Friday, July 10, 2020

Driving to a Pandemic, Wish it Were a Pachanga, a Picnic Would Do, July 2020

Melinda Palacio

Road trips during Covid 19 
The Grey Goose

Lockdown is pretty much the same wherever you go. After four months of being on lockdown in California, Steve and I decided it was time to travel back to New Orleans. Living in two locations means maintenance must be done on both houses. A huge tree fell in the backyard of the New Orleans house. Steve and I decided to rough it in the car and not stay at hotels on the way. Imagine car camping, only you're not going to Yosemite or a woodsy destination. Sleeping involved spending the night in the car because we didn't want to rely on hotels to keep the rooms sanitized. It was adventure enough to try watching t.v. during a non pandemic and touch the hotel's remote control, which lately has an even dirtier sign next to remote saying that the hand held device has been cleaned. The van holds a queen-sized air mattress, an ice chest, food box, and the luggage on top (not pictured). As end-of-the-world travel goes, I must admit it was pretty comfortable, until the engine turned off and the windows offered little relief from the night's desert heat. On the return trip, I will certainly have a portable, battery charged fan.

The trickiest part was the bathroom issue. Luckily, I had read the article in the NYT on how to use a public toilet during a pandemic. Basically, don't touch anything. If someone didn't flush, try using a different bathroom or flush and step out, avoid the toilet plume. Who would've that toilet plume would be something to avoid? Also, a large truck stop service station with several stalls is much safer and cleaner than a place with one or two stalls. I go in and I don't touch anything with my bare hands, especially after I've washed them. The bigger service stations that are part of chains also have the correct memo on NO Mask, No service, whereas smaller service stations let people get away with walking into the convenience store to buy snacks, lotto tickets, pay for gas, and/or use the toilet, all without wearing a mask. Guess they didn't get the pandemic Covid-19 memo the rest of the world knows about.

The oddest thing I traveled with during this last migration East was my sourdough starter. Having joined the pandemic sourdough brigade, I couldn't abandon my starter. Starter is the essential ingredient for making delicious bread. I never thought I would be that middle-aged lady who travels with her sourdough starter. At least, ICE waved me through the Sierra Blanca checkpoint and didn't ask to inspect all my bags like they usually do after they ask to verify my citizenship. This is usually the most stressful part of the trip, getting harassed by INS for having brown skin, crossing the border of one Texas town into another Texas town.

For now, I can wave to my friends in New Orleans from two miles away, instead of two thousand miles, take care of some business, and continue to outrun the Rona. Stay safe everyone. Wash your hands, mask up, distance yourself--get in a car and drive two thousand miles if you have to, but don't change your pandemic routine. I travel with sanitizer, wipes, and extra masks in my purse.

No comments: