Traveling in the time of Covid-19 can be rather difficult. I have no desire to risk getting on a plane and I have yet to eat inside a restaurant since the pandemic came to our shores. I am not particularly confident that a hotel room will be as clean as I wish it to be. That’s why our little trailer suddenly became one of the best investments that we have ever made.
Our first journey was only about four hours away from home. It was a great practice run for a trip that we recently made to Colorado. We managed to spend eleven days away from home and not once eat out or stay in a motel. With a bit of planning we were a self contained unit that travelled a contactless two thousand miles. We stayed in lovely RV parks the whole time with only minimal and brief interactions with strangers, always with our masks clamped tightly on our faces.
We drove from the Houston area to Ardmore, Oklahoma on the first day, arriving in mid afternoon. We had decided not to beat ourselves to death by driving into the night. Ours was a relaxing vacation that gave us time for leisurely evenings of dinner and movies in our little home on wheels. The park in Ardmore was spotlessly clean and even boasted an on site RV repairman. Our site gave us a view of a little manmade lake perched next to a swimming pool. We decided that this might be a great place for a short get away even after Covid-19 is little more than a horrid memory.
Our next stop was in Russell, Kansas another rather delightful little park where we enjoyed a fall breeze over a glass of wine. Along the way we had viewed well manicured farms and the glory of middle America so our evening was filled with commentaries about the beauty of mid America and our gratefulness for those who farm to keep our tables filled with bounty.
By day three we had reached Loveland, Colorado where we parked our trailer for the next five days. We headed to my brothers’ cabin in Drake which is fifteen miles from Estes Park. We met up with my brother and sister-in-law who, like us, had been self quarantined since early March. We felt quite certain that everyone was Covid free because we had not been exposed to people during all of the ensuing months.
We enjoyed the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park for days. Timed reservations are in effect to keep crowding down. Everyone that we encountered was wearing masks and we complied as well. It was only when nobody was nearby that we removed the cloth coverings from our faces. We became accustomed to wearing them and sometimes even forgot that they were still on our faces when we returned to the car. Compiling with safety measures was a very small price to pay for the glorious luxury of enjoying the wonders of nature.
The Rocky Mountain National Park area is stunningly beautiful at this time of year. The trees are gloriously shimmering with leaves of yellow, gold, orange and red. We found ourselves in awe at virtually every turn. We took hikes and snapped photos all along the way and returned to the cabin each evening filled with a joy that we had not experienced for many months.
I suppose that because there were fewer people everywhere the wildlife was more abundant than I had ever before seen. We even had a moose run past us while we were sitting beside a river. I finally saw bighorn sheep walking along the edges of outcroppings and heard the bugling of a male elk. Even the rooster that lives near the cabin where we were staying seemed to be crowing a bit more jubilantly than usual.
We did very little in Estes Park, a lovely town filled with little shops that we have rarely failed to explore. This time we agreed that we would not push our luck by visiting each store but we wanted some taffy and felt comfortable going inside to purchase it because of the strenuous mandates for safety. The county rules insisted that only four people be inside the small stores at any time and everyone had to wear masks. All of the precautions were strictly and rather cheerfully enforced which greatly elevated our comfort levels.
In the evenings we might have built a fire but a burn ban was in effect. Not far from the cabin firefighters were battling a wildlife that has already consumed thousands of acres. We checked the fire reports each day to determine whether there was impending danger on Storm Mountain where we were staying. Luckily our area was spared.
On one of our daily excursions we drove past the Longs Peak area to get better photos of that magnificent mountain. Along the way we encountered St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church where we stopped to say a few prayers. Then we browsed in the quaint gift shop.. I decided to purchase a rosary to say some prayers for my Aunt Valeria who had been battling Covid-19. She is one hundred one years old and I had been greatly concerned about her. I told the cashier why I wanted the lovely beads and she urged me to go back to the church to put my aunt’s name in the register. She indicated that a prayer group would pray for her that very afternoon, so I did as she requested. Later that evening I learned that my Aunt Valeria had somewhat improved so I celebrated that small victory with my family. Only last week my aunt tested negative for the virus and was steadily becoming stronger. Somehow I felt that my chance encounter had led to some powerful heavenly interventions on her behalf.
We had so much fun being out in the world once again and sharing time with my brother and sister-in-law. We talked and played games and laughed and enjoyed good home cooking every single day. This turned out to be one of the best vacations I have ever had. It’s simplicity made it even more meaningful. There was healing power in warmth and friendship, being in close proximity to nature, and watching humanity making the best of a difficult situation.
We headed back home by retracing our steps in reverse. Once again our little trailer accommodated us well. I am ready to face a few more months of whatever comes our way because I now know that we can hitch up and take off and still feel the freedom of the road any time that we become bogged down with the weight of the world.