, where they volunteered to work at Oregon Eclipse a week-long “sustainability event” that starts Aug. 17 and coincides with an upcoming solar eclipse.

Callahan planned to be rolling across America by now with Elazar and their frisky white Lab named Lila. But rash of last-minute bad luck put the brakes on that idea.

“During this year, we overcame various setbacks, all the while pushing onward,” Callahan wrote on an online crowdfunding site where he is seeking donations to finish the bus project. “But, on what was to be the eve of our departure a few weeks ago in June, a fender bender and our only two cars breaking down on the same day destroyed the capital we had left to finish the conversion and get us to our first destination.”

It’s not the first setback. Callahan bought the bus in November from a man in Egg Harbor. While he was driving the rig home to Roxbury, one of the front air brakes failed. There was also an issue with some frozen waste water lines this winter.

But with Callahan installing security systems and Elazar - a 2015 honors graduate of Ramapo College - also working, money was found to fix the brakes and water lines. Before the recent setbacks, they had the cash they needed to finish the bus and head west.

“Our main goal is to look for farms and small communities that are trying to integrate permaculture ideas,” Callahan said. “Permaculture is a form of farming that integrates the natural cycles of the earth … What I’m trying to do is bring in the off-grid and sustainable power to run pumps for irrigation and do all the heavy-lifting stuff our technological society does.”

Callahan and Elazar are no strangers to nationwide travel. They’ve already crisscrossed the country – in a pickup with a homemade camper top – helping out at events and projects aligned with their belief in sustainable lifestyles.

“These individuals are some of the most inspiring people I have had the pleasure to know,” said Ryan Vander Horn, a friend of Callahan and Elazar. “They live their life untethered by the mundane and superficial aspects of everyday life. Bryan and Donna have a drive that stems not from concern for the expectations and desires of others, but rather from the needs and cries for help that rise up from the collective.”

Vander Horn, a former Rutgers University English major about to head to law school, said he’s seen Callahan and Elazar in action and is awed by their conviction and generosity.

“No matter what environment they find themselves in, you can notice their sense of duty to the community around them,” he said. “Whether it is at a friend's house lending a helping hand with chores, or teaching workshops at festivals around the country, the main goal is to help those around them.”

Callahan said he is acutely aware there are people in dire circumstances, facing illnesses or situations far more worthy of charity. In the first sentence of his crowdfunding page, he says “asking for help isn’t easy for me.”

His hope is that others who share his beliefs will chip in a little to help. He said the bus, with almost everything inside powered by the sun, will be like a “portfolio” on wheels, a lumbering, tan and blue example of simple living and ingenuity.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per ...

Local Travel Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day - Calm Family Events to Drinking Shots from...Nevermind

March 17, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day is coming upon us even faster than St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.  Here are some of the areas great events to celebrate Irish pride.

March 17 Events

Hoboken - The Nerds at Willie McBride’s (see poster up in the slide show)

Newton - Sober St. Patrick’s Day Gathering

Newton (parade) - Sussex County St. Patrick's Day ...

After a Couple Painful Travel Days the New York City Area Airports Are Returning to Normal

After a couple of difficult travel days, the local airports are returning to normal.  The FAA is reportin only 10 to 15 minute delays.  Allow extra times for the commute to the airport and you should be fine.

Just keep these ideas and links fresh in mind for future travels.  You may even want to bookmark the page for future reference.

Most Airlines now offer ...

Air Travel Disruptions - Newark and Laguardia Airports Are Reporting Delays of 1 to 2 Hours.

The weather continues to play havoc on local air travel.  Newark is reporting average delays of 1 hour 41 minutes and LaGuardia is experiencing 59 minute delays.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will be your fastest way to get notifications. Also, make sure to ...

Third Nor’easter to Brush The Region, Wind Gusts a Concern

NEW YORK, NY - The third in a series of nor’easters impacting the Mid-Atlantic and New England will affect the area Monday evening through Tuesday.

The track of the storm has been particularly troublesome to forecast, but the midday model runs today, March 11, have begun to converge on a solution that curves the center of the nor’easter far offshore of New Jersey before ...

Travels Spotlight - 25th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Continues Through May 28

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - The 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at the Walt Disney World Resort continues through May 28, 2018. The first festival in was a 38-day celebration, for 2018 it is 90 days of gardens and topiaries. 2018 is also the 35th anniversary of Epcot.

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is showcasing millions of ...

Travel Alert - GWB and Holland Tunnel Lane Closures Scheduled For the Week

Lane closings are planned for the George Washington Bridge and the Holland Tunnel this weekend and/or next week for ongoing construction and repair projects.

Holland Tunnel:

One westbound lane in the tunnel will be closed during overnight hours from Sunday, March 11, through Thursday, March 15, from 11:59 p.m. each night through 5:30 a.m. the following ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...


South Plainfield - Joseph G. Zekas, 90, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at The Willows at ...
Read more

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, March 30, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, April 6, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, April 14, 7:00 PM


Support Watchung Hills Project Graduation: SIP ...

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness

Tue, June 12, 7:00 PM

FairBridge Hotel and Conference Center, Somerset

SPHS Class of 1968 50the Reunion


AAA Cautions: Daylight Saving Could Affect Daily Commute

March 10, 2018

WARREN, NJ - AAA is reminding drivers that the change to Daylight Saving Time may create distractions on the roadway and challenges for drivers who lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits,” said Robert Sinclair, Manager of Media ...

It's Official: Snow Day in North Plainfield, Raritan Valley

WARREN, NJ - North Plainfield Schools and Raritan Valley Community College have all made the call to cancel school and all after school activities on Wednesday, Mar. 7.

Forecasters anticipate hazardous travel conditions statewide.

In the event you lose power, contact your local power provider and not Police Communications unless an emergency ...

Fairytale Marriage Proposal Takes Center Stage at St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 17, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – A surprise engagement took center stage at last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Somerville. In the midst of the March 11 festivities, Piscataway resident Steven Verardi boarded a float and popped the question to his girlfriend Elise Latona, marking the first known engagement to take place at the parade in 27 years.

Since opening The Beauty Bar ...

Somerset County Student Escorted from School; Loaded Gun Found in Backpack

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ - A 17-year-old high school student was escorted from school yesterday by police who found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his back pack along with narcotics, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Robertson said the initial investigation by law enforcement revealed that there were no known threats to the students or faculty; he commended the ...