An unexpected “staycation”

Alas, it didn’t work out.  We are staying put for now.

It’s hard to explain fully why the option of taking the Caravel to California didn’t work for us.  Mostly it was because our trip was very ambitious.  We were going to meet friends in three locations, sharing some fairly elaborate meals each time, and traverse from desert to ocean climate.  This meant a huge amount of carefully packed food (some prepared in advance, others in the form of ingredients), clothing and gear.  We planned to hike, picnic, grill, cook in the Dutch oven, photograph, swim, courtesy park, write/blog, and entertain.  It just didn’t all fit into the Caravel, and culling down the gear meant culling down the plan, to the point that big chunks of our itinerary didn’t make sense.

Plus, Emma’s cold seemed to be draining the spark out of her, and Eleanor was showing symptoms of having caught it too.  They weren’t going to be ready to do the hikes I had in mind in Borrego Springs.  And then there was the curse of reservations—we were fairly locked into an itinerary by the reservations, and changing it to fit our new circumstances meant a slew of fees and lost deposits.  We couldn’t extend the trip to make up for the lost day because of appointments back at home, so we’d have to rush something, and that wasn’t going to be fun given the number of miles we had planned (1,200 roundtrip).

We finally recognized the situation.  By losing 36 hours and having to downsize, the trip we had planned no longer made sense.  We needed to invent something entirely new rather than try to save an unsalvageable plan.  It was a tough call to give up a vacation I’d been anticipating for weeks, but I think it was the right one.

A key to happiness is to be satisfied with what you’ve got.  So, what did we have?  Well, beautiful weather in Tucson (upper 70s by day, sunny), plenty of time, and lots of good food to be eaten.  I broke out the Dutch oven and made my first-ever dish over charcoal in the back yard: “cowboy” potatoes with onions and bacon.  I also grilled up some of Eleanor’s spiced chicken on the Weber, and some huge portobello mushrooms with olive oil and Kosher salt.

Eleanor started cooking up the perishable food that she was planning to serve during the trip, including a really fantastic Indian chicken with rogan josh and cream (which we will eat tomorrow—it’s always better after sitting a day to let the flavors meld).  We opened up the windows and the sliding glass door and let the unusually balmy air flow through the house, tantalizing the neighbors with the smell of good things cooking.  And we talked about future plans.  I think we will go to Anza-Borrego in April to make up for this lost trip.

The rest of the time we spent unwinding all of the things we’d set in motion.  The Caravel was unpacked and sent back to storage.  “I think it’s disappointed,” Eleanor said. “It was all psyched to go out.”  We left as much packed in the Safari as we could, hoping that we’ll be able to use it in a week or two for a shorter trip, but all of the stuff we’ll need this week has been removed.  In the process we found some things in both trailers that needed attention, like flashlights with dead batteries, compartments carrying stuff we wouldn’t need, expired food, outdated paperwork, etc., so it was good to get all of that stuff addressed.

I cancelled the reservations, losing a total of about $180 in reservation fees and non-refundable charges.  We still have one valid & non-refundable reservation in California for next weekend, but I doubt we’ll use it.  We’ve offered it to a few friends.

The biggest hassle is that I had previously directed some mail to California, where I was going to pick it up during the week.  That mail includes some checks.  Now I’ve got to get it re-directed again, back to my usual address, and I can’t do that until the Post Offices open on Tuesday.

Today our “staycation” continues.  I’m going to bake apple crisp in the Dutch oven, and Eleanor is going to cook up more of the goodies from the Airstream.  I expect to get a quote from a local dealer on a replacement brake actuator, but until I hear what he wants to charge, it’s not decided whether I’ll buy locally or mail-order it.  So it may be a while before I get on the job of replacing it.  I’ll document that process when it happens.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine