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AmericaStoryLife on Wheels: The New American Nomads by David Gardner

For much of any given year, I can be found traveling cross-county in my motorhome photographing the landscape. Over the past 4 years, I have become aware of a certain group of fellow traveler who seem somehow different from the typical vacationer.

LIFE ON WHEELS: THE NEW AMERICAN NOMADS, looks at those Americans who have willfully traded traditional lifestyles of home and property for a nomadic existence of full-time life on the road in recreational vehicles. The project is primarily a look at the people, but also the vehicles they travel in, and places they visit are brought into view.

For much of any given year, I can be found traveling cross-county in my motorhome photographing the landscape. Over the past 4 years, I have become aware of a certain group of fellow traveler who seem somehow different from the typical vacationer. Known as “full-timers”, they roam the continent – often traveling in caravans – meeting and socializing in predetermined places.

Full-timers are often found in out-of-the-way Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, stay in the same spot for extended periods and are acquainted with many other campers in a particular area. Living largely off the grid, they have embraced modern technologies such as Scype and WiFi when needed to stay connected to loved ones.

They use advanced solar technologies and energy storage systems to power their rigs. Using GPS devices to coordinate meeting places, they tend to gather in unexpected and remote areas of the landscape all across the country. While most are retired, some do still work from their RV’s – using the advantage of mobility to increase flexibility and improve prospects.
I began approaching them, asking into their doings, and found their fierce independence and positivity toward life a compelling argument to the porch and rocking chair. Photographing them in the environment with their rigs -sometimes traveling with them for extended periods – affords me a unique look into a lifestyle that breaks down traditional notions of home and retirement. I am curious as to how this sea change in attitude affects perceptions of familial roots and relations, and how cross-country travel has affected their own view of the world.
Through this contact I have come to realize that some of my desire to photograph and present them, stems from the fact that I now stand at the brink of what I consider the “Golden Years”. This journey with them has brought me to unexpected realizations of how the older generation has adapted, evolved and embraced the world around them, and changed my own attitude of who and what I might become as I age.[Official Website]
 David Gardner

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Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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