I’ve been getting some pushback from faithful readers of this blog, asking why I haven’t been posting frequently. This is a tough question to answer, but I’ve felt obligated to think it through because writing this blog is part of my regular mental exercise routine. As a writer, just as with many other things, you’ve got to use it or lose it.
Writing the Tour of America blog for three years, I averaged about 5.5 posts per week, with an average of 600 words per post, which is a lot by any measure. Over half a million words. With photos it would be about 1,200 printed pages as a book. (I’m still wrestling with how to cull the thing down into something printable.)
That was good exercise for a writer, and I had plenty of material in our daily lives as travelers — more, in fact, than I could write about. There were subtexts and intrigues going on in my business and personal life that extended far beyond the travel adventures, and I deliberately suppressed much of that, because (a) it was too much to write about; (b) we were already feeling exposed by the daily blog; and (c) if I wrote the full story of everything we saw and heard, I would have been tied to a stake and burned by now.
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!
Well, perhaps it wasn’t that dramatic, but at times it felt that way …
And now here we are, living in a house that lacks wheels, where the scenery is more or less static (“Look, there’s snow in the mountains today!”), where we are more obliged than before to actively seek out novelty and entertainment because my personality doesn’t do well with the pleasant stay-at-home and quiet-Sunday-reading-the-newspaper mode of life. In short, I am a travel junkie in rehab, and the rehab isn’t going too well.
I live for the relapses. In the past couple of months I’ve managed to slip out a few times, on a massive road trip to Michigan and back (December), to Quartzsite for a weekend, a round-robin through southern California in January, and separate trips in February to Scottsdale for the annual car auctions, and Palm Springs for Modernism Week. Between these excursions we try to find interesting events in Tucson to experience, like the Tucson Rodeo, Day of the Dead, and the Gem Show.
Bloggers are often both journalists and subjects. They interview themselves more often than they report on the world around, and lately I’ve been finding that my interviews have been rather dull. Reluctant subjects are the worst kind, because they have interesting things to say but are too shy or intimidated to tell the good stuff. But my journalist side can’t convince my subject side to let loose with a good story. Without travel as a regular spur for my thoughts, not much seems to come out. I am not sure if half my brain has suddenly gotten shy or if there’s really nothing interesting going on in there.
We have filled in the gaps between trips with a regular parade of visitors from the Airstream community. Having a house and carport with courtesy parking potential means we can “pay forward” the many kind offers of courtesy parking (and dinner, and local tours, and repair assistance, etc.) that we received when we were traveling full-time. But I have been hesitant to blog their arrivals and departures, because it seems that if they want to publicize where they are, they should probably do it through their own blogs. And everyone has a blog these days. So rather than talk about the folks who have appeared here recently, I’ll just link to their blogs and let them tell their own stories: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Things will soon pick up again, travel-wise. It has been an unusually wet and cool winter in Tucson, thanks in part to the El Nino effect that has brought us many storms. Everyone is expecting an absolutely explosive springtime bloom in the desert, worthy of some trips to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sierra Vista, and up into our own Santa Catalina mountains. Bert Gildart called today from his base at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (California) to report that already they are seeing a lot of flowers in the lower Colorado Desert. We should start spotting flowers on the prickly pears here soon, as well as gorgeous red flowers on ocotillo and many others besides. Once the weather starts to warm up to beach temperatures, we plan to take the Caravel on a family weekend somewhere.
I’m also thinking of inviting the local Tin Can Tourists members to join us for a “vintage camping weekend” somewhere in southern Arizona. No big deal, just a little campout where those who have vintage trailers would be encouraged to bring them. Of course, anyone who wants to come and have a nice weekend with any trailer would be welcome. I’ll ping the 4CU members too, since a lot of them live in Arizona. The dates under consideration are March 26-28, 2010, but we haven’t picked out the spot yet. If you might want to come, let me know.
I guess I am addicted to the diversity and novelty that travel brings. Tucson is a great town with lots to do, but getting out and experiencing life beyond is what drives my writing. So if it get quiet here again, just remember that a slump in the blog means only that we are plotting the next adventure.