Road Tripping in the COVID Age


In my last blog post, I mentioned I’d been content to stick close to home. That was before my son and his girlfriend decided to get married.

They’d postponed a much bigger wedding because of the pandemic, and finally opted for a simple backyard ceremony near their home in California.

As the mother of the groom, I needed to be there – which meant spending two weeks away from home, in multiple hotels.

I packed like a professional housekeeper: antibacterial wipes and sprays, cleaning rags, hand sanitizers, spare toilet paper and paper towels, masks galore. I used ‘em all.

AARP has an excellent summary of COVID-safe travel tips by car, and I heeded most of them. I called ahead for hotel reservations rather than stop whenever I felt like it. I rented a car instead of taking my high-mileage vehicle. I paid for gas with credit cards.

One persistent frustration: Restrooms in some places are closed. The folks at a Starbucks in Marina, Calif., are probably still discussing my reaction when I’d stopped specifically to use theirs and was turned away. I left in a hurry, without even waiting for the coffee I’d paid for!

The lesson? ‘Go’ whenever and wherever you can, my friends. (I never thought I’d say that in a blog post.)

At the wedding rehearsal and ceremony, I was frankly nervous about interacting with the other guests. Even if there were only a dozen of us, we’d come from five states. Some drove, others flew.

We agreed to wear masks indoors; they were optional outdoors. I wished we had been more dutiful about this, but said nothing. I think the masks also contributed to conversations being shorter and more stilted.

Another observation was the difference between states, in terms of following COVID-19 prevention guidelines. As seen in the photo, some parts of California are taking this health crisis seriously.

In rural Idaho, Nevada and Oregon, I saw far fewer people wearing masks or practicing social distancing – and heard some grousing about those who did.

The exception was the Gold Country Inn, a Best Western Plus property in Winnemucca, Nev., where I stayed on my drive back to Boise. Upon check-in, I received a one-and-a-half-page summary from the manager, detailing all the heightened safety and cleanliness precautions.

I actually read it! “We want you to know that we truly care about you, your family and your health,” it said. I wish every business felt that way.

Now I’m home, in self-isolation as a precaution. The wedding was lovely; my son is happy and I have a delightful new daughter-in-law. Being on the road felt, at least once in a while, like life was back to normal.

As I look through the photos being emailed around, I’m hoping that we’re all OK.