What’s Behind that Unusual Van

After I posted a tour of my neighbor’s van conversion, several of you dear readers (I love using that phrase) said that I’d left you hanging. So, what’s in the trailer behind the van?

I’ll tell you what Tyll told me the day he gave me the tour.

Creating Community as a Nomad

In the outside world (as Tyll calls it), communities revolve around a location, like a school or a park or a bar. When you’re a nomad, though, you don’t have that one place where you can hang out and see friends or meet new people or just shoot the shit. So Tyll set out to create a nomadic community center.

What does that involve? Hauling with you everywhere you go: tall canvas tents, folding tables and chairs, lots and lots of lights, a sound system, and a short-distance radio station. His “Nomad Center Camp” provided AA meetings, morning yoga, meditation, a bulletin board for people to set up their own meetings, and on and on.

That’s for the daytime. But what about the long dark nights of winter in the desert?

When Tyll first started full-timing, he watched as people tried to play cornhole in the dark using flashlights. That was not gonna fly. So he invested in huge poles with lights, and he set up a desert stage to go with that sound system.

Imagine movie night with a projector on a huge screen. Karaoke with multiple microphones. Open mic night for musicians. Giant-sized Jenga. Cornhole you can actually see. And someone willing and able to DJ (that would be Tyll).

So that’s what’s in the trailer behind the interesting van. All the technology and gadgets and games a person would need for community, plus an instant party for that community.

The Farkle Hut

Here’s another “What?”

From what I can gather, Farkle is a game you play at a table, and maybe it involves backgammon, and maybe cribbage as well. I haven’t seen it in its full regalia, but it’s certainly more than the community-painted, folding wooden table I saw.

Its life began as an art contribution to a regional Burn (a local Burning Man event). Tyll and his friend created it, others added to the art on it, and it evolved to have a roof, a stereo system with lights that flash, and a solar panel and a battery box to power the whole thing independently. Thus the Farkle game became the Farkle Hut.

And it’s legendary; Tyll was wearing a Farkle Hut t-shirt when I saw him last.

Now—I believe—Tyll may be retiring from his role as the literal life of the party. I would quote Joe Walsh and say, “It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door,” but in Tyll’s case I think it’s more like it’s hard to leave when the party is always right outside your van.

He still knows half the people in the camping area (no matter where he goes, I’m thinking), and he still mysteriously attracts new friends (I am Evidence A). Most important, he still runs events that help the nomad community, like Van Aid, where people who need help with their rig get together with people who can provide that help (with inevitable overlap).

In fact, just today he’s moved on from Imperial Dam LTVA to start setting up for Van Aid at Quartzite. So he won’t be writing any guest posts, and, much worse for me, I won’t be hanging with him anymore here.

The best part about being a nomad, though, is that I’m sure we’ll see each other down the road.

All the night photos in this post were taken by Tyll’s friends; I stole them from Facebook with Tyll’s permission.

4 thoughts to “What’s Behind that Unusual Van”

  1. What a fascinating guy. You should consider wrtigng this up as an article for a travel or mainstream piublication.

    1. He really is! But he’s had more than his wanted share of media attention (he used to write and vlog about headphone tech, for one) and is done with the limelight. Plus, that would involve work on my end and I’m done, too. 😎 Glad you enjoyed this glimpse! Always cool to get a nod from a pro writer like you.

  2. A Nomad Center Camp? What a wonderful place. Shelly this article is phenomenal. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I really appreciate it.