Note: My blog is still way behind, but friends and family keep checking in to see what’s going on during this highly unusual time, so I figured I would post a real time update and share some information that might be helpful.
We always seem to have good timing when we visit Austin. In fact, our first visit was so chock full of instances in which we found ourselves in the exact right place at the exact right time, I wrote an entire post about it. That 2017 trip led to our ongoing affinity for this city and now, exactly three years later, we find ourselves, once again, repeatedly exclaiming: “Wow, our timing could not have been better!”
Just about every day this week, we’ve discussed the various reasons we’re happy to be settled down in a house, with a yard, in a city, rather than traveling around in our motorhome. With so much uncertainty swirling around, it’s nice to know where we’ll be sleeping at night… this week, next week, and even the week after. It’s been good to get long term “to-do” list items taken care of, to be able to stock up on necessities, and to know that even if we suddenly really can’t leave, we at least have somewhere to get some fresh air and get the dog some exercise – which is not always easy at commercial campgrounds.
(I think it’s fair to say Thor is appreciating the yard quite a bit)
Plus, we were already planning on doing some “social distancing” before it became the trendy thing to do, so not only can we claim credit for being good, responsible citizens, but we can feel less bad about ducking our friends and fellow travelers. “Look, it’s nothing personal. We’re just trying to stop the spread of this contagion!!”
Of course, two months (or more) of not only keeping to ourselves, but staying mostly inside to do so, might have us climbing walls, but for right now, we’ve been perfectly content to hunker down, and live a nice, quiet, suburban life.
The house itself is pretty decent – it looks like what we expected it to look like and is in a convenient location. However, it is clearly a rental (things are beat up), several items are not entirely up to snuff, and we’ve been reminded of the downsides of renting (ie: you can’t fix the things that are broken and you can’t update the things you’d like to change.) But, in the grand scheme of things, especially given the current situation, it’s a comfortable house in a convenient neighborhood and we’ve got a nice landlord. So – we’re generally happy to be where we are.
Now, I know what you’re all most worried about when it comes to the impact of this pandemic on us: “But what about the tacos???” Rest assured, my friends, before all hell broke loose, we wasted no time, hitting our favorite taco place 2 times in 4 days – once for breakfast and once for lunch, and we found a little neighborhood Mexican restaurant with unbelievably cheap and delicious food.
Sadly, we’ve had to forgo those spots this past week, but we did make it to Costco in time to grab necessities (seriously – we were out of toilet paper – we weren’t just hoarding!), and, because we knew we’d be living a sadly taco-free existence for the foreseeable future, we decided it would be reasonable to buy a Costco-sized box of brownie mix.
6 individual boxes of delicious chocolately, brownie goodness:
Are six pans of brownies for 2 people a little much? Generally, yes, but during the zombie apocalypse, no.
Plus it ended up being a wise decision because when we visited our regular grocery store yesterday, their brownie selection – and their selection of everything else – was a bit lacking:
I expect they’ll be restocked this week, but if not, at least we know we won’t go hungry!
Speaking of panic, it’s funny to get on Facebook and see two distinct groups that rarely agree on anything agreeing that this whole thing is overblown. There are those in the older generation who think this is all media hype and ridiculous, and then there are the those in the younger generation who figure they’ll be fine even if they do get sick.
Meanwhile, with Kevin’s lengthy and complex cardiac history, we can’t afford to be cavalier about the risks of a virus that causes pneumonia and has a high mortality rate among people with cardiovascular issues.
In short, every time I sign on to Facebook, I’m reminded of this meme:
Haha. I’m just kidding. Y’all are lovely. But stay home. Seriously.
To that end, I wanted to share this excellent and comprehensive article by an international travel blogger I have followed for many years. She has some significant health issues so this is a deeply personal and concerning issue for her, but the article talks about the entire situation in an organized, fact-first manner and provides a number of helpful links. It’s worth a read.
Additionally, here’s an article by Nina at WheelingIt about the illness and why it’s so important that everyone heed the advice that’s being passed on by the WHO, CDC, and other health authorities. She is currently living in Europe, seeing the effects firsthand and can offer thoughtful insights about what we’re facing, how to minimize the risk, and what to expect in the next couple weeks.
And that brings me to my next point: If you had asked me a week ago, I would have said RV travel was the safest bet going forward and that RVers probably wouldn’t have to change their plans much as this thing evolves. Turns out, I was completely wrong about that. Just two days ago, the New Mexico State Park system closed all its campgrounds, Pennsylvania closed a number of its parks, and today it was announced that Bayou Segnette State Park near New Orleans, the very same place we just stayed during Mardi Gras, is being evacuated in order to prepare for its use as an isolation area for Covid 19 cases. We can imagine the stress these sudden closures are causing and will continue to cause for our fellow fulltime travelers. As always, staying informed and staying flexible will be key. To that end, this page on the Campendium website is a good resource for park closure information.
We’d add that, for people who want to get off the road but don’t have anywhere easy to go, Air BnB has been a pretty painless process. This is the first time we’ve used it, so I can’t really say much, but overall, it’s been a good experience. I would venture to guess that with all the event cancellations and reductions in travel, there are probably quite a few nice places available – maybe even at reduced prices. We communicated with the owner before booking and he worked with us on some of the fees and policies to reduce some of the risk on our side of things, so owners do have some degree of flexibility. On the other hand, make sure you take into account Air BnB’s fees before booking – the list price on any given place won’t include those fees (it’s a bit “bait and switchy.”)
As for the future, while we are concerned about our summer travel plans for Canada and Alaska, in the end, there’s plenty of time between now and then, we have lots of flexibility, and if it all goes to hell, we’ll just go some other time. For right now, goal number one is to stay healthy and goal number two is to do our part to not make this situation worse for anyone – especially the doctors and medical staff who are about to get inundated with patients.
Anyway, that’s the update from here. We hope you all stay safe and stay well…and stay home. Seriously.