A rolling party

Our little getaway in Anza-Borrego has turned into something more than we knew. There are eight Airstreams here, including ourselves.  We knew that Terry & Greg, Bill & Larry, David & Ari, and Bill & Beth would be here, but I was surprised to see (and finally meet in person) Dirk & Sue from Oregon, plus owners of two other Airstreams who I’d never met before.

People in the campground have noticed the confluence of aluminum and have asked if this is a rally.  We always reply emphatically that this is NOT a rally.  It’s a happy coincidence.  Mostly we are eager to disclaim a rally because all of us are trying to avoid the expectations that come with that style of gathering:  daily Happy Hour, group breakfasts, “kitty fees,” organized activities, etc.  We’re here to relax in the desert and do just whatever we feel like, and for many of the folks here that means holing up with a book or significant other all day.

If this were a rally, such behavior might be interpreted as being actively anti-social, but here it’s considered admirable.  Going to spend the entire day contemplating your toenails?  Go for it.  Not interested in getting out of bed until 10:30 (and then only to microwave some leftover dim sum for breakfast)?  Sounds nice.  Don’t want to talk to another human for at least five hours?  No problem, we won’t be knocking on your door.  This is a gathering for people who just want to be left to their own devices, while still having the option to see a friendly face if they feel like it.

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Still, some of us have been getting together in the evenings for dinner, at the picnic tables at Bill & Larry’s place (because it is so extravagantly decorated with lights, patio mats, umbrellas, signs, etc.).  The participants vary from night to night.  Anyone who feels like it brings over a dish and we all work through whatever there is.  With Larry doing his marvelous Chinese specialties, and contributions by everyone else, dinner has been a gastronomic success.

dsc_6426.jpgThe sun sets early even here, this time of year, and so by 5:30 it is pitch black except for the colorful lights that adorn many of the trailers.  There is no wind, but the temperature plummets into the 50s almost instantly. We’ve been eating dim sum and peanut noodles and pumpkin pie with warm hats and fleeces on.  Even if a little chilly, everyone seems very happy.

dsc_6358.jpgYesterday we took David, Ari, and William out for a little backroad exploration.  You can’t really see most of Anza-Borrego without at least a high-clearance vehicle, and 4WD is preferable.  We’re the only ones of the Airstream group who have 4WD, so we popped up the 3rd row in the Armada and took off for a few favorite spots.  The narrow and winding Slot Canyon, about 30-40 feet deep in places, was a hit with everyone, especially the kids.  We also took them to Split Mountain and hiked the short trail to Wind Caves, another kid-friendly destination.

One of the benefits of being out on the road is that I often meet people who end up contributing to the magazine.  They might offer an idea, a contact, a photo, a destination, or just inspiration.  Today’s big score was that I met a couple who were the official photographers on the 1960 Airstream European Caravan.  It just so happens that in 2005 we documented Pete Turner’s experience as the official photographer of the 1959 Cape Town to Cairo Caravan.  In our upcoming Spring 2009 issue, we have an article about Fran Hall, the photographer for the 1962 Around The World Caravan.  Now we’ll be able to add yet another piece to the puzzle of historic caravans, and I expect it will become an article for the Summer or Fall 2009 issue.

We’ve been doing all the little things that we like to do while we are here.  Today we hunted for pineapple soda, a treat that Emma associates with Borrego Springs.  Emma made up elaborate games with William amongst the tumbleweed and creosote bush.  I played ukulele songs with Bill under the awning. We went to the visitor center to check out the schedule of ranger talks.  Tomorrow we’ll hike Palm Canyon to look for bighorn sheep.  There is nothing we need to do, and lots of things we can do anytime, so no rush at any time.

Our group is changing daily.  David, Ari, and Willie left today for San Diego, but they were quickly replaced by Bill & Beth. Since we all planned our travel dates separately, there’s no beginning and no end to our gathering.  It may go on all winter, with people coming and going randomly.  In fact, I hope it does.  I’d hate to think that this good mood might fade away when we leave on Saturday.  It’s nice to think that we’re just part of a big rolling party that will continue indefinitely.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine