I guess I could call this “traveling in a post-pandemic world” but that wouldn’t be accurate as the infection numbers are creeping up some, fueled by a contagious variant and unvaccinated folks. We felt pretty confident having been fully vaccinated and so decided to head to the east coast to see family this July.
I went east early to spend some time with my sister in Pittsburgh and Chuck flew to Maryland about a week later to join is for my niece’s 25th wedding anniversary. We both had great experiences in the air. We flew Southwest on points (yay us!) and we were impressed at how smooth everything was. Mask wearing was mandatory in both the airports and on the planes and the vast majority of people cooperated. After hearing so many stories of people behaving like idiots, I was pleasantly surprised at how careful everybody (including little kids) was being. I was really happy to have a mask with a lanyard as it makes life so much easier when you have to take the mask off to eat or drink. All flights were full and there were lots of people traveling to one place or another. Personally, I had to remember how to pack efficiently – I fell out of practice after so many months of sheltering in place.
It was lovely catching up with my sister – we haven’t gone that long without seeing each other in well, decades. And it was great seeing family in Maryland. We stayed at a funny B&B in Cambridge called Victoria Gardens Inn (the website was hacked a few years ago so you have to go old school and call for reservations) – an old Victorian run by a lovely English lady who I think is pretty ready to retire from B&B hosting. But the accommodations were charming and the front porch was the perfect place to sit and catch up with family and the breakfasts were delicious. We explored Cambridge and enjoyed the small town vibe and charming riverfront (and lucked out with lovely weather). The family visit wrapped up on July 4 and we headed to Kent Narrows for a few days before heading back to DC and flying home. We watched a great fireworks show, ate at some really nice restaurants on the waterfront and explored Kent Island. It’s an area that I’ve been watching on Zillow – prices seem pretty good and there’s a fair amount of new housing which seemed wort exploring. But as often happens, what we saw on Zillow and the reality of the place were pretty different things. So we eliminated it from our potential retirement places. It’s pretty rural and you need a car to go pretty much anywhere and it’s only got one road in and out. But those aren’t necessarily deal breakers. The bigger issue is that Kent Island is getting developed – small farmers are selling out to developers who are then building housing. Which is great except there’s no infrastructure to support the housing – no shopping, no big roads. So you’d need to leave Kent Island to do any big shopping, go to doctors, etc. and deal with the traffic and the hassle of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Now that we’ve been to the Eastern Shore a few times, we feel that if we did move there it would be to Easton (number one choice) or Cambridge (number two choice). While staying in Kent Narrows we hiked at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center where we encountered lots of birds and bugs (before starting our hike, we were strongly encouraged to coat ourselves in DEET which made a lot of sense once we started hiking).
We wrapped up the trip in Washington DC where we very quickly realized that pandemic rules still applied. All museums were by appointment only and lots of places were still closed. So we walked around seeing the sites which was fun expect for the (ugh!) humidity. After a few hours of walking around we were both sopping wet and exhausted. We were meeting my nephew and his wife for dinner and had intended on taking the Metro – but given how wiped out we were from our humid trek, we opted for Uber.
All in all, we had a lovely trip and felt quite safe navigating the increasingly confusing lines between what’s safe and what’s risky. Plane travel with the mask mandate in place is really pretty easy and feels very safe. We did eat indoors a few times but the places were well ventilated and we weren’t sitting on top of other people. The hotels were very hit and miss with their rules – for the most part people weren’t wearing masks but again, we never felt crowded or at risk.
The true end of the trip happened once we were home when we realized that Chuck had brought a little guest home with him – a tick from the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center had nom-nommed its way into his shoulder. A quick trip to urgent care offloaded the little fella (the doc extracted it in one piece, yay!).
Oh, and we arrived home to find a new resident in the yard: Pete the neighborhood peacock had made himself at home. He very casually jumped over the fence and headed in a stately way down the driveway like he owned the place.
We’re planning a Very Big Road Trip in September – we’re driving from CA to PA to meet my sister and brother-in-law for a flying adventure to Vermont and Maine. So I was glad we took this trip – it gave us a much better feel for how hard or easy it is to navigate our post pandemic world. We are keeping an eye on infection hotspots and plan on adjusting our route accordingly. We are stopping to visit family and friends along the way (if they’re vaccinated) and exploring sites along the way. Since we aren’t taking the dog, we also plan on revisiting some not-dog-friendly places we had to pass by last time we drove across the country.