Prep Time

We spent some time this weekend preparing for our Desert Southwest adventure, which starts at the end of the week when we head to Lubbock for an overnight stay en route to our first destination, New Mexico’s White Sands National Park. From there, we’ll travel to Saguaro National Park in Arizona, and then we’ll visit Joshua Tree National Park in California. Cliff checked the various campgrounds where we have reservations for their proximity to shopping (so we know how much to pack), and we viewed satellite images of the entire route to get a sense of the distances between gas stations. We’ve never quite gotten over the time we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere running so low on fuel that we paid an exorbitant amount at the only station available.

On Friday, we enjoyed a Date Night dinner of grilled beef tenderloin, baked potato and veggies. Afterwards, we watched Real Rail Adventures, as host Jeff Wilson took an exhilarating tour of the Swiss Alps. There’s no better way to spend a steamy August night than a virtual trip to a winter wonderland!

On Saturday morning, Cliff returned to Hampshire for his work shift while Jon remained at Cloud 9 to edit an article about using an algorithm to detect incidental pulmonary embolism on routine chest CT exams. Talk about exhilarating!

Brunch, nap, cocktails, sunset walk, Grand Ole Opry, dinner, dog walk, bed: A typical Saturday afternoon and evening.

Sunday found us engaging in our regular routine, with the exception of following CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Ida’s landfall near New Orleans. After napping and cocktailing, we enjoyed our televisit with Jon’s mom as Chef Cliff prepared a Mediterranean feast of grilled lamb, naan, and couscous, and Jon made a red onion, cucumber, and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette. After dinner, we binged on several episodes of “Virgin River” before falling into bed, exhausted.

On Monday, we continued our preparations for the Big Trip. The three parks will bring our total to 23. Only 40 more to go! (OK, we admit that it may be a bit challenging to take Cloud 9 to American Samoa, the Channel Islands, Biscayne, Haleakalā, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes, and Virgin Islands, so we’ll set the number of remaining parks to 34). Then we can focus on the other 360 monuments and memorials, parkways and preserves, scenic trails and seashores, historic sites and battlefields.

These pandemic times have helped us appreciate how much we treasure our time together. Whether we’re sheltering in place in Cloud 9, hunkering down at Hampshire, or hitting the highway to some desert destination, we love being together.