No one will be talking about their spring travel in 2020 without getting to the part where the novel coronavirus COVID-19 blew everything up.
We were a long way from home on this trip. In fact the whole point of the trip was to get as far away from home in the Pacific Northwest as was humanly possible in the Lower 48 states. That meant we went all the way to the end of the road in Key West.
But we were never out of touch, and were following along with all the news about the outbreak of this new virus in China and we too watched as other countries started to have issues. As we moved North in Florida to see the sites, ride our bikes and canoe the rivers in search of manatee, there was always the news to see what was happening. As the first US cases arrived, in our home state, and then started to climb in the nursing home near our niece’s home, we watched, and wondered if it was time to stop our journey and get home.
We started preparing slowly in case things got worse. When we stopped in the grocery we bought a few more supplies than we needed for a week, added hand sanitizer and soap, and we even bought a few boxes of flu medications, just to have that on hand. As we moved North, we spent more time bicycling trails and canoeing, and less time in crowded cities.
As the number of cases grew, as the CDC recommended, we started new regimes of hand washing, cleaning, wiping the common surfaces, handles and knobs on the trailer with Clorox wipes.
We went for rides, but started very actively distancing ourselves from other people in beautiful places such as Savannah.
We were outside Charleston, SC riding bikes on paths to stay active when Karin’s leg started bothering her. She arranged a chiropractor visit in Charleston on Monday March 16th. By that time, the news was getting much grimmer around the novel corona virus. Washington state was in the full grips of dealing with the virus, and other west coast states were seeing case numbers grow.
We decided then it was time to begin making our way back west. We were going to try to do it in an orderly way, knowing that the further west we were, the closer to our parents and Christian we would be, and if we needed to we could start moving very fast.
The next morning, March 17th, St. Patricks Day, we started. On the way to our first stop, of course a winery that would let us stay the night, our week long Florida panhandle private rental cancelled on us. Then New Mexico became the first state to close all campgrounds. The time for a fast run across 4,000 miles had come.
The next day we put in an epic pull, from Georgia, to the Florida pandhandle, across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and into Texas. We arrived at our niece Sarah’s house outside Austin at midnight. We stayed just one day to rest and play with the kids. Hard to social distance with them. We left as they were all sleeping at 4am Friday morning and pulled all the way past El Paso to another winery in Southern New Mexico. Two long days of driving and we were back in the West. Saturday we ended at a distillery in Kingman, AZ (Route 66 stop for you fans).
Sunday we were at an RV park on the lake in Provo, UT. We will be going back there. It was perfect for exploring around that area. Monday we drove to my sisters place on Jake’s Corral Creek Ranch in the Camas Prairie in Idaho. Tuesday, one week after leaving South Carolina, we got up early again, and drove the last 800 miles home to the boat in Anacortes.
We had a few impressions of the road. First, traffic was light. There were the normal semi-trucks on the road, but a lot fewer passenger cars and SUVs. Some places, Beaumont, TX and Baton Rouge in LA had a lot of full parking lots around pubs and bars. Latest stats on the virus outbreak show those were poor local decisions.
Downtown Seattle was spooky quiet as we drove through at noon. Normally it’s pretty busy Tuesday midday, but not in the age of pandemic.
So, for now, we’re home on the boat. Lots of NW marinas are closed, so there’s not much going out. That’s also the point of a Stay at Home order. But we’re close to Mom and BD, and Christian is just down the road in Seattle.
If anyone needs help we’re now in a much better position to provide it than four thousand miles away in Savanna or Charleston.
We fill our days with boat projects, keeping up on cleaning and cooking, doing conference calls with family and friends, making masks, going for walks and bike rides close to the marina. Spring is coming to the Northwest….and it’s our third spring this year. That’s what you get starting at Key West in January and heading North with the sun.
Stay safe everyone, wash your hands, wear a mask, and #flattenthecurve.