IF YOU’VE EVER SEEN THE MOVIE (or read the book) Nomadland, this is our tribe. Those in the movie and many more across the western US are our extended family. We love them very much and I am very proud of them because they are such good people.
When we first became nomads we were headed toward our first Rubber Tramp Rendevous (RTR) held in the desert near Quartzsite, AZ. A man named Brent, who had never met us, took us under his wing. He told us where to boondock and that he would stop and check on us. He was there the day we arrived at Quartzsite. He is actually a ‘part-timer’ but he’s still a very integral part of the tribe. Another nomad needed a house battery (deep-cycle 12V). We had a battery. Brent picked up the battery from us and got it to the nomad in need.
Nomads come in all sizes, shapes and flavors. Some of us have enough money to live comfortably in the so-called “civilized” world, but we prefer the nomad life. Some of us have found our way to the nomad community because they were the victims of the so-called “civilized” world, as in the book Nomadland. Very honestly, when I hear the song line “he’s not heavy. He’s my brother” I think of nomads.
One time I was standing near the tarp at RTR where people put things to share and others can take what they need. I saw a very expensive set of jacks on the tarp and happened to overhear someone speaking to the person who had left them. “I wasn’t using them. Someone might need them,” was his reasoning for putting them there. That is a nomad. One couple dropped off four large boxes of canned goods left from downsizing their “stick-n-brick” (nomad term for permanent house). And I have seen people, almost totally destroyed by ‘the system’ that they hardly have enough to go from one month to the next, leave something on the tarp because “someone might need it.”
Perhaps being a nomad is as much of a way of thinking as a life-style
One Thanksgiving we were camped in the hills just north of Cottonwood, AZ. It was a small encampment of people with one class A, two trailers, one class C, three cars and a couple living under a tarp. The people in the cars were going to go to Sedona where there was a charity Thanksgiving dinner. Those of us who had the means to have a Thanksgiving dinner suggested that the entire encampment join together. At first those who didn’t have anything to offer were hesitant. We didn’t force them to join us, but we were happy when they did. The couple living under the tarp did a lot of the prep work. The man with the big Class-A had us use his kitchen. The rest of us brought what we could. The Class-A had one of those televisions on the outside. The man had never used it. The men in the camp spent much of the morning, while the rest of us cooked, figuring out how to use the TV so we could watch the football game. There was so much food that it was like the story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Those of us who had plenty found excuses to send the left-overs home with those who had less. It was nomads being nomads.
Pamela had flown back to Kentucky to help with grandbabies. I stayed in the desert south of Ajo, AZ. I ended up spending 22 days in the desert only going to town twice to get drinking water. Looking back at the time, almost ten years before, that Brent helped us start our nomadic journey, I realized that we’ve come a long way.
It was so much fun when I learned that the couple camped next to me in the neat little (obviously brand new) trailer were new nomads. I can’t explain how good it felt to share places for them to boondock, and answer questions about water and solar. It was like giving back.
But perhaps the most important thing I left with them was the knowledge that nomads are a tribe into which they will be welcomed. Nomads don’t care where you’re from and don’t ask your pedigree. We are an extended family that is there for one another. “He’s not heavy. He’s my brother.”