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Nicknamed the “dynamic duo” shortly after meeting their first day of college architecture class, the couple quickly realized they both had a passion for modest and sustainable living as well as traveling.

Several years later, Maddie and Ryan Chandler stumbled across a 1957 Cal Craft aluminum sided travel trailer for sale and in major need of TLC. Both being aspiring architects (at the time) they craved projects such as this. In the midst of wedding planning, architecture licensing exams, and working and living full time in San Francisco, they travel back and forth to Ryan’s fathers house in Cloverdale where they began the demo work of the ‘Canned Ham’ (the established nickname for the trailer based on the similarities to, you guessed it a can of ham - a popular fare in the 50’s).

At only 12 feet long, it turns out the Canned Ham was a little more work than they had originally anticipated. It required completely dismantling the entire structure down to the frame and rebuilding the walls stud by stud from the ground up.

For the next year they did a complete re-build. Laminate wood flooring wraps up the curved walls for a continual floor/ceiling finish. Waterproofing and sealing the windows was a tedious task – and less enjoyable then spraying in the foam insulation or picking out their faucet while honeymooning in Thailand.

Self-taught, Ryan became fluent in understanding what is needed to become off-the-grid with their 315 watt solar-powered system. In fact, they were able to run the saws and power tools needed to do the interior cabinets entirely off the battery’s being charged by the single solar panel mounted on the roof of trailer.

While Ryan was taking care of the carpentry portion, Maddie was carving the foam cushions with an electric turkey carver, designing the fabric for the cushion covers, sewing curtains or wiring the interior outlets.

Other unique items incorporated include a back-painted plexiglass and wood-framed table with LED strip lighting, repurposed antique soda boxes, swivel mounted flat-screen TV, and a groovy bead curtain they hand strung themselves (that’s a lot of beads!). Also noteworthy, is the barbeque that slides out from underneath the bed to the exterior via a converted storage compartment. Ryan custom fabricated the BBQ mount which lifts to a comfortable grilling height.

The duo has (so far) traveled on a month -long trip with the Ham to Canada exploring every national park along the way, to Montana for a family reunion, Colorado for a friends getaway and plenty of shorter trips to Bodega Bay Dunes State Park, Hendy Woods and Jed Smith State Parks, as well as San Luis Obispo.


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