Could we all be true nomads…
One man and a 40–acre plot of land in Oneonta provide haven for those who choose to heed the call of their own wandering spirit

Words and photos by Edward Badham

Shila Molina sharing the love through her body art.

We all enter this world with one certainty, that we will also have to leave it. Life is a temporary state of existence, yet we spend our time trying to forget this fact or pretending it is not so. We surround our selves with the illusion of permanence. Homes, jobs, friends, children and we imagine that they will always exist, always be there for us.

We all want security. The security to know we have a job, have a paycheck, a roof over our heads. But the truth is everything is temporary. There are no guarantees in this existence through which we sojourn. We all deal with this fact in various ways. We work, we party, we exercise, take pills, use creams, plastic surgery, anything we can do to prolong the inevitable or to  help us forget.

The nomad, whether by choice or by circumstance, knows that this life is temporary better than most. All these worldly things become unimportant. One is stripped of all the trappings of modern existence that tend to confuse the heart and soul of what life really is. It is a day to day struggle to survive. This is true no matter what station in life we are in.

Beau Armistead has always had a heart for the wanderer. Whether it was living as a nomad himself or reaching out to serve them in any way he could. Beau spent much of his youth travelling  the country and  chasing bands. He was an old–school Deadhead and then a Phish head. After several years of the Deadhead lifestyle he decided it was time to settle down and he took a desk job with a software company.

This was not the most content time in his life, but it gave Beau some time to reflect and grow spiritually. Eventually Beau felt a calling to return to the Nomad lifestyle. But this time he wanted to do more than just wander and party. This was a religious calling and he wanted to serve peoples’ needs and to share God’s love. Beau is not an evangelist in any strict form of the word. He doesn’t preach or judge others. He just wants to share his love and serve others in need.

So he found an old school bus and fixed it up and turned it into the grilled cheese wagon. He took it on the road. He would go to shows and give out free grilled cheese sandwiches and nomad stickers. He was happy again to be among  the nomads and also a servant. At a Bonaroo festival one year Beau handed out 3,000 grilled cheese sandwiches.

Eventually his family grew and there was a need to settle down. But he still wanted to serve and be a part of this community so he came to Birmingham and started Nomad Supply. This was a small shop where nomads could come and take temporary refuge. There was coffee, internet, shower, and basic supplies available for the weary wanderer.

The Nomad Supply became well know among the circles of travelers, becoming somewhat of a destination or at least a planned pit stop along the road for many nomadic wanderers. Groups would quite often congregate in Birmingham. Shades Valley Church would allow them to camp in their parking lot. Birmingham was a miniature mecca where the wanders were welcomed and ministered to.

All the while Beau had a bigger vision. He and Joshua Hanson were looking for property in central Alabama to start Nomadland. The idea was formed based on a similar place called The Land in Southern California. The Land is no longer in existence.

Beau and Joshua found exactly what they were looking for in a 40–acre plot near Oneonta. So with their combined resources they were able to purchase the property and begin what is now Nomadland. Its official opening began with the four day march from Trussville to Oneonta. They arrived in Nomadland, October 24.

Nomadland’s mission is to serve and feed the wayward traveller. Feed their bellies and their spirit. The barn is equipped for short and longer term visitors.

We are all truly nomads. Our spirits are merely wandering through this life in hopes of finding something better at the end of it.

One Response to “Nomadland”

  1. Tremendous things here. I am very happy to see your article. Thanks a lot and I am taking a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

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