About Us

We met in 2006 at a Habitat for Humanity workday so I knew she was handy, and she knew I looked good in Carhartts. I asked for her number. She told me my name tag had been stuck to the ass of my pants all day. Clearly my plan had worked, because I’d gotten her attention and - by the end of the day - her digits. When I called to ask her out, she said she couldn’t because her mom was visiting for the next week and a half. I confirmed with my female friends that this was, in fact, a blow off and that no 26-year-olds living in studio apartments have their mothers come visit for a week and a half. When she told her mom (who actually *was* visiting for a week and a half) the story, she wisely insisted that her daughter go out with me. They texted each other the whole night.

Ann had been working as a massage therapist since moving out to California from Boston around 2005. I’d been swept up in the DotCom craze in the mid 90’s and, while never holding the same job for more than 6 months, was somehow paid hyper-inflated salaries and invested well until things fizzled around the turn of the century/millennium. Afterwards, I did some contract work for a tech company here and there and taught music while playing in a bluegrass band in San Francisco, but mostly focused on developing investments that could support me between gainful employment. Ann continued to grow her massage practice, and things were going well for both of us.  Or were they?

We both felt like we’d arrived to one degree or another but weren’t quite sure where. Just around then, the pesky Internet started bombarding us with stories of fun sounding people traveling the world (or had we gone looking for them?). There was Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman riding motorcycles around the world, and Pat and Ali from Bumfuzzle sailing around the world. Then came blogs (many listed on our Overland Respources page) about young couples who sounded just like us, packing up an SUV and pointing it south on something called the Pan American Highway. They sounded alive, solving problems creatively every day and living out in the world. We became obsessed with their stories and adventures, and before long, were actually batting ideas around for one of our own.


We got married in October of 2010 and left one month later with an open plan. Our lives at home were buttoned up and put on hold while we drove south from San Francisco thinking we might make it all the way to Tierra del Fuego or beyond. We were open to the idea of being gone for a year or maybe more. I’ll make you do your homework to learn about the experiences we had and the factors that made us stop in Panama, but basically, a 10,000 mile 5 month journey through Mexico and Central America had its desired effect: to break us out of our routine and comfort zone and clarify for us the kind of life we wanted to be living. We knew that while this was "the trip of a lifetime," it was also, just "a trip in our lifetime" and we felt a draw home towards family and friends to start over.


Yup, we bought a farm. Well, a farmlet really. A homestead. A gentleman’s hobby holding, perhaps. Any way you want to say it, we moved to a house on 4 acres an hour north of San Francisco in a small town with deep agricultural roots and a growing local food and sustainable farming movement. In April of 2011, we started learning about chickens and sheep and pigs (as well as foxes, coyotes, racoons, skunks, hawks, owls and all the other things that eat them - and llamas who try to prevent it). We planted a substantial garden, tended to neglected grape vines, blackberry bushes, apple trees, plum trees, a peach tree and a fig tree and learned new things every day. And lucky you, you get to hear not only about the things that go right, but the things that go wrong.

image  image

It just so happened that this environment would be the perfect place in which to raise a child, and within a month of landing back on US soil from Panama, we found out Ann was pregnant. That turned out to be a pretty good adventure for a while: managing the farm while watching this strange little human we created develop on a daily basis.

image image

But inevitably, the road started calling again, and we began musing on the values of the farmlet life vs travel.  We upgraded from the roof top tent to an Airstream trailer, first a compact and efficient 19' unit and then a more spacious and well-outfitted 25'. In 2013, we spent more than 100 days traveling in the Airstream including a loop around the Southwest US and a trip through the Pacific Northwest up to Banff and the Rockies with a caravan, and decided we wanted to do even more. While we love the travel ourselves, we've found it even more enriching to do with a child, opening our eyes to simple pleasures and watching as they learn through interaction with the world. We've met some great families on the road and do a lot of thinking about how we would like travel to be a large part of how we raise our children. Yep, I said "children." In July of 2014, we welcomed little Mae and soon set off on more adventures in the Airstream as a family of four. By January 2015, we'd decided to rent the Farmlet to some close family friends and hit the road full time.



After a little over two years living in our 25' Airstream trailer from August 2014 to October 2016, we were feeling the need for a change. In November 2016, we returned to Petaluma, CA and moved into an 860 sq ft house we'd been having remodeled while on the road. And while the house turned out exactly as we'd hoped and we love being close to friends and family, a block from our favorite park and able to explore some hobbies like woodworking and tinkering on vintage motorcycles, settling down was not quite the idea.


In the past, we'd been making HUGE moves like packing up an SUV and heading south on the Pan American Highway and then swinging wildly back the other way and buying a 4 acre Farmlet and pretending to be farmy homesteading types. This time, we had a vision for a more balanced approach, one that would blend restful time at home and connection to friends, family and community with our curiosity about pretty much everywhere else in the world and the desire to get out and experience it for ourselves and for our kids. I suppose a "home/roadschooling" post should be forthcoming... standby.

A post shared by David Zimmerman (@advodna_dave) on

Some of those experiences might not take us more than a couple hundred miles from home, like the weeks we've been spending this winter up in Tahoe teaching the kids to ski (and reminding ourselves), but others will take us farther abroad; This Fall, we'll meet up with two other like-minded familys (BackroadBennetts and Tiny Ass Camper!) for a 10 day drive around the Loop Road in Iceland in campervans. From there, our family will continue on to Amsterdam and Paris and then for a drive down the coasts of Britanny and Bordeaux, across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostella, and down the coast of Portugal for 10 weeks.

This time, we'll return home for the holidays with family and another season of skiing, but wouldn't it be fun to spend a month skiing in Switzerland? Or buy a camper in Europe and explore Italy and Croatia? Or take it up for a tour of the UK? Or Scandinavia? Or fly to Guanajuato for a Spanish immersion? Or build an adventure trailer and camp the Baja Peninsula? Yeah, so, we've got ideas... and of course, we also still look forward to impromptu BBQ's and family movie nights back home and, yes, the Airstream will still figure prominently. In fact, we already spent the month of April in the Airstream out in Utah to meeting up with nomadic friends and taking in the spectacular landscape.  

For now, we'll be updating this blog and our primary Instagram accounts at @advodna_dave and @advodna_ann mostly only when we're traveling, and have created a second Instagram account for more of our personal day-to-day at home, @smallhousedna. If you're interested in following along on the home front or just want to say hi, drop us an email or message us on IG and introduce yourself.

We hope you find something on this blog that you’re interested in. If so, drop us a line from the contact page to let us know or leave a comment. If not, thanks for a brief visit to our self-indulgent little way of processing our lives as they’re coming at us.

Dave and Ann