Last stop in Tempe

quartzsite-airstream-leaving.jpgOur visit to Quartzsite was something of a bust.  With Eleanor sick most of the time, we didn’t get out much, and on the last couple of days when she started to feel better, the temperature plummeted.  With the ever-present breeze, a sunny day in the 50s felt pretty cold.  Being weak from not eating for a few days, Eleanor was not equipped to go hiking in the Kofa Mountains in cold weather.

For my part, having been fairly sedentary for the same amount of time, I wasn’t prepared to sit around a few more days just socializing (which is the major activity in Quartzsite, after browsing the flea markets).  Weighing our options, we decided to move onward to our final stop in Tempe, and perhaps return to Quartzsite another time.

Our stop in Tempe is strictly practical.  We are planning some overnight backpacking trips this year and our equipment needs updating.  Most of it comes from 1992, when Eleanor and started doing a lot of tent camping.  Since this was in the era B.K. (Before Kid) we didn’t have anything for an eight-year-old sidekick, and some of our other items were worn out or had gone missing.  Fortunately, Tempe has a good REI store.  In fact, Tempe seems to have one of everything, retail-wise.

We’ve become bottom-feeders in the retail world, so our reason for hitting REI this week was to see what was left from their January clearance sale.  We scored three very lightweight and packable sleeping bags, some boots for me, and a hydration pack for Eleanor.  The sleeping bags are rated for 30-35 degrees F, which should be ideal for warm-weather camping.

emma-sleeping-bag.jpgTo be sure, we slept in them last night and set the furnace to 50 degrees in the Airstream.  Temperatures went down to the upper 30s outside, so we were at 50 degrees much of the night.  I was comfortable, Eleanor needed socks, and Emma was too warm at first.  I found her under her regular bedcovers in the early morning, but she gamely climbed back into the sleeping bag and decided it was just right for 50 degrees.

We still need a few other things, like boots for Eleanor, and backpacks for Eleanor and Emma, so we’ll finish the shopping at one of Tucson’s local outdoor stores, like Summit Hut.

There are other attractions to urban camping in Tempe.  We have a friend who lives in his Airstream here, one who we like to visit and who also often has useful business advice.  Additionally, there are an enormous number of middle eastern restaurants here.  Periodically I need infusions of rogan josh, hummus, and stuffed grape leaves (for health reasons, of course).  Poor Eleanor wasn’t up to such foods yet, so she missed out.

Tempe has a new light rail line that passes directly in front of this campground and it is very cool.  The sage and pewter-colored trains whisk by quietly every few minutes, heading into downtown Phoenix.  They are modern and sleek, traveling on all-new track laid down the center of Apache Blvd.  I’m told you can ride all day for $2.50.  If we had more time, I would definitely take a ride to Phoenix.

But alas, time has run out on us.  As when we were living in the Airstream, there is never enough time to do everything we want.  Emma has doctor’s appointments and karate classes, I’ve got business travel, and we still have a few renovation details in the house  that never got quite finalized.  A friend is coming for a visit in early February, the giant Tucson gem show will be happening, and then there’s the Florida State Rally, which I plan to fly to.  All of that has trumped the Airstream for a while, but we’ll be back to traveling in it as soon as possible.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine