Home Our Story – How we ended up as Technomads

Our Story – How we ended up as Technomads

This is our story of how we met (our entire relationship has been while traveling together), our various forms of travel since 2006 and how we keep it funded.

We also have a quick start guide to our blog that we encourage you to check out if you’re new here – it’ll help you navigate to our most frequently referenced content.  We’ve been blogging our entire journey since 2006, so there’s a lot of content and a lot of story to tell!  Enjoy!

Our story

The 16′ T@B trailer we traveled in for our first year on the road together.

How we met & our ‘T@bbed Browsing’ days

Chris had just left behind his Silicon Valley career to start pursuing his dreams of full time nomadism (solo) in a tiny 16′ T@b Clamshell travel trailer.  He was in part inspired by his good friend Steve Roberts‘ (who coined the word) pioneering technomadic adventures years before.

Meanwhile, Cherie was running a custom software development business from her beachside home in Florida, and was already working remotely as she engaged in personal & business travel. She had been moving her life towards relocating to the San Francisco area, drawn by a much more robust community and opportunity than Florida could continue to provide.

We first encountered each other in a Prius (yes, the hybrid car) forum shortly after Chris hit the road and discovered we had friends in common.  Chris had just traded in his Prius for a Jeep, and Cherie was searching for tips on hacking hers.

After months of correspondence, we finally met for the first time in October 2006 on an epic 27 hour first date.  There was no doubt we were meant for each other, and started exploring the possibilities of how our lives might merge.

Chris was already about to start on his first cross country transition in the T@b, so he set his destination as Florida to meet back up with Cherie in a few weeks.  She didn’t believe it until he was already half way across the country.

Given that the housing market was crashing, Cherie was having difficulty selling her house. At first we thought Cherie might join Chris on the road for a week or so at a time, but we quickly learned we were meant for much more.  Since life in the T@b was affordable as it was designed for complete off-grid living with its solar panel Chris installed – Cherie could afford to keep up her house in Florida until it sold AND explore full time travel with Chris.

So on May 10, 2007 – after purging over 90% of her stuff and several local camping trips in the T@b – we set off on a 7-month trial run together that took us nearly 13,000 miles around the USA and back.

We only had 45 sq ft of living space, no bath facilities, refridgerator or air conditioning  - but we had solar power, cellular internet and an exciting new relationship.  We learned, that’s all we *really* needed to be happy.

Well… kinda.

Road Test Complete – ‘Going Oliver The Place’

During our 7 month cross country adventure in the T@b, we decided:

  • We make excellent life partners, and had a life commitment ceremony while at Burning Man (we’re intentionally unmarried).
  • We wanted to continue traveling, so Cherie got her home sold (at a loss) as well as the rest of her stuff.
  • We needed a touch more space than the T@b offered, namely we wanted a dedicated bed & desk.

Our Oliver Travel Trailer at Burning Man 2010

We commissioned Oliver Travel Trailers to custom build us a 17′ fiberglass travel trailer with as much solar and battery capacity as we could squeeze into it.

Sadly, Oliver quit making these fabulous trailers shortly after they completed ours, making ours a very unique high end combination of quality, high tech and small space.   It was only 1 of less than 50 made (they’re back in business now!).

We now had a luxurious 80 sq ft of living space, a bathroom, refrigerator and air conditioning! We happily traveled full-time in our Oliver from July 2008 – November 2010, enjoying such a variety of locations.

The Oliver could go places most other RVs simply couldn’t, and gave us everything we needed to live comfortably….  for a while.

Island life

Our winter on St John

After Burning Man 2010, we were exhausted after an intense summer. We were sitting in our Oliver, parked in San Francisco, contemplating where to next.  We were starting to feel the small space, wanted a slower pace of travel and were contemplating a shake-up. Maybe it was time to switch to sailing, a bigger RV or some international adventure?

And then popped up in our e-mail – a friend looking for someone to sublet her treehouse cottage on the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands.

We had never heard of St. John – but after confirming we could bring our cat, there was internet and craft beer on island, it took us just a few hours to totally shift gears!

We did a rapid dash to Florida where we parked the Oliver for 5 months, and spent the winter in tropical paradise. It was a prefect spot to focus deeply on a couple work projects, check out the sailing lifestyle (something we intend to do eventually), lots of amazing hiking & snorkeling and contemplate life ahead.

The current journey – Vintage Bus Days!

Our time in the USVI taught us:

  • We really like being able to mix up the pace and style of travel, and that we didn’t want to be focused on RVing only. We wanted to continue to include other styles of travels, something we always intended.
  • We did want to maintain a mobile home base in the USA, as we have so many ties with family, community and work. Regardless of where our travels took us, we still anticipated spending a significant part of the year roaming the US.
  • We also came to the conclusion that our days of living in micro-tiny spaces were likely over – it was time for more comfort. So we needed to create a comfortable & unique, yet affordable, mobile home base first.

We anticipated taking several months to search out our options (already tempted by vintage buses), but almost as soon as we mentally came to terms that our Oliver days may be coming to an end – we immediately we got an unsolicited offer to sell at a price we couldn’t refuse. There’s that serendipity for you again.

Lightpainting of our bus, by Karen Nace & Ben Willmore

We delivered our Oliver with about a week’s notice, borrowed a small motorhome from a friend on the way and then jumped on Amtrak with a month long rail pass to travel the country in search of a vintage bus.

It was hectic and crazy, we had no plan, didn’t know terribly much about buses and we trusted completely in serendipity that we would be lead to where we needed to be.

In late June 2011, in the 115+ degree desert heat of southern Arizona – we found Zephyr.  A 1961 GM PD-4106, 35′ bus conversion that had sat still for many years, but was begging to get back out on the road.

She had already been converted to be a livable RV, and we’ll be working as we travel to make her our ideal high tech home on wheels.  We anticipate we’ll travel most of the year around North America, and parking the bus for a couple months at a time to explore other options.

We follow nomadic serendipity at every turn – so who knows how it’ll actually play out.

Our worklife

We’re not on vacation. We’re not taking a gap year(s).  We’re not retired early. We just took our careers on the road with us.

Our primary source of income is via our tech and software company – Two Steps Beyond.

Our projects range from mobile app development, custom software & app development, technology advising, market research, advising tech start-ups, technical writing & journalism and orchestrating product launch strategies.

One of our travel apps – Coverage? Compares cellular coverage provider maps.

Our travels have also inspired a line of incredibly useful travel apps and some eBooks about life on the road.

It started out as more for fun and to solve problems we encounter on the road, and we’ve been surprised with how they’ve become more than beer money over the years. We try to keep a delicate balance of not turning our blogging & sharing on Technomadia to be about promoting these resources… but you will hear about them from time to time.

We’ve also been known to take on short term intense projects that are totally outside of our norm, just for the fun experience of it.  Such as packing boxes at Amazon.com during the holiday rush, volunteering full time to run a presidential campaign field office in rural Nevada, orchestrating a guerilla marking launch of an iPhone app at Macword (involving organizing a week long party on a double decker bus) or volunteering as interpretive lighthouse hosts in Oregon.

Our work schedule is quite variable, and we definitely enjoy working in short intense bursts on projects as opposed to a regular work day.  We can work anywhere from a couple hours to a hundred hours a week. And the majority of our work is done remotely.

If you have a project that you think we might be a fit for – be in touch. We’re always interested in exploring new opportunities.

Meet Technomadia

Chris Dunphy

Chris is a long-time technology geek, working in several venues of the Silicon Valley tech industry with a specialization in mobile technology. He’s been a tech journalist, mobile tech industry spy and forged creating a mobile application ecosystem.  He grew up traveling and living all over the world, including spending 3 years in Indonesia as a kid.

After traveling the world as an industry spy for Palm & PalmSource (a job just too good to give up), in April 2006 he evicted himself from his San Francisco penthouse apartment and launched into a technomadic lifestyle, making his life a living laboratory for mobile technology. He bought a T@B trailer, traded in his beloved hybrid vehicle and off he set… never imagining he’d meet a partner willing to sell her home and join him.

He’s also a pilot (usually carrying his ultralight paramotor with him), photographer and all around adventurer.

www.radven.net / chris@technomadia.com

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisdunphy/

AIM/YIM: RenDevang     Skype/Twitter: radven

Cherie Ve Ard

Embarkation

Cherie had wanderlust and technology in her blood from an early age – programming by age 7 and solo traveling the world by age 12.  She grew up the daughter of an entrepreneurial tech pioneer dad and a common sense mom.  The combo taught her to be cautiously bold. She’s been self-employed as a location independent software developer since 1994, managing some pretty large scale projects.

At several times during her life she had contemplated becoming mobile full time, but the timing was never quite right until she met Chris and she made the leap to share 45 sq ft of mobile living space with this new dude she met on a Prius forum.

On top of being technomadic and a geek, Cherie is a conscious-living evangelist and fire-dancer.

She also does 98% of the postings on this blog, Twitter and Facebook – she’s been engaged in ‘social media’ since before there was an internet.

cherie@technomadia.com

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/cveard/

Kiki

Kiki

Born in a chicken coop on a llama ranch in Lebanon, Oregon and orphaned by her feral barn cat parents, Kiki found her way into Chris & Cherie’s heart and joined Technomadia in late 2008, after a trial run on the road at the age of 7 weeks old. She proved to be adaptable, sweet, spunky and photogeneic. She’s known nothing else but travel.

She’s kinda lazy about making blog posts and keeping up on Twitter – but you’ll sometimes hear from her.

Kiki on Twitter! / Kiki on Facebook / kiki@technomadia.com