Inevitably the online conversations between kindred wanderers spilled into real-world gatherings. As the nomads met over campfires in forests and deserts around the country, they began to form the kind of improvised clans that the novelist Armistead Maupin called “logical” — rather than “biological” — family. A few even called it a “vanily.” For some of them, spending holidays together became more appealing than reuniting with actual kin. A typical scene: Christmas dinner on a barren, moonscape-like stretch of desert near Interstate 10 in California draws more than a dozen vehicles, whose inhabitants range in age from their twenties to seventies. They share a fifteen-pound turkey that has been deboned, halved, and cooked on a pair of portable grills, with sides of mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce and two kinds of pie, until even the dogs licking leftover crumbs from the plates are sated.