If Facebook is any gauge, about half of us used the pandemic to our advantage — polishing our skills, starting new businesses, getting in the best shape of our lives. I wanted to be in that group. When it first dawned on me that the Covid lockdown was going to be for the long haul, I worked up an ambitious program. I was going to finally master Spanish, learn the guitar, start blogging every day, perhaps start a YouTube channel. Instead, like the other half of you, I watched way too much TV news, staring in horror as the final nightmare days of the Trump administration rolled out, drinking much too much wine, and trying to find vestiges of sanity among peeps on Facebook.

So here I am 14 months later, unaccomplished, carrying extra weight, finally vaccinated and set to embark on my first foray outside of Rancho Los Dos Terriers where I’ve mostly been isolated. Alone. With two rambunctious terriers. And where was Andy? Well, that’s good question. We thought we would shelter at Sonoma, but being up in the hills in the wilds of Unincorporated Sonoma County, our cell service and wi-fi wasn’t in any way up to the 12 hours a day he’s logging on Zoom. Unfortunately, he’d started an ambitious kitchen remodel in our other home in Undisclosed Location, rendering that house uninhabitable. So, for most of the pandemic, I hunkered down in Sonoma, while Andy camped out in the corporate house (which, of course, had no visiting salespeople). It’s definitely not a hardship to spend a lockdown in the beauty of Sonoma, but it was isolating. Doordash, Uber Eats and any other delivery service don’t offer service in our neck of the woods. I stocked up the freezer with a monthly run to the local market and spent the rest of the time talking with terriers and expecting intelligent answers.

The last time little Buffalo Soldier was in the desert. We are headed back to Mojave National Preserve. But in blistering summer temps!

But here I am, vaccinated and ready to roll on my first RV trip in more than a year and a half. I think I’ve completely forgotten how to do this. In fact, the first thing I’ve forgotten is that, in the West, roadtrips have to be scheduled with the weather and seasons. You do the deserts in early spring (which for us starts in February). I had that trip scheduled, a three desert circuit that II obsessed over so much that I couldn’t let it go. So, on the cusp of summer, here I am, set to embark on a three desert circuit. With temps usually spiking at 100 degrees, what could go wrong?

I mean seriously. Lots could go wrong. While I waited for vaccination and for things to open up, I ended up buying loads of additions for my little Sprinter campervan. The first was a hitch tow, which suddenly allowed me to stop being a minimalist. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Before this hitch, I had so little space that everything I carried folded. Everything. From barbecue kits to charcoal starters, to chairs, tables, etc. If they didn’t fold flat, they didn’t get brought. Now Andy has decided I need to travel with a generator, a canister of gasoline, a pallet of firewood, and a fire ring. Previously, I carried small Zip Lock bags of charcoal and sourced my firewood locally. If there was no fire ring, well, no fire for me. This trip is going to be a proof of concept. Should I keep the hitch or should I maintain my rigorous minimalism. Since one of my stops will be in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, which will be over 100 degrees, I may be happy to have a generator so that I can run some air conditioning.

But more than a campervan shakedown, I’m seeing this trip as a post-pandemic shakedown for me. Will this kickstart me back into a more active state…say one where I master a new foreign language, learn to play the guitar, or finally start that YouTube channel? Stay tuned.