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

2015 In Review: The Photos

Taking a selfie in San Francisco

Taking a selfie in San Francisco – photo by Carla Lockwood

Over the year 2015 I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to both coasts and a few other places.  I also made a few trips to local areas to score some “joy points.”  With camera in hand I took 1000s of photos and following are some of my favorites from the year, with a brief story behind each photo.

Among the 1000s of photos are selfies, family shots, friends, scenery, wall art, nature and an abundance of other photos.  I will not include selfies in this collection as I do a separate post on selfies and the fun I have with those.  Rather, this post is a collection of my favorites (and in some cases there are some viewer favorites as well).

Top Ten Photos from 2015

#1 – Horses Grazing in Fall Colors – This photo was probably the hit of the year.  I posted this and a few others on November 3 in a Photo Gallery on Facebook (see original post here) and it had over 3000 shares.  This photo was taken on a drive back from Louisville.  I decided to take Old Frankfort Pike, which is one of the Bluegrass Area’s most famed back road drives.  When I saw this variety of horses, I checked my rearview mirror and saw there was no traffic coming.  I stopped on the road, opened the car window and took this shot, hoping it would come out.

DSC_7323#2 – Seagull Eye – We visited our daughter and her children in Port Orchard, WA in late July and early August.  On one of the days we took a ferry across the Puget Sound into Seattle.  While on the boat, some folks were feeding the seagulls and I was able to grab some nice shots.  This one, in my opinion, was a doozie.  I took this with my telephoto lens, so I was able to get very close.

DSC_4713#3 – Fog Over Golden Gate Bridge – During the Memorial Day weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend Woodflock, a music/camping adventure sponsored by singer/songwriter/poet/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain.  It has been held for 6 years in a row in at a campground in Red Bluff, CA. I flew out there and was picked up by Carla Lockwood, who was kind enough to be my host for a couple of days and take me up to Red Bluff from San Francisco.  Along the way, we stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge for a spectacular view of the bridge and also of San Francisco across the bay.

GGB3#4 – Geese in Flight at Sunrise – I make numerous visits to Jacobson Lake in Lexington.  It is my “Joy Point Factory” as I can go on an early morning, catch a sunrise, look at the birds and just relax from the cares of the world.  On one glorious sunrise morning, I caught this flock of geese taking off.  I have many photos of geese in flight, but this one was different as the sunlight glowed through the translucent wingtips of the birds.  It was a lucky catch.

11092932_10153214958117090_2091834428_n#5 – Sunrise on Old Orchard Beach – In September we made a visit to my son Seth and his family on the occasion of the birth of our 10th grandchild.  My daughter Marissa and her children accompanied us on this trip and, during the visit, we ventured on a two day trip to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.  We spent the night at Old Orchard Beach, south of Portland, ME and I got up early in hopes of catching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.  Needless to say, I was not disappointed.  I capture over 50 shots of this amazing morning, but this one was the best of the lot. This was not filtered…it is exactly as it looked that morning.

11995710_10153603290737090_1419687584_n#6 – Raindrops on Lilacs – We have a huge lilac bush that grows on the side of our house next to our deck.  In the spring it is a wonderful sight to behold.  One morning it had rained early and I went out on the deck and noticed droplets still remaining on the flowers.  I was able to capture the simple beauty as well as the miniature reflection in the raindrop.

11196383_10153263423727090_2061527146_o#7 – Blue Heron in the Morning – I have noted many times on my blogs that I have a fascination with blue herons. When I make my frequent trips to Jacobson Lake, I am always on the lookout.  One morning, while driving close by the lake, there was a heron on the side of the road standing in low water.  These are nervous birds and they typically take off.  But, this one sat there.  I rolled down the car window and was able to capture the closeup beauty of this magnificent bird.  He/she was literally only 7 feet away from me and didn’t take off until it got aggravated by me sitting there for five minutes enjoying its beauty.  I scored extra joy points that day!

10994847_10153404063257090_292100981_n#8 – Sunbeams Over Lexington – During 2015 I did a good deal of work in downtown Lexington.  One morning as I parked in the Victorian Square parking structure, I saw a glorious sunburst floating over Rupp Arena.  I took a few shots and was fortunate to capture one that really represented it well.

11950915_10153590934167090_485412227_n#9 – Sunrise at Jacobson Lake – I made 20 or 30 visits to Jacobson Lake during the year.  Some mornings were not as vivid, but brought me the relaxation I desired.  But there were the rare morning where the clouds and sunrise were phenomenal.  November had two or three of these.  The sunrise captured below was taken on the morning before Thanksgiving.

11127911_10153214956827090_804448474_n#10 – Full Moon – 2015 seemed to offer some amazing full moons, more than I can recall (perhaps we had more clear skies this year!) I had a couple of opportunities to snap some great full moon shots.  This one was probably my best one, taken in the summer.

11094336_10153213995982090_1718367189_oHONORABLE MENTION

Of course, only 10 photos really does no justice for the year as there were many more good ones.  Following are quite a few others that I would like to share. Just a title and the photo.

Sunset over Mt. Rainier as seen from the Puget Sound

Sunset over Mt. Rainier as seen from the Puget Sound

A flower photographed at Tacoma Zoo

A flower photographed at Tacoma Zoo

Turtle Family - Jacobson Lake, Lexingotn

Turtle Family – Jacobson Lake, Lexington

A time lapse of Lunar Eclipse in November

A time lapse of Lunar Eclipse in November

Different textures on a flower

Different textures on a flower

Sunrise on Ice...sun glow through icicles on back deck in February

Sunrise on Ice…sun glow through icicles on back deck in February

A field of tulips at the Kentucky Arboretum near University of Kentucky

A field of tulips at the Kentucky Arboretum near University of Kentucky

Clouds with a unique texture taken in March in Lexington

Clouds with a unique texture taken in March in Lexington

Sunrise as seen from downtown Lexington

Sunrise as seen from downtown Lexington

Geese in formation flying over Lexington in November

Geese in formation flying over Lexington in November

Moon glows over a winter tree in January near Versailles, KY

Moon glows over a winter tree in January near Versailles, KY

Leaping Squirrel

Leaping Squirrel

Golden Gate Bridge in May

Golden Gate Bridge in May

Fall colors in Horse Farm Country

Fall colors in Horse Farm Country

Russian Thistle taken at Sundance Resort in Utah in June

Russian Thistle taken at Sundance Resort in Utah in June

A squirrel readies a nut for his food storage

A squirrel readies a nut for his food storage

Sunrise over Jacobson Lake in November

Sunrise over Jacobson Lake in November

Pink clouds tinted by the early sunrise in Lexington

Pink clouds tinted by the early sunrise in Lexington

A blue heron gracefully glides over the ice on Jacobson Lake

A blue heron gracefully glides over the ice on Jacobson Lake

February snow in Horse Farm Country

February snow in Horse Farm Country

A turkey vulture spotted in a neighborhood takes flight

A turkey vulture spotted in a neighborhood takes flight

Seagulls in flight over Puget Sound in Washington

Seagulls in flight over Puget Sound in Washington

Gazing away on a lovely autumn morning

Gazing away on a lovely autumn morning

Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset

Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset

A lilac blossom prepares to bloom

A lilac blossom prepares to bloom

Geese landing in the water at sunrise

Geese landing in the water at sunrise

Morning Dove as seen from a downtown office window in Lexington

Morning Dove as seen from a downtown office window in Lexington

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

Foggy Sunrise as seen from Delong Road near Lexington

Foggy Sunrise as seen from Delong Road near Lexington

Rocky Mountains of Colorado as seen from a plane

Rocky Mountains of Colorado as seen from a plane

The eyes of a metal sculpture glow with the sunrise -- taken at Singletary Center on University of Kentucky Campus

The eyes of a metal sculpture glow with the sunrise — taken at Singletary Center on University of Kentucky Campus

Lovely clouds at sunset over Lexington

Lovely clouds at sunset over Lexington

Sunburst over Jacobson Lake

Sunburst over Jacobson Lake

Nature's Art as seen from above a tulip in bloom

Nature’s Art as seen from above a tulip in bloom

Mt. Rainier in Washington

Mt. Rainier in Washington