Post vaccination: Back to winging it on the road

  • The Epic Van in our campsite at Roosevelt Lake.

We took off Friday for our first big post-vaccination jaunt: eight weeks through Arizona, up the eastern Sierras, then the California coast, then Oregon and Washington, and back past the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho. We don’t have reservations anywhere. We’ll find our camp spots where we stop at night.

It’s a feeling of freedom similar to when we first got in the van and headed down the road seven years ago.

Covid kept us mostly in Arizona and Utah for the duration, with the exception of our run to Yellow Pine, Idaho, for our bed installation adventure, which you can read about here and here.

This trip will be a combination of exploring new wilderness, visiting friends and family, camping at some of our favorite spots along the coast and even visiting a favorite yarn store in Pacific Grove. IN PERSON!

We kicked off the trip by stopping in Tucson to see my step-brother, Kevin Dahl, and family. Kevin is running for city council for Ward 3, and we were thrilled to knock on doors and pass out literature about his outstanding qualifications. It was a fun reprise of the canvassing we did for the 2020 presidential election. After door knocking on Friday, we retired to the “Spring Street Tavern,” held in Kevin’s front yard, where we had drinks and conversation with our longtime Hawaii friend, Pam, who lives around the corner, and Carl, a neighbor just our style, who came to Arizona as a kid because of his asthma and stayed to major in physics at the University of Arizona. He was appalled that we had never watched This Is Spinal Tap, although I did get the reference, “Turn it up to 11.” Tom and I promised to fix this gap in our cultural intelligence. The only disappointment was the neighbor rocker across the street wasn’t rehearsing, leaving us without tavern tunes.

After finishing up our precinct on Saturday morning, we met camping friends Keven and Georges for lunch at Vivace, a wonderful Italian restaurant recommended by chef Georges, who worked with the owner and knows several of the employees. It turned out to be a three hour extravaganza from the antipasto and pear and walnut salad, to the penne and sausage, eggplant lasagna and fish soup, to the bread pudding and pistachio gelato. Ahhhhh, restaurants, how we’ve missed you. They even had gluten-free pasta for me, bless them. And, maybe because of the two bottles of delicious prosecco, I didn’t take a single picture. But it remains in my mind’s eye, along with the August camping plans we made with Keven and Georges to meet at Bears Ears National Monument.

We headed up through Globe to Roosevelt Lake, an Arizona wonder that we have never visited in all the decades we’ve lived here. We found many available campsites for $12.50 a night with my senior discount. Yea! We picked one on a hill with a beautiful view of the lake, set out our chairs to catch the sunset and the evening breeze and, still digesting our Vivace goodness, made a dinner of snacks. As it got dark, the temperature perfect, we watched boats night-fishing on the lake, their lights twinkling.

I woke the next morning with birds singing outside the window, and remembered why I so love this nomadic life. Less traffic, less scrambling, no TV, more breezes, more views, lower blood pressure.

We were so delighted with our campsite that we decided to stay two nights in order to spend a leisurely camp day, with yoga in the shade, and a view of a saguaro top-heavy with a crown of blooms, some knitting, reading, leftovers from Vivace and another lovely sunset.

Day 2 we were up at the crack of dawn so Tom could take a five-mile hike on the Vineyard portion of the Arizona Trail, which he’s been day-hiking this year.

Showers, lunch and we’re down the road to the next wonderful spot, probably near Pine, Arizona.


  1. Reply
    James Johnson May 17, 2021

    We thought you went to Mexico. We just returned from Zion NP and elsewhere. What a zoo. Difficult to find a place to park. We plan to go to Colorado in 10 days. Have a great trip. We look forward to crossing paths on our trips.

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols May 18, 2021

      We did go to Mexico, which was fabulous. Back about a week and we hit the road. We’re itching for cooler temps. Sorry to hear about Zion. I read that Yosemite is requiring reservations for day use. We were planning on stopping there, but I’ll have to see if we can get in. Crowds suck. They should shut the gate right after we arrive :).

  2. Reply
    David May 17, 2021

    Glad you’re on the road, again and the spot you picked sounds fantastic. More, please.

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols May 18, 2021

      We’re seeking the cool breezes … slowly heading your way.

  3. Reply
    Keven May 17, 2021

    Lovely post, lovely pics. So glad we could be with you on Saturday and very much looking forward to hooking up with you at Bears Ears in August!

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols May 18, 2021

      Can’t wait for Bears Ears. Still in a happy haze from our fabulous lunch.

  4. Reply
    Meredith stewart May 17, 2021

    Wow. Judy! It sounds so amazing. Have an absolute BALL. LIVIN THE DREAM!

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols May 18, 2021

      Meredith, You HAVE to get a van and get on the road with us. You would LOVE it. Miss you!

  5. Reply
    Bundy May 18, 2021

    What a lunch you had with Keven and Georges; food and company! So pleased you’re back on the road. Our vaccine rollout is months behind and we’re in lockdown. Drive a mile on the open road for us 🙂

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols May 18, 2021

      So sorry to hear about the lag in vaccinations. We were happy to hear from Keven and Georges that you are recovering well. We talked about a possible reunion, either in the Redwoods, or somewhere else. We’ll keep good thoughts for that day!

  6. Reply
    Ann May 18, 2021

    On the road again 🎶🎵
    Christmas in July is the 24th?

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