Nothing is normal; everything is weird

It has been 172 days since my last ‘vacation’. I arrived home on March 01 from my somewhat yearly, semi-normal ‘birthday holiday’. Birthday 2020 had me visiting my PC bestie in Washington, DC and exploring Rehoboth Beach, DE. Then I chased horses on Chincoteague and Assoteague Islands in Maryland and Virginia. I visited my cousin in Virginia Beach, Virginia and took the long way home by way of cruising down the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Little did I know that the world would shut down a mere two weeks later. Trips near and far for the foreseeable future would be canceled or left in limbo.

In a normal year, I’d manage to escape the USA 1-2 times and SC about 4-6 times. This is in addition to the trips around the state I’d make–usually for hiking–but often just a little mental health break. Even with grad school cutting into the time available to travel, I had at least four trips planned for 2020. Enter coronavirus aka SARS Co-V 2.

As an ‘essential’ worker, I’ve been manage to keep my job. And as such, I’ve been able to leave the house three days a week. I’ve tried to schedule any grocery runs or other essential supply gathering for after work so I don’t have to make any extra trips outside the house. I’ve become a huge fan of curbside pickup and on-line ordering. After 5 months of going nowhere but work, I was ready for a little change in latitude to change my attitude.

The New Normal: Planning a Socially/Physically Distant Vacation

Corona cases in the south are still high, however, with appropriate precautions, changing scenery would pose no more risk than being out and about in my home area, and for this vacation, my parents would be tagging along [or I’d be tagging along with them however you want to view it]. Anyone else have parents so set in their ways it takes an act of congress to get them to change anything from their normal routine? No? Just me. Well let me tell you, its exhausting trying to incorporate even small changes. The first change involved going two weeks later than their ‘normal’ time. They usually go to Tybee Island the first week in August and have been for the last 20+ years. Shifting the vacation two weeks allowed corona numbers to come down just a bit [whether due to better social distancing or less testing is anyone’s guess], crowds to thin out [once again, whether due to people cancelling vacation or kids going back to school is anyone’s guess],weather to cool off some [I’ve been to Tybee the first week in August when the actual temps were over 100, so mid 80s with pop up thunderstorms are a welcome change]. We also shook up the location. I convinced my parents that renting an Air B and B would be a better [and cheaper!] option than getting two rooms at the hotel they like to stay in [every.single.time].

Additionally, we can reach Tybee and make it most of the way home on one take of gas; I’ll have to fill up about 50-75 miles from home. Staying in an Air B&B allowed us to be mostly self-contained and the beaches were pleasantly uncrowded.

For this trip I packed a little different than I normally do. I packed Chlorox wipes and Lysol spray. We brought our own bedding, and enough food to make a few breakfast and lunches. I also packed our own cups/plates/ kitchenware and brought our own smart speakers. We also brought our own bathroom supplies and our own towels. It was a little more work than the normal, but overall, I think it was worth it. It allowed us to get away and still be safe.

A lot of restaurants and activities were closed, but it was still totally worth making the trip. I managed long walks on the island [hooray for hitting my steps/exercise goal each day] snapping photos almost everywhere. I rented a kayak one day and explored the black water creeks that surround Tybee; another day I channeled my inner child and body surfed in the ocean. The parents got to do a little people watching and the Air B&B had an amazing back porch with fire pit and ceiling fans so they played a lot of cards and read books [literally the same thing they do at home just with a better view].

All in all the new twist on the old favorite worked out well for us. I manged to relax, feel the ocean breeze, and generally have fun before starting Year 2 of grad school. The parents were able to experience a slightly different take on the old favorite. I feel good that we took the precautions needed in order to stay healthy [both ourselves and others].

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