Life out of the box

We are out of the box at last! By that I mean that finally we have reached higher altitudes in the west and have escaped the muggy hot weather that has plagued us since we left New York state. After a final push from Palo Duro State Park, we have reached Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Salt Flat, TX and are comfortably parked at an elevation of 5,700 feet.

It’s beautiful here. The RV portion of the campground is nothing special (tenters get nice sites but RVs are laid out in an asphalt parking lot separated only by white painted lines), but you come here for the scenery that surrounds you. And that is spectacular: a 2/3 bowl formed by the mountains that this park is named for, and the remaining 1/3 a crystal clear view east to west Texas. It’s one of those places where you step out of the Airstream and realize that it’s not the campsite that’s important.

Our plan to arrive on Thursday worked perfectly. We pulled in around 6 p.m. (Mountain Time) to find the campground nearly empty. There is only one other RV in the parking lot. We had a beautiful and quiet night with the windows letting fresh air drifting in and the sound of crickets, instead of a night sealed up against oppressive air and the air conditioner whooshing constantly.

That’s the big change from being in “A/C weather” versus “camping weather.” Even our day off from driving (in Tulsa OK) was spent locked up inside the Airstream with the air conditioner struggling to hold back the outside, and so it didn’t feel very much like we were enjoying the great outdoors. At times like that, we’re not even close to “camping,” we’re just hiding inside a silver tube with the shades drawn, like recluses.

Now we have the ideal air around us, and the Airstream is set up the way it should be: windows wide open, screen door instead of solid aluminum door, a fan or two running, curtains open, solar panels supplying all the power we need instead of a 30-amp power cable connected to a pedestal. It’s a massive change in attitude, comfort, and spirit. With the windows and door open, the Airstream is in “social mode,” ready to receive visitors or let a child run and out with little discoveries of rocks and bird feathers from nearby.

So now you can see why I’m happy to be parked in an asphalt parking lot with no hookups. We will be here two or three nights, living off our supplies of water, propane, and a refrigerator stocked with Eleanor’s ingredients, which is certainly no hardship at all. I’d much rather be boondocking in the desert on a pleasant day like this, than in a full hookup campground somewhere with the air conditioner blasting away.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine