April 6, 2020 – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic 


I began a much longer post yesterday, a walk down memory lane, my trip to Europe in 1972. But it was a much bigger project than I’d realized, because I had nothing of the trip computerized. I needed to scan photos and post cards and read through the Itinerary to jog my memory. I’m still working on it, but for now I thought I’d share my experiences and emotions from this morning.

I woke up with a feeling of dread. When I looked at my iPad to get a synopsis of what the latest news was, I couldn’t contain my tears. It all was awful. What broke me most were the articles about how manufacturers of the medical equipment that all countries need so desperately, are inflating the prices to 700, or 800 or 900 percent above the normal price, making it so difficult for hospitals and the smaller health care centres such as Long Term Care Homes, to get them, And then there are the stories of people praying on the elderly by offering to buy groceries and then absconding with the money; or offering to clean their homes with them out of them, and stealing from them. What has happened to humanity?

I dried my tears and went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Although I wasn’t really hungry, I knew I had to eat. The fridge was nearly empty. I made toast from the last two pieces of bread, and made coffee. One thing we do still have is plenty of grapefruit, so I cut up one of those. I knew I had to go shopping.

Jim thought I should just order it again, but I wanted to be brave and not let the paranoia I was feeling control my life. I also didn’t feel it was fair to put extra burden on the stores and volunteers that are generously delivering for free. Despite my age, I’m healthy. I have a good immune system. And I wanted to keep it that way with some fresh air and exercise. So I made my list and gathered my little wagon and reusable shopping bags. I had a mask I’d made from a kerchief, and disposable gloves and hand sanitizer in my pockets. I didn’t take my phone to avoid it being exposed to anything. I took only the one card that I needed to pay for my purchases. I didn’t expect Jim to go into the store with me. He wore his gloves and went into the Post Office to pick up our mail and then waited outside for me.

When I got to the store, the parking lot was full and I almost turned back. Then I realized that many of the cars parked there were probably the ones that had usually been parked beside the old Community Centre next door. Whether they belonged to tenants somewhere, or the owners of the few businesses that were open, I don’t know, but the Community Centre had recently been torn down and Contractors were working within high fencing, cleaning up the remnants.

I took my mask and gloves out of my pockets and put them on before walking up the ramp to the store entrance. A staff member came to the door and told me that I couldn’t take my wagon or bags in with me.

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I hesitated, disappointed. I felt that there was far less chance of there being any virus on my own cart and bags that had been with us in our own space for three weeks, than there was with the store carts and bags. But I couldn’t argue, under the circumstances. I took the cart and made sure she’d wiped the handle.

By now I could feel myself quivering. There weren’t very many people in the store. Some shoppers wore masks and most of them were very conscious about keeping a distance. Perhaps they were more concerned about me because of the heavy mask and gloves I was wearing. I got very warm and for a moment I thought I might faint, but removing my jacket helped. As I made my way around the store looking for the things on my list I was having trouble seeing clearly. I thought maybe my glasses were fogging up from my breathing through the mask. My quivering continued and I cursed in my head, thinking how terrible it is to be so fearful of doing grocery shopping.

At last I was finished, and through the checkout.

“Isn’t this fun?” I said to the cashier, who was one more time sanitizing the gloves she wore, behind a sheet of Plexiglas.

“I’ve had about enough of it,” she said and I agreed. “Thank you,”  we both replied.

I took off my disposable gloves and handed them to the girl at the door, who said she’d dispose of them. She was wearing gloves too. I was glad to see that the wagon was still where I left it. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked out into the sunshine, I reached for my sunglasses and realized I’d had them on all the time! No wonder I was having trouble seeing!

I found Jim next door watching the construction crew, of course. We walked home enjoying the sunshine.

At home I put my mask into the bathroom sink to wash. I carefully handled the groceries and bags,  putting them all away, always aware of what I was touching and wondering who else had touched them. I washed my hands many times.Oh crap! Did I remember to disinfect the counter where they sat? Nothing I used to make lunch touched that side. Is it too late?

Now we have enough food to last us for another couple of weeks. Who knows what things will be like when we need more?

I have no idea how the people who have been dealing with this daily as they do their jobs to provide health care and other essential services, have not lost their sanity. I weep some more for them.

Mind Travelling – Journalling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


April 3/20

Today I woke up with the urge to write again. So what should I write about? Obviously it isn’t going to be about physical travelling, at least not anything new, so I guess the Mind Travelling part of the website description will dominate for the next weeks, or months.

It’s been two weeks since we crossed the border back into Canada. The days seemed long, but the weeks have passed quickly. For Jim, I don’t think it is as irritating to be sitting most of the day, but I’ve always been physically active and my body hurts too much when I’m not.

The first week we had plenty of food in our fridge and cupboards, thanks to Jim’s daughter, who took my list that I’d sent her and made several shopping trips to find all but one of the items on it. They were in place when we arrived. After the second week I placed an order with our local grocery store and it was delivered the next day. It’s surprising how much food we go through when we eat at home three times a day, seven days a week! When I think of it, it’s been years since I’ve had to make that many meals in a row! It’s now time to shop again.

Our condo building is small, only six units, all on one floor. We share a small laundry room, so I was hesitant to use that common space until we’d done at least 14 days of quarantine, including our time on the road. Then I got caught up on the laundry. Everyone in here is keeping pretty much to themselves, so I didn’t need to worry about running into anyone.

Most of our days have been cloudy and rainy, which doesn’t help the emotional spirits, but the last few days we’ve had some sun and we’ve gotten out for short walks around our rural neighbourhood. Each time, we bring another load of things from the motorhome, which is parked within sight of our deck, in the parking lot of the Sports Dome that is now closed. It’s good to just say hello to neighbours from a distance, and share knowing smiles.

Besides making meals and doing laundry, I’ve tried to keep myself busy doing little household chores, like finally cleaning up my desk, and putting away things that were dropped onto my dresser. I’ve tried to encourage Jim to do the same, but he has never been so inclined, which can sometimes put a little strain on our relationship, especially now when we share an office and I’m spending more time in it. He spends a lot of time re-arranging new music and learning to play it on his ukulele. We both spend too much time (probably like most of us who aren’t risking our lives to treat the sick or keep essential services running) either on our computers/iPads or watching TV. I’ve been trying to think of how we could get in some pickleball practice.

Yesterday was a full sunny day for which I was grateful because it was also a day of hearing about sad local stories while sitting at my computer. A few days ago I’d seen an appeal to watch for an elderly lady who was lost just a few miles down the highway, in an area near where my Book Club friends live. Yesterday, I learned that it was one of their neighbours and police were out searching the woods and the lake, for the second day.

While following that by Messenger, I saw a GoFundMe request on Facebook asking for donations for the children of a young woman who had died, in my home town. When I looked further to see how she’d died, my heart broke to learn that it was a domestic “incident” that police believe to be a murder suicide. She leaves three small children behind. I don’t know her, but I have friends who do.

And then news of the virus hit closer to home. We now know someone who knows someone who has died from it. A friend of Jim’s sister was one of the many victims who succumbed to it in a small-city Nursing Home a couple of hours drive from here.

So far, our community is safe, but do I want to go out to the grocery store, or should I place an order for delivery again? After all, I am now in that “vulnerable” age bracket of being over 70 (less than a month ago). But I’ve always been healthy and seem to have a good immune system; so could that make me an unknown carrier? Our town is a Retirement Community so there are no doubt many others who are more vulnerable than I.

The really scary part is that nobody seems to really know enough about this virus.

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One day, when all the cars were in the driveways and we were the only ones out, this rainbow gave us a sign of hope. The curve is flattening.

Escaping the COVID-19 – The Full Story


On March 11, 2020 we were still in Arizona and had several things on our calendar for the next week. But disturbing glimpses of what could be coming were appearing in all our online news feeds. I wanted to pack up and head for home then. But we did seem to be isolated in our little community and I was convinced to hang on. In my head I prayed that they would all be cancelled.

That night we were in a crowded restaurant for the Sandwich Islands Ukulele Band final rehearsal for the upcoming Aloha Festival, but before we left we’d made up our minds that we wouldn’t attend the huge Festival that usually attracted thousands of visitors – my first sigh of relief. The next day our park management decided to cancel all large-group events, which included the Theme Day, in which our Mesa Regal Ukulele Band was supposed to play – my second sigh of relief. Some of our Canadian band members had already decided to head for home so wouldn’t be there to play anyway.

A Facebook comment from my son, who lives with his wife in Poland, told me to “pack up the RV and get out of there. You don’t want to be caught in a country that didn’t prepare for the threat of COVID-19 earlier.” He was speaking from firsthand knowledge. We decided to heed his advice, but it took us a few days to make it happen.

Since we wouldn’t be back anytime soon, we had a couple of big items to get rid of, like our car and patio furniture. It was probably risky, but I signed us up for the Patio Sales the next day (Saturday), and Jim put an ad online to sell the car. We were successful! While the sale was on we started packing things up. I had the inside of the motorhome mostly ready by that night, but Jim had to unload and reload outside bins in order to get everything he’d taken out, plus a few more new items, in. We weren’t ready to leave on Sunday. Jim wasn’t ready in time, so we accepted the offer of friends to go to their home, outside our park, for dinner. It was a nice evening of chatting, laughing and playing ukuleles, forgetting for just a while about the trouble brewing in the world. Small group gatherings were not yet frowned upon, but we were all conscious about frequent hand-washing.

Monday morning, March 16th, we managed to get the rest of our things into place, give our forwarding address to our Post Office, and check-out. But even that took a while as we stopped to say goodbye to our friends and neighbours along the street. No hugs, handshakes or kisses this time! Everyone was feeling the stress. There had already been 400 or more Canadians pull their rigs out during the last two days and more would follow us soon.

After a quick stop at the bank, we said goodbye to Mesa, possibly for good, and began our 2700 mile trip home. Our fridge, freezer and pantry were filled with food so we had no need to stop at restaurants or stores all the way home. When Jim had to get out to pump gas, or to hook up at a Camp Site, he wore disposable gloves. He had contact with no-one. In the six days it took us to get home, I left the motorhome only once, for about ten minutes to walk along a deserted path at one of the rest stops.

Jim with his gloves on

Jim with his gloves on waiting to pay for gas at the only full-service station we saw.

We put in long days after the first one, and covered hundreds of miles. Most days were uneventful. We listen to music and started an audio book, but found there was too much noise to hear it, even with an external speaker. Transports made up the bulk of traffic on the highways, roads were rough, and wind did blow.

Thursday morning was an exception. I was awakened by the sound of heavy rain on the roof and loud rumbling. I couldn’t decide whether it was thunder or just the roar of the many  trucks on the highway, until one big clap of thunder and the roar of wind got us both out of bed and dressed in a flash! The motorhome was rocking like we’d never felt before. We thought we were in the midst of a hurricane! We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so that was a good possibility. We were in a mostly empty Walmart parking lot, with no service of any sort, so I dug out the weather radio that we carried with us, but had seldom used in all of our years on the road. Relieved to learn that there were no Hurricane warnings in the area, but there was a flash flooding warning (2 inches of rain had already fallen and the drain ditch beside us was nearly full).  We decided to just try to relax and have some breakfast. The rain and wind stopped as quickly as it had begun. By the time we had eaten and secured everything inside again, it seemed safe to leave. It was only 8:15. We were both a little testy after that early morning scare. No flooding impeded our way, but we noticed spots where it probably had been up on the road. Fields were flooded. It rained off and on during the day, but Jim kept on pushing. A little nap after lunch revived him enough to keep going until 6:00 that evening. Needless to say, we were in bed and asleep early again that night.

Flooded Fields Close to Road

Flooded Fields Close to Road

We’d heard that the Canadian Border would be closed at midnight on Friday, to all visitors and anyone without a good reason to be crossing into Canada. It wasn’t looking good. On Friday morning Jim decided we should try to make it to the Detroit crossing instead of carrying on to Buffalo as earlier planned. We had 500 miles to go!

We hit the road at 7:45 a.m. We made short stops for gas and to have meals in our “home”.

While driving through Ohio, we passed these strange looking items being moved along the highway on flatbed transports. The first time we saw two different parts, which Jim determined were some parts of an airplane. One definitely looked like a wing. Hours later we passed another two. At first we thought they were the same ones we’d passed earlier, that they’d gotten ahead of us while we stopped to eat or gas up. But then we noticed that these parts were a little different. One looked like the opposite wing from the first one. Because of road construction at that part of the highway, which involved construction cones along the right hand shoulder, the entire convoy was blocking both lanes of traffic in order to accommodate the right side overhang. We patiently followed along and it wasn’t too long before the construction zone came to an end and the left passing lane was freed up once more.

We made it across the border without any problems at 6:00 pm! That Welcome to Canada sign brought us great relief and joy.

That night we shared parking with several other RVs and transport trucks at the first Onroute Travel Centre that we came to, near Windsor, Ontario, too tired to go another mile. It was noisy with all the traffic in and out, but surprisingly we did get some sleep.

We were up at five and on the road before the sun came up, so anxious to be in our home town, in our small condo. Traffic was light. We got through Toronto in record time and arrived home shortly after noon, to nearly empty streets and cold weather, but it never looked so good! Thanks to Jim’s daughter, we had food in our fridge and pantry that, along with what we had left over in the motorhome, should do us for a couple of weeks.

We’ve been in self-quarantine ever since. It’s been difficult – not wanting to watch the news, but needing to know. I’ve shed many tears, not for fear of us getting the virus, but for our families and friends all over the country and beyond; for the front-line workers everywhere who are risking their own lives to try to save many; for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are stranded in foreign countries where the epidemic is far worse than here; and for the stories that are emerging of the amazing people who are doing so many self-less things to help those who are suffering.

I’m grateful for the phone calls, texts, video chats from family and friends. We even had our Book Club meeting yesterday, by video!

It’s a time for reconnecting with people and appreciating what we have. Soon, tomorrow will be a better day. For now, stay inside, stay safe and keep in touch.

Escaping Coronavirus


We’re on our way home, as are many, many other Canadians. But ours is a long journey -2700 miles- in the motor home. At least we don’t have to worry about crowds. We’ve kept ourselves pretty much isolated, avoiding restaurants and site seeing.  And so far the staff at RV Parks have been very understanding when Jim request entering his credit card himself with his gloved hands. We just enjoy the scenery and listen to music or audio books. I keep in touch with family by text if I can. And I try hard not to stress out. Not an easy task.

Hoping all my friends and fellow bloggers are staying safe and well. Who knows when we’ll be able to travel again.

 

So Much to Do; So little Time! Scottsdale Indian Festival


It was a very busy month! Jim had his 80th birthday and on the day his daughters were flying in to surprise him, he decided we should go to Scottsdale to the parade and festival in the park – The Indian Festival! It was a lovely day, and I could give him no reason why we shouldn’t go. I just had to make sure that we didn’t stay too long.

I’m glad we went; I’m sorry that his daughters weren’t able to go with us. The parade was long, but one of the most interesting parades I’ve ever witnessed – colourful costumes representing the many tribes of Arizona; many school bands and cheerleaders; local representatives in various vehicles from the past and the present. And horses! Lots of horses! And dogs! I won’t tell you how many pictures I took, but I knew that I couldn’t capture it all in words, so I hope you like the shots I’ve chosen to share and take you along.

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It was well past lunch time when the parade came to an end and the streets were crowded. We finally found the restaurant we’d visited the last time we were in Scottsdale name but there was an hour wait! We settled on a bench and chatted with other patient customers until a table was at last cleared for us. We invited another couple to join us and during another half hour of waiting to be served, we shared stories of our life experiences.

It was 2:00 pm when we left the restaurant. Jim wanted to listen to the Mariachi Band that was playing on the street and check out other performers along the way back to the park, where there was a ring of vendors’ tents set up, and more entertainment along the walking paths. But I knew his daughters would soon be arriving at Mesa Regal, so I made an excuse why we had to get home.

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We were just getting into our car when I got the text that they’d arrived. They were happy to enjoy the sun while waiting for our return, and Jim’s annoyance with having to leave too soon vanished when he realized it was them, sitting on the couch when he walked into the RV.

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


Over the last seven years we’ve visited many, many places of interest within our local area, but there are still a few on our Bucket List. One was the Phoenix Zoo. On Saturday evening, we went. As you will see, it was a different kind of Zoo that we saw that night!

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There was a long line up at the gate when we arrived, just before 5:30 pm. We got into it and all the way to the entrance before we realized that, since we hadn’t purchased our tickets online as most people had, we had to go back to the ticket booth and then to the end of the line! Fortunately, it didn’t take too long, before we were following the crowd through the brightly lit canopy of lights, above a wooden bridge over a stream.

The lit-up giraffe was just a hint of things to come.

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An elephant on top of one of the many Food Stands on the grounds

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A few more on the Ground

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Take a look at more of these lighted, moulded animal sculptures in  this slide show. They are amazing!

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

While most of the live animals were stabled for the night, we did see a few – a huge Porcupine that was hidden in the shadows and on the move too much to capture by camera, a few Reindeer and a few Camels.

And then there were the lights! Lots of lights around trees, and globes, reflecting in the pond, and forming outlines of more animals and bugs! Not as easy to capture, but here’s the best we could do with the equipment we had.

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After nearly two hours of wandering, we were tired and hungry. We made our way back to the Savannah Grill that we’d seen near the entrance. There we enjoyed the delicious Aldo burgers and fries, before walking back to the car. Needless to say, we were asleep early that night.

First Steps into 2020


Happy New Year! Hope you all are enjoying a happy, healthy start to 2020!

How did you ring it in? Were you at home, or travelling?

Ours was quiet. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I played pickleball with some of my women friends. Then the rain started again, so we took shelter at the movie theatre, seeing Knives Out. It wasn’t anything like what we’d expected, but we really enjoyed it. Later, we walked to the excellent BBQ restaurant located in front of our park and mowed down on tender and delicious pork riblets (the small, flat tips of the ribs), baked potatoes and coleslaw. Back in our motorhome we watched TV and after the Ball dropped in New York City (two hours earlier than here in Arizona) we went to bed to read while fireworks somewhere in our area banged for hours. We could have done more had we chosen. Mesa Regal hosts a big New Year’s Eve Dance every year. We went once.

New Year’s Day we took a couple of friends for a drive to Scottsdale for lunch and a once-a-year only tour of the stable where the Arabian Horses are housed.

We arrived just a little too late to catch outside introduction of some of the award-winning horses, but seeing the inside of the stable blew us away! It was beautiful, with not a hint of odour. Each horse had its own stall, wood panelled on the outside and a note on each, below the black iron bars, indicated what they were to be fed, and when, along with their name. Most of the horses were very friendly and leaned up to the stall bars to receive some loving petting from the crowd of people viewing them.

A few of the horses that we saw.

These horses put on what attendees deem to be an amazing show, The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, every February. We have not gone to it. This might be the year! I’d love to do a story about it.