Vacationing During a Pandemic (Plague, Day 115, June 29, 2020)

With Ian’s school year dying with a whimper rather than a cry (teachers didn’t even bother logging onto the computer for “Q and A time” and no good-byes), we took off to North Carolina to check on Steve’s folks and heal on the beach. Between Ian’s medical issues and both boys’ ruptured school year, we’ve had a tough spring. We all needed to do a whole lotta nothing for a while.

Traveling to remote areas of the country is actually a nice activity now. It’s possible to rent a cabin in Vermont or Montana or Canada and finish off school or work one’s job there. Remote life means mobile life. And the denizens of the former Apt. 11D love going places.

If you keep to the main highways, wear adult diapers, and chug warm Red Bulls, you can make it from our place in Northern New Jersey to the island where Steve’s folks live, which is about a hour south of the Outer Banks, in 9-1/2 hours. Since we like to meander down less traveled roads, try out new restaurants, and use restrooms, it’s a 12-hour drive. This year, we did all the driving in one day to avoid dealing with decontaminating a hotel room.

The next morning, we hit the local supermarket to get some basics and were totally surprised to see people walking around without masks in the store. There were no one-ways lanes in the store or line managers to maintain distancing. By Jersey standards, we were shocked.

We did our best to go to restaurants that had outdoor areas, but not all did. Wait staff didn’t wear masks. We saw packed bars in the evening. I would say that we only saw about 10-20 percent of all people wearing masks in public areas.

The North Carolina beaches are always deserted by Jersey standards, where it’s not unusual to have about six inches from another group on the sand, so it wasn’t difficult to avoid others there. When we had dinner with family, we ate outside, though we sat closer together than was probably smart.

COVID rates in North Carolina are rising so fast, that Govs. Cuomo and Murphy have said that travelers coming from that state have to self-quarantine for two weeks. For us that means keeping up what we’ve been doing, but no backyard gatherings with extended family for two weeks.

That said, it was a great trip. With so much time at home, everybody badly needed a change of scenery. And how lovely was it to have food cooked by others? So, so, so lovely.

More posts coming soon. I have a full plate of mom and work chores today first, but once I make some headway on those chores, I’ll be back.

24 thoughts on “Vacationing During a Pandemic (Plague, Day 115, June 29, 2020)

    1. That’s probably smart. People are not being careful here at all. I am assuming that things are going to get bad the fall, so I’m trying to get as many chores done now as possible, ie. doctor’s appointments.


  1. re: chores. Good idea. Even though we (Canadians, specifically in British Columbia) are currently in good shape with regards to Covid, there’s an underlying fear that once fall/winter sets in, we will also be facing a second wave.

    The border has been “closed” for a few months now with the exception of essential travel and commercial goods. I have a good friend who holds dual citizenship who had to make two trips to the US to help care for her 91-year old mom. No quarantine requirements on the US side. She had to quarantine for two weeks each time she returned to Canada. She had to present a plan to border services and was followed up with daily phone calls to ensure she was sticking to it. We watch the happenings in the US (Covid and Trump with trepidation and sadness).

    In my province, British Columbia, we’ve had the good fortune to have an outstanding Medical Officer of Health who NY Times profiled a few weeks ago.

    Messaging to BC residents is always led by Dr. Henry. The provincial Minister of Health appears at the briefings but is always second to Dr. Henry. The focus is on the science / medicine.


    1. “She had to present a plan to border services and was followed up with daily phone calls to ensure she was sticking to it. ”

      wow. I’ll need to ask the college student I know who returned from UBC earlier this month whether he had to do anything at all.


  2. Laura wrote, “I would say that we only saw about 10-20 percent of all people wearing masks in public areas.”

    Indoor or outdoor?


    1. Both. Steve and I figure that we have about six weeks before things get dicey again. We’re making doctor’s appointments and taking care of haircuts in the next month. Also, restocking the pantry.


  3. I guess I should try to schedule a dentist appointment. Mostly I’ve been slowly stockpiling wine, liquor, and shelf-stable food.


    1. bj said, “Williams is apparently going to offer a 15% discount in the fall.”

      Hometown U. is shortening the school year slightly (so as to finish with classes before Thanksgiving break), and I believe they are going to pro-rate board and room. That’s modest, but nice.


  4. Can you go to the grocery store if you are self-quarantining? I know you can go to get medical care, but how about to get food (or medicine)?


    1. A number of families I know quarantined their college kids away from family when they came home (in basements, mostly) and delivered trays of food. But would be different if the whole family was in quarantine.


    2. We’ll continue our once-per-week trip to the supermarket. We are totally staying away from my folks for the 14 days. Not even backyard chats without a mask.


      1. This would seem to indicate that when the state says “quarantine” it means “quarantine.” To include not going to the supermarket.

        Not that there appears to be any enforcement mechanism but that does seem to be what they are expecting of you.


  5. In Canada (specifically BC), you cannot go anywhere while in quarantine. Food and any supplies must be delivered. You are not permitted to leave your house — which is why I think border services requires you to provide a plan for your quarantine.

    Everyone I know who has done it has either had family fill their fridge prior to arrival or drop food and supplies at the door.

    It defeats the purpose of the quarantine to leave to get groceries etc.


  6. Good to hear that New Jersey’s quarantine advise is clear on the point of groceries: “Individuals should leave the place of self-quarantine only to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items. “


  7. I’ve been researching the regulations for the three states we may be visiting in late July and early August. It’s very confusing. If you’re going to stay in a hotel, some places require you to sign something that says you have been quarantining *before* your trip for 14 days – but this may mean only that you’ve wore a mask or kept 6 ft of distance when you’ve gone out. A young relative is going to a summer camp that requires more strict quarantining by the entire family for 14 days before the camp (apparently no going out for groceries, at least that’s how her mom is interpreting it). Some places requiring quarantining if you’re coming from an unsafe state but not from a safe state.

    Then of course there’s the personal side – do we stay with his parents or at a hotel? Can we go to an outdoor restaurant with my cousins or do we have to be somewhere we can stay 6 feet apart? etc. etc. etc.

    Of course if there’s a huge surge we may just stay home, so I should quit researching for another two weeks.


    1. Yes, the lack of clarity is very frustrating, especially for the rule followers among us. And, the lawyers. I think that these are the times where survival means learning the art of letting go.


  8. An interesting thing is happening in our county in TX.

    After a brief outbreak in late March peaking at 8% positive test results on our 7-day rolling averages, we had from 0-2% positive results from April 14 until June 11. Things started blowing up again starting June 12–3%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 7%, 8%, ZOOM up to 12%, 12% again…and then 10%, 9%, 8%, 8%, 7% and then 6% June 29. As of June 29, we were back to the same percentage positive (6%) that we had on June 18.

    There was an unprecedented amount of testing going on in June in our county–but approximately constant volume during the second half of the month.

    If I’m counting correctly, it took 10 days from hitting 3% to peaking at 12%…and then it took 9 days to get from the initial 12% peak (June 22) back to 6% (June 29).

    The policy background for this was that our mayor announced mask rules June 19. On June 26, we also got a bunch of statewide restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings June 26, which should hopefully pay off this week.


    1. The good news is the percentage positive is way down.

      The bad news is that (for our community size) we have a boatload of cases to work through.

      Our county hospital utilization looks good though, especially given that the positives are trending down so nicely.


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