If you spot an old white school bus at Highland Lake over the next few days, please give a friendly wave to its purple-haired owner and driver Lynn Woike, also known as the Witch on Wheels.
In 1967, journalist Charles Kuralt set off in a motor home with a small camera crew to explore America and ordinary people from all walks of life by traveling the nation’s backroads. The show, called “On the Road,” struck a chord with free spirit Woike, but it took many decades before she could follow her lifelong dream of living on the road.
Woike, 67, was born in Key West, Florida, but grew up in Middletown with her sister and her parents. She later lived in Simsbury, Bloomfield, and West Hartford.
Woike was raised Roman Catholic with “a lot of guilt,” but she always felt different and questioned those teachings. Even as a child, she was sensitive to nature and would know who was calling before she answered the phone.
“When I found witchcraft, it felt like I was coming home and I found my divinity,” Woike said. “The wisdom and beliefs I’d assembled over the years all fit on the path I carved for myself.”
“Witches walk their path, taking responsibility for every thought and action, honoring nature, knowing everything is connected, and not only recognizing the energies around them but using them for the desired outcome,” she explained. “That’s my definition. There are many kinds of witches, and for the most part, they are pagan, which is a larger umbrella that also includes druidism, shamanism, Santeria, Wicca, Reclaiming, etc. Witches can belong to any organized religion and still practice their craft.”
Writing was always one of Woike’s gifts. She began her career as a journalist in 1984, writing and serving as an editor for a group of community newspapers. After that newspaper group was taken over by a larger company, Woike worked briefly for the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce.
Then in 2003, she worked as a writer and editor for several monthly newspapers. “It never paid well, but I loved the work,” Woike admitted. “I loved telling people’s stories and I believe in the importance of community news.” When those papers were as she calls it “cut to shreds,” she opted to retire a year early in 2019 and follow her dream.
While Kuralt had traveled in an RV, Woike’s dream morphed into living in a “skoolie.” Skoolies are renovated school buses made into a cross between an RV and a tiny house on wheels.
For three years, Woike searched for the right bus to call home, finally buying a 1989 30-foot long Chevy bus from North Carolina for $3,000. She then had to pay $1,200 to have it trailered to Connecticut. She hired a carpenter to build out the 140 square feet of living space she had designed.
Woike sold or gave away most of her possessions and moved to a sister witch’s farm in New Hampshire, where she established residency in her guest bedroom. In the mountains and hills of New Hampshire, she had to learn to drive the large bus, which can only travel at a top speed of 42 mph. Because of these limitations, Woike cannot drive on major highways, but she said it’s a gift because she didn’t want to spend her time “seeing six lanes of blacktop, billboards, and exit signs.”
“I don’t like travel involving airports and hotels, and here I have everything with me all the time,” she said. “No packing and unpacking. Being closer to nature and living simply were important to me. I have no generator, propane, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, television, oven, stove, freezer, rooms with doors, carpeting, under rig storage, awning, leveling system, back-up camera … and no driver creature comforts.”
While Woike lives simply, she admits that it’s not always easy. “I have one burner, two pots, and a tiny frying pan plus an electric kettle to heat water. I have a composting toilet, fairy lights, one small clip-on LED light, some solar lights, and a battery-powered lantern. And just recently, I splurged on a lithium battery-powered by my two solar panels so that as long as there is sun, I no longer need an electrical hook up so I can go ‘into the wild’ whenever possible.”
Woike begins traveling south in the fall and then heads back north, taking smaller trips around New Hampshire and Vermont, in the summer. She’s traveled as far south as Florida and as far north as New Hampshire and Vermont. Woike uses Apple Maps to get her where she wants to go.
Her hopes of attending pagan and music festivals and “witchy shops” all around the country were dashed due to the pandemic, but she hopes she can travel to all of these events and places soon, interspaced with visits to national parks and staying with friends with long, flat driveways.
Woike is enjoying her short visit to Winsted, which she describes as having an “old town yet funky feel.”
“Mostly, I love that I get to see the countryside and am often in the middle of nowhere,” Woike said. One of her best investments was spending $39 to buy a Boondockers Welcome Membership. This is a service for those who enjoy boondocking, or camping without hookups, and want to meet other fellow travelers in the process.
“When I travel, I cross-reference my route with what hosts are available,” she explained. “Wonderful people let you park in their yards, some offering electrical hookups, water, dump stations, WiFi, and wonderful conversations, a local’s perspective, their own adventures, and help.” Woike calls the many people who have hosted her over the past two years her “angels.” She always feels divinely protected and has learned how not to focus on lack and to stay out of fear.
Woike lives on her Social Security, a tiny pension, and monthly alimony. She also makes a bit of money reading tarot cards for people and is a Reiki Master who does “energy work” for people. That, and selling mojo bags, charms, intention candles, etc. was how she hoped to make “magic” money, but right now, she admitted she mostly gives all of this away knowing that “what I put out comes back, easily seeing how I am divinely guided and protected when doing so.”
“Payment is not required,” Woike said. “Donations are accepted. Smiles and hugs count as donations! I have been given food, jewelry, books, toilet paper, stories, clothing, and water.”
Living like this gives Woike “a spiritual high, being able to accept the gift from the sun deities and live more kindly on Mother Earth.”
This adventure has taught Woike a lot about life, including how to take things in stride, where to put transmission fluid in the bus, how to make meals on a single burner, how to live using just 10 gallons of water a week, not including drinking water, that sometimes it’s worth spending money to save your sanity and also how to accept more of herself and forgive more.
Woike has named her bus Karma, but she joked that calling her “401K” would probably be more appropriate because she has all but drained her life savings to do this. “Still, I have no regrets,” she said. “If I ever decide to stop traveling, I plan to live in it parked in some beautiful place.”
To read more about Woike, go to her website at https://www.thewitchonwheels.com/witch-hunt/lynn-woike
Or you can read about her daily adventures, on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=The%20Witch%20on%20Wheels