Pandemic: Road Trip

On June 3 we were to be flying from New York to London arriving June 4 with an overnight stay at Heathbrow. Our traveling companions Randy, my brother, and Chris, our sister-in-law would depart for Portugal on June 5. We would be headed to Rome. On the 5th we were to meet my son, Craig, and his family, Nicole, Olivia, Evan, Ella. Craig had arranged a private tour of the Vatican. On the 6th his family was departing. Sandy and I were to have visited Rome until June 9 when we were scheduled to reunite with Randy and Chris at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

June 10-11 in Paris. June 12 we Chunnel to London. June 13-15, we enjoy London including watching the St, Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs game on June 14. The trip was thoroughly planned by brother Randy. Tickets purchased. Accommodations selected. Deposit money paid.

Then came Covid-19, and what is now described as a pandemic. By June 30, more than 10,000,000  have gotten the virus worldwide. More than 2.6 million have contracted the virus in the United States, with more than 128,000 deaths. Advice to American citizens, stay home, avoid crowds, where a mask.

Sandy and I have stayed home, avoided crowds, and worn a face mask when in grocery stores for the past four months. We haven’t been ultra-conservative and extremely safe as some we know, but we have not been dismissive either. We have been to a few outdoor restaurants and we do shop for groceries a few times every week. We visit friends. I play golf weekly with my friend Gerry and Tom. Sandy still volunteers weekly to feed the poor. We feel safe

So, now comes an opportunity and a dilemma. Emily will have foot surgery July 7. Sandy and I want to be there to help with Amaya, our six-year old grand-daughter. We also want to see Brian and Fisher, Kelly and Mark, Kerry and Kris, Rumi, Teo, Sienna, and Seba. Should we fly? Should we drive? Should we go or stay home? For the past thirty days we have asked those same questions. We have had numerous conversations with our kids, our family, and our friends. Every person has a different opinion. Each day we wavered. We are going for sure. No, we are not going. Yes, definitely going. No, we changed our mind.  Well, maybe.

We bought airline tickets. We cancelled airline tickets. We bought a new car, a 2020 Subaru Outback equipped with all of the new safety eyesight gear. We are going to test it out. We depart Tuesday June 30. Destination, Anacortes Washington, approx. 2150 miles. First scheduled stop, Omaha, Nebraska. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know what it’s like to road trip during a pandemic.

DAY 1

I got out bed by 7am. Sandy had her first cup of coffee by then, which was like any other day. After one cup of home brew Java we turned on Miranda Esmond White, Classical Stretch. By 8am we had finished the 20-minute stretch exercise. I took a quick shower. We finished packing and we were out the door only to be met by a torrential  downpour. I was soaked just getting to the car. Fortunately, we had loaded the majority of our bags the night before. Two back-packs fully packed and a food cooler was the last loaded. I dried out at our first stop just a block away. We needed a full tank of gas to start the day.

The Subaru highway ride was the first thing we noticed. It was better than our previous Legacy sedan. The thunderstorm continued for another 15-minutes with rain flowing off the windshield with ease. The day on the road was mostly uneventful, save this. We were listening to music from the 1970’s for an hour when Sandy said, “ I don’t remember any of these tunes”. Of course not, she had a baby in 1970, another in 1972, two more in 1974 and 1975 and the a fifth one in 1979. The 70’s were a blur. Craig, Brian, Todd, Kelly and Brent were all born in the 70’s. If any of you reading this can fill us in on what happened between July 1970 and December 1979 please let us know.  

Back to the trip. We had a nice lunch stop at a little park near Blue Springs, Missouri. It was called Burr Oaks State Park. This was just the kind of place we sought. It had a covered picnic bench with wooded area for ambiance.

We arrived Omaha, Nebraska at 4pm. After a quick unload of essential bags we headed out for a nice walk through the Old Market Square downtown Omaha, If it wasn’t for the pandemic this place would be rock’en. Despite our objective of avoiding restaurants we couldn’t pass up the Upstream Brewery with outdoor seating. There were only two tables occupied. We were at least 30 feet apart from everybody accept the waiter.  Good meal. Good brew. Time for bed. Tomorrow, our destination is Cheyenne, Wyoming.   

DAY 2

Omaha, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming is 498 miles on Highway 80 West. After we passed Lincoln I cant remember seeing anything except farm land. To be fair to Nebraska we did find a little park to have lunch called Sandy’s Creek.

So, now we are in Wyoming in time to a beer at Daniel Mark’s Brewery.

   Day 3

I forgot to mention what it’s like staying in hotels during the pandemic. In Omaha we stayed at a Hyatt. Very clean, very safe. The morning breakfast was served in a box. We selected yogurt, hard boiled egg, cereal, milk, orange juice, blueberry muffin and coffee. In Cheyenne we stay at a modern Tru-Hilton. The breakfast was individually served hot scrambled eggs, sausage, juice, and coffee. For dinner last night we shopped at Safeway to purchase chicken and fruit and a nice salad. We ate in the hotel room to avoid people.

As I write this, Sandy is driving and I am the passenger. We are both drinking Wild Pony Coffee. The terrain is wild west mountain foothills. Horses who live in Nebraska would definitely prefer Wyoming. In fact, I note the cattle, deer, antelope, and horses all seem to wear a smile. They like it here.

The speed limits in Wyoming on Highway 25 are 80 mph and it takes time to get used to. Sandy sets the cruise control at 77 mph, her comfort level. As a passenger I notice how many camper van’s we have passed along the highway. Evidently, American families are hitting the roads this summer. I’m afraid our National Parks will be packed. We are taking the shortest path to Anacortes avoiding parks which means we will skip our favorite destinations in the US like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park in Montana. We will skip all tourist destinations—just drove past Custard’s Last Stand battlefield in Wyoming without slowing down. Zoom by at 80 mph. It’s gone in minutes The drive through Wyoming into Montana is beautiful. The snow-capped Rockies are in clear sight and fast approaching. We will be passing over the mountains tomorrow. For tonight it’s a steak dinner and beer at a very safe outdoor restaurant called Ale Works in Bozeman, Montana. Lights out soon. Good night all.  

Day 4.

For the first time in my life I wish I had learned to be a fly fisherman. As we roll through the mountains of Montana, we pass Billings, Bozeman, Butte. All along the way we see inviting fly-fishing streams parallel to the highway. A far as scenery goes Montana gets an A plus. This has been a gorgeous traveling day. Mountain temperatures from 58 degrees up to 82 degrees. Blue sky. Powder white clouds.

The highlight of the day is stopping in Missoula, Montana. The last time we came through Missoula we were heading south from Glacier National Park and off to our right we saw a grizzly bear running down the mountain side. No such luck on this pass through. We did, however, find a nice river side Boone-Crockett conservation area to sit down and have our lunch. The fried chicken purchased in Cheyenne has provide lunch for three days in a row.

I did the bulk of the mountain driving today. But Sandy started off the morning drive. At one point she reached 88 mph to pass before she noted the OMG speed. Yes, you read it right! Sandy was the first person to drive 88 mph! I calmly sipped my coffee.

According to automotive research 32% of all pickup trucks are the color white. Then 28% are silver or grey. Sandy and I can verify these facts via our drive today when without doubt or exaggeration we believe we passed every white truck in America. I believe drivers in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington have bought all of the available stock of White trucks. If you want to buy a pickup truck you will have to order black, red or blue. The White ones are all out west.  

Now, on to other important facts when driving west during the pandemic. We just passed the beautiful city of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. Sandy is driving to Spokane or beyond as I type on my computer while sitting in the passenger seat. I know we could have flown to Seattle in 4 hours but when you drive you see sights you’ve never seen before. Today has been a special day of witnessing God’s beautiful creation. As we drove, we passed a Moose crossing, Little Black Feet River,  Beaver Tail Camp Grounds, a sign telling me where to get my Elks tag and another place offering to buy my antlers. But, alas, we have no antlers.

Tonight, we settle in at a Holiday Inn Express in Ellensburg, Washington. We have traveled far beyond our planned drive for the day. Tomorrow, July 4th, we will have a 2 ½ hours drive to Mount Vernon, WA.

Day 5.

Happy 4th of July everyone. To friends and family who live in St. Louis we want you to know its 58 degrees at 8am. It may get into the 80’s as we travel throughout the day. The evening temperature forecasted for tonight is near 50 degrees.

What a spectacular morning drive through the Cascade Mountains! We can see a snow-capped Mount Baker as we head westward. We are driving through the Wenatchee National Forest with the Mount Baker National Forest just south of us. We go through the Snoqualmie Pass with Mardee Lake off to our left, babbling mountain streams follow the road off to our right. The speed limits have dropped to 70 aa we cut through the forest mountains.

We did it! We arrived in Mount Vernon at 11:15 this morning. Kerry, Sienna, Seba and their new dog, Coot, greeted us. Kristen is working today. He is Captain of a boat used as the barge which will launch a $20,000 fireworks show at Friday Harbor tonight. Kelly and Mark have taken their boat up to Friday Harbor for the weekend. So, they with Rumi and Teo will see the fireworks from their boat. 

We have settled in at the Potlatch house on the Westshore of Guemes Island. Our view for the next few weeks will be ocean front with Cypress Island off to the west.

Sandy enjoyed gathering fresh greens, carrots, cucumber, peapods, raspberries from Kerry’s garden and Kelly’s garden. We will also enjoy fresh eggs tomorrow morning thanks to Kerry’s chickens. These are the best eggs I have ever eaten.

Dinner is almost ready. Wild Salmon over our home-grown garden salad. Add a beer. Perfect meal. Stay tuned. I’ll probably add more to the blog weekly rather than daily now that we have arrived.

HAPPY 4th of July 2020 to all. Relax and Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Pandemic: Road Trip

  1. So happy to be able to “ride along” on your trip! Terry and I definitely feel your pain about trying to decide when & where it’s safe to travel. I actually booked some flights today for this fall and next year in hopes we will feel comfortable to go then.
    As for the 70s…my kids in 77,79,81 and O’Rourke a little crazy (from what I hear) back then so not sure we can help! But it’s funny as we were driving home last week to find oldies stations were playing 70s & 80s … I thought oldies were 50s & 60s!
    We’re looking forward to hanging out with you soon. Have a wonderful and safe journey my friends 💕

      • I bet you knew something was up when I didn’t reply last few days! Glad you sent text so I could catch up on the journey. I didn’t get usual notification of new post so thought too busy or no service. I should have known better! Enjoy the family. Hugs & love to you & Sandy.

  2. Glad you made it up there. I would never get tired of that view! Enjoy the awesome NW summer temperatures. It sure beats the humid 90s in StL & the dry106 here today. 🥵 For next 2 weeks LV at 103-111 range with low of 80ish for most part.

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