How a Pandemic can change your timeline – looking back on a recent road trip and a country closed down

Coronavirus Cell

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.

Leaving on our “8154” Road Trip on January 25, 2020

Global Pandemic

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).

Ironic Sign seen in Equality, IL on January 25, 2020  We now live in very uncertain times

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.

I took this in Santa Cruz, CA in early February. Now, with Social Distancing, it means so much 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).

Golden Rule (taken in Montana in late January) – Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do To You.  Means a lot more today as we should practice social distancing and stay at home to make sure others don’t get the coronavirus.

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.

Social Distancing

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.)

Doing a presentation about my book in Alliance, Nebraska

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.

Eating with friends in Bozeman. No longer allowed anywhere due to the virus.

Dinner with family, children and grandchildren in Seattle. No longer allowed.

Pizza with grandkids in Wallace, ID. Can’t do this nowadays. In fact, if we don’t live with grandkids, we are expected to keep our social distance

Hanging with my high school friend Teri Chambers. Can’t do this anymore with social distancing.

Visiting my friend and amazing guitarist Jimmy Jackson in Santa Cruz. Social Distancing makes this impossible now.

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.

Took a boat ride in Texas. Can’t group together like this anymore.

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.

No longer the case

Uranus Fudge Factory in Missouri closed down in late March

Movie theaters across the United States are all closed

Restrooms are closed in many places in order to avoid virus transmission

Bakeries and Donut Shops are drive-up only or closed. This was Psycho Donuts in Campbell, California

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.

Grand Canyon National Park is now closed

Sequoia National Park is now closed

Little Bighorn Nation Battlefield is now closed

Wind Cave National Park is still open for drive through but all facilities, including restrooms and Visitor Centers are all closed.

As of this writing, Mt. Rushmore is still open, but all Visitor’s Centers and Restrooms are closed

Joshua Tree National Park is now closed

Custer State Park in South Dakota is still open to drive through, but their Visitor Center and restrooms are now closed.

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.

Photos like this are no longer viable

Much of the public transport infrastructures are now closed. This is in San Francisco where light rail and other transport are currently shut down.

We drove over a crowded Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and reports now say that San Francisco is practically a ghost town.

Golden Gate Bridge, usually crowded, is now practically empty as a result of stay-at-home orders.

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.

Gold Beach, Oregon. This beach along with hundreds of others along the Pacific Coast have now been closed to force social distancing.

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.

Towns like Sheridan, Wyoming and hundreds of others are now practically ghost towns.

Aliens?

So, I wonder if Aliens brought this to us…  hmmm

Aliens in Baker, CA

Gasoline Prices

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.

Paid $2.07 / gal in Illinois on Januaary 25, 2020

On February 12, 2020 we paid $4.54 / gal in Cambria, California

On March 31, 2020 I paid $1.47 / gal in Lexington, KY

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.

Julianne hiking the Red River Gorge on February 23. She can no longer do this during this crisis

Sunrise at Cave Run Lake in Kentucky. The State Parks in Kentucky are all closed now.

Hundreds of seagulls at Minor Fish Hatchery near Cave Run Lake is no longer a visiting option.

The Sheltowee Trace is now closed as are dozens of other trails all over Kentucky

Jacobson Park, where I typically go in the mornings, has been barricaded off. because people were gathering in big groups.

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.

I continue to try to smile and enjoy the ride. Life may have changed, but there are still reasons to Choose Happy

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

6 to 40: The Good Sport

Julianne is a good sport.  She really doesn’t like me to take her pictures.  But, I am a picture taker (and sometimes photographer).  I have never really claimed to be  people photographer.  My favorite thing to do is either take straight candid shots of people or have them do silly poses.  Admittedly, the only real photos of people tend to be selfies…since I am the “Shamelessly Self-Proclaimed Selfie King.”

Despite all of this, I have convinced Julianne to allow me to get her to pose for pictures…some which were silly, but others where I was really trying to get a “serious” pose.  She is such a good sport.  This is why my 40 years with her has been so joyful!

Julianne is certainly my Local Honey. She is sweet and wonderful. And doesn’t mean that I have other honeys elsewhere. Everywhere I go she remains my “Local Honey”

Julianne is also my “Sweet Tea”… how sweet can she get? (I had to try hard to convince her on this one)

This is often what she does when I try to take a picture of her

Julianne is a real chipper gal….almost out of control with the tortilla chips

She obviously didn’t want me to take this Naughty shot of her

Julianne wanted to make sure that people knew she was the grandmother of the Noe’s kids.  She is good at picking her nose too!

Sometimes we just clown around

Did I say that Julianne was my “Local Honey?”  Pure Raw Local Honey!  Yep, that’s her!

She is my Number 1 best friend. Still had to fight to convince her to get in the picture.

I need s’more of Julianne’s pics (by the way, she does not eat these any longer)

Then there are the “Forced Poses”

I am always trying to get her to pose for pictures. I think this is a nice one.

She probably still hates this picture that I took by the Ohio River at Rabbit Hash, KY

I had to BEG her to get into the sunflowers for a nice shot. She is brighter than the flowers

I think she liked posing for this one with all of the beautiful colors in Red River Gorge.. She is Red River Gorgeous!!

I like shots of Julianne with flowers

And she likes posing with her flowers too

This is the “Why are you taking this picture?” face 

This is another one I asked her to pose for. I had to beg. Nice view above Cincinnati

Like this?

Not another one David!

Do I really have to David?

Yes, I can peek through the window…and I’m still Naughty

“If I stay like this maybe he won’t take a picture.” — WRONG!

Hold on!!

I fall for her every fall….and all the other seasons too

As wonderful as an ocean view

Another poser!

Another one I had to beg for. Cute isn’t she?

Julianne is beautiful.  She is fun. She is playful. She’s my local honey. She is a good sport.

 

9 to 40: Discovering the “Garden of Youth”

As I mentioned in my previous post, Julianne is a learner.  She strives to excel and, most of the time, succeeds. It seems like years that she has been searching for her “fountain of youth.”  We have both struggled with our weight throughout this 40 years together, but, I am certain, Julianne has ultimately succeeded in her battle.

Fighting weight issues is a massive challenge for all that attempt it.  Most don’t ever really get there.  It requires dedication, planning, gumption,fortitude, desire and struggle to get there.  And, of all the people I know that have struggled to get there, Julianne is really the only one that has truly succeeded.

I can remember her years ago studying the Macrobiotic Diet, probably as a result of our time living in Japan.  The macrobiotic diet is a pescetarian diet (sometimes vegetarian or vegan) fixed on ideas about types of food drawn from Zen Buddhism.  I think at the time she tried, it was too difficult.

Dr. John McDougall

After struggling with other diets, Julianne ultimately discovered Dr. John McDougall, an outspoken proponent of the consumption of a whole foods plant-based diet (WFPB), especially advocating low-fat, starchy foods, like potatoes.  She studied his concepts intently and eventually was led to watch videos such as the famous documentary Forks Over Knives, which was based on the book of the same name, which ultimately became a number bestseller on the New York Times list.  The book (and film) suggests the adoption of a plant-based diet that helps people regain control of their health and their lives.

Forks Over Knives was on of Julianne’s catalysts for change
Jane Birch – Author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom

Julianne then became friends with an LDS proponent of WFPB named Jane Birch. She is the author of a book titled Discovering the Word of Wisdom.  She then pursued her efforts and, after a while had great success such that she was featured on Jane’s website. (see Julianne’s story here).  I think that this is where Julianne “discovered” what I am referring to as her “Garden of Youth.”

Discovering the Word of Wisdom
Julianne in her “youthful” 2019 look

 Julianne began digging into this Garden of Youth more and more.  The learner in her kicked in full-bore.  As an employee of the University of Kentucky, she could take classes and, in one of her classes she had to do a report.  In doing so, she found a disturbing article by Michael Moss titled “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”  This article, published in the New York Times in Feb. 2013, revealed how the giant food manufacturers were intentionally making food addictive.

 

Julianne visiting with T.Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, a major publication suggesting a plant-based lifestyle

From there she focused on food addiction and realized her addictions, which drove her even deeper to overcome them.  Unlike most of us, including me, that are afraid to admit food addiction and/or are not willing to accept or take it one, Julianne dove in full force. She committed herself to change based on her research, evidence, and, by this time, experience.

Julianne and Chef AJ In 2019

She then found Chef AJ, who runs the Ultimate Weight Loss group, another program she loves. She has learned a lot from Chef AJ and her program really sent Julianne to the next level.

As Julianne’s husband of nearly 40 years, I have done all I can to support her efforts (short of jumping on board the WFPB train completely) to help her succeed. I really have.  I am proud of her fabulous success.  Since starting WFPB sometime in 2017, she has lost nearly 100 pounds.  She actually weighs less than she did as a 19 year old when we married in 1979. She looks 15 years younger than her actual age.  She is vibrant, active and happy.  She loves her journey and the many friends with similar mindsets that she has made.

Julianne with plant-based guru and author Rip Esselstyn, who also just set world swimming records for someone over 50

Ironically, in our 40 years of marriage, the past two have probably been the hardest for me.  In my life journey, I am still, admittedly, not willing to jump into WFPB, though I have seen first hand what the benefits are as I have seen the great progress of my strong and successful wife. Indeed, there are many who are in my same boat.  Perhaps its our lizard-brain, or our food addictions.  Much of the foods she prepares are wonderful, but I still find myself craving the meat and cheese and oil.

For those of you that may not know…Julianne’s dietary lifestyle is a radical change from how most of the rest of us eat. She eats no meat, fish, dairy products, poultry.  That’s a given in a plant-based diet (notice, I am NOT using the word Vegan here). But, she has taken many steps further — no processed foods, no sugar, no honey, no bread, no oils.  Her downfall and biggest temptation?  Tortilla chips and salsa.

Julianne Before and After… on the left was early 2017. On the right late 2018

Her mantra is “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”  She has discovered her “Garden of Youth” and you can see it.  I am proud of her success and honored to be her husband…despite my own weaknesses.  Not many of us are privileged to be with such a strong and amazing person!

Julianne 1979
Julianne 2019 – looks better than ever!!

19 to 40: The World as Seen Through Her Eyes

I have already noted in previous posts that Julianne has many talents.  One of those that often goes noticed is her photography talent.  As a photographer myself, I truly appreciate the way she captures the world. And no, she doesn’t use a fancy Nikon or Canon.  She uses her iPhone to capture the world around her.  For this post, I want to make it simple.  Following are about 30 pictures that Julianne has taken over the past 10 years.  They come from her travels, her hikes, her bike rides and her observations.  She captures the world around her in a stunning and wonderful fashion, with just the simplest of equipment.  She has “THE EYE.”  So, enjoy a trip through Julianne’s lens on the world.

A San Diego Sunset

The Kentucky River

A flower from somewhere

The San Diego LDS Temple

The streets of Little Italy in Cleveland

Losing at Canasta

Horse Farm country from the Legacy Trail in Lexington

A heart leaf from a hike in Kentucky

Another San Diego sunset

A flower

Horses and Clouds from the Legacy Trail

The old Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio

A bridge from a bike trail

Mexican Train

A dam picture

A glorious evening on the ocean

Feeling Bubbly

Tulips and Daffodils from a farm in northern Washington

Moss covered rock wall from a hike in Kentucky

Neighborhood park

Boat dock at sunset

Gray’s Arch in Red River Gorge, Kentucky (notice the small people on the right for scale)

Watch out… From Raven’s Run hike in Kentucky

Kentucky River as seen from a hike

Another San Diego sunset. She loves these

The New River Gorge Bridge as seen from across the gorge. In West Virginia

Wildflowers taken on a hike

Textures. She loves textures

Did I say she likes San Diego sunsets?

The holy tree

 

49 to 40: The Hiker

In my previous post I wrote about Julianne the biker.  She loves being outdoors and enjoying nature.  Biking is an activity I can easily do with her.  But, in recent years, due to knee issues, taking nice nature hikes with Julianne is a bit more difficult.  But that doesn’t stop her as she will go with daughters, grandchildren and often even solo on hikes. Where possible, when the hikes are “easy” (meaning not too many hills, etc.), I try to join her.  But, she is happy when she is out there, even on her own.

Hiking is something that we have done throughout our marriage.  I was never brought up in the camping tradition, and so I have not been a very good camper.  But, hiking was something I did with my dad and Julianne also did a lot of hiking.  As our children grew, we would take them on hikes.

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

After we arrived in Japan in the late 1980s, we were afforded the opportunity to take many hikes.  There are many antiquities, old statues and beautiful nature hikes in Japan.  We took advantage of these.

Julianne and David with children on a hike to the Usuki Magaibutsu in Oita Prefecture, Japan 1988

We continued on hikes into the 1990s.  After Amaree was married, we all went to Montana and did a few fun hikes there. We enjoyed seeking out a nice waterfall with children and grandchildren.

David and Julianne with Grandson Kade at a waterfall in Montana

David and Julianne hiked to a waterfall near Juneau, Alaska

Of course, the hiking has continued, even as recently as May 2019.  Here are more shots of Julianne on hikes…enjoying nature, time with children and grandchildren and the great outdoors.

Julianne getting ready to hike the Double Arch Trail in Red River Gorge.

Hiking with grandkids in Watkins Glen, NY

Hiking in West Virginia with a view of the New River Gorge Bridge in the background.

Hiking a trail with granddaughter Autumn

A small hike in Glacier National Park in 2005 with son Seth and a friend of Amaree’s

Hiking with the Noe grandkids in Kentucky

Julianne loves hiking in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky

Julianne and David on a short hike at Letchworth State Park in New York

Julianne in her element hiking lovely trails