Summer 2020…Strange Times Indeed
These are strange times indeed. Things have changed and we live in a temporary (we hope) new world of semi-isolation with terms like “social distancing” and “contact tracing”, working from home, grocery delivery, food and supply availability disruptions, civil unrest, and no sports on TV. We have gone from a growing vibrant economy with big plans to instant near depression unemployment, shelter-in-place orders, isolation from friends and family and a constant barrage of bad news of compounding infection and death rates. On top of that as the population became tired of isolation and uncertainty, civil unrest forced its way onto us as a captive audience, seemingly turning reality upside down. With time we learned how to manage our lives in this new environment and leverage ChILL to provide an escape from this strange new normal.
After making sure that ChILL was truly fully repaired and camping weekends in the winter and making plans for the spring and summer, we were shutdown by Coronavirus (CV19). It all started getting very bizarre on the week of March 9. We were headed out on a week-long, highly anticipated vacation to Port St Joe. CV19 was becoming more serious with the local, state and national regulations changing daily. At the same time, there was a reported case of CV19 at Camellia and we had visited there on Wednesday. Given a sense that the world was rapidly changing around us, we decided to cancel our trip and shelter-in-place for 14 days to make sure we were not infected and a carrier. We were so close to going that ChILL was loaded, the bikes were on the truck and we were leaving the next day.
It was surreal unloading ChILL without knowing when we would get to use it again. We took all of the food and paper products off to reinforce our stockpiles at home. Not knowing what was next and knowing that food and supply shortages were already impacting the grocery stores, we went home to shelter in-place. It was a bit like preparing for a hurricane, but different.
Now months later, stay-at-home orders are being relaxed and we are starting to venture out into the strange new world. Our first outing was to leverage our Memorial Day reservation at the Kissimmee KOA for the holiday weekend. This was to be an outing with our Grandkids to celebrate birthdays and family joy through togetherness. Instead it was a timid outing of avoiding contact with others at all costs and learning travel in the new normal.
To say that the trip was a strange experience would be an understatement. Our plan included taking all of our food and supplies with us to avoid exposure to others outside our social bubble. We started with a full tank of gas, gloves, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, and plans to use the facilities in ChILL rather than restrooms at rest areas. Once we arrived at the KOA we were greeted with a contactless check-in process and provided a map to our site. At this point in the pandemic, restrictions on travel had only recently been relaxed and cross-state travel was highly discouraged.
The campground was about two-thirds full but the atmosphere was completely different. There was limited engagement from other campers as we walked around such as just a wave from a distance. Even more bizarre was the lack of traffic and family noise being in the heart of Disney. Most retail and restaurant establishments were closed and people were still sheltering-in-place. It was strangely quiet.
It turned out to be a nice getaway and set the format for our future excursions. Mostly we stayed at the campground and just enjoyed being outside and having different scenery. As it turns out, most of the rest of the country was in the process of discovering the benefit of RV’ing as a means of getting out and maintaining social distance.
Camping in June and July consisted of enjoying alternating weekends at Compass and Stagecoach RV Parks. It the early stages of this period it was quite easy to get a reservation and the campgrounds were very happy to have any business after the long shutdown. But as time progressed and more families joined the RV community, sites become much harder to find. Next up was to venture farther away, but staying within close driving distance to enjoy a week-long vacation in southern Georgia. Stay tuned for more on our next adventures in the next blog.