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.
Glad you are comfortable and safe in all the craziness. We are still hanging out in FL at my dad’s. Being in a smaller town, we haven’t seen quite the hoarding others are reporting (thank goodness). We are supposed to be heading north in a few weeks, we’ll see how that plays out. Thor sure looks like he’s loving it!
Wishing you good health and a taco fix!
I think this is definitely a good time to be in a smaller town in a quieter area. And it’s probably nice to be able to help your dad out if he needs anything. So much is unsure at the moment, it’s good to be with family. Stay well, yourself!
As I mentioned my text the other day, I’m so relieved that you and Kev are in one place right now. Makes me feel so much better. We are hunkered down and really hope that others understand the gravity of the situation to do the same – keep safe and help flatten the curve. This is serious and both Jeremy and I have our upper respiratory challenges (bouts with pneumonia and intense UR illnesses) so I am taking no chances. As you know, my sister in law just lost her sister to this and 6 other family members are ill – 5 on ventilators. This is no joke. Stay well and safe. Health to all your readers as well!
Yeah, I think stories like that – personal stories from people we know – will make all the difference with people taking this seriously. I think the revelation about basketball players and big actors testing positive has helped too. People don’t internalize this can happen to anyone, at any age, until they start seeing those stories. I am so sorry for your sister in law and her family. Just awful.
I’m glad y’all have a place to hunker down. We were getting ready to head north, but we may stick around here on our dirt a little longer. I’d rather stick than get stuck until we know what’s going on. Stay safe!
If I were you, I’d definitely stay put. Every day, people say “well, X won’t happen!” and then 24 hours later, X happens. I would just stay where you feel comfortable for the time being until things settle down a bit. You definitely don’t want to get halfway through Jersey or some such place and get told you’re stuck there forever and ever and ever and ever. 🙂
So glad you made it to Austin and have a nice place to hunker down. We are self quarantining ourselves as it would be devastating if Jeff got it. Hope we don’t run out of TP as all the stores are out. It’s insane. On a positive note, the offer on the house was accepted and we should close in April. Stay well!
That is GREAT news about the house. Congratulations! And if you need toilet paper, you let me know and I will find it for you and ship it to you. You two need to be EXTRA careful! Stay well, Debbie!
Glad you guys are hunkered down in a house and can wait this out. We’re still in Naples and slated to be here another month, then head north. Not quite sure how it’s all going to pan out as we don’t want to be stuck just anywhere *if* a lock down occurs.
Yup, I think everyone is just in “wait and see” mode right now. We should, hopefully, know a lot more in 2 or 3 weeks. All this uncertainty is crazy, but at least we’re all in decent places and don;t have to go anywhere right this moment. Stay well!
You are right about the good timing. There are certainly worse places you could be “stuck”! Austin has great food, weather and atmosphere. We too are not changing any of our Alaska plans and are taking the “wait and see” approach.
Yeah, we are sad to not be taking advantage of this great city, but it’s still nice to be here. And at least you guys can get lots done on your house while you’re hanging out. I think I’m gonna need to develop a new hobby to keep me occupied once I run out of blogging topics. Maybe I’ll learn to knit or crochet or something. Or maybe I should learn how to pickle vegetables and preserve fruits. That would probably be a better hobby, huh? 🙂
I am so glad we changed our plans we were scheduled to arrive in Bayou segnette sp in a few days. Also glad you are enjoying Austin. Getting there is the battle. Once you are in, it is great.
Yeah, I was absolutely floored about Bayou Segnette, but it makes sense given its proximity to the city. Definitely good you all changed your plans! And yeah, we have noticed that even with this craziness going on, there is always still plenty of traffic in Austin. Busy, busy place.
Glad everyone is doing well in Austin. Thor looks especially happy to have that giant back yard to frolick in!!!
We are staying put in Palm Springs CA for now. Since we own our RV lot there and its great weather there is no reason to go anywhere right now.
Take care and happy TP hunting!!!
Palm Springs would be fabulous right now… sunny, and warm, and a great campground to relax at. Plus, lots of opportunities to still be active without being crammed in with others. That is awesome. Stay well.
Sounds like Austin agrees with you guys. Glad the timing worked out well. I was really ill in February and thus have been avoiding people in general for quite a while. Hope my 4 rolls of TP will last until those shelves get restocked. It’s crazy here in Phx.
Oh man, you’ve been dealing with this isolation stuff for a while, huh? That sucks… I’m sure you’re more than ready to be out and about at this point… Ugh. As for TP, it is truly crazy how panic just leads to more panic. I have my fingers crossed that it will settle down a bit once people realize there’s not an actual food shortage and the water isn’t going to be turned off and they can stop acting like weirdos. 🙂
I’m happy that you are in a good place. We are currently at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. Some military campgrounds are closing, but we have not heard of anything here yet. Vegas is shutting down…just read that several casinos and hotels are slated to close early this week. It’s going to be weird here for sure. Take care!
Wow, talk about dystopian scenery – the Vegas strip devoid of people. I would love to take some pics of that… I know, I know, I just told people they should stay home, but still… cool pics!! 🙂 I sure hope the military campgrounds stay open. I know a lot of folks who use them and it would just add to the chaos if they were to close. Stay well out there!
I’m glad we had so much social time earlier this winter (including with you guys) before this pandemic took hold. Like so many other people, we’re just going to hunker down right where we are in the dinky little town of Apalachicola, and we feel lucky that we can do so. Especially since all of my parents’ crap is mostly cleared out and we can actually enjoy being here. We’ve embraced the whole ‘social distancing’ thing, too, which ostensibly will give me time to catch up on our blog (hahaha). It’s SO WEIRD to not know how long we’re going to have to do this…two weeks? Two months? I already feel twitchy.
I’m glad you all are in a good spot and that you have enough brownies to carry you through for a bit. Those tacos look fabulous…you could get take-out, right? Oh, and thanks to you, I now have enough ingredients to make hand sanitizer for a year. The store was out of rubbing alcohol so Eric brought home a liter of grain alcohol…we can always have a party when the social ban lifts, LOL!!
Haha! Grain alcohol has so many uses, most importantly, it’s a portable, anytime party! Good call there!
Takeout tacos sound delicious, but risky. I would think they’d fall apart, but enchiladas might fare better and you know we do love ourselves some enchiladas! Perhaps that will be my pandemic-borne hobby – figuring out which foods are best for takeout and delivery during a pandemic! Maybe I’ll write a whole new blog about it! Hmmmm…. ideas percolating!! 🙂
Speaking of which, you really do now have a great opportunity to get your blog caught up! And I’m sure it will be nice to sift through all your old pictures from the summer – when this whole disaster was unthinkable. I know I certainly like getting away from the news once in a while. Sounds like a good project since the house is almost finished!
Glad you’re enjoying some solitude. We’ve extended in Florida since this campground seems like it is staying open and we can bunk with Sean’s folks if things go south.
That’s a good plan. It’s nice to have a back up place, if needed, and be able to help each other out. I wonder if all your Canadian neighbors have taken off or are they sticking around?
Thank you for including those great articles in your blog- and for your always great writing! I shared one of the articles on Facebook. I’m getting irritated with family and others back in the country (where I’m from) downplaying this pandemic . Now hopefully some folks will read it ( and your blog). Take care and be safe.
Thanks for sharing it, Lisa. I feel like people are finally starting to pay attention and get it, but it’s taken far too long and I fear how much the virus has spread as a result. Between the people who don’t pay attention to legitimate news sources and the people who are being willfully ignorant and irresponsible, there are gonna be a lot more infections than ever should have happened. It is disheartening, for sure. Stay well.
We were on the ‘Fun Side’ of the Wall, well south of San Felipe in the “No Zone” – No Service. We had no idea to the extent all the panic buying and hording was going on. After waiting in a border crossing line about 3x longer than usual we were asked “What cleaning or sanitation” products were we bring into the country. “None!” Look like panic buying has spread to the Mexican border towns
Wow. That sounds like the beginning scene of a movie… How crazy. All things considered, I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather be on the fun side right about now…
Glad you are enjoying your rental. You certainly timed that well. Keep hunkered down and away from others. I am pleased that our entertainment is all outside between hiking and off roading. And best of all for our health is that we enjoy doing these activities alone. Hopefully by mid May when we head out for our next trip things will have settled some so we don’t have to cancel. Take care of yourselves and enjoy keeping Thor busy in the yard.
Laura, thank you for this post and information underlining the importance of digging in and taking this thing seriously. When I learn of people who are being laissez-faire about it, I have stopped being polite about it. I just get personal: “so, if you unwittingly help spread this virus, my husband could die. Just sayin’.” We have been on pretty strict lockdown for a week. We can still get out for walks and bike rides because we live on the edge of town in a quiet area, and the people we do see out on the paths are very respectful of keeping each other at a distance. Recluse that I am, this is almost business as usual, but Mr. Friendly Dave thought he would go stir-crazy. Instead he has found it surprisingly peaceful, an enforced slowing-down and a different kind of togetherness that is turning out to be quite special. He’s a physician (an anesthesiologist), recently retired, and he spent his career mostly in O.R.s and ICUs doing things like helping keep patients alive on ventilators. Right now, with his asthma already kicking up from the start of Western Oregon’s legendary pollen season, he knows what’s at stake. We can’t spend time with the kids (their jobs expose them too much), but they leave us doorstep offerings of essentials like prescription drugs and Bombay Sapphire, lol. (Hey, we ran OUT, okay??) Anyway, you know what’s at stake, too, and thank you for sharing it with your usual tonic of humor. Sending healthy thoughts to you and all of us readers!
Thanks, Heather. It is interesting to think about this in terms of the possible benefits it may eventually have. We joke, but it’s good for people to spend some time at home with their families and maybe have some time to slow down and work on the things they never quite get to otherwise. I’m sure many books will eventually be written about all the ways in which this event will change modern society. Interesting stuff. We have definitely made it a point to keep going out for walks with the dog and getting exercise. It’s an absolute necessity for everyone’s mental health. I guess another thing to be thankful for is that this whole disaster is happening in Spring. At least the days are getting longer and the temps are getting warmer. But of course… pollen. Ugh. Anyway, I hope you guys stay healthy and Dave doesn’t get too stir crazy. This too shall pass… hopefully sooner rather than later.
Thanks, Pam. I’m very glad that we are good with being on our own and we are perfectly happy to be stuck inside with one another for long periods of time. It’s a special skill of us fulltime RVers! I imagine a lot of people are going to be reassessing their marriages when this is all over. LOL! Anyway, enjoy the sunshine and the hiking and stay well out there!
I hadn’t been following all the out of state park closures, but I figured that was coming! Glad you guys are healthy and safe, and yes, I will text you 20 times later because I’m bored. My apologies to Kevin ????
Should I even respond to this or should I just text you? Eh… I’ll just text…. 🙂
Sometimes the universe just conspires to put you in a good place. I’m sure that’s a welcome change from the never-ending cluster#$% of your eastbound trip last spring. Glad that you are safely ensconced in your place in Austin and prepared for the apocalypse with sufficient baked goods. We are having to come up with alternate plans because of cancellations and it is annoying, as you would guess. But as long as we get through this with our health intact and cause minimum risk to others it is worth it. Stay safe!
I think a lot of this is going to come down to us all keeping level heads and keeping perspective. Everyone is going to be inconvenienced and stressed and aggravated. If we can all do what’s best, perhaps we can get through it quickly and in one piece. Of course, it’s all easier said than done, but it’s a nice idea. Speaking of ideas, would you guys consider heading to your property and seeing if you can get utilities run?
I’m glad you are glad with your Austin digs, and that you feel safe there. It’s also obviously agreeing with the canine! Can you extend your time there if wanted/needed? Now you have lots of time to online shop for a recumbent bike!
Ha! We’ll stick to walking/jogging, thanks! 🙂 I think we could extend if necessary, but even if we couldn’t stay in this particular house, there are tons of other Air BnB’s in the area and I expect most of them are going to be vacant since no one is traveling anywhere these days. We’re holding off on thinking about that for the time being, but eventually, we’ll need to make a decision about how to proceed. Probably about the same time we need to make a decision on Alaska. 🙁
I’m so glad you were in a good place when this all hit. Stay safe!
Thanks, Heather. Us too. I sure hope all of our Summer plans don’t get wrecked, but in the grand scheme of things, I guess it’s not so bad. Hope you all are staying safe too.
Glad to know you two are hunkered down and doing well. We crossed back into the US from Baja on 3/12 and spent a few days with family in Mesa, AZ before heading to Big Bend NP, which turned out to not be a good idea. The county we were staying in basically mandated that all non-residents leave. They shutdown all campgrounds, hotels, etc. I totally get it, it’s a very small community with limited resources to take care of locals. We realized that we would run into these kinds of closures all over the country so we decided to go to FL and stay with my folks to ride this thing out. Plus, it’ll feel good to be with family at a time like this so we can help each other. After some loooong driving days we should arrive tonight! Stay healthy you two. Also, I really hope others do as you ask and “stay home”.
That is a LOT of driving in just a couple days. I’m sure you will be exhausted. But I think it’s the right thing to just get off the road and hunker down. We’d love to be closer to family/friends at the moment, but it just makes sense at this point to stay put where we are. I feel for all the RVers out there who are suddenly having to scramble to find somewhere to stay. Nothing is a given at this point. And I’m sure lots of people figured they could just hang out in small towns out west, but the locals have a point: their medical facilities are small and they need to prepare for an influx… Another reason it’s good to be closer to a population center with larger medical facilities. Anyway, I’m glad you guys will be somewhere safe and can take some time to rest. Stay well.
Stay well and safe and be unsocial 🙂 For once you had perfectly timed your jaunt in Austin. I just hope the spring thunderstorms won’t scare Thor 🙂
Since we emptied out Betsy before we left, it took us three days, three diff grocery stores to restock ourselves. Unfortunately, we ran out of TP and could not find a single roll anywhere. But after casually asking the KOA office a pack of 4 rolls was available for $7.25! Even until now the stores are unable to restock their shelves thankfully we are able to get some food essentials.
We had been paranoid since our arrival and kept an eye on each other since we were exposed on airports and airplanes as we flew from Bali-Qatar-LA to Tucson for 35 hrs. Its now day 13 and thankfully other than jet lag we are feeling good.
I am sure you guys are relieved to get through the 14 day period, as I am sure you are happy to be back in the U.S. I keep hearing stories of folks now stranded overseas who can’t get home. I think you dodged a bullet there. The whole toilet paper thing is nuts. At some point in the not too distant future, there’s gonna be an enormous oversupply of toilet paper and people are gonna feel pretty silly about stockpiling so much. Ah well. I am hoping that another week or two and folks will calm down and stop freaking out about groceries in general. There’s no reason to believe anyone is going to starve during this thing. Craziness. Everywhere we look – craziness. Anyway, I’m glad you guys are finally restocked and good to go! Stay safe!
Your timing to stay in Austin worked out pretty well this year 🙂 Hope you can keep the rental a bit longer if needed, and stay safe for both your sake (and Thor’s). I’ve been enjoying being settled in Florida for a few weeks so far, no idea how long it will go on, but have canceled plans through May at this point. Keep walking, keep isolating, and most of all, keep writing! Your posts are always good to read, whether they are seriously or fun (when I need a laugh, I return to your Instagram savaging post, and it still makes me laugh!).
Thanks. I keep trying to write about stuff, but writing about fun stuff seems inappropriate and writing about serious stuff seems redundant. But I find it therapeutic to simply type out my random thoughts, so that’s I’ve been doing. And if one of those Word documents turns into something more than my self indulgent ramblings, perhaps I’ll throw it up here. Stay well.
In the 1990’s my job took me to Petropavlovsk, Russia. The store selves there looked exactly the same as
your pictures, but sadly, that was the norm for them.
Our plans originally has us heading to southern CA but we’ve changed them to stay in AZ for another
As for social distancing, my wife and I both had jobs dealing with the public and we are more than
glad to self-quarantine. Didn’t know we were trend setters at the time. LOL.
Make that 6 WEEKS, not weels. Can’t read tiny text so well these days.
I think staying put, wherever you are, is probably the right call. So far, it seems Arizona is still pretty friendly for RVers. Last I checked, the state park campgrounds were still open and most private places too. I understand localities’ desire to close everything down, but I hope they will give some consideration to all these full-timers out there. Anyway, I’m happy to hear you are somewhere safe and sound. And yes, I think some time away from everyone else can be pretty therapeutic at times. Stay well!
Yay, Austin! We love Austin! So, did you guys plan to rent a house there all along or did you make this decision as the Covid situation got worse? Or is that the “right timing” you talked about?
I’m glad you found a safe and comfortable place, with a yard for Thor! Like you, we initially thought this pandemic wouldn’t change much for us vanlifers and nomads, but we couldn’t be more wrong, as everything closed under our noses as well. Getting itchy feet yet? 🙂
Hey! Yes, we had planned to rent the house to take a break from the RV. After 3.5 years of FT RV travel, we kindof hit a wall and just needed a break from all of it. So ack in october, we booked this house with the intention of staying there 2 months and then continuing to travel. A week after we stored the RV and moved in, the pandemic hit. On the one hand, it was great because we had a comfortable, safe, stable place to be in. On the other, we never got to really enjoy Austin. But all things considered, we felt lucky to be there.
I am still shocked by all the campground closures and everything. And, to be honest, I am worried it will happen again later this year. I hope that government officials have gotten word that there are a lot of us living fulltime in our RVs and we have nowhere to go if they shut down campgrounds. I think there’s been a fair amount of advocacy on our behalf since this all happened. So, fingers crossed we won’t all be going through this again in the future.