Fellow nomads, meet Tyler.
A mutual friend of the lovely e.v., a proud escort of Dodge the French bulldog, and a succinct but soulful travel writer, Tyler is a nomad of the purest stripe. No slave to hashtags or lifestyle trends, he follows the signs offered by his environment and moves by the direction of his own internal compass.
When that means going into treacherous backcountry, he goes.
When it means delving into the city, he delves.
And when it means staying somewhere for five years at the behest of a new love, he does that too, dammit.
Keep reading for his advice on how to be a nomad without being a tool (my words, not his), how to celebrate your birthday among strangers, and how to not freeze your ass off in the backcountry.
Give us the deets on your nomadic lifestyle.
Truth be told, I used to be more of a nomad. I never used to stay in one place for more than six months. I’m not a hundred percent sure I know why. It would always be this urge I felt: one morning, where I would recognize where I was waking up and think, “I know this place.” Or it would hit me while I was showering or brushing my teeth or walking to work and everything would be routine and familiar.
So I’d move on, find myself a new home and work to settle in until I’d have the urge again. It strikes me as pure irony now that I think about it: I always wanted to belong somewhere, but never stayed around long enough to make that happen.
A few years later I found myself tired of packing my bags and decided to settle down somewhere. I decided on the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly because I was falling in love out there.
So I’m quasi-nomadic now. I try to find new places and new wildernesses to explore when I’m not at home. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains so naturally I’m inclined to go find some high peaks or vistas as a way to get out.
What’s the most common response you get when you tell people you’re a nomad?
Every time I go somewhere, I’m never drawn to just the easy place to visit. I like to make things a challenge; otherwise, why would I want to do it? So when I decide to travel or go backpacking or camping or exploring, people close to me always worry. They immediately go into “pre-Search and Rescue” mode:
Where are you going? For how long? What’s the terrain like? What’s the weather going to be like? What’s the political situation there? How are the people?
And so on. I’ve never been lost or in a situation that would require such back-up, but I guess it’s always good to have a safety net of sorts in place. It’s probably a good thing too that I’ve surrounded myself with concerning people, as I tend to not worry about what could happen until something DOES happen.
What is one tool you can’t live without?
One tool I can’t live without is usually a hooded jacket. Layers are everything in the backcountry; weather can change without warning.
I was once hiking up a little peak up near Lake Tahoe, CA and it was misty out when I started my ascent. By the time I was three quarters of the way up the backside, the mist has turned into rain, and the rain had turned into snow. It was completely unexpected. There were high winds that brought in a bunch of cold and with it some of the good ol’ frozen flakes.
I had brought an extra jacket just in case it would get colder at night when I camped; but man, was I happy to have that extra layer once my rain jacket had frozen solid. So…always bring an extra layer!
Tell us something you know now about nomadic life that you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
I think it would be to “worry less.”
The nomadic life is between two points on a spectrum. At one end there’s the “Worry About Everything”/Survival Point, and at the other end is the “Carefree/Go with the Flow/Don’t Worry about Anything” Point.
When I first started to travel and venture into the backcountry, I think I found myself leaning a bit more towards the Worry About Everything side of the spectrum. Nowadays, I’m a little more balanced Center; and with no real ambition to find the other far side of it, as that can be a bit much too.
Tell about something unexpected that nomadic life brought your way.
I once hosted my birthday in a house I lived in with a few others in Palestine. I was living with a bunch of internationals who were teaching various subjects in the northern part of the country, and when my birthday arrived, we decided it would be fun to have a big potluck and celebrate.
Someone made paper cranes that held candles, there were homemade flags hanging from the ceiling, and paper-crafted centerpieces on the big large table. There was so much good food that everyone cooked and contributed. A buffet of local flavors mixed with everyone’s homestyle cooking. So delicious. We played music on a low volume and danced together. Someone had a cake made for me by a local baker.
It was so great to see a bunch of once-strangers from all over the world–Scotland, Japan, the US, France, Egypt–come together and enjoy each others’ company…all celebrating me! I loved it. Nothing makes me happier than seeing new connections and friendships and ideas being made over a good meal. It is and was hands-down one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.
Where’s your secret spot?
Outside of Amman, Jordan, near the Dead Sea, there’s a beautiful canyon called Wadi Zarqa Ma’in; it means “Blue Water Canyon.” The water that run through the canyon originates from a large hot spring, so the water gets progressively warmer as you ascend and meander the wash.
If you’ve ever hiked in the Southwest United States are done any canyoneering, this is Jordan’s version of places like Moab, Escalante, or Lake Powell. The sandstone is beautiful, the warm is confusingly warm and amazing, and at the top there’s a great lake area where you can cliff jump. It’s super fun, a little challenging, and just the perfect amount of “what-the?” that I love about the Middle East.
Most important tip for nomadic life, in 7 words or less:
Whatever scares you most…do that.