Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Life Remains Good

Since I haven't posted in almost a year, I thought I'd give you an update.

Bob and Suanne on a You Tube Video talking about 
Homes On Wheels Alliance's Emergency Fund for Nomads. 8/19
After 10 years of retirement, my good friend Bob Wells and I co-founded a nonprofit called Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA), which is a 501(c)3.  I am the Executive Director and Bob is the President.  We are building a Board of Trustees of eleven members.  We help those in need within the mobile community.  As with any start-up, the hours are long and work challenging.  Yet, the rewards have been great.  Not only do I love our mission, but I enjoy and admire the people I work with.  And, to top it off, I've been able to remain a nomad, spending lots of time in nature.

An amazing rock formation called "Feathers," hundreds of feet tall 
over a campground at Frenchman's Coulee in Washington State.  
Found while scouting for Caravan locations, 7/19.
HOWA's first birthday is in a week and I'm proud to say we have already helped several people and are currently accepting applications for three other fully-funded programs -- Nomad Emergencies, Minivan "Home On Wheels," and Solar Panel Kits.

In addition to the above efforts, HOWA has an active Caravan Program, where those in the mobile community can meet up and camp with others.  Furthermore, we are deep into the planning of the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, large gatherings where we expect at least 9,000 people who attend to learn and build community together in the Desert Southwest in January.

A dirt road in New Mexico, amazing views while scouting
Caravan locations, 3/19.
As you can tell, this is not my typical blog post from my retirement years.  One day I'll get back to the luxury of travel by whimsy.  Yet, for now, what I'm doing is equally fulfilling and liberating.  HOWA's work is truly important, my colleagues are a joy to be around, and the community connections have been amazing.  People are good.  Nature remains my solace.

When I decided to take the Executive Director's position, I knew my life would radically change.  I fully expected that I would get back into working long hours and take an active leadership role.  I also knew that this position would require me to become a public figure.  That's been a transition as an introvert who had previously preferred to lead an unobserved life.  Although I'll continue to grow in this role, I'm accepting its changes and challenges.

I love being in my Prius during a rain, the sound on my roof.
Here is the location of our last Minivan Build (across the way), 6/19.
Even though I'm an introvert, I've always liked to perform and teach.  So, the little bit I've shared the camera and stage with Bob (already a full-on public figure) has been kind of fun.  The challenges for me come from being recognized in public, which is kind of unsettling.  Typically people are truly appreciative.  The hardest part, as expected, is being openly critiqued, criticized, and hated on.  That hasn't happened too much; but, as with all negative comments, they take on a life in my head that becomes larger than the many positive comments put together.

My skin is growing thicker.  I'm ignoring the haters and listening to helpful critiques.  Most importantly, I'm focusing on those who I want to help.

Full-time nomading, aka vanlife, vandwelling, rving, is coming into its own in the media.  For example, Bob was recently interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning, a couple of documentary film makers are sharing a camp with a Caravan right now, and a major motion picture about this lifestyle is in post production.  Who would have thought!  I'm glad for the publicity.

Taking a nice break in a forest at sunset in Western Washington State, 7/19.

For all of the camping lifestyle's inconveniences, the benefits -- being in nature, traveling the backroads, sharing campfires among friends, and its affordability -- make it a way of living that I want to promote.   It's the antithesis experience to our society's consumerism, turmoil, distrust, and readiness to fight.   Here, I have the freedom to just to be.  Here, I've found like-minded others.  Here, I embrace myself.  And, if I don't like "here," I've got the wheels to move.