Shortly after last week’s column which highlighted how Burning Man is like vagabonding, we loaded up our hatchback and drove to the event, about two hours north of Reno, Nevada, down a small two lane road that runs past deep blue Pyramid Lake, majestic mountains, and salt flats. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and our “Summer Camp” theme camp at 3:50 & Athens was set up by Sunday evening.
I noted that creative problem solving is a full-time activity, and our first hurdle was in setting up our hexayurt; so easy and orderly during all of the pre-building, it was chaotic in trying to tape it together in the high winds. Thanks to two of our campmates, we managed to set it up just before the first heavy rain – the first in a decade of burns. The uneven playa and even more uneven taping job left us with puddles at the head of our bed by the end of the weekend, but the vivid double rainbow was a breathtaking compensation.
Social connections abound at Burning Man, both fleeting and long-lasting. One of the unexpected communities that I found myself a part of happened to be located a 20 minute bike ride away. At 6:00 & Hanoi, Camp Nomadia are full-time vagabonds who came together to share a week in the Black Rock Desert. As synchronicity would have it, I met the organizers, Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard, at an Indian taco truck shortly before we arrived at the event. As we sat and enjoyed our lunch, we talked about how we’d all come to be at a roadside stand somewhere on Rt. 447. After telling them of our self-imposed state of homelessness, we found out that they had been living out of their small RV, traveling around the U.S for the last 4 years, and they invited us to stop by. Three days later I rode my bike through the city to one of their public events, a ‘Nomadic Happy Hour’.
About 90 individuals, Camp Nomadia are primarily fulltime RV’ers, many of whom have also traveled in various parts of the world for extended periods of time. Their public lounge area was created from bits and pieces of what the various campers had with them – a table here, a chair there – and welcomed travelers and passers-by alike. I met a woman who spent several months in Indonesia, and a young man who is midway through riding a Suzuki V-Storm motorcycle from Alaska to Mexico.
As our Vagabonding Case Studies have shown, there is a growing community of modern nomads who have freed themselves from the chains of corporate jobs and mortgages in order to travel. Through the internet, they are earning a living and keeping in contact with each other and a public increasingly interested in alternate lifestyles. We will continue to follow these and the hundreds of other stories that we have received in the months ahead. Stay tuned!