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