Observations of a Strange Time

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

We have literally stayed inside our home for the last two months so we decided to take another trip with our trailer to see our grandkids before they start back to school in a couple of weeks. We followed the same routine as before which meant preparing all of our food inside our traveling home, staying at our regular RV site, and visiting our daughter’s home in the evening when the sun has gone down and cooling breezes keep us comfortable as we sit outside under the stars six to eight feet away from one another. During the daytime hours we journey around the Texas Hill Country enjoying the vistas and seeing how people are reacting to Covid-19 which took a decided uptick in Texas just after our last trip.

Our first stop was at the Luling Buckee’s to get gasoline. Bukcee’s is a Texas gas station known for its spotless bathrooms with countless stalls and a cornucopia of food, snacks and drinks. With our concerns about going into crowded places we only filled up our gas tank and never stepped a foot inside the store. We used our own clean restroom and I made sandwiches in the trailer. For the most part people were waiting until the very last minute to don their masks and there did not appear to be any efforts to keep the number of people inside down to a minimum. I got the feeling that lots of people were resentful of having to take any precautions at all. 

Our campsite was wonderful as usual. The people who work in the office are quite cautious and make the process of checking in both easy and quick. We got a nice spot under the shade of an old tree which was also right next to the Wifi antenna. The place is always very quiet with few people mingling outside since it is a very hot time of year. Most of the folks are senior citizens who reside there all year long. 

Our first outing was to Fredericksburg where we hoped to pick up some wine at Becker’s Winery. We noted that they are open for business so we decided to stock up on some of our favorites. The winery itself is located in a lovely setting with vistas of native flowers and lavender fields. We soon learned that they are only providing pick up orders at this time so we chose a lane to park our car and called in our selections. While we waited we watched a flock of hummingbirds flitting from one blossom to another. They were quite entertaining and we were cooled by the shade of an old oak tree and a breeze. I would have enjoyed staying there doing nothing for hours.

We were the only people aside from a few workers so it was pleasantly quiet. We decided to eat our packed lunch in the peaceful setting. It turned out to be even nicer relaxing there than we had anticipated. A  woman wearing a mask eventually came out and placed our wine purchase on a stone wall in front of our truck and waved with a friendly gesture. It seemed to be a great way for all of us to stay safe.

Since we needed some bread we drove to a German bakery on the main street of Fredericksburg. Unlike our previous visit in June, on this day everyone walking up and down the street was wearing a mask. There was a big sign near the intersection of the major streets urging everyone to social distance and wear masks by order of the governor. At the bakery another sign indicated that we needed to wait for permission to enter, which happened rather quickly. There were large emblems on the floor marking the six feet intervals on which we were to stand. Everyone with the exception of those eating  was wearing a mask. Screens separated us from the workers behind the counter. We made our selections and were once again on our way without spending much time inside. It all felt very clean and organized giving me a great sense of confidence that I had not been exposed to the virus..

Later that evening we sat on the balcony overlooking a scenic Hill Country vista at my daughter’s home. She had fans interspersed with the chairs that kept us cool as we visited and caught up on news from our grandchildren. We had a great deal of discussion about the coming school year which is fraught with so many uncertainties. All of my grandchildren will be attending high school and sadly there will be thirty brand new teachers and a fleet of substitutes to take the positions of  the many teachers who chose to leave when they learned that face to face classes would begin in mid August with an estimated 3000 students choosing to return even though remote learning was also offered. Most of the other school districts in the San Antonio area will have remote classes until the end of September but the superintendent of my grandchildren’s district chose to go face to face immediately and have a choice of remote that cannot be changed after the start of school. My grandchildren have little idea who their teachers will be and phone calls or emails to the school have been generally ignored. It will be very different from the comfort they have formerly known.

On day two of our adventures we drove out to Junction.Texas by way of Boerne. The people there were far more relaxed about Covid-19 precautions than the ones we had seen in Fredericksburg.  The same had been true in June. It made me sad because there are places in Boerne that I enjoy visiting each time I travel that way but both this time and last I chose to just stay put in my truck and drive straight through town. 

The drive to Junction is quite lovely. It takes on the hilly and desert- like scenery of the west. Since it is always quietly quaint there the virus appeared not to have changed a thing. There were still the same stores and family owned restaurants with the “vibrant” area of town hovering around Interstate 10. There is not a whole lot of civilization past Junction for many many miles so it’s a good place to gas up and grab some provisions. Instead we found a little roadside park and had a picnic and enjoyed the sound of silence.

We spent our last evening with the grandkids. We all ended up wishing for the routines of the past when they would have spent a week visiting us and going to ball games, the beach and other fun places. Our visits to see them would have meant eating out and seeing the sites around San Antonio. We wondered how long their school would stay open and worried that maybe Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas would be quite different this year as well. We finished our time together with virtual hugs and a thankfulness that we were able to get together but a sense of regret that our time together went by so quickly and in such a strange way. 

What I generally observed in my time on the road is an effort to keep things as normal as possible even as they are so obviously abnormal. We will talk about this time for the rest of our lives. We can only hope that we are handling it the way that we should. These are strange days indeed.

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