Early March of last year we were all set for a road trip into the Southwest. As it became more clear that a pandemic was brewing, we called our doctor for advice. He didn’t tell us not to go, but he wondered if it would be a good idea. At the last minute, we cancelled the trip and went to Astoria for a few days instead. A few days later, everything shut down.
We’re vaccinated now and began thinking again of a trip to the Southwest. We planned it but waffled on making reservations. We decided to make a test run to Astoria to see what was open, what was changed, what precautions were being taken. We viewed it as a trial run. It would be our first overnight trip in more than a year.
Although it was good to go away, it was not nearly as pleasant a trip as last year’s. For one thing, the weather was much wetter. The motel desk said no one would go in our room while we were there, so come to the desk if we wanted more towels. And the breakfast buffet was closed, but they would have boxed breakfasts.
Andrea had made reservations at a restaurant for our first night. It was good, although not as comfortable as when it was filled with happy people and we were more relaxed. (But it’s a funny thing about memories — we tend to exaggerate things. It was good last year, and our memory of it probably made it seem better than it was.)
Turning our noses up at the motel’s boxed breakfast, we found a coffee shop that served breakfast. We ordered at the counter, separated from the worker by a plexiglas shield. Then we were directed to an open table (but only after we ordered). We were lucky, because there was an open table even with the reduced seating.
And so it went — plexiglas shields, order at the counter, limited seating. Our favorite coffee shop appeared to be permanently closed, as did the sandwich shop in Seaside where we’d wait while our car charged. But we like the new coffee shop, and we don’t need to eat while the car charges.
Despite the rain, we did visit a friend of Andrea’s who has a small ranch where he raises pigs and beef using regenerative practices. That was the highlight of the trip.
After two nights, we went home along the Washington side of the Columbia River. This included a long detour to avoid storm damage along the river’s shore. All in all, it was good to get away. It took the edge off of a year’s stay at home, but there was a certain overhead or extra work associated with the trip.
Whether we would go on our Southwest trip seemed to vary day to day — sometimes even hour to hour. We finally decided to go, but just before I made the reservations I read that the CDC recommended against any unnecessary travel. And that made sense. There’s a lot of the virus still out there. We’re vaccinated, but that only means we probably won’t get sick enough to be hospitalized or die. We might still get enough of the virus to get a little sick or to carry it to others. We need our whole population to have enough immunity so the virus can find fewer hosts. So we’re staying home.
In fact, new infections in the US are trending upward again. We still have 24% of all cases worldwide despite being only 4% of the world population. Could it be that we’ve handled the pandemic poorly?
But Andrea and I are vaccinated and remain healthy, considering our ages. And Spring is here. We’ve even had a sunny day now and them. Maybe we can take a car trip to the Southwest next March. We’re cleaning out cupboards again as we wait.