We succumbed to a little bit of “get-there-itis” on Sunday and drove 350 miles west from Corpus Christi to Sonora, TX. As I think about things I need to do at home base, the list gets longer and the vast spaces of west Texas and southern New Mexico start to appear further. It is hard to do much in west Texas with only four days — the distances are so huge that you spend a lot of time just driving from point to point. We have found ourselves in an odd position: four days remaining on our timeline, but just not enough to really do what we’d like to do.
All of the interesting parts of west Texas (the national parks, state parks, historical sites, hiking, etc.) are about 500 miles from home base. New Mexico, of course, is even closer. This means all of those things are within a reasonable distance if we decide to come back during the winter or spring. We’ll probably have less time pressure later, so our decision was to not try to rush through any of the possible western stops, in favor of spending more time on the eastern stops. Austin and Corpus Christi were the limit of our definition of “eastern” for this purpose.
So now we are just heading west at high speed and waiting for inspiration to strike us along the road. At least by covering a lot of miles on Sunday and Monday we will have a little extra time if we do see something that catches our interest on Tuesday or Wednesday: those interesting roadside stops that you see sometimes, the local cafe, the random desert art, or a photo opportunity. I’ll feel better about pausing once we are within 500 miles of Tucson.
Right around this time of year I always have the same revelation. This time it hit me on Friday, as I was walking to Malaquite campground’s cold water showers, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. A camper nearby was playing music outside, some woman crooning “White Christmas.” I had to do a double-take because it seemed so incongruous amidst the sandy dunes, blue skies, and breezy ocean air. Then I realized: Ah, yes, this is late November and Thanksgiving is just a few days away.
The revelation is that I don’t feel depressed. Like a lot of people, I have suffered from seasonal depression, and November has historically been a very tough month for me. Living in the northeast most of my life, suffering the sudden darkness of the annual Daylight Savings Time change and the traditionally grim weather of November has been something that I formerly accepted as normal, along with the feelings of unease and gloom. The recommended solution was anti-depressant pills, which I have never tried because I have found that a big silver twinkie works just fine for me. In other words, before the weather gets cold and the sun disappears, I head south and stay there. That has been my prescription since 2004: Take one Airstream, once daily.
I would not say this will work for everyone, in fact I’m quite sure it won’t. But I enjoy the sensation of the annual revelation in November: Hey, it’s almost Thanksgiving! Why doesn’t it feel like Thanksgiving? Oh yeah — I feel fine — how’d that happen? If you hate winter and you’ve got the flexibility, try chasing 72 degrees down south. I realized a long time ago that I’d rather live in a trailer park in Florida and subsist on a fraction of my salary than live in a mansion in the northeast and feel depressed.
I’m glad I’m feeling strong enough to roll with the punches, because not everything in life goes as you plan. In my case, the new magazine venture I have been working on for over a year is now officially dead. It won’t launch. A combination of bad economic timing (advertisers won’t support it), illness of the appointed Editor (not me), and a distinct lack of manufacturer support sealed the coffin. This little venture has cost me a considerable amount of money and time, so I have reasons to be depressed about it, but I’m really not. I went through so much heartache and angst over the first three years of Airstream Life that I’ve learned not to let setbacks get to me. There were many useful lessons learned, some great new contacts, and a few doors of opportunity remain open even if the primary concept has, as they say about Rolls-Royces, “failed to proceed.”
There are still some other interesting projects on the table — too many, in fact. Alumapalooza 2011 is trucking right along. We have 67 trailers signed up as of today and we expect it to be larger and more exciting than the first one. Brett and I are working on another Alumapalooza-type event for 2011, but it’s too early to release details of that yet. I’ve got a book project about half done that I’m very excited about — it should release in early 2011 if I buckle down in the next month. And I’m busy re-inventing Airstream Life in response to reader comments. We’re adding more photos, more Airstreams, and more brief articles to give a better picture of the Airstream world every issue.
Eleanor and I have been asked a few times recently if we are excited to get back home. We both have mixed feelings about it, really. Home base has its advantages (more space, opportunity to pursue projects, Tucson-area activities, settled lifestyle, Eleanor’s kitchen, etc.), while being in the Airstream of course offers a constantly changing environment, the excitement of exploring new places, and the freedom of a lightweight lifestyle. Both are great. There is a transition period between the two that is always a little awkward, but it gets to be less of a factor each time.
I think we are particularly comfortable with the end of our long voyage because we know we’ll get out again — soon. We already have reservations for a New Year’s trip, and are talking about possible trips in the spring as the southwestern weather warms up. There’s no feeling of being trapped in the house when we can see our escape pod in the carport every day. So the drive we are doing now back to Tucson is not really an “ending” to be upset about, but simply another transition in our long voyage through The Maze.