By Nanci Dixon
We left Arizona just before the surge in COVID-19 cases hit the national news. We stayed so long that even the rattlesnakes were taking cover during the heat of the day. 112 degrees when we left and rising. I know – it is dry heat… but so is my oven.
A lot of campgrounds were still closed due to their state’s lockdown procedures so we had to plan our trip state by opening state.
Arizona to New Mexico. We waited until the restrictions limiting out-of-state vehicles traveling into New Mexico on weekends was lifted. Colorado state parks had opened, but visitor centers and offices remained closed. We had to reserve and check-in online. Came through Nebraska as Iowa campgrounds were closing.
We maintained social distancing and wore masks. Not many others in the campgrounds or in the grocery stores, shopping malls, bars or restaurants did. Cases have surged.
We are now hunkered down in the north woods of Wisconsin for three weeks. Hunkering down has required more tenacity and discipline than I had imagined. No visiting museums, looking up popular things to do in the area, no recreational shopping…
Even though we’re retired we had still managed to fill our days with things to do. Now it looked like an expanse of welcome (and not so welcome) time was upon us. I had to come up with some coping strategies.
- Exercise — We have been getting up to bike or walk every day. Not only is it helping to keep the COVID-19 pounds at bay, but it brightens our mood too.
- Eating healthy (Or, at least trying to eat healthy) — We are more conscious of healthy foods, nutrients, calories, and taking vitamins, like Zinc and vitamin C. Whether they help or not, it can’t hurt!
- Making a To-Do list — Wanting to actually accomplish something productive during this time I started a checklist of all the things we let slide while traveling. Caulk roof, lube slides, clean jacks, wipe down the living area furniture, polish and dust woodwork, change the flickering lights are just some of the things on the list.
- Getting rid of stuff — Going through drawer by drawer, bin by bin, hanger by hanger to clear out unused or duplicate items. One year, no use? Out to the next owner. Only two items have I ever regretted getting rid of. I donated my wok spatula and my hand blender. A year or two later bought new ones. The new spatula doesn’t have a wood handle that keeps falling off or catching on fire and the blender is just a better make.
- Talking with each other — This is an uncertain scary time and we have realized that our time together is both precious and not guaranteed. We have opened up about our fears, concerns and “what ifs”. We hold hands when we walk.
- Connecting — Zoom meetings with family, friends, church services and different groups have become an essential way to stay connected. FaceTime or Facebook Messenger video calls also keep us close to family while distant. It will be a skill we will keep when traveling again.
- Face-to-Face connections — Er, actually mask-to-mask connection. We still see friends and some family from a very safe distance. The conversations are a bit muffled through our masks and can be hilarious with all the misunderstandings!
- Planning — While striving to live in the “here and now,” it has been good to look to a future without COVID. Planning our next trip this month and planning for next year gives hope, excitement and a sense of normalcy.
It is one of the hardest, strangest years, but it’s also been the most memorable. Our children will tell their children and their grandchildren about the year of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We will remember what we were doing, where we were, and those we lost.