I love this life, and although I may not have money every day, I know that everything will work out, and as long as my daughter and I are healthy and happy, that’s all that really matters!”
Shanti Roadrunner (@shanti_theroadrunner) is one of the most unique people I’ve ever met. And as far as this NOMAD project goes, she’s the most authentic and perhaps holds claim to a blood relation to the ancient Romani people (the original gypsies).
I met her in Sedona, and when asked, “Why a nomad,” she responded, “I’ve been a nomad my entire life, with the exception of living in a house for about 5 yrs altogether on and off. I think it’s just in my blood, I can’t help it! My ancestors and relatives are all gypsies, so, it’s kinda just a normal thing for us. Plus, in my opinion, it’s the freest we can be in this society!”
She struck me as a proud, hard working mother, whose main concern is cultivating a lifestyle of freedom and wilderness for herself and her daughter. She and Robyn live in her 1987 Toyota dolphin camper, all in all about 50 square feet. She said this camper was gifted to her somewhat recently. Before that, the pair lived in her van… She’s very glad to now have a stove and shower.
For me personally, this lifestyle allows me to raise my daughter myself, which is the most important thing to me! I don’t want to send her to daycare and work a 9-5 job. This lifestyle doesn’t require rent…or at least not as nearly as insane as house rent! It requires gas and propane, but yeah… A lot more feasible! I get to take her to my job which is everything to me.”
When asked what she does for work, she replied, “I do some crafting, I make water bottle holders (crochet) but I also do housekeeping gigs for Airbnb’s.”
I asked her a question that Ellen and I get all the time… do you ever plan to settle down?
“Really, no future plans of settling down! Although I wouldn’t mind getting some land if I ever save up enough money. The hardest thing (about life on the road) is probably the law, always trying to get rid of us! It’s unfair! And frustrating.”
She then told me a story of camping in a well known park in Sedona with her sister a while back. They’d been there for about a week when law enforcement showed up. She apologized and let the officer know that they were not aware that they couldn’t camp there. Regardless, he wrote her a ticket. When she asked if there are any signs that say “no camping”, he said, “yes.” But when she asked if he could show it to them, he said “no.”
I looked all around the park for any signs and saw none.
She carries few possessions. But one that caught my eye was a replica of Frodo’s blade, Sting, from Lord of The Rings. I find that every nomad carries at least one thing with them that doesn’t really have any utilitarian value. But it usually carries some emotional significance.
“Ok so Sting… my sister and I were huge, and I mean, huge, Lord of The Ring fans. Those are the only movies we would watch and everything in our life had to somehow relate to LOTR! We had many more swords and memorabilia, but we had to let a lot of it go. I couldn’t bring myself to leave Sting. It was the first sword I owned and I loved it too much to leave behind, plus it’s super cool to have a sword…” Shanti and her sister remain close. Her sister and father both live on the road as well.
Shanti also carries a banjo.
“I had an era of my nomadic life where it was just me and my pack. I was traveling across the country with my boyfriend at the time… he was a folksy bluegrass musician. We went down to New Orleans for a while, and he played on the streets to make money. I didn’t know how to play anything. But as soon as I could I bought my first banjo and it went everywhere with me, even if I don’t know how to play. It’s a comfort knowing it’s there to fiddle around with when I’m feeling inspired, and some day, I would like to play like a pro!”
“Being a nomad isn’t as hard as it seems! And as for myself, I own everything I’ve got in my rig! No debt! Not a lot of money, but i make it day by day. We don’t need a house, an endless hot shower or 3 crazy huge meals a day to be happy or comfortable,” she mused.
Living this lifestyle also puts a whole new perspective on how dependent we are on so many things, and really, how lazy humanity has become. It’s good to get out and connect to the wilderness, and really, our true and original state! Humans are tribal… we need community, we need to connect! We aren’t meant to be set in front of a tv in our lazy John, sending our kids to strangers so we can go to work to make money and never see them, all in order to feel secure.”
Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE
Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates: BIG BEND// WILDFLOWERS + STARS
PHOTO 101 // LEARN TO SHOOT LIKE A PRO // SELECT CITIES // USA GRAND TETON // FALL COLOR // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks: Rocky Mountain National Park Grand Teton National Park If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request: Andrew Slaton // prints from the road If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency: Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton For assignment work requests, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com! All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2019