Today we are in the midst of a Worldwide pandemic. Unless you live in a cave, under a rock or out in the middle of the wilderness, you know this. Of course, if you were in any of those places, you wouldn’t be reading this either.
A mere 70 days ago I departed Lexington with my daughter Marissa and her three children Joselyn, Landen and Lyla to venture off on what ended up being a 24 day, 8154 mile road trip from Lexington, KY to Port Orchard, WA and then along the Pacific Coast to Cambria, CA and home through the southwest to Fort Worth, TX and back. It was an amazing trip! We finally returned to Lexington on February 18, 2020. Little did we know then that on January 19, in Washington state that a 35 year old man was diagnosed with the first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States. At that time, the so-called novel coronavirus outbreak had already taken hold in Wuhan, China and the individual in Washington had carried it back with him when he returned from there on January 15.
Since that time, the outbreak has become a global pandemic. On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. On that day there were 114 countries that had reported nearly 118,000 cases and 4,300 people had already died worldwide. Of those, there were only 1,000 known cases and 29 deaths in the United States. Today, only 23 days later, as of this writing, the tracking site Worldometer (worldometers.info/coronavirus) is reporting over one million cases and over 50,000 deaths worldwide (at 10:00 AM EST on April 3 – Reported numbers: 1,040,499 cases and 55,180 deaths). The United States now has nearly 25% of all of those cases and over 6,000 deaths. (As of 10 AM EST on April 3 – Reported Numbers in the U.S.: 245,442 cases and 6,098 deaths).
The impact of this little microscopic coronavirus cell has been profound. People all over the world are being told to stay home. Businesses of all kinds have shut down. Airlines are suffering. Gas prices have dropped to levels not seen since the 1950s. National Parks, State Parks, City Parks, Hiking Trails, entertainment facilities and movie theaters are all pretty much closed. It is absolutely surreal. Interstate travel is pretty much banned, unless it is essential (such as food trucks and other essential trucking). Nowadays we are facing new concepts to our world: Social Distancing, Drive-Up Ordering, Washing Hands over and over, “Essential activities,” Flattening the Curve, Home Isolation, Self-Quarantine, stay-at-home orders, and more.
What amazes me is the rapidity of all of this and how, just a few short weeks ago, I was traveling with the family and enjoying the ride with absolutely no idea what was following us from the West Coast. (No, we were not carriers!! We got there before the real outbreak happened, thank goodness).
So, today, I look back on our trip and all of the places we visited that have now been impacted. As well, I take a quick look at what we were doing until Kentucky essentially got a Stay At Home / Social Distancing order. It is amazing to me how quickly things have changed. Following are a few photos with commentary on how they have changed dramatically since our trip.
In late January I did a presentation in Alliance, Nebraska about my recent book. People gathered together to listen. Since mid-March, this is no longer allowed throughout the United States as there is both a push for “social distancing” (staying at least 6 feet away from others so not to pass the virus on) as well as a push to “Stay-at-Home” (basically, not going anywhere unless needed for groceries, etc.)
Eating Out With Friends and Family
During our trip I joined old high school friends for dinner in Bozeman and we also joined all of our family in Washington. The new reality is now that we can only order online or through drive thru or door-side pick up.
Boat Rides with Friends
On February 16 we took a boat ride on Caddo Lake with Mystique Tours and Aaron Applebaum as Captain. Now, with Social Distancing, this is no longer an option.
No Longer Open
Unless places are considered essential businesses (grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, hardware stores and a few others), they are being ordered to close. As a result over 7 million people have become unemployed in the past three weeks!! National Parks we visited are now closed. State Parks and more. The new normal is that businesses are closed.
National Parks and National Monuments
During our trip we visited many National Parks and Monuments. The kids visited them and picked up many Junior Ranger Badges. All Visitor Centers in all parks are closed and getting a Junior Ranger Badge is not an option any longer. A majority of the parks are now closed completely. Even the amazing Grand Canyon National Park closed down on April 2. This is unprecedented.
Stay at Home Orders
Most U.S. states now have Stay at Home orders and in some cases even travel bans. No longer can we get on the road to visit another state. In fact, many states are requiring a 14 day quarantine if you visit the state.
We drove over a crowded Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and reports now say that San Francisco is practically a ghost town.
While in Oregon and California we visited a number of beaches along the Pacific Ocean. In recent weeks all of these beaches have been closed as a result of the coronavirus.
Towns are becoming ghost towns
On our trip we drove through many small towns and enjoyed the visits. Unlike the busy street shown in the photo below, most towns are practically closed down and the roads are empty.
So, I wonder if Aliens brought this to us… hmmm
When I filled up with gas in Lexington on January 24, I paid $2.78 / gallon. By the time we got to Cambria, California and paid over $4.50 / gal. Since the outbreak, gasoline prices have dropped dramatically. On March 31, I paid $1.47 / gal in Lexington and this morning I saw a couple of places at $1.35 / gal. The irony in all of this?? We can’t go anywhere with Stay at Home orders.
Since returning…even more
Since we returned things exploded. After getting home, we still had activities and opportunities. My wife Julianne has been participating in the Sheltowee Trace Challenge, hiking 20-30 miles on a weekend. I would take her and drive around the Daniel Boone National Forest taking photos. Her last hike was through the beautiful Red River Gorge. But all of this is no longer doable. In the last two weeks (as of this writing) the Red River Gorge has been closed down, the Daniel Boone National Forest has pretty much been closed down, the Sheltowee Trace Association has postponed (indefinitely) the Challenge, local hiking trails have closed and even the local parks, such as my usual hangout Jacobson Park has closed. The new normal is so scary and so challenging.
Overall, the world has changed dramatically in a mere 70 days since we left on our cross-country trip. I am so grateful that we were able to take that trip of 8154 miles across the country and do so before this drama hit. I am grateful as well that we didn’t bring anything back from Washington, since we were there when all of this was unfolding. The last three weeks have been such a whirlwind that it seems like ages since we took the trip and since Julianne has been able to hike. In reality, its only been a few weeks.
WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON
I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family. You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l