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

3 to 40: We Are Family – Part 2 (The Boys)

In my previous post I wrote about how our forty years is tied to our family and did a montage of photos for each of my first three children, all daughters.  Continuing is a collection of photos about our two boys, Seth and Solomon, who came to our family in March 1987 and March 1989.

I was working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) when Seth decided to come into our world in March 1987. At that time the three girls were seven, six and four and a half.  It was a new experience for us as we actually had children old enough to appreciate the newborn young boy and even, in some respects, assist us with him.

SETH DAVID

Three sisters started adoring on their little brother Seth almost immediately

Baby Seth was a cutie with red hair that he soon lost.

When Seth was about 5 months old, the family was on its way to Oita, Japan, where we would live from 1987 to late 1991.  So, for most of Seth’s early years he was watching Japanese television and getting the Japanese experience (as were the three girls, who made their way into Japanese public schools, learned the language and the culture, etc.)

Shortly after arriving in Japan, Marissa helped Julianne with Seth

It was easier to carry Seth on our back everywhere we went

Seth’s favorite bath place was on our balcony overlooking the Oita River.

And he liked the beach to. This was in Saga-no-Seki, Japan

Like the other kids, Seth was pulled into Japanese ads. He was in a number of them as a blonde baby boy.

Another shot for a different ad in Japan

Japan had a major influence on Seth

Marissa and Seth were captains of a ship in Beppu (at least for a few minutes)

Seth prized his Mickey Mouse wizard doll when in Japan

Finally back in the United States in 1992, Seth was able to get established in American schools and did well.

Seth visiting the Grand Canyon shortly after getting back to the U.S.

Visiting Sunset Crater National Monument near Flagstaff in 1992

Seth became a Jamestown settler for a while in Jamestown settlement Virginia in 1993

Hanging with his sister Amaree in 1992 (celebrating our 13th Anniversary)

Looking dapper in 1994

Seth in elementary school in Nicholasville, KY

Seth the high schooler

We visited a “bodily function” exhibit in St. Louis. Chelsea and Seth seemed to enjoy the Poo to You display

The Giant kid with the Jolly Green Giant in 2004. He accompanied Amaree to Great Falls, Montana when she moved there after graduation from UK

Seth as a football player at Lafayette

Shortly before graduating high school, Seth obtained his Eagle Scout. A proud moment.

Seth at Lafayette High School Graduation

Seth served an LDS mission in Salt Lake City

Seth and Holly Wedding Day in December 2009

Seth was so popular that they named a town after him in West Virginia

SOLOMON JOSEPH

Julianne and Sol in 1989 shortly after he was born. This was in Oita, Japan

We were already living in Japan when Solomon decided to join our family. According to Julianne, he was her easiest birth.  And, almost instantly he was a hit in Oita.  Not many “gaijin” children were born in that part of Japan.  So, it was great news for all of us and for many of our Japanese friends.

Solomon had long, fun curly hair

He always had a smile on his face (or so it seemed)

Seth and Solomon pretty much grew up together and were pretty much inseparable until about high school days…

Got a nice shot of Marissa and Solomon at a Japanese cafe around 1991

One of our favorite pics of the two boys together.

Solomon had his favorite toys too. This was at his grandmother’s house in Mesa, AZ

Amaree and Solomon together at some event.  That’s Chelsea in the background

Watching the horse events at the Kentucky Horse Park

Solomon and Seth looking nice in their ties

Fishing with Grandpa Bateman in Utah in 1997

Some of the kids, including Solomon at Bowlin’s Akela Flats in southeastern New Mexico December 1999

Seth and Solomon with Marissa in Chicago, just a couple of weeks before she was married

Solomon was always playful

Solomon and Seth giving “Aunt Beula” a kiss after a Trailer Park Troubadours concert

Seth and Solomon were mentored in many ways by University of Kentucky (and later pro) football player Aaron Boone

Solomon really liked hanging out with my friend, former Steppenwolf and Trailer Park Troubadours guitarist Bobby Cochran

Solomon as a football player at Lafayette. As a Senior in 2006 he was named All-City.

Solomon was a tough wrestler as a sophomore. He ended up going to state

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Both Seth and Solomon were linemen for Lafayette High School’s Generals

Solomon graduation from High School with his lovely mother

Ha! They named a town after Solomon too!

Soon after graduation Solomon made his way to Colorado to work in the Medical Marijuana industry.  He has become an expert in growing and prepping medical grade cannabis and is now in Kentucky working on a large hemp facility.

Solomon shows off the Cannabis Cup that he helped his company win in Colorado.  He still works with Todd (in the left) growing hemp in Kentucky

We have certainly been blessed with a wonderful family of five children.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the expansion of our family…our ten wonderful grandchildren.  These have extended the joy we have as we approach our 40th anniversary in a few days.

Solomon with Mom and Dad in 2017