An Anomalous Winter (thus far)
Good afternoon from our free campsite in Borrego Springs, California on Avenue Nordeste off Christmas Circle. We'll be parked here for three days before heading over the mountains to Escondido, California and Dixon Lake Campground.
If you've been following us around the country for the past 4+ years, you know part of what's happening is we chase favorable weather conditions. In winter that means finding warmer places hopefully above freezing, but preferably mild with little rain too.
For many who travel like us, Florida is the place to be in winter. Florida doesn't interest us because there are so many more interesting places (at least in our humble opinions) to spend winter. We both know Florida because we grew up vacationing there.
While familiarity allegedly breeds contempt, where Florida's concerned that may understate our current feelings for the state in which we're currently domiciled. Apparently, we jumped out of the Alabama frying pan into the Florida fire.
Come December after catching up with friends and family in Georgia and Alabama and Tennessee, we begin drifting west. By the time we reach west Texas, generally speaking, warmer temps have found us and from there until we reach California the weather in past years has been most agreeable. Sure there are days when it's cool and the nights are cool, especially in high desert places (above 4,000 feet), but moderate temps have been the rule.
Not this year. This year there have been very few days that couldn't be defined as winter days. From San Antonio, Texas to our present location in Borrego Springs, California, we've had winter. Snow, sleet, rain, and high winds. Wind out west is usual, but we've experienced a few travel days when wind was nearly a problem.
A few days back we left Faywood, New Mexico headed west into Arizona. While we had breakfast in Silver City, New Mexico the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning affecting the path I'd chosen to travel through to arrive in Safford, Arizona.
We quickly pivoted south and were met with sustained winds of 35-40 miles an hour with gusts much higher than that. We've never seen so many tumbleweeds coming out of the surrounding desert crossing our path or crashing into the van.
We were mostly fine until we had to change direction and move in a northwesterly direction. The Mercedes Sprinter stabilization system quickly shut down and suggested I travel to a shop. After a while we hit rain which turned to sleet and then snow. It was beautiful to see the surrounding high desert covered in snow, but also a bit concerning.
The storm front passed us as we neared our Bureau of Land Management campsite for the night, but we decided to keep going because of continued high winds and we were uncertain about our chosen location in the very wet and cold desert.
The next day we woke to light snow in Globe, Arizona where we'd stayed for the night, but that quickly gave way to pleasant weather as we left the mountains and traveled into Phoenix where we had breakfast and ran a few errands, including having Miranda washed at a Blue Beacon truck wash, before heading farther west.
Most everyone we've spoken with about the weather agree it has been much cooler and wet in the southwest this winter. While I may sound like I'm complaining a bit about winter weather, I'm not. We could have moved farther south in some cases and been warmer, but we chose to explore places we'd not seen before and linger in places we knew would be cooler.
We'll be in San Diego the first of March and as I look at the forecast we should have highs in the 60's and low's in the 40's, a nice change for sure.
I mentioned in January Melanie was stepping away as executive director of Episcopal Peace Fellowship. While she's continuing to train new personnel in February to perform various jobs she performed as director and will be doing so until everyone feels comfortable, she's officially unemployed.
Yes, we're officially traveling full time and as close to on vacation as we'll get living our lives out here on the road.
What that means for us this summer is planning a trip to Alaska. We've wanted to travel there since we began full time travel, but since Melanie, while employed, had to be connected to the internet most days, we put off thinking about remote Alaska.
We'll stay south until Spring and then head north towards Oregon and Washington state. Our plan is to visit friends (really new-found family) in La Conner, Washington and stage our trip from there. Depending on weather, we may be able to head north into Canada sometime in May.
My initial thought is to head northeast towards Calgary and connect with the Alaska highway at Dawson Creek in Canada. We're excited about starting to plan the trip, but we're also pleased to be spending more time the PNW. Watch this space.
I'll leave y'all with a few iPhone shots from my walk around Borrego Springs this morning after leaving Melanie at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church.
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Steven and Melanie