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The real-life nomad from Nebraska is on the move — and enjoyed 'Nomadland' too
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The real-life nomad from Nebraska is on the move — and enjoyed 'Nomadland' too

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Nebraska Nomad

Elaine Pflepsen lived in a camper this winter at Caballo Loco Ranch in Arizona. 

The nomad from Nebraska has never been one for having a mortgage.

Or going shopping. Or having a nailed-down job.

Elaine Pflepsen prefers to be on the move. She lives in a camper. She reuses old items. She often wears the same four shirts.

"I've always been a minimalist," Pflepsen said. "I reuse something five million times, because every time I use it, that's one less hour I have to have a job."

Pflepsen, who is originally from St. Paul, has adopted a lifestyle that is increasingly entering the mainstream, thanks in part to the movie "Nomadland," starring Frances McDormand and nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture.

Elaine Pflepsen

Elaine Pflepsen 

In the film, Fern (McDormand) hits the road after losing her job and her husband, against the backdrop of the Great Recession. Fern is a nomad — living in a van, visiting a desert gathering of other wanderers, taking up temporary work at a beet factory. 

From December to early March, Pflepsen lived out of her 6½-foot-by-17-foot camper — christened the "Duchess of Wanderment" — at the Caballo Loco Ranch near Tucson, Arizona. She learned about the community through Bob Wells, a nomad and YouTuber who has a role in the film and hosts an annual rendezvous of van dwellers in Quartzsite, Arizona, as depicted in "Nomadland."

Today we meet Jim, owner of Caballo Loco Ranch RV Park near Tuscan, Arizona and take the tour and see everything there is to see. I have to tell you that this is one of the most beautiful locations for an RV Park I have ever seen, and probably the very best deal on an RV Park anywhere in the country right now. If you are looking for a very inexpensive (but beautiful) place to camp for multiple months of the year, or even for the entire year, this is the place to go! Best of all, you can lease a full-hookup site in your RV, or camp in a car, van or even a tent—EVERYONE IS WELCOME!!!



Get behind the scenes, blog posts, drone footage, personal videos and more!



I have recently created a 5-and-a-half-hour complete Class for Nomads that contains 19 Videos on EVERYTHING YOU NEED to start your life on the road!

This class is now available on Skillshare and Udemy.

Skillshare and Udemy are online learning communities. The platforms offer tens of thousands of classes in graphic design, visual art, illustration, creativity, photography, creative writing, entrepreneurship, and more.The main difference between Udemy and SKillshare is that on Skillshare it is a monthly subscription and you can take as many other classes in addition to mine as you want, for a monthly fee of $8.99 per month. On Udemy you are just purchasing just my 5.5 hour course for $18.99.



The Ultimate Crash Course to Living on the Road: How You Can Afford a Life of Travel and Adventure

Channel Name: Bob Wells CheapRVLiving


In this class, you will learn:

Class 1 Introduction

Class 2 Class Project Details

Class 3 How Do I Make Money on the Road?

Class 4 Dealing with Fears

Class 5 How to Get Rid of Your Stuff

Class 6 The Three Types of Camping

Class 7 Which Type of Vehicle to Choose

Class 8 How to Find Boon Docking and RV Parks

Class 9 Stealth Parking

Class 10 Should I Do an Interior Van Build?

Class 11 How Do I Cook in a Vehicle?

Class 12 All About Bathroom and Hygiene

Class 13 Creating the Living Room and Bedroom

Class 14 How to Find a Job on the Road

Class 15 Where Do I Get My Mail?

Class 16 How Do I Get Solar and Electricity?

Class 17 Dealing with Heat and Cold

Class 18 How Do I Get Internet?

Class 19 Closing


Hi everyone, this is Bob Wells, be sure to visit my Amazon Influencer Store, where I have posted some of my useful and recommend products for nomadic living. As a bonus, I'll make a very small percentage of your purchases, even if you buy something not in the store.



Please join me on Social Media for more updates, photos and videos:





To purchase Nomad, RTR and CRVL Stickers, T-Shirts, Mugs, and other Apparel, please visit us here:



Cheaprvliving is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. By using these links I will make a small percentage of your purchase, even if you buy something else--and it won't cost you anything.

Springbar Tent:

Benchmark Atlas:

DeLorme Atlas and Gazetterr:

Eco-Temp Hot Water Heater:

ARB Awning:

Curt Roof Rack Cargo Carrier:

Dometic CF18 Fridge:

Big Kahuna Portable Shower:

Cigarette Lighter Spliter:


Universal Battery AGM 100ah:

Battery Box:

Energizer 500 watt Inverter/USB:

Cigarette Lighter Adapter with Rings:

Cigarette Lighter Adapter with Clamps:

Volt Meter with USB plugs:

"We are a community there," Pflepsen said of Caballo Loco. "There are people who come in for a night, come in for a week or two weeks and then they leave. There are people there that have been coming for years, decades, four decades."

She's mostly been on the move since 2018, traveling the U.S. and abroad. In Arizona, she had full access to utilities, but oftentimes sets up her pickup and camper wherever she can.

A friendly stranger's driveway in Colorado. A cow pasture beside a barn in Texas. A winery (two bottles of wine to go, please). She often visited her sister, Janet Hake, at Hake's former home in Palmer and has access to pasture north of St. Paul, where she can set up camp whenever she wants.

Earlier this month, she spent eight days in Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico, relying on a solar panel she brings on the road for electricity.  

"Items and things are not her priority," said Hake, who lives in Grand Island. "It's the people that she meets. It's those friendships when she pulls into a place. ... I enjoy her company, her presence when she is with me, but I know when she leaves she is in her happy spot."

Pflepsen's path certainly diverges from the fictional Fern's. She's not living in a van or looking for work at a beet plant. But she has lived among the nomads, shared their stories, broken bread with them, learned the ins and outs of the lifestyle over the past two years. 

Nebraska Nomad

An interior shot of Elaine Pflepsen's camper in which she lived this past winter in Caballo Loco Ranch in Arizona.

"I had to learn how to live off solar. I had to learn how to find the land, how to dump the blackwater tank that the toilet flushes into, how do you find dump stations; that's what I did," she said.

Pflepsen, who has a master's degree in human development, held a number of different jobs before becoming a full-time nomad. She worked with children of divorced parents as part of the Nebraska Crime Commission's Coalition for Juvenile Justice and as a mental health worker in Connecticut. Now, she mostly supports herself through house and pet sitting across the U.S. She recently spent a week pet sitting at a friend's house in Colorado.

Scottsbluff once again in major movie spotlight with 'Nomadland'

But she won't stay long — she prefers the privacy of her camper, instead of permanently living in a traditional home, rooted in one place, paying the electric bill or the gas bill. 

"I hate that. It controls my life. It takes away my choices," she said.

Nebraska Nomad

Elaine Pflepsen lived out of her camper over the winter at Caballo Loco Ranch in Arizona.

"Nomadland," which won a Golden Globe for Best Drama, is based on a 2017 nonfiction book of the same name by Jessica Bruder. Pflepsen has seen the movie, which features real-life nomads in many scenes, and said it's an accurate depiction of some of the people she's met. 

"A lot of these places, (nomads) don't really have a place to stay in what we call bricks and sticks," she said. "They go to work at Amazon in the holiday season, or they go to the beet fields, or they work three to six months out of the year and then they have money to live for the rest of the year how they want. ... They don't see their lives as less than others."

In May, Pflepsen, 57, will be a campground host at Davis Creek Recreation Area in central Nebraska.

Then, next winter she will return to Caballo Loco, this time living in a bit more permanent dwelling — a tricked-out travel trailer she recently purchased that overlooks a ravine. It marks another chapter in the Nebraska nomad's journey — a journey that, she says, has been filled with joy.

"I am content," Pflepsen said. "I am beyond content with how I live. ... Isn't that what we all seek, to be content?"

Review: Frances McDormand shines in quiet masterpiece 'Nomadland'


Contact the writer at or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack


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K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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