Real Nomad Life With A Sprinkling Of Cosmic S**t

Nomad Burnout – The Struggle Is Real!

It’s been four years this June that I’ve been on the road full time.

This Year On The LTVA

I’ve done the purging, the giving up a home, the newbie times, the figuring things out times. I consider myself a seasoned nomad.

This year I rode out (pun intended lol) the Covid pandemic, stuck in one place on the LTVA (Long Time Visitor Area) in Quartzsite Arizona. 

Away from family, still reeling from a devastating break up, I was becoming more and more exhausted and disillusioned on nomad living.

By the end of 7 months in Quartzsite, I was depressed and irritable with van life, and ready to get the hell out of there!

I was tired of doing ALL. THE. THINGS.

Cooking, cleaning and accomplishing normal “hygiene” activities without running water or hot water on tap. Adjusting to the cold, the hot, the sun, the wind. SO WINDY this year. Putting up with the constant shuffling of belongings that makes up part of every van dweller’s day. Setting up the portable solar panels out every morning. Relentless planning to have enough resources with minimal storage space, like water, food, and other life necessities.

Throw into the mix the crazies that invade boundaries with their vehicles, advice, noise, barking dogs, confederate flags, radios at full blast, speeding-dust-churning OHVs, (Off Highway Vehicles) and loud conversations.

Kids On Dirt Bikes Ripped Up The Desert Right In Front Of Me!

I even had some little kids no older than 10, laying patches with their dirt bikes two feet from my kitchen table, all to their parent’s amusement of course. 

I was burnt out as hell!

Yes, I’d finally conquered the finer points of nomad living, but now the lifestyle that previously thrilled me was dragging me down.

Thankfully, as soon as I got back on the road to travel back to the lush Springtime of upstate NY, I started feeling better. The road was finally ahead of me, and I had an epiphany that I’d missed that feeling.

Around that time I’d started transferring my written journal entries of nomad life into digital format. I’d recorded every day of my first 365 days on the road, and as I looked back at that time, I was struck by the intrepid spirit of that past me.

Forest Camp

I had camped alone without a cell signal! I’d spent a summer exploring the Adirondacks on my own. I’d navigated the daunting transition of living behind walls and locked doors to the open freedom of a nomad. I’d successfully transitioned into a radically different way of life. I’d even been inspired to write and publish TWO books about nomad life! (I’ve provided the links at the end of this blog.)

It wasn’t without multiple ups and downs, but I’d reveled in the freedom. The immersion in nature. Seeing new places. The new-found discovery of feeling COMPLETELY ALIVE!

As I read my journals I realized I’d lost that past intrepid spirit. I’d fallen out of love with nomad life.

It turned out to be a valuable lesson in happiness.

Desert Wash! Don’t Park Here.

Four years ago I’d kicked myself out of a lifetime comfort zone, sold my belongings, left a cute apartment, and drove solo across the country to winter in Quartzsite Arizona. I’d never camped in the Southwest, and didn’t even know what a desert wash was.

I’d hit the road to explore my freedom and expand my horizons, but over time I’d become overly picky of where I’d camp.

I needed an internet signal, shade, people nearby but not too close, people around but not too many people.

I’d also gotten into the habit of setting up a “permanent” camp and not moving around much, really limiting my experiences as a self-proclaimed nomad!

Add on a pandemic and the desire to protect my health, and I really got stuck in a rut.

So, I’ve decided that even if I do settle in Quartzsite again for the winter, I’m upping my nomad game. There’s still so much for me to explore.

I need to stretch my comfort zone again. Now that it feels like old hat to live in a van, it’s important to keep my nomad spirit happy. 

No more sitting around in one place for 7 months.

Me, As A Happy Nomad. She’s Back!

I’ve already made plans to take a short trip to Cape Cod this spring, and to see the Grand Canyon in the fall. There’s museums and other areas of interest in Quartzsite I’ve never visited in the four years I’ve wintered there, and that’s going to change.

Thankfully, making those mental shifts has renewed my love of nomad life. The depression has lifted and my enthusiasm is back! 

The price I pay for my freedom is the effort it takes to maintain it, and it’s SO TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Click Here For Amazon Link

Click Here For Amazon Link


What Do We Give Up As Nomads?


I Am A Feral Nomad


  1. Janell Evans

    Agreed. Too much time being a sedimentary nomad steals the zing. I’m planning on Christmas at the Imperial Dam. It’s part of the LTVA system. See tou at the Q.

  2. Hi Mary Ellen! Newbie just starting out, several things have ended for me including 2 loved ones lives, a 15 year relationship, and now an 18 year job…so time for some major changes. Just started the book and the purge (emotional but also eye opening and freeing) and will soon be selling the home of 15 years so…sought you out online and really enjoyed the honesty and real ness if this post! I am a advance planning facilitator and advocate, death doula, celebrant and home funeral guide, spiritual seeker, vintage boho wild woman at heart, and it’s time to set her free! ☺️❤️‍🔥 Thank you for your example, your wise words and inspiration!! 🥰. Should you need to reach me, the best way is text for now, 901-605-9270 Cindy.

    • Reikicoach

      Wow sounds like an intense path of change! Good luck with all and hope the book helps you a little! It’s a worthwhile journey for sure!

  3. Cindy Dez

    Hi Mary Ellen, I just watched your van tour with TheGalavan. Even with nomad burnout, I want so badly to start my nomadic life. I hope to meet you down the road one day. On my way to check out your books. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Reikicoach

      Thanks so much for reaching out! It’s funny how even though we’re nomads all over the country, we end up crossing paths with familiar faces! Happy trails!

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