Last night I watched Nomadland starring Frances McDormand, based on the book by Jessica Bruder.
It is a depressing view of houseless seniors living in their vans and following the wisdom of Bob Wells author of CheapRVLiving.com. Bob has become a YouTube and blog success with a significant following that he has been able to monetize. Unlike the tragic characters profiled in the book and movie.
I found both the book and the movie unsettling, because Bob is a former Alaskan and the story begins in Nevada, two places I have lived. Now I am also a nomad. However, my lifestyle is very different from those featured in Nomadland. I am grateful each and every day for my union pension and Social Security, especially annual cost of living increases. I have not had to resort to working in an Amazon full-fillment center, harvesting sugar beets, or other hard work. Campground hosts use to involve daily cleaning of the bath houses, but the only advantage of the virus is cleaning crews have been hired to clean the bathrooms 3-4 times per day. The other characters play themselves and are the real houseless living out their on the road.
The irony of the book cover featuring a very sad Airstream trailer, is also not lost on me.
When I began my journey four years ago, I often joked I wanted Meryl Streep to play me in my movie. But, I have come to discover my story is not that unusual, there are thousands of woman out here on the road2reinvention. Just Google RV living or search Facebook: Solo Streaming Sisters, Progressive RVers, Single RVers, Single RVers Trying to Change That, Airstream Addicts, RV Chick Chat, Wally Byam Airstream Group – WBCCI, etc.
There are thousands of blogs, too.
Nomadland chronicles seniors living on the fringe, boondocking on public lands so not to pay nightly rental costs and working odd jobs to survive. Their lives are better than homeless living under bridges, but they are one big repair bill away.
My neighbors are mostly retirees, and some work campers. Traveling nurses, and construction workers going from job to job. They live in BIG 5th wheelers or camping buses with all the conveniences of home, washer & dryer, satellite TV, fireplaces, you name it.
State parks can cost between $15 – $70 per night depending on amenities like full hook-ups (water, elective and sewer). Private RV Resorts (parking lots with swimming pools) start at $50 and go up to over $100 per night. There are discounts for weekly, monthly or longer-term stays.
The variety of campers intrigues me as well. From customized vans to new varieties of tear drop trailers. I saw this Alto at Kiptopeke State Park. The Alto is made in Canada and can be customized to the buyer’s specifications. It has a back-up remote control! Unhook and use the joystick to back it into your campsite. The entire roof lifts up to allow standing inside. Very cute, and very compact.
Another very neat trailer comes in a kit the owner can build in their garage. It is designed by a boat builder and has a really sweet kitchen on the back end. These of course are for weekend campers, but you have to admire the ingenuity.
I recommend Nomadland, both the book and the movie. Who doesn’t like Frances McDormand? She is also welcome to play me in my movie.