I belong to a lot of groups that speak to the nomad way of life. A member of one of those groups asked if anyone else felt challenged to stay long in any one place before boredom sets in. I replied that I’m a full-time traveler who lives out of an SUV Crossover. I frequent National Forests, BLM public lands, WMA’s, COE’s, etc. I love to wander. I experience a sort of elation when I’m moving over the land. I shamelessly admit that I’m addicted to that feeling.
When I’m camped, though, often for up to fourteen days at a time, I’m acting to adapt to the environment. I’m on high alert, which can be at once both wondrous and frightening — until I develop an emotional/cognitive baseline of what to expect from Mother Nature in whatever her neck of the woods I might happen to be. This type of adapting is an intuitive and instinctive process over which I have no control.
Most interesting is what happens after I’ve adapted, when all that lies between my vehicle and the sky are low levels of distraction and me, a whole other journey and process of coming to know spirit and soul beyond what stirs the senses. Sometimes I choose the senses and hit the road. Sometimes I choose to weather the uncomfortable lack of distraction and stay longer.
Boredom may or may not set in, but most of the time I turn to writing, sewing, hiking, and anything creative and/or solitary. During such acts of quietly doing, I often fall asleep, a nap or longer, from which I wake with a higher level of awareness, an experience that is low-level sensory, where boundary lines formed by the sensory, to distinguish me from the environment, become blurred.
During one such moment in the desert, just after sundown, the wind harsh against my tent, and the cold threatening to pierce my down coat, I was seated comfortably, mending a garment, a wool blanket strewn over my camp chair, and another over my lap and legs. My camp stove provided an ambiance of warmth and light. My headlamp brought my sewing into focus.
At some point, I nodded off — a sort of twilight sleep, somewhere between actually snoozing and not, when I heard a shuffling inside my tent. Slowly lifting my eyes, I scanned my headlamp over the floor. There, under the stove, sat a tiny mouse nibbling contentedly on a crumb that must have fallen from my dinner plate.
Now any other time I would have jumped out of my seat and shooed that rodent away. Not so at this moment. I was an observer and participant, sharing a warm space and a bit of food. I understood without thought. There was nothing that divided us. That moment was whole and time seemed not to exist.
There are many reasons to stay still, and just as many to move on. I no longer struggle with making a choice. Both are part of the journey. I’m content to have a choice and a path forward — one that is without boundaries.
Susan is the mother of three, grandmother to six, and now a great-grandmother. She retired in 2018 after 40 years as a Clinical Case Manager for individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities. Susan learned to camp from her father, a survivalist with 30 years of military experience. What to do after retirement was a no-brainer for this lady. She converted her SUV and took to the road. She blogs and vlogs her journey on her public Facebook Page and on YouTube: Susan Hare, Freedom to Roam.