I never really classed myself as a “nomad” when I was young and traveled a lot. It was more like I was just traveling to see things. I was fortunate. Though not wealthy, I was able to spend a lot of time in the American Midwest, camping and canoeing much of the Ozarks, bicycling southern California, and drifting around parts of Western Europe, even slipping into North Africa for some exciting adventures. By luck, my college career sent me back to Europe and my early career as an archaeologist lead me around the western United States into some pretty amazing little corners of wilderness I would never have seen otherwise.
With the far-sighted perspective of time, I can see than I have been on the move much of the time since I left high school. Being tethered to other, more sedentary people, gives a sense of having a base that may really be a false reality. Having let go of things has opened my eyes to the freedom that having few possessions can provide. It’s a big world out there, and it’s always an education to experience it.
Here’s another interesting documentary about modern American Nomads produced by BBC4 in 2011 based on the book by Richard Grant. They come from all walks of life and choose some very different paths; “Among them are retirees in RVs, teens hopping trains, hitchhikers and rodeo cowboys.” Check out his other books if you get a chance, they are certainly interesting reads.
About the author:
Richard Grant is a British writer currently living in the Mississippi Delta. He is the author of three books, Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa (Free Press, 2011), God’s Middle Finger (Free Press, 2008),published in the UK as Bandit Roads, and American Nomads (Grove Press, 2003), published in the UK as Ghost Riders. In addition, he writes articles for magazines and newspapers, publishing regularly in the Telegraph magazine (UK), and Port. He is the writer, presenter and narrator of the television documentary American Nomads, broadcast on BBC4 in November 2011, and currently working on a documentary about tribal life in Ethiopia.