I had a lot to accomplish before I could leave here. Corona Virus was in the forefront of the news more and more. The three days before I left were tense. I had places to go…the landfill, Samaritan thrift shop, post office, and the grocery store. I bought hand sanitizer and began training myself to use it a lot and to refrain from touching anything, anyone and even my own face. The harder I tried (don’t touch my face, don’t touch my face…Oh! I touched my face) the more mistakes I made. I left on Friday, the 13th. I went to Maryland. I had some things to put into the RV, a table in the cabin, and five boxes in the basement to keep there until the cabin sells.
The two nights here were slightly scary, because of the pandemic. My being there with friends and family was putting them and me into possible danger. It was becoming very real. We went to dinner at my favorite restaurant and the next day we hit up a couple of grocery stores. Toilet paper, milk, bread, hand sanitizer…where? Would there come a day soon when grocery stores were just not open anymore?
Next to visit Sherry!!!. Stayed inside except for one necessary trip. Watched a lot of news reports about the virus and I started to feel very afraid. The Corona Virus was now called the pandemic. It was beginning to spin up and to affect the whole world. I had worked so hard to make this trip happen and it seemed the entire universe (at least the planet) was going to tell me NO! Should I go? Should I stay in the empty cabin? Should I risk de-winterizing the RV and stay in there? It felt like that might be a solution for the short term, but it could postpone my move to Hawaii for months. I needed to try and get there. So I set out.
Change of Plans
While in Ohio, I called the place that would be shipping my Jeep from San Diego. Yes. I could bring it on that Friday (when I called it was Monday). Called the airlines. Yes, I could change my flight to Saturday. Ok. I felt better. Sooner was better.
Before hitting the road I went into the Airbnb app and looked for a room in a place that would be approximately 750 miles from where I was. I needed to make 750 miles a day and 150 the last day to make it to San Diego in time to ship the Jeep and make my flight. I found a room in Springfield.
The drive was long and stressful. I had so much to be afraid of. Would gas stations be open? Would I be able to find food? Would roads be closed? Would I get very far before being forced to turn around? I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was that many people were driving someplace. There were a LOT of truckers on the road. That told me that supplies were still being delivered. If there were shortages of things (like toilet paper) it was only because people were in a panic and buying enough for the rest of their lives instead of for the normal amount of time. When it was time to get gas, I pulled off the interstate and found a truck stop. It was open and there were as many vehicles there as ever. The main difference was that the eating establishments at the truck stop were open, but not for sitting and eating. I felt sad for the truckers, who are on the road for like 14 hours at a time and this is their time to rest and sit down and talk together and wash clothes and take showers. They now had no place to sit down, except inside their own trucks. That day I was able to get a sandwich from a truckstop Subway. I ate it while I drove and it was wonderful.
I drove all day, finally arriving at a few minutes after eight o’clock. The couple welcomed me and the room I had was absolutely wonderful. It was comfortable and decorated in such a pleasing way. It was a great experience. It was $36. I left the next morning before anyone was awake. I’m not normally a morning person, but I was motivated.
Now I was halfway across the country and it would be as difficult to turn back as to go forward. I couldn’t seem to put words to the possibility that I might reach San Diego, deliver the Jeep to the shipping company, get a ride to a hotel…and then find that my flight was indefinitely cancelled to Honolulu. I couldn’t make myself think it or what I would do if that happened. I just kept driving.
Driving through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico
Same mileage, but for some reason this day went faster. I got an earlier start. I still had to stop a lot. My little Jeep (2-door) has a small gas tank and I had to stop more often; probably about six times each day. I didn’t want to go below half tank in the event that I couldn’t find a gas station…especially out west. Gas prices ranged from $1.55 a gallon to $3.19 a gallon.
In New Mexico I stopped in Santa Rosa at a Hampton Inn. There were no Airbnb rooms available. When I checked into the hotel, they were fully booked. I was glad I’d made a reservation. Isn’t it odd that people were suppose to stay home and not travel…but the hotels were full? Were there others like me, who were desperate to get someplace. I know what desperate feels like now.
The little town had some restaurants and fast food places. I didn’t want to wait in a long line at a drive-through, so I picked Dairy Queen. Only three cars ahead of me. The employees were very friendly and I was very hungry. Took the food back to my hotel room and relaxed.
In New Mexico I also encountered the winds. I wasn’t really afraid I would get blown over. When I was in the RV, I sometimes worried about that. There were times when I could feel the RV shift to the side by the push of the wind. I’d heard of trucks and RVs getting lifted up and set down by the wind. I discovered it does happen. I encountered five tractor trailer rigs that were knocked over by wind. The fifth truck isn’t included in the photos. I came upon it suddenly over a small rise. It was on its side, having slid and scraped across the median about twenty or thirty feet, digging into the dirt.
This third day of travel was long again, even though it was only about 720 miles. I don’t know why. I thought it would never end. I hadn’t seen any snow the entire winter, but when I got to middle Arizona, there it was…
A few minutes later it was…
I’d been in touch with some RVing friends in Yuma, Arizona. Told them I’d love to stop and see them, but I needed a hotel or town that had an Airbnb. They offered up their couch. SOLD! They were right on the path to San Diego. I got there after dark. Stephanie drove the golf cart to a place where we would meet up and she lead me to their RV. It was good to see her and Jessie and the dogs, Brinley and Bailey. I can’t tell you what a welcome sight they all were. We talked. They fed me. In the morning Stephanie put the locking lugnuts on my Jeep’s spare tire and she helped me consolidate my stuff into one suitcase. I left there organized, comforted, and loaded with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a ziplock bag of sliced carrots and celery, and munchies. I felt optimistic. Maybe I would make it after all.
What a welcome sight! I had the name of someone who would chauffeur me around once I dropped off the Jeep. I got to the area about three hours early so I could get the Jeep washed and vacuumed, a requirement for shipping. All the car washes were closed. The shipping company said just bring the Jeep to them. In fact, they said I could bring it early. So I went straight there. It was another relief to have something done. A box (an important one) was checked off.
I felt, all this time…worrying about the virus and contagion and how the nations were so unprepared…how possible it looked that everything would change forever. We’d taken everything for granted and assumed it would be wonderful forever. Now we were faced with something that we might not survive.
As I drove, safe within my little Jeep, I felt at peace. The danger seemed farther away. Time seemed to be just a theory. I was doing something I’d done many times and loved. Driving. Thinking. Daydreaming. Only when the gas guage reminded me that I had to deal with the world again did I find the unease. It was a relief to be back on the road afterwards.
The driver came and picked me up and took me to a hotel near the airport. It wasn’t full, but it was quite expensive.
As you can see there were very few guests. And maybe those cars were employee cars. In the morning, there were two other couples in the lobby waiting for cabs to the airport. So perhaps it was just the five of us in the entire four-story hotel.
I woke at 4:00 am. I must be crazy, because I didn’t care. I wanted to GO!
Got to the airport about 5:15 am. I was the only one in line to check in with United. I was the only one in line to go through security. At the gate there were maybe fifty people. Our flight to LA was a commuter type flight with two rows of seats on each side. I’d upgraded my flight to allow me a seat just behind first class. There was more leg room and I hoped it exposed me to less humans. Less germs. The jet took off and climbed for about ten minutes and then immediately began to descend for perhaps ten minutes…and we landed at the airport. Short flight!
In LA I only had a couple minutes to make it the LONG distance to the other gate. I practically ran. Whew! Thought I’d die. Encountered three airport employees standing next to motorized carts. I asked if they could point me to the gate I needed. “Hop on” they said and drove me right to my gate. I was so relieved. When I walked up to the gate, the boarding had ended and the jet was prepping to take off. I found an employee sitting on a window ledge and asked if I’d missed my flight to Honolulu. She asked me my last name, went over typed something into a keypad and said, go on, pointing down the ramp. I did. I went! I made it. I was the last one to board the plane. It was one with three seats on each side of the aisle. I had the row of three seats all to myself.
I programmed one of the TV monitors to show the map of our progress and the middle one to movies. Around the middle of the flight, I got up to use the washroom in the very back of the jet and was surprised to find that the jet was nearly empty.
Now that’s putting distance between folks! The flight attendants stayed in the far back most of the time. However, they were very attentive, frequently offering us snacks and drinks. It was a great flight. I was deliriously happy to be on the plane and on my way. It took about six hours to get to Honolulu.
I left San Diego at 6:15 am and arrived in Honolulu at 11:57 am. Love the time change! The images above are the street where I now live and a tree that is very typical. I have no idea what it is, but they are massive. We went for a walk over to the water, between lunch and dinner. There were tropical fish in the water…like the ones people put in aquariums, only MUCH BIGGER. I saw several yellow and black angel fish. Each was maybe ten inches long. I saw my first sea cucumber.
The LONG wait
So here I am, in Honolulu, having arrived yesterday. I have jet lag today. I’m waiting. I’m on a fourteen day quarantine. I’m scared. If I was exposed to Covid-19, it could show up any time…up to fourteen days from now. Yes, I’m afraid. Every time my head feels congested or my chest feels congested or I get a tickle…I get scared. Before leaving New Jersey I’d had an upper respiratory infection that lasted maybe three weeks and was awful. Just as I started feeling better, I got my usual spring allergies. I had medicine for it, so no big deal. During the drive out west, the allergies went away and I felt great. Now here I am at last at my new home and I have allergies…or something again.
There’s a papa-san chair in my room and this is me sitting in it. I don’t mind waiting fourteen days, but I do mind waiting to see if I get sick and possibly die. If I get sick, I’ll wonder how many other people I exposed to the virus. I’m keenly aware of all the millions and millions of people who are nervous and scared…wondering. Waiting. I tried so very hard to be safe. I sanitized my hands so much they became red. I sanitized everything I touched in the Jeep. I wore latex gloves when I got gas (except when I lifted the pump and forgot the glove). I even washed off my key fob with sanitizer. I was careful to touch as little as possible while in the truck stop. It was just that no matter how hard I tried to do the right thing, I never felt like I did enough. What about my clothing? What about the seat in the Jeep? What about…so many things? Did I make a mistake? How many people were thinking these thoughts? Waiting. I’m waiting to find out if it was enough.