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  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.

7 thoughts on “NOMANDLAND

  1. I saw Nomadland this week and thought of you. It’s good to hear you’re doing well on the road, even in these trying times! I hope you can get your vaccine shots soon to keep you extra safe. If you ever get to Tucson you should look me up. Stay safe, Tom

  2. Thanks for the preview/review. I plan to watch it within the week (just need to sign up for Hulu free trial). I have seen many articles about workers, especially older workers, who were displaced from the workforce, couldn’t find another job (often due to age discrimination), couldn’t find affordable housing, and so had to live in trailers — sometimes moving around each night on city streets. Our country’s policies on jobs, housing, and retirement income need a MAJOR overhaul!

  3. Thanks, Alison. I hope the book and movie don’t paint a picture that depicts all who have chosen an interesting traveling existence as down and out or depressing. There is much to be said for the lifestyle you chose and the adventures you have shared. You go girl!


  4. I saw the book cover and first thought you had written it. I was all set to buy it. (Yes you are a good writer!!!)

    I enjoyed your take on the book. I should read it.
    Take care Alison!

  5. Alison,
    I just finished this movie about 30 minutes ago!! I also found it very depressing. I kept waiting to see what the point of view was. By the end, it just seemed like everyone was so lonely and they all had an odd aversion to sleeping indoors. I had homeless clients like that. It took them months to acclimate to the change from congregate shelter and outdoor living to individual housed living. When I talk with you and Debbie, your lives don’t seem remotely close to the movie. Hope you’re happy!

  6. We’ve been full timing 7 years now and move at least monthly if not more. We’ve crisscrossed the states in all directions and I imagine this film will ring true to our observations. We’ve seen the RV industry come out of a slump and young folks seeing an exit to the disappointing future in store. Lots of weekend warriors now clog nice $$ RV parks with their fancy vans and trailers. It’s a new generation coming to be outside, so that’s a good thing. I thrill when I see black/brown folks who are really traveling for fun or work…so few out there. But then, along the way, out on BLM land, in Walmarts, on dead end streets…I see the “others” and it crushes my spirit…there are just so many…how’s it gonna end?

  7. Well Allison got the Hulu thing worked out and about 36 minutes into the movie. As a people person who cares for others wow hard to watch. Taking breaks now and then and a refill on the old tissue box.
    Watching this movie I see and hear people who are gone now, mom, dad, gramma and a sundry of others.
    Mom and Dad took more trips and outings, danced a bit more and increased their backup plans. Oh they took a train across Canada, Ships to many a ports and more golf than one can imagine. Their bucket lists being checked off some more than once. They stop and stare at the vistas off in the distance, sunsets and autumn leaves. All knowing time was drawing near. My gosh they lived to be 85 and here I’m 67 with the same thoughts and desires. Longing for more days and time all the while seeing people falling away no longer around…
    Yes, a “great movie” but certainly not for the faint of heart.
    I’ll continue to the end but for now I think I’ll go outside a bit, trim an indoor plant, look at some old pictures and try to get rid of some of the things I’ve gathered over my lifetime some like in the movie, ” my grandmother made that (both left so much) mom and dad passed on “those things”.
    Yes, I’ll finish hoping for some light at the end of the tunnel.

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