Home Life on the Road

A Fresh Take on Nomadic Serendipity

Andrew scopes out the Jeep trail ahead, on our first meeting in April 2009.

A while back, we posted the Serendipity Challenge – to hopefully inspire folks to experience more by planning less. We’ve gotten some excellent responses to it that we’re gathering up (keep them coming!) to share with you.  Our friend, Andrew Fresh, just surprised us with this story of his recent experience with following serendipity.

I love the full circle nature of this story, as our friendship with Andrew, Lisa and Wayne is actually a result of embracing our own serendipity last year.

They’re also Oliver Travel Trailer owners, and had invited us to stop by their home when we were passing through Arizona. As the factory had told us we are the youngest Oliver owners and their Arizona home was in the retirement area of Lake Havasu City, we naturally assumed they might be much older than us. Turns out, they’re around our age, totally hip and our overnight in Lake Havasu City turned into a weeklong adventure of  jeeping, sharing meals, fire spinning, geeking out and light painting. By the end of our stay, they had bought tickets to Burning Man to join us at Camp Nomadia, and Lisa took a huge step to changing her career to eventually become nomadic.

We have been blessed by a life long friendship with these awesome folks by simply following life’s invitations, so it’s extra inspirational for us to share this story with you.

What follows is an extremely rare (only our second to date) guest post, by Andrew Fresh.

Andrew, Lisa & Wayne - and their niece & nephew

Andrew, Lisa, Wayne and their niece & nephew at the Desert Bar.

Since Lisa, Wayne and I met Technomadia, more travel has been on our minds, however I think we have just recently started noticing and taking the opportunities that come our way. We went to Burning Man 2009 because of (and with) Technomadia and that was our first big step in being open to Nomadic Serendipity.

Since then, I signed up for a Twitter account and started following several burners and noticed that many of them live in the San Francisco area which means I get tidbits about things that go on there.

There have been so many different things that have been drawing my interest towards San Francisco, but I had sort of put it off until “someday” or “later”. The following is a series of events that I feel really illustrates what can happen when a person begins to view life as a series of wonderful surprises and opportunities. One just has to say yes.

I purchased a Palm Pre the day they came out and recently Palm had a Developer Conference at their headquarters in San Francisco which I was incredibly bummed that I couldn’t attend. After the fact I sort of kicked myself that I didn’t make the time to go.

Maker Faire is put on by Make magazine, a magazine I specifically don’t subscribe to because it seems I already lack the time for the things I want to do, and I don’t need to add more things to my list. If I don’t know about it, I can’t miss it. This year, Maker Faire was happening near San Francisco. How amazing to be able to go. Maybe someday.

Maker Faire

One thing that does get some of my limited time is home coffee roasting and as many home roasters do, I get my green beans from Sweet Maria’s near San Francisco. There is that place again.

TAD Gear, a store I just love, had announced a “super amazing ultimate” sale that was going to be in-store (in San Francisco) only, the same weekend of Maker Faire. Too bad I can’t go. I even tweeted my disappointment.

I also am a hacker, so I read 2600, listen to Off the Hook and am interested in things like hackerspaces and in San Francisco, they have one of the best, Noisebridge. I’d love to check that place out. Someday.

Lisa had a foreign exchange student from Germany who has since gotten married and both he and his wife are now doctors. They were in San Francisco because his wife was doing some training with a doctor there. While she was working, her husband decided to drive down to visit us in Arizona. He arrived on a Tuesday with their two children and was planning to head home the following Thursday. How lucky for them to get to travel to and stay in San Francisco!

On Tuesday, I had gotten some extra money for a side job I had done so we had some spending money to do something. Hmmm.

That weekend, we already had plans to meet some friends in Las Vegas, but unfortunately those plans fell through at the very last moment. We were supposed to pick them up at the airport on Thursday morning and then drop them back off on Monday.

We already had the time off work and Lisa decided she wanted to do something anyway, I said, “Well, Maker Faire is going on near San Francisco.” and she said “OK!” and asked if we could caravan back up with our guest. He said, “Actually, my wife really wants to fly down because she is tired of the cold and rain in San Francisco and would love to come down to the sun, but you are welcome to use the flat we have rented.” A place to stay in San Francisco? For FREE?!   Yes!

So, on Wednesday night we decided we were going to have long a weekend in San Francisco.

Thursday morning we left, got to the apartment which was in a wonderful neighborhood on Castro Street, within easy walking distance of plenty of eateries and shops and filled with many interesting people wandering around. The city is amazing.

While in San Francisco, we were able to do so many interesting things and meet some wonderful people (at least one of which said we could stay on their couch bed when we came back).

Lisa at the top of The Rocket at Maker Faire

We made it to Maker Faire, got to see lots of incredible things that were there, got to climb up into THE rocket that we didn’t get to tour at Burning Man (it was too windy any time we tried), got to see how they converted one of the most captivating art projects we saw at Burning Man, the Mondo Spider, to run on electricity instead of being gas powered. Learned about something  that was truly amazing, TechShop, where you get to use super cool things to make super cool stuff. In addition there are super cool people who can help you learn to use these super cool things. Wow!

When we arrived in San Francisco, I asked some people via twitter what we should do while there and a couple of people said we should definitely go to Breaker Faire which was at American Steel. This is one place where Nomadic Serendipity significantly played a part because we almost decided to go to bed. We didn’t know anyone there and were a little nervous about what it might be like. We did decide to go though and it was incredible. The car pi�ata, the gingerbread house destruction, but mostly, the people. Many of whom were BRC-DPW (Burning Man infrastructure crew), everyone we met was really, really nice.

While at Breaker Faire, we met Alex who highly recommended we stop by Noisebridge which was something I had wanted to do since I had originally heard of hackerspaces. With his encouragement, we added it to our must-do list for the next day.

Sunday, we spent much of the morning relaxing after a late night and did a little packing for our trip home the following morning. That afternoon, we wandered out to do some more walking around the city, seeing more sights and getting Lisa more delicious vegan food. This was one of Lisa’s favorite things because we don’t have vegan places to eat where we live. She is always having to figure out what she can eat but there were actual entire restaurants that were completely vegan.

We finally ended up at Noisebridge in the early evening and quickly discovered that it was a good thing we hadn’t gone there first because it would have been unlikely we would have gone anywhere else. Neither of us wanted to leave.

The next morning after breakfast and before heading home, we drove to some of the places where Lisa grew up. Once we were on the way home, I drove so I set the GPS to guide us while Lisa took a nap. When she woke up, she commented on what an odd way the GPS was taking us, but we weren’t too worried. After driving a while longer, she joked that we would be passing Magic Mountain any minute. And then we did. Being in the serendipitous mindset we took it in stride and kept on going and before long we were getting close to Pasadena. It just so happens our friend recently moved there so we gave him a call and ended up having a wonderful, completely unplanned dinner with him.

San Francisco

There were a few things that I was looking forward to while in the bay area, visiting Palm HQ and Sweet Maria’s, but those didn’t work out, we just decided that it gives us a great excuse to go back.

Because of the amazing experience we had, we are now much more open to doing things that seem fun and interesting. We weren’t home two days before Lisa purchased tickets and got a trip all set up to go to The Next HOPE in New York.

I can’t wait to see what yes brings next.

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2 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Some of the best adventures come about when you start a day not knowing where you are (sometimes literally) going to end up.

    I so love this – thank you for sharing it!

    BTW – Techshop is awesome. If it had been around when I was still in SF, I might never have gone nomadic… 🙂

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