It’s been four years this June that I’ve been on the road full time.
I’ve done the purging, the giving up a home, the newbie times, the figuring things out times. I consider myself a seasoned nomad.
This year I rode out (pun intended lol) the Covid pandemic, stuck in one place on the LTVA (Long Time Visitor Area) in Quartzsite Arizona.
Away from family, still reeling from a devastating break up, I was becoming more and more exhausted and disillusioned on nomad living.
By the end of 7 months in Quartzsite, I was depressed and irritable with van life, and ready to get the hell out of there!
I was tired of doing ALL. THE. THINGS.
Cooking, cleaning and accomplishing normal “hygiene” activities without running water or hot water on tap. Adjusting to the cold, the hot, the sun, the wind. SO WINDY this year. Putting up with the constant shuffling of belongings that makes up part of every van dweller’s day. Setting up the portable solar panels out every morning. Relentless planning to have enough resources with minimal storage space, like water, food, and other life necessities.
Throw into the mix the crazies that invade boundaries with their vehicles, advice, noise, barking dogs, confederate flags, radios at full blast, speeding-dust-churning OHVs, (Off Highway Vehicles) and loud conversations.
I even had some little kids no older than 10, laying patches with their dirt bikes two feet from my kitchen table, all to their parent’s amusement of course.
I was burnt out as hell!
Yes, I’d finally conquered the finer points of nomad living, but now the lifestyle that previously thrilled me was dragging me down.
Thankfully, as soon as I got back on the road to travel back to the lush Springtime of upstate NY, I started feeling better. The road was finally ahead of me, and I had an epiphany that I’d missed that feeling.
Around that time I’d started transferring my written journal entries of nomad life into digital format. I’d recorded every day of my first 365 days on the road, and as I looked back at that time, I was struck by the intrepid spirit of that past me.
I had camped alone without a cell signal! I’d spent a summer exploring the Adirondacks on my own. I’d navigated the daunting transition of living behind walls and locked doors to the open freedom of a nomad. I’d successfully transitioned into a radically different way of life. I’d even been inspired to write and publish TWO books about nomad life! (I’ve provided the links at the end of this blog.)
It wasn’t without multiple ups and downs, but I’d reveled in the freedom. The immersion in nature. Seeing new places. The new-found discovery of feeling COMPLETELY ALIVE!
As I read my journals I realized I’d lost that past intrepid spirit. I’d fallen out of love with nomad life.
It turned out to be a valuable lesson in happiness.
Four years ago I’d kicked myself out of a lifetime comfort zone, sold my belongings, left a cute apartment, and drove solo across the country to winter in Quartzsite Arizona. I’d never camped in the Southwest, and didn’t even know what a desert wash was.
I’d hit the road to explore my freedom and expand my horizons, but over time I’d become overly picky of where I’d camp.
I needed an internet signal, shade, people nearby but not too close, people around but not too many people.
I’d also gotten into the habit of setting up a “permanent” camp and not moving around much, really limiting my experiences as a self-proclaimed nomad!
Add on a pandemic and the desire to protect my health, and I really got stuck in a rut.
So, I’ve decided that even if I do settle in Quartzsite again for the winter, I’m upping my nomad game. There’s still so much for me to explore.
I need to stretch my comfort zone again. Now that it feels like old hat to live in a van, it’s important to keep my nomad spirit happy.
No more sitting around in one place for 7 months.
I’ve already made plans to take a short trip to Cape Cod this spring, and to see the Grand Canyon in the fall. There’s museums and other areas of interest in Quartzsite I’ve never visited in the four years I’ve wintered there, and that’s going to change.
Thankfully, making those mental shifts has renewed my love of nomad life. The depression has lifted and my enthusiasm is back!