Home Life on the Road

My 10th Nomadiversary…. And a Glimpse of What’s Next

57

Wow – today marks a DECADE since I set off solo in a minuscule Tab trailer, hitting the road full time.

Some of my paramotoring friends flying along the Salton Sea.

Some of my paramotoring friends flying along the Salton Sea. I love being able to cruise at treetop height.

I left behind a somewhat conventional life thriving in the madness of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, heading out into the unknown to technomadically make my way in the world.

I was downsizing from a stunning downtown apartment to a rolling box smaller than the master bathroom I was leaving behind.

But when I set off – I had some rather unusual luggage crammed into my extremely limited space:

A flying machine.

Yes, really!

Flying over Lincoln, CA - shortly after the sunrise shot above.

An airborne selfie flying over Lincoln, CA – shortly after the sunrise shot in the header above.

Not a drone, or a RC helicopter. But a full-on powered paraglider setup that could hoist me paramotoring into the sky.

It was not the most practical thing to pack – but flying was one of the few things from my stationary life that I just couldn’t bear to give up.

You see – I had grown up dreaming of flight, and had actually gotten my pilot’s license while I was just a sophomore in college. All through the years since, I would find ways to get some flying in whenever I could.

I had even been saving up to buy a full-sized airplane of my own at one point (a Diamond DA40 Diamond Star was my dream plane), though I eventually discovered paramotoring and realized that the low & slow flying I most fantasized about could be done vastly cheaper, and with gear that could fit into the back of a Prius.

I was hooked!

And when I hit the road – I had hoped to take my paramotor with me, exploring the country by both road and sky.

But the fantasy did not live up to the reality.

All that fit into the back of (and on top of) the Jeep. But it didn't leave much space for more!

All this gear fit into the back of (and on top of) the Jeep. But it didn’t leave much space, and getting it crammed in was a huge amount of work!

Squeezing all that gear into the back of a Jeep was a challenge.

The tightly packed flying gear took forever to unpack from the crammed Jeep, and even longer to repack afterwards – an especially draining chore if the conditions ended up not being right to fly.

And as an intermediate pilot exploring unfamiliar terrain – it was hard to find locations and conditions that were within my comfort zone.

And when I so rarely would have the stars align to fly – the starter battery might be dead, or the fuel gelled, or the spark plugs fouled.

I was setting up the gear so infrequently that I ended up spending more time doing maintenance than flying!

In the end it was all more trouble than it was worth – and especially after I met Cherie and she joined my on the road it just wasn’t worth the effort, the scarce storage space (which now was shared by two!), or the rolled eyes every time I mentioned contemplating what it would take to get back up in the air.

The flying gear was purged…  But the dreams of flying remain.

And in truth – flying solo with a roaring lawnmower strapped to my back was never quite my ultimate fantasy anyway.

You see…  When I used to dream of being technomadic, it wasn’t in an RV that traveled on the highways.

I dreamed of a mobile home that traveled through the skyways.

Imagine, a flying RV – drifting in near silence above the the beautiful countryside!

The dream is very much alive…

A Glimpse of What’s Next

Eureka at sunset.

The Zeppelin Eureka at sunset.

One of my old contacts from my Silicon Valley Palm-days had gone on to found Airship Ventures, a company that provided flight-seeing tours in a 12 passenger Zeppelin.

I was thrilled that I knew someone who owned an actual airship, and I often dreamed of signing up for a sunset flight over the Golden Gate Bridge during some future trip back to the Bay Area.

But sadly before I could make that happen, Airship Ventures folded in 2012 – and the Eureka Zeppelin has been sitting in a warehouse ever since.

So I reached out – why not turn it into a flying RV?

Indeed – why not?!? An airship is a natural fit for RVing!

Ideas started to flow, and behind the scenes for the past two years we have been providing feedback to a new stealth aviation startup company that has been exploring just this concept – and we at last have permission to start dropping hints in public.

In the year ahead we will be working to have the old Airship Ventures Eureka Zeppelin rebuilt as flying home.

When it re-launches, it will be called Zephyr-2 (obviously) – and we will be the first couple to attempt full-timing in an airship as we take the prototype on the road to the skies.

What a perfect way to combine my love of flying, technology, and the RV life!

British show Top Gear took this small prototype flying RV for a spin a few years ago. Our Zephyr-2 will have much more living space.

British show Top Gear took this small prototype flying RV for a spin a few years ago. Our Zephyr-2 will have much more living space.

The Zephyr-2 will be the first prototype of a whole new line of flying “floating homes” – and in a decade there will hopefully be hundreds of us exploring the country and the world with a bird’s eye view from our living room.

We still have some engineering challenges to work out – like dumping waste tanks, and especially pulling floating a toad.

Thunderstorms, high winds, and avoiding a hydrogen boom might be a bit of a problem too. But nothing that technology can’t solve, I’m sure.

A bigger challenge I imagine will be convincing campgrounds to install mooring masts with full hookups, but the Escapees have already expressed interest in doing so as part of their Xscapers initiative.

For places that do not offer a docking mast, an anchor and an auto-lowering ladder will let us “park” just about anywhere – boondocking in the sky.

And with so much roof space – just think of the solar power potential!

I look forward to having an office view like this at a future RV rally.

I look forward to having an office view like this at a future RV rally.

Ah…..

If only.

Here’s what happened when Top Gear tried to test out a flying RV:

A flying RV may have to wait another decade or two (or three…), but I can dream!

I might just have to settle for a self-driving RV upgrade while we wait.  *grin*

A Decade of Awesomeness

I dream of a traveling home like The Spirit of Adventure, from Pixar's masterpiece Up. Only I'd replace the crew of dogs with cats, and would make Kiki their queen.

I dream of a traveling home like The Spirit of Adventure, from Pixar’s masterpiece Up. Only I’d replace the crew of dogs with cats, and would make Kiki their leader. Nap break!

In my wrap-up post chronicling my first year on the road, I wrote:

On the morning of April 1st 2006 I pulled away from my San Francisco apartment for the last time, leaving behind the keys on the kitchen counter as I left. Ever since then, “home” has been a rather fluid construct for me.

From the beginning I’ve held the specific intention that this was NOT a trip with some final destination in mind, ending once I reached a certain place or after a certain amount of time had passed.

Rather, my goal has been to invent and live a sustainable and fulfilling technomadic lifestyle – living on the road indefinitely.

Now after a decade – I can say that this experiment in life on the road has been a HUGE success!

I have found a loving partner in life, we’ve built a thriving career together, and have discovered an incredible community of like-minds.

I can only imagine what wonders the next decade holds for us!

In case it’s not clear… the part about us switching to an Airship in the next year was our April Fool’s prank. The rest is all true however, it really is Chris’ 10 Year Nomadiversary, he did travel with a paramotor and he does regularly DREAM about living in an airship! 🙂

Memory Lane:

The movie Kiki was named after, Kiki's Delivery Service, features an airship. A coincidence?

The movie Kiki was named after, Kiki’s Delivery Service, features an airship. A coincidence? Or a vision of our future? *grin*

TEN YEARS (!!!) on the road – wow!

Here are some links to my (mostly) annual April 1st Nomadiversary posts.

Step back in time and check out some of our past adventures:

  • Ninth Nomadiversary (2015) – Sharing test results of LTTE boosters. Not to be confused with cellular LTE boosting, LTTE boosting (Libation: Technology Tribulation Elimination) is an even more critical element of a technomad’s tech arsenal.
  • Eighth Nomadiversary (2014) – Way too swamped and stressed with launching RVillage and dealing with Millenicom madness to write anything wistful or witty.
  • Seventh Nomadiversary (2013) – At last revealing the real reason I first decided to hit the road…
  • Sixth Nomadiversary (2012) – Reminiscing about all the changes over the years.
  • Fifth Nomadiversary (2011) – Giving up nomadism and buying a condo (not!) in the Virgin Islands.
  • Fourth Nomadiversary (2010) – Discovering the secret prize that comes inside every box of wine.
  • Third Nomadiversary (2009) – Camped on a beach near Malibu, watching dolphins frolic.
  • Second Nomadiversary (2008) – Working with Cherie to custom design our Oliver, moving up from a trailer ideal for one to one made for two.
  • First Nomadiversary (2007) – Preparing to set out with Cherie, reminiscing about my first very eventful year on the road – setting off solo and finding an amazing partner along the way.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, we receive a commission. Note that all opinions are 100% our own and we only link to products we personally use and absolutely recommend! Technomadia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

57 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

This blog is fueled by YOUR enthusiasm. Your comments help inspire the next post.. don't be shy!

  1. Folks on your quest to do the loop by water. I wish you lots of luck. As a retired TowBoat Captain. You will incounter many adversitys. All I can say is stay on top of your weather on the VHF radio. You will go thru many locks and waiting lock turns. I am not sure if you have a capt. Voyager system or another digital charting system. But good to have. Good ETA’s are good to know when crossing big bodies of water when a storm is popping up. Keep your packing filled and tight in the stuffing box. Check it daily and greased. Follow your GPS and track line. Deeper water that way and less chance of curling a fluk. That is costly. Good Luck and I will be following you guys. Feel free to call me or e – mail me if you might need another head to help you out. One of my bucket list is to sail from the Florida Keys to the Bahama’s and back on a 40 to 50 footer. Again good luck. I have no problem helping you guys out , if there is a need. Watch out crossing the sounds . There are places that have sholed up. Watch your bouy lines . They are not always on station. Take care and have a great time. Life is an adventure. Remember. Those that try in life and fail, has not really failed at all, for they have tried in their life. Oh forgot, watch the dikes on the Mississippi River in high water. Read the water and how it breaks . Work your points. Slack water is under your points.

  2. Chris,

    I just recently joined the RV world and found your site.

    No, you haven’t lost your marbles. I too have wondered about using an airship as a flying RV. I’m just any wacko, but a forcibly retired (i.e. laid-off) DC-9 captain, EAA’er, glider pilot/instructor with a degrees in engineering & physics and now doing an EV conversion of our toad sort of wacko. The logistics of making an airship RV work are daunting but not impossible. Having access to an “mothballed” craft clears one of those hurdles; However, you thought parking Zephyr was difficult in some parks…imagine the issues associated with parking Z-2 being ~100X more volumetrically challenged.

    What got me thinking of an airship RV was a fellow EV convertor has “electrified” a cabin cruiser to travel Holland’s canals. I considered building an EV-RV, but the hp requirements are just now starting to become viable, though VERY expensive. My friend’s dutch canal cruiser works b/c 3-5 knots is an acceptable speed for a boat; while a 5 mph highway cruiser would be an anathema to other hwy travelers.

    And yes, all that air bag “real estate” would be wonderful for PV-powered motors (i.e. free gas) to drive Zephyr-II. Otoh, she would bring new meaning to High Profile vehicle in regard to dealing with the wind.

    Finally, methane (CH3), while good for fueling engines, I don’t think it would provide any buoyancy. CH3, having molecular wt of 15, is comparable to Nitrogen with mol.wt=14, air’s major component.

    Keep on dreaming though; I love the idea.

  3. Congratulations Guys!! I Followed your channel on youtube it is awesome! Maybe sometimes you can go to my country Indonesia!

  4. First, check back in Bus Topics for notes nd pix on the ex-Goodyear Flxible set up as a travelling airship docking mast — sorta like the mast and toad come to the airship whenever you wish to light down. 🙂

    Second, I’ve always wondered about converting an old Short Skyvan into an RV… or doing something similar using BD-4 construction techniques as a homebuilt. Biggest question is whether to make the wing removeable (leave wing at airstrip) or foldable (complex maintainance issues).

    Third, think Dymaxion !

    edward

  5. I thought the 2 of you had lost your marbles, until I realized it was an April fools joke. Whew, ya scared me! LOL

  6. I did not know you were a PPG pilot. We probably shared the same air at Salton on the second week in February every year. I pulled a trailer behind my MH with a trike and bikes on it. Usually hung out with the Fat Wing Flyers out of Denver or the Route 66 Flyers out of Albuquerque. I’m too old to foot launch now. Great times with great friends.

  7. Chris, I have to say you had me going on that flying RV. I was thinking: REALLY? I loved the video, and I just couldn’t stop laughing. THANK YOU for the great dream, good laugh, and inspiration. I love you guys!!!

  8. Congratulations on your Ten Year Nomadaversary! Really enjoyed the recap of all the dreaming. It’s good to dream.

  9. LOVE the design. If you’re able to power your new flying machine w/ your black tank gases I think you’ve discovered a multi-million dollar business. I will be donating to the GoFundMe campaign as soon as it’s set-up.

    P.S. Loved the laugh too 🙂

    Nina

    • Now that is indeed a clever idea! If we can find a way to turn methane from the black tank into a lifting force, that might indeed be perfect! Just how much poop would it take to keep a Beast aloft? 🙂

      – Chris

    • I spent some time drooling over your gorgeous flying photography – beautiful!

      It looks like you have a Blackhawk? How tightly does it pack down, and where do you store it in your rig?

      Thanks for making me drool all over my keyboard… *grin*

      – Chris

  10. Happy Nomadiversary! However you travel, via road or sky, just keep on writing about it. I’m living vicariously through you guys. Happy Travels!

  11. I am laughing so hard! I was totally on board with the airship! I really don’t know why we don’t have hover cars yet. Anyway, thanks for a good belly laugh.

  12. Can you still keep Florida as your domicile if you’re livin in a beautiful balloon? How will the DMV verify your VIN? Will St Brendan’s Isle sling-shot your mail to you? Good prank. For a nanosecond I thought maybe you and Cherie were trying to WAY one-up the Wynns!

    • Slingshotted mail is not a bad idea – but I’m really looking forward to Amazon’s future drone delivery service. That will be perfect for getting deliveries up to our airship. 🙂

      – Chris

  13. Ah Chris you’ve always been pushing boundaries for as long as I’ve known you. Keep the dream alive!

  14. Thought it was a great idea, ready to sign up for flying RV lessons then I saw the video. Lol. Thanks for the entertainment. Happy 10th nomadiversary!

  15. Oh I hate to burst your bubble but the British now have the air Leander and it’s big enough to put in a full-size RV take it anywhere you want now you were asking about the black tank being dumped not a problem You never know how much fun you can have doing abombing run (dump)
    And you don’t have to worry about where you can park now Walmart now has taller light post with anchors on them so you can attach to any Walmart light post next to your friends
    And for your convenience they have A ton of security cameras And I added feature they have microphones so that you could order all your favorite foods from Walmart deli delivered right to the ground floor in onto your special retrieving line for your special convenience
    I also read and popular mechanics that all of the advertis I also read and popular mechanics that all The new advertising companies are installing balloon tethers so that you could tie up to all the automated billboards how long the highways. And byways but the most fantastic part is you at least get a 10 second TV commercial to watch 24 seven and 440 V of power free now as of tomorrow they have not proposed unlimited Internet for Techna maniacs bloggers but we’re sure that-one could find it open router somewhere

    Now I’m sorry to say that I just read about Google’s big problem with non-driver automatic cars
    It seems they only can go where theres a painted lines and or implanted sensors in the road
    Now with all those solar system you have on your antiquated vehicle we understand you’re a person that loves to go and explore the unexplored so that means you’re going to have to run wires under the ground or you’re going to have to paint lines through the mountains through the boondocks near the lake and all the state parks And certain 55 community campgrounds On that special note you’ll save a lot of money in the state of Florida that do not allow under 46 so after that you don’t have painted white lines there but everyplace else you wish to travel
    So we just want to wish you happy flying and happy painting In your new future endeavor

  16. Congratulations on your decade of enjoying the freedom of the road. A most wonderful April 1st fantasy – I can see it!! I’m a huge fan of all the Hayao Miyazaki movies, Kikis Delivery Service was my first!

  17. Just as I was thinking “Coolest idea ever!” Oh wait, it’s still the coolest idea ever, but it did take half the page before I realized it was going to happen. 🙁

  18. Chris: Google for images of N376DT or N7065H – your idea is not totally off kilter, and quite suitable for an April first joke……

    • I just checked out those planes – cool! Do you know if anyone is currently working on a similar concept design with RV features integrated into a conventional plane? Dealing with weight is of course the biggest issue.

      The Flying Winnebago shown off in the 70’s is also an amazing piece of aviation history!

      – Chris

  19. After promising myself i wouldn’t fall for April Fools jokes, it took several paragraphs before i caught on 🙂

  20. I know we said we would meet up with Chris & Cherie at Saddle Mountain, but how will we find them in this beautiful expanse of desert?

    Richard C.

  21. I’m a Commercial Rotorcraft pilot with just over 5,000 hours PIC. There is no way you could get me into a paraglider, powered or otherwise. But I commend you for following your dreams. Just make sure to be extra diligent in your pre-flight inspections :-).

    • The nice thing about a powered paraglider is that the systems are so simple, and overall very reliable.

      And even if the engine does fail – you are gliding along at less than 20 miles an hour, with what is essentially a very maneuverable parachute already deployed over your head.

      And you only need the tiniest of open spaces to land safely.

      Just like any aircraft – you can fly conservatively, or you can push limits. But if done with proper care, PPG flying can be done very safely – with the biggest risk being some broken equipment and bruised ego from a flubbed launch.

      – Chris

  22. It was pretty cool watching you guys drive your bus through Martin Die’s Jr. State park a few weeks ago. We were there on kids spring break. We live west of Houston, but we go to this park exclusively because no one ever goes there. Good luck in your future plans. Sounds fun.

  23. That is some seriously crazy stuff and even more so because you (and some others I guess) are actually serious. lol & campgrounds with landing pads for flying RVs? I’m sorry, I just find that a bit funny but all kinds of things get developed and take off as big trends, maybe you are on to something 🙂

    • One of our favorite places to driveway surf is at a friend’s place in a fly-in community. Instead of garages, every house has a hanger – and airplanes have the right-of-way on the neighborhood roads.

      But we haven’t run across many campgrounds with attached runways, sadly. And airship mooring masts seem to be especially rare… 😉

      – Chris

  24. This was wonderful to read, and loved the video! Such an exciting lifestyle… I’m envious! Thank you for sharing your adventure!

  25. Some fun! As a former hot-air balloon pilot, I know that feeling in your gut that makes you want to fly. Practical? Hell, no. Worth every false start, bad weather day and spent dollar? You betcha.

    Hope the next ten years is even better.
    We will watch your dreams of flight with great interest. Best of luck getting this idea off the ground. (Sorry.)

    • If any aviation company would like us to test out a flying RV of any sort (airship, helicopter, flying boat, UFO) I am so totally open to the idea.

      But the closest thing I have ever seen is the helicopter RV Winnebago showed off once in the 70’s, and perhaps Jimmy Buffet’s live-aboard flying boat.

      It is probably just a bit too hard to make a cost-effective flying home with current technology.

      But I’ll never stop dreaming about it. *grin*

      – Chris

Add your comment now!