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Reemerging: Time Out


RETRO VIBES Why not practice social distancing the way your grandparents did?

Venture back into the world — without losing the rewards of solitude

Time alone — to catch up on projects, discover new hobbies, or just lie in the grass contemplating one’s place in the world — is one of COVID-19’s few gifts to the masses. Even those who had small business loan requests, unemployment claims, or food assistance applications to fill out eventually found themselves with empty hours on their hands. For many, that meant a reconnection to the benefits of solitude.

As governors lift lockdowns and people venture back into the world, they can take that gift with them to places where social distance was always part of the experience. And now, they will go there with a renewed appreciation for the space to be alone, in the world. Here are a few ideas to start with.


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Take in Nature at a Distance

Desert Pass Campground, Desert National Wildlife Refuge: You’re hard-pressed these days to find a campground that isn’t overrun with #vanlife influencers. Hopefully, Desert Pass has escaped that fate, because it’s one of Southern Nevada’s sweetest spots to hide out. Although there are six campsites, they’re well-spaced and surrounded by trees, so you don’t feel like you’re in a campground. You can commune with the neighbors if you want … or not. And it’s got enough amenities (picnic tables, fire rings) to make for a comfortable multiday outing, yet it’s far (26 miles from the refuge’s visitors center) and primitive (no hookups or running water) enough to keep RVs away. 16001 Corn Creek Road, Las Vegas, 1-702-879-6110 (the 1 is required),


Park Your Personal Theater Outside

West Wind Drive In: You’d forgotten about drive-in movies, hadn’t you? Then, after self-isolation began — but before the nonessential business shutdown took effect — someone posted something on your social media feed and you were like, “Oh yeah, I remember watching Star Wars at a drive-in with my siblings, looking out the back of my parents’ Oldsmobile station wagon while they had grown-up time in the front seat.” Well, West Wind, a family-owned chain of drive-ins based in San Rafael, California, promises all the heart-tickling nostalgia of decades past with the technology of today (digital projectors, audio transmitted to your car stereo). Though this might be more fun with a date than alone, it’s a way to get out and catch a movie, while staying in your own space. 4150 W. Carey Ave., North Las Vegas, 702-646-3565,

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Bat Away Your Cares

Big League Dreams batting cages: I might never have gone to a batting cage if I hadn’t stupidly volunteered for Vegas Seven’s team in the news media softball league and realized what a terrible, terrible batter I am. A friend who’s been playing for years took me to a batting cage and spent an afternoon patiently repeating, “Keep your eye on the ball” as I stubbornly kept my eye on the far wall, the clouds in the distance, a bird flying overhead … Afterward, I still sucked at softball. However, I’d been introduced to an activity so repetitively soothing, so delightfully exhausting, I didn’t care. Big League Dreams Sports Park offers a similar setup: eight outdoor batting cages — four slow-pitch, four baseball — that you can rent for up to an hour. They come with free bats and helmets  (supply your own Clorox wipes) so all you have to do is show up. And keep your eye on the ball. 3151 E. Washington Ave., Las Vegas, 702-642-4448,


Go Out to Turn In … Deep Within

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True Rest Float Spa: Float tanks aren’t for everyone. Someone close to me said she had to push the panic button to be let out of the sealed pod after 10 minutes — not because of the sensory-deprived isolation, but because of the saltwater finding its way into some orifices that she’d rather it hadn’t. On the other hand, those who are into floating profess to experience near-spiritual levels of relaxing introspection. And in a world so completely saturated with stimuli, there is something enticing about having it all turned off for a time. True Rest fans give it particularly high ratings for its sparkling clean facility and spa-like atmosphere. 5875 S. Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas, 702-202-0181,


Remember Where You Came From

Your neighborhood: If, during the pandemic-induced isolation period, you didn’t indulge in the pleasure of walking around your own block and having everyone you see smile or wave, pausing for a sidewalk-to-front porch chat with a neighbor you’d seen but never gotten to know, and stopping to smell the fragrant flowers of a Cassia bush or honeysuckle hedge, don’t worry. This attraction is free and, daylight and weather permitting, always open. Of all the possible ways to situate yourself in this life and world and moment, this is the one I most highly recommend. Don’t wait for the next disaster to jump on a hashtag community bandwagon. Get out there and do it now.

Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.