The start to our day: nature journaling

As Covid cases began to spike in Washington we decided to pull Finn out of school for the last week before our trip. As the atmospheric river unleashed it’s fury on the northwest with wind and downpour, we decided that we might as well start the great quarantine trip of 2020 a few days early. We finalized packing of the new camper, replete with canned bacon and sausage from our pigs, dehydrated fruits and vegetables from the garden, and mushrooms from the woods. It was our modern day Chuck wagon heading south to the land of warmth and sun and breathing room away from thy neighbor.

We know that as the pandemic rages, that nonessential travel is frowned upon. But we also know that our life in a camper in the desert is by far the safest place for us and the rest of society. Other than filling the gas tank, and a grocery run once every few weeks, we will have zero human interaction.

Truth be told, most all of our yearly trips to warmer climes have been like quarantines, just without deadly disease looming. This year we just brought way more food with us. But our goal as we journey has always been to seek the most remote places this country has to offer.

The classroom

We hemmed and hawed about what to call this grand 3 1/2 month trip, which is our longest trip to date. The great quarantine of 2020 was a front runner, but we settled on Desert School 2020. As always, these journeys are a time for Katie and I to learn and explore the ecology and culture of different lands, but as Finn ages, his education becomes more center stage. As we take extended trips like this, it comes with the obvious reality that he is not in a traditional school. So this year we have created an actual curriculum that we will all follow together, expanding our horizons on topics like animal tracking, indigenous history, the night sky, civics, latin and more (basically the things we wish we had studied when we were younger.)

We know he won’t be getting the social experience he craves at this point in his life, but in our cold winter of Covid, this seems to be the better choice of the two. So this year we combine school on the road out in the hinterlands with running a remote business and living out of an overlanding vehicle. No big deal for us, we’ve been doing this for years. It actually just feels like the rest of the world, inspired by Covid, is finally catching up with the life plan we dreamt up back on that sailboat in Mexico.