The End of the Doldrums in Sight

To me, people say they’re in the duldrums when they’re stuck in a sad state of inactivity.

I prefer the more specific nautical reference, which is a location: “the belt around the Earth near the equator where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on windless waters” (NOAA).

One of my favorite sets of books, Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, takes place mostly on the ocean, with a cast of characters from the Royal British Navy fighting against Napoleon’s navy. These guys endure battles with cannons and swords, more than one shipwreck, more than one encounter with cannibals, and many on-board fires, as well as on-board women (*shudder* at the terrible luck they bring).

But their most-feared situation is when they hit the doldrums. Their ship sits lifeless on the water, sails slack, with no indication of when they’ll get out or whether they’ll all die of starvation or dehydration or scurvy first, all while the ship they’re chasing gets away.

How We Got Stuck in the Doldrums

My point is that we’ve been stuck on the land equivalent of the doldrums here at Imperial Dam LTVA. We got settled here and stayed, lulled into a sense of safety because, if we were to get sick (we seem to be the last people on Earth not to have gotten Covid), we can stay for as long as we want. And, we can easily get fresh water and dump our waste tanks and throw out our trash. These might not seem like the lure of sirens to you, but they are to us.

At first, we did like Captain Aubrey does when his ship enters the doldrums: we caught up on work and kept the crew busy. We did a lot of maintenance on the truck and the trailer; we bought a bunch of stuff from Amazon. We ate through Christmas and drank through New Years. (We did not plait each other’s hair, as Jack’s men do.)

After all that initial activity, it’s like we’ve been under a spell here. We haven’t thought seriously about leaving even as time has ticked on.

We did consider driving into Mexico, at least the Baja California Peninsula, to check out possible camping spots for next winter, but then we got wary of Omicron and remembered how much Banjo does not like loose dogs running up to her (there are plenty here, but many more in Mexico). So we sat and waited for another idea to come to us.

Meanwhile, our friends Sherri and Mooch are living it up in the Florida Keys. Melanie and Doug are hiking in eastern Arizona. Our new friends (and current neighbors) Shana and Marcus are planning their next trips through California.

Seeing everyone’s photos and hearing about their plans has jolted us awake. I see wind on the water ahead! We’re almost out.

How We’re Getting Out

If we’re not going south to the warm coasts of Mexico, where to for the rest of winter? Well, weather forecasts make it look like southern Arizona is warming up; “winter” may be over here, at least the coldest spell. So we’re going to drive east along the southern border, checking out various national monuments (red oval, below). For the most part we’ll stay at dispersed camping areas like this one, and if it’s too cold for us, we’ll move on.

Our goal is to be in Southern California in April where Tracy’s Big CA Plan begins: we’re heading up the California coast, staying at campgrounds on the beach nearly the whole way (green oval). Then we’re on through Canada (yellow) and back into the U.S. in the Midwest to visit friends and family and the Airstream factory service center (black). More about all that later; suffice it to say we have reservations (or, where we can’t book yet, plans) through September! That’s eight months of reservations, just like old times.

For now, we’re going to mess around in southern Arizona, coming through Imperial Dam LTVA again on our way back west. Our pass will still be good, so, frankly, we can come back here anytime before the Big CA Plan begins.

We still have a couple of weeks before we leave; that gives us plenty of time to shake this dream-like state. I can wrap up yoga in the gravel pit, we can finish any last-minute online shopping, and we can hang out with the people we’ve met here and say adios.

I can think of two times when we’ve been parked for a while then had mixed feelings about moving on (both in Florida last winter). Moving means a lot of work. (The image above shows in blue and yellow icons we’re we’ve gone so far). No more sitting on deck plaiting our crewmen’s hair. But it also means the surety of adventure. Give me a little more time to shake this dream, and I’ll be ready.