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It seems like at least once a year a virus enters our lives and messes up some travel plan.  This time it was the long-anticipated trip to Palm Springs for Modernism Week.  Yesterday, as we were packing the Caravel, Emma began showing symptoms of “something” with a slight fever and nausea — and as easy as that, our trip evaporated.

If we had been planning a trip in the big Airstream, we might have gone anyway.  It has plenty of space for a sick kid (her own bedroom), a roomy bath, and all the little comforts of home (extra blankets, comfort foods & tea, room to prop up with pillows and watch movies, etc.)  We spent enough years on the road to have many episodes of 24-hour stomach bugs and 7-day colds, and we know we can deal with that even as we travel the country.

But this trip was to be spent in our tiny Caravel, a “weekend trailer” that is well-stuffed with three people in it, and two nights of the trip we would be evicted for the Modernism show and sleeping in a hotel room.  With all the things going on and the limited space, it didn’t make sense to uproot Emma for a long weekend.  So off I went, on my own in the Caravel again.

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Since I am not expected in Palm Springs until Friday, I was able to take the scenic route along I-8 through the southern Sonoran desert.  This allowed me to avoid Phoenix (always appreciated when towing), plus I was able to see the desert already green and starting to bloom from all the rain we’ve gotten this winter.  It will be a beautiful spring this year.

Along I-8 in Arizona there isn’t a lot to see from the highway, but a few stops are worth making.  One is Dateland, a tiny oasis where you can take a break, buy fuel, and most importantly shop for eight or more varieties of locally-grown dates.  Actually, that’s hardly doing justice to the date theme of Dateland.  You can also get a terrific date shake, and park any size of RV near the groves of date palms that line the southern flank of the rest area.  It was a good spot to stop for lunch in the Airstream, in stunning clear and warm weather, approaching 80 degrees already.

Since I was taking I-8, I decided to drop in for one night to see Bert & Janie, Eric & Sue, at Anza-Borrego. Bert and Janie have been boondocked at Pegleg for two months now, and show no signs of wanting to go anywhere, which is unusual for them.  Eric and Sue are fellow outdoor writers and photographers, who we last met a couple of years ago in Yellowstone National Park.  Stopping at Anza-Borrego would add about 50 miles to my trip, but it had the compensation of a chance to see good friends for an evening rather than boondocking somewhere alone.

Tonight in Pegleg, it is cooling off rapidly and the wind has been up since 4 p.m.  We started the evening with a fire in the handmade rock circle that Bert built, and talked about the brilliant star constellations overhead, but with the chill setting in it wasn’t long before the group broke up and retreated their individual homes.

In addition to my friends, there at least a couple of dozen long-term residents of Pegleg, all of whom are feeling their trailers rocking in the breeze as the evening deepens.  Most likely I will be the only one leaving in the morning.  The rest of the residents have little incentive to leave this free and quiet parking spot.  Part of me would like to stay and stretch out like the others have, but mostly I am looking forward to what Palm Springs has to offer.   By 10 a.m., I’ll be towing the Caravel again, to see what’s over the next hill.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine