I should be packing my bags right now. I was supposed to fly to Denver Thursday and meet a friend before taking a solo road trip home.
Covid cancelled that.
So I decided to take a shorter road trip to some place I’ve been wanting to go. Charlottesville, Virginia has rich history. Ashtabula, Ohio has covered bridges and a drive along the lake to find lighthouses sounded fun. I thought about Harper’s Ferry or Gettysburg.
But none of these options excited me when I considered how many sites are closed and that I would need to wear a mask on outdoor guided tours of historic sites in the July heat.
My indecisiveness and the logistics were starting to stress me out. Long story short- Covid has cancelled this too.
Instead, I’ll hold onto my vacation for another time and will settle for a long weekend for now.
Friends have been asking about my approach to safe adventuring in the time of Covid. I’m not thrilled to spend a lot of money traveling far to stay in hotels and mask up at Monticello. However, I do enjoy day trips and local adventures to get me out of the house and keep me somewhat engaged with the outside world.
Here’s a rundown of what I do:
Local state parks have been a true blessing. Before allergies ran me out of the woods for a few weeks, I was hiking regularly. Fresh air and a good stretch of the legs felt amazing after being cooped up all winter.
Photography has provided a great excuse to go for a drive. Sometimes I visit local places that are familiar but my favorite thing is to travel a new road. I like photographing old barns, churches, streetscapes and anything else that draws my eye. It’s fun to travel with a map and camera on the seat next to you and good tunes blaring from the radio.
Social distancing is easy when it’s just you puttering around on a quiet hiking trail or in the car.
I have also ventured to a handful of small businesses. For example, I took my first horseback ride at Uncle Bucks Riding Stable this spring. The average horse is six feet long so it’s perfect for social distancing. I’ve been in a few local antique malls as well. With the economy sputtering and small businesses struggling, it is important to me that I support small businesses when possible.
I don’t go anywhere that’s crowded and work to protect my personal space wherever I am. Of course, I’ve always done that and am kind of enjoying the new six foot rule.
There are some logistical issues if you’re going to be gone for a while. You can either adventure for as long as your bladder will allow and go home – or you have to find a restroom. There isn’t an abundance of restroom options in small towns or on back roads. Fast food restaurants have been closed and there aren’t many rest areas off the highways.
My approach has been to find either a Walmart because the restrooms are close to the door or, if I’m in a town with options, nicer stores like TJ Maxx usually have clean restrooms.
I mask up, carry hand sanitizer in my pocket and dash in and out somewhat quickly.
Another practical matter is food. Depending on my mood and devotion to eating healthy, I either pack a lunch or opt for something quick. Vegetarian and vegan options are limited but Taco Bell will make its entire menu vegetarian just for you, BK offers the Impossible Whopper, and if you feel like venturing into a store, some grocery stores like Meijer have fabulous salads and fruit options. Most local dairy bars have walk up windows where you can order a tasty shake and grilled cheese. A lot of mom and pop restaurants will take phone orders and some will offer curbside pick up.
There’s often a city park around for a picnic. If nothing else, I find a corner of a parking lot and people watch while enjoying lunch.
Gas pumps always seem filthy (especially now) so I either touch them with a paper towel or sanitize when I’m done.
I have a short list of things that I always take with me and have added a few items since Covid found us.
– Maps – I always take my atlas and any county maps that might prove useful. You never know when you’ll be in a place without cell service and will need help navigating.
– Extra shoes and socks – Uncomfortable feet are irritating and I’ve found myself with wet feet after a ramble through a dew covered churchyard more times than you would believe.
– Pen and paper- I jot down things along the way including topics to research, unusual road names and places to check out another time. Any belief that I’ll remember this stuff on my own is a pipe dream.
– Practical stuff – I always take my camera with an extra battery, phone charger, cash and cards, paper towels, a garbage bag, a couple of plastic grocery bags, an apple, and an insulated water bottle. You never know when you’ll have muddy shoes to clean or stash and those plastic bags come in handy. I’m really bad about finding plants and dirty old antiques that I don’t want touching my nice upholstery but a garbage bag covers the seat nicely.
Since Covid. I’ve added to the list a gallon jug of water, some masks and plenty of hand sanitizer.
So there you go – my guide to staying safe while adventuring during a pandemic is pretty simple. Keep your distance, stay clean, be smart but don’t be afraid. Living in fear isn’t healthy. We all need fresh air and an occasional change of scenery, even if it is just a drive around the neighborhood to get an ice cream cone.
What adventures have you enjoyed recently?