This redefines eating on the road.
An Oregon woman is making waves online after claiming that she lives outside 24/7 and even eats roadkill because she doesn’t want animals to “die in vain.”
“I’m really good at knowing when an animal is fresh,” Manders Barnett, 32, told South West News Service of her literal roadside dining experience.
For the last four years, the nomad has been living in a tent to escape the “matrix” of the modern world as she feels her “heart and soul belongs in nature,” she said.
Barnett frequently posts updates on her off-the-grid adventures on Facebook.
She began her nomadic saga in July 2019 after she met a guy who had been traveling on horseback for six years.
The Idaho native was so enamored with his pastoral lifestyle that she left her job as a wildlife technician and joined her civilization-shunning soulmate.
To facilitate her “Into the Wild”-esque journey, Barnett bought two mustangs named Huittsuu, the Shoshoni word for “small bird,” and Paxtwaylá, meaning “friendly.”
After riding out 2020, the pair spent 2½ years on the road, during which the lovebirds traveled 500 miles from Idaho to Oregon.
“We were living off-grid,” said Barnett. “I was surrendering everything that I thought I knew.”
However, she and her road companion split in 2022 — though the Idahoan maintained the nomad lifestyle. She now lives alone with her faithful steeds in a 10-by-12-foot canvas tent in Grants Pass, Oregon.
“I’m used to living in a small space,” Barnett said. “I spend all day, every day, outside.”
Being outdoors 24/7 is a hard-knock life. Barnett uses a wood stove for heating and cooking and does all her washing and bathing using well water.
The nomad uses a solar battery park to charge her phone but never watches TV on it.
She does source food from a local farm store, though it’s unclear how she pays for it. But Barnett said she does sell nature-inspired artwork on Etsy and other sites.
Barnett also obtains nourishment by foraging for flowers and mushrooms for salads and, as revealed earlier, scavenging deceased critters from the expressway.
“I do pick up roadkill,” declared the human raven, who says she’s become quite good at telling when the dead critter’s past its expiration date.
She claims that coyote and deer are generally the safest varieties, presumably due to the latter’s organic diet.
And while Barnett doesn’t necessarily delight in her unusual diet, she says she’d “rather eat it than let the death be in vain.”
In fact, if fresh, she won’t let any part of one of the interstate dining options go to waste.
“I use all parts of the deer,” she claimed. “I take the bones to make tools and tan hides to make clothes and bags.”
The outdoors enthusiast is currently working on amassing enough supplies to hit the road once more, although she hasn’t specified where she’s going.
Like a veritable Johnny Appleseed, she plants seeds to give back to a land that has provided her so much.
While this might seem like a hard-scrabble existence, Barnett said it’s actually her “comfort zone.”
She isn’t even deterred by multiple encounters with big cats and other predators, explaining: “I’m not afraid to die. What I’m afraid of is living an unfulfilled life.”
Barnett feels that modern humans have lost their connection to the land.
“Humans, by becoming so satisfied with domestic lifestyle, have lost the ability to know the language of nature,” she said. “I pay my respects by being present.”
Barnett, for one, can’t see herself going back to civilization anytime soon.
“I’m absolutely at home outside in nature,” she declared. “I’m not going back to anything domestic.”
Interestingly, while it may seem disgusting, eating roadkill is not completely unheard of.
He said the trick is to be sure the critter’s not already dead.
“Don’t drive up to dead animals and pick them up,” the dead-possum gourmand cautioned. “If the animal is injured or dying, at least you know how long it has been there.”
It’s also important to cook the failed interstate crossers within 12 hours before the meat begins to spoil, he said. And, of course, verify that you’re in a state that actually allows the practice of eating roadkill.
It’s currently legal to eat expressway venison in just 30 states.