The past few days in Anza-Borrego camping without my family has been an enlightening experience in some ways. I have realized that when I am camping solo, I prefer to be away from campgrounds. Campgrounds are filled with other people and their families and I find them strangely distracting. It’s the “alone in a crowd” feeling.
I don’t usually notice much about the other campers when we are traveling as a family, because we are engaged in our own lives and there’s usually something that needs to be done. But when solo, there’s a stillness about the trailer that invites contemplation (navel-gazing, I suppose). At those times, it’s great to be out in the desert with not much else around.
So I know that the next time I am looking for an opportunity to be alone and contemplative, taking the Airstream out for some boondocking will be just the ticket. That may not be for some time, since we have a heavy travel schedule through February and March.
On this trip it was nice to see all my friends happily engaged in their lives. Brian & Leigh were busy working on their respective jobs in their “office” at the dinette. Likewise, Alex and Charon both seemed to be deep into creative projects of various types, although I did manage to break Alex away for one day of recreation. Stevyn & Troy have been exploring the world of full-time travel, and while they are still getting their footing, I can see that it probably won’t be long before they have a regular routine with their two kids as well.
I took their family out for a little exploration, since they’ve never been to Anza-Borrego and had no idea of the many curiosities and phenomenae to be found. The Slot Canyon, always a favorite, was a big hit. It was as much fun for me to show it to them as it was for them to explore it. I was particularly gratified when Troy turned to me and said he was having that peculiar sensation you get when you actually see something in person that you had previously known only from photographs in National Geographic. I know that feeling—it’s one of the reasons we travel.
In the evening all of our local Airstream circle gathered by the tailgate of Troy’s pickup truck, with my old gas camping lamp hissing, and we talked for a couple of hours. I had picked up an apple pie in town (nearby Julian CA is famous for those), and Leigh warmed it in the oven and split it among us. It all seems so mundane as I recount this, but at the time it was the perfect thing to do. As simple as it was, it felt like a great moment in life.
That’s perhaps the best thing about this sort of camping. We have no shopping, no school, no jobs except what we bring with us, and few distractions. The nights are cold and long in the desert winter, and you’ve got to make your own entertainment. This encourages more of that introspection I was talking about, and it encourages old-fashioned socializing. Bonding together over pie and conversation is what it’s all about.
I could have happily stayed out for another week, traveling through California and Arizona, but my time was up. Appointments, obligations, and demands of work were calling me back to home, so that evening I pre-packed the trailer and started thinking about the long drive back. There are very few good overnight stopping points along I-8, and I needed to get back ASAP, so in the morning the only thing to do was to hitch up and hit the road as early as possible.
The Caravel has passed the test. It’s always going to be a tiny and somewhat inefficient little trailer, but at least it’s a trailer in which everything works! I have a list of about a dozen improvements that could be made, which I’m going to file for next summer. For now, it’s ready to go, which means Brett will have a place to stay during Alumafiesta and—if I can work out a second tow vehicle—someday I’ll have it for TBM season…