So, I’m guessing you haven’t heard (ha) but there’s this little pandemic going around. And it has thrown a wrench in my year of travel plans. I know this is not the most important concern in the grand scheme of things with people getting sick, losing work, shuttering businesses, you’re familiar with it all. But it’s a weird situation to find myself in so here’s where it stands for now.
Things were just starting to be talked about as a real concern in China when I left DC last in February, and it was still only overseas so continued on as planned, no problem. Things remained pretty normal until around when I was in New Orleans, which is when several places in the US had started recommending social distancing. Few cases in the area I was at the time, no restrictions there, so after leaving human-laden New Orleans opted for places that were uncrowded which wasn’t hard along the Louisiana coast at the historic sites, small parks, and quiet towns I went through.
Arrived in Houston and went to a film screening which was still on, though not full and I had lots of space around me. Everyone was doing the full good hand washing, but there were still so many people out packing the patios of the bars and restaurants in the shopping center where the theater was. Texas and the county were recommending distancing but nothing official, and I think they had just announced their first cases and were getting their act together. Turns out my screening was the last before they cancelled the rest.
My show in San Antonio had been called off- which I was bummed about but totally understand with the crowd size and probably totally close seating- so went for a few days to the seashore where there was lots of open space, fresh air, and not many people. Gym and libraries were still open, restaurants still open, the whole works. In San Antonio after, same deal. Arrived in Austin and while I was there they implemented the take-out and to-go only, gyms, schools, and libraries closed, and some states started really shutting down, but not Texas. Got some take out, visited some parks, chilled with some nice people who still invited me to stay for a few days despite it all, and just hoped everyone hand washing and all that was enough. Some bars and restaurants were even boarding up their windows as a precaution since they’d be shuttered for at least a few weeks- it looked like a hurricane was expected on Sixth Street.
Spent a few days driving across the hill country through mostly closed towns, but in this county it was still optional to stay open through the weekend so I stocked up at a couple of wineries with my 6′ bubble around me (and admit I swiped a roll of TP from one fancy place in case I needed to barter. I’m not proud. But weird times and they were going to be closed in a few hours so… sorry, that place), took in the beautiful views, and made my way to a national park with expanses of open space. Big Bend‘s campgrounds were open and park open aside from the visitor’s centers, so I booked 4 nights at the campsites (a lot of the dispersed sites are on roads I’d never make it on) but by the time I was arriving they’d decided to close down all camping in the park after the weekend, so my 4 night plan was now 2 nights.
I stayed those 2 nights as planned, enjoyed being out doing something wonderful in relative isolation, With so much in flux I opted to just get a cheap AirBnB for the week to regroup and figure it out, make sure I don’t start showing any signs of anything, and be like everyone else and laze around binging on Netflix, snacks and drinks. I’m already through the last season of Orange is the New Black, the new (still not good but I’m invested) season of Friend from College, the latest season of Last Week Tonight, my DVR’d Jeopardy episodes (thanks, Pam!), all the Fallon Tonight Show (that’s his, right?) from home clips. Started an online 30 day yoga video thing. Been on a walk around this neighborhood. Enjoying cooking and having a kitchen (though I had to bring in a bunch of my own kitchen stuff… they had one fork!) and fridge. Finished a few books I was reading.
Many states are closing down state parks, campsites, some are closing rest stops, so between that and my usual sources of showers, water, bathrooms etc. being closed it’s tough to continue as planned. I always have the option of going home to my parents or godmother but (sorry to say it in public, family) they’re all in the higher risk groups and not only do I not want to bring any new germs their way, but it’s also like 30 hours of driving to get back to the east coast where it’s way more locked down and has more cases anyway. Since I’ve arrived El Paso has gone on a stay home order, so things are changing fast.
Anyway, long babbling boils down to that I’m waiting this week making sure all seems well for at least that amount of time, then unless things change going to take up the offer from a friend to come crash with them for a little in Colorado and go from there. Been over 2 weeks since I was in New Orleans, over a week since I was in Austin, and while I know there’s always a change of having no symptoms or having something show up later on, it’s my best option in case things continue to be shut down longer than I can stay in this rental. Weird times! I’m sure more updates to come but hanging in there, no job to worry about (though might be harder to re-enter workforce as planned if everyone else is out of work), no rent to worry about, so can’t complain. Doing a whole lot of nothing if anyone wants to chat!