What a weird year this has been.
2020 started off so auspiciously too. We had a wonderful winter at Recreation Plantation, full of activities and meeting new friends. We even experienced a wonderful cruise in the Caribbean with my sister, never dreaming that cruising would be entirely shut down a month later. We had fully booked an exciting Northeast RV loop. Then just a couple of weeks before we were set to go — COVID.
Like everyone these days, we’ve had to be flexible. We typically do our trip planning a year or more in advance, primarily so we can be assured of getting our campground and site preference. But this year, we’ve had to make adjustments on the fly.
Some campground closed completely, for a time. Others opened up in a limited fashion, or for limited populations. Some States imposed quarantine requirements. We’ve had to recheck reservations as we traveled, to see whether we would be able to go there — or not.
So far, no campground actually cancelled on us, although we ended up cancelling several stops early in the nationwide COVID closure period, in order to hunker down at our Gatlinburg cabin. Once we started traveling again, we encountered a variety of situations. Some campgrounds didn’t allow anyone in the office at all, everything was done over the phone. Some campgrounds closed all amenities, including bath houses. Others opened limited amenities, such as outdoor facilities. We just never knew, one place to the next, what we would get. We were never in a situation that required us to quarantine, as much of the year we were traveling from and/or through areas with low COVID case rates.
So, for the most part, we were able to keep to our travel plan. But of course, the areas we visited were shut down to varying degrees. In the early days, almost nothing was open. We spent a lot of time walking around looking at the outside of closed buildings and shops! Eventually, gradually, States started to reopen and we rediscovered the joy of actually being served at a restaurant and shopping INSIDE real stores! It’s amazing how one’s perspective shifts when the things you used to do without a thought, are forbidden for a time.
Now, seven months into this pandemic, most areas have reopened to a significant degree. I no longer worry about campground cancellations or quarantine requirements. Many tourist attractions are open, albeit at a reduced capacity and with COVID precautions. Now, it’s a matter of assessing and managing our own personal risk as we travel about. Do we go to that stage show? Are we comfortable eating inside that restaurant? We look at the COVID prevalence in the area, the precautions they are taking, and decide accordingly.
So, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from this year so far.
The Bad: About half of the things that we USUALLY do on our travels were simply unavailable. Historical sites and museums closed, no theater, no concerts or festivals. No campground social mixers or planned activities. No night life. Limited shopping and dining. Limited social contact of any kind. That sucked.
The Good: At least we had a regular change of scenery! Most folks stuck at home didn’t have that luxury. And COVID didn’t close the outdoors, so we had hiking, biking, motorcycling options available. We were still able to see a new area of the country, and we can always go back and do the things we missed on another trip.
The Ugly: Politics and the upcoming presidential election … but I’m not going there!
We are eagerly awaiting the time when life will return to normal as we once knew it. When I don’t have to get a negative COVID test in order to feel comfortable visiting my aging parents. When we can go to a show, or a concert, or a wedding without worry.
In the meantime ….. we’ll need to be flexible.