WHAT TO DO IN THE DAYS OF COVID-19?

If you have never seen the 1959 movie On the Beach, this is probably not the time to watch it.  After a global nuclear war, an American submarine surfaces and heads to Australia where the cloud of radiation circling the globe has not yet arrived.  Australians must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.  Based on the book by Neville Shute, an English novelist and aeronautical engineer he also wrote A Town Like Alice.  I have always loved the movie because it starred Gregory Peck as the submarine captain, with Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire (plays a serious scientist, not a dancer), and Tony Perkins (without the knife).

An unforgettable scene shows the streets of San Francisco deserted.  Last night the PBS News Hour showed deserted streets in Paris, Rome, Venice, and Time Square reminding me of One the Beach.  Peck and Gardner have great on-screen chemistry because they had a true-life steamy affair while filming the movie in Australia.    

I have grown up in the era of fearing nuclear war practicing “duck and cover” under my elementary school desk.  Since 9/11 we are bombarded by news reports on terrorism and possible dirty bombs – “If you see something say something”.  But, I have refused to live in fear.  I continued riding the Metro daily or city buses to get to my job in downtown Washington, D.C.  Remember the news article that a 40 something single woman was more likely to be killed by terrorists than get married?  I do.

Sure there are movies about plages and pandemics, but we didn’t really pay attention.  Did we?  Radiation and viruses don’t explode or make for great special effects of visual mayhem and destruction.  The vacant streets of our cities today prove it is the things we can’t see we should fear.  Billions of dollars spent on the military-industrial complex, and it is a natural unseen virus that has brought us to a stand-still.  Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

How can I put into words my feelings, what we all are experiencing, and dreading?  It was just a few months ago I was hanging with Michelle and Duane; and, sister Kerry and I were enjoying the beach together and planning trips.  We were all living our lives looking forward to summer plans, travel, graduations, vacations, weddings, public parks, and swimming pools.  Now we are anticipating funerals we may not be able to attend.

Yes, I am depressed!  Aren’t we all? 

Mom and Erv are locked down at Carolina Meadows retirement community.  So far so good, except we cannot visit.  My summer plans to travel to Ohio, Michigan, and Maine, gone.   I spent a week making reservations and now I am spending time canceling and in some cases losing $10-$20 cancellation fees.   Thankfully many campgrounds are giving full refunds because they too are closed.   I hoped for at least another five years on the road, maybe more.  Now, who Knows?  I really am NOT YET ready to give up my traveling lifestyle.  But what am I to do?

The Martin County Commission closed golf courses to non-residents last week.  I am not a resident, but I am a snowbird and have a lease for the Venture III community where I have been since December.  My favorite course has accepted my seasonal residence and allows me to play golf.  Otherwise, I would go nuts.  Golf courses are taking virus precautions, removing rakes from bunkers, singles in all carts, and turning the cup upside down so there is no need to pull the pin or touch surfaces.   Golf is a game of social distancing, I prefer not to talk when I play, and I am always single.

Becky to the rescue!  My eldest sister Becky has offered me one of her many rental properties, a house in Raleigh with a big lot where I can park Scout.  Seems like the practical thing to do is go there and camp-out until the quarantine is lifted and a vaccine is available.  It is ironic that I just got rid of the last of my housewares and now I might be living in an unfurnished house. 

I wish all of us good health.

IT LOOKS SO SIMPLE ON YOUTUBE

When you are practicing social distancing and sheltering in place there are no excuses to put off those minor projects.  I have been carrying around a new black tank value for months having the intention to replace the one because the handle had broken.  It always looks so easy on YouTube.  Flush the tank using a Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik, Calgon and lots of freshwater.  Under the category of TMI, I don’t do #2 in the trailer.  I use public toilets in campgrounds for the big stuff.  So my black tank is pretty clean, as black tanks go.

Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik is a wonder!  It has a rotating value that sprays water everywhere cleaning the tank thoroughly.  Add the Calgon and a bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid and your black water tank is really clean, as black tanks go. 

Remove four bolts, pull the old out and insert the new.  I watched several YouTube videos prior to doing this job.  Looks easy enough.  The location of the value is at the back end under the trailer (no pun intended).  No matter how many wrenches I have, I never have the correct size – inches or meters.  DAMN!

I had a 5/16 socket wrench, but not the corresponding wrench to hold the nut in place while removing the bolt head.  It was the little round end of a wrench I needed, (my friend Dave informs me that is called the “box end”.  But it is round, not square. Who knew?)  Of course, I had a crescent wrench, but it was tough to hold the nut in place while lying on my back under the trailer.  A sight to behold. 

I got the bolts out, pulled the old value – no problem.  When I went to insert the new value I couldn’t pull the pipes apart at the same time sliding the new value into place.  YouTube didn’t show that – DAMN!  It is always something.

When you are stuck in an RV Resort where everyone is social distancing how are you going to find someone – “a man” to help you?  Enter Bob.  Fortunately, I had met Bob a couple of evenings before, we shared some wine and conversation, 6 feet apart. 

So, earlier when I was lying on my back under the trailer cursing under my breath, Bob had driven by,  

Bob: “What are you doing?” 

Alison: “What does it look like I am doing, replacing a value”.  

Bob: “I am going to the beach”.

Alison: “Have a nice time”.

Luckily that evening after Bob returned from the beach I went over to ask if he would help:

Bob: “Tell me it isn’t the shit value”.

Alison: “Of course it is the shit value, but there is no shit”.

Project completed, with help from Bob.  It is just so DAMN frustrating that I couldn’t do it myself.  Especially, in the time of social distancing.  Bob headed for upstate New York this morning.  I hope I won’t need any more help with my projects.

Stay safe and healthy!

BEST LAID PLANS

If you aren’t scared you should be, that according to my niece Rachel an emergency room doc; and Marina, Michelle’s daughter an emergency room physician assistant.  Both are confirming there is not enough protective equipment for medical personnel and it is only going to get worse.   They ask, “please, stay the F*^K home”.

So after making plans to travel north including lots of campground reservations I am staying put in FL for the foreseeable future.  I feel very safe here because I am in the out of doors and certainly more than 6 feet away from anyone.  All my Canadian friends left days ago to get across the border to the safety of their health care system.

After the Spring Break fiasco, the local governments have closed public beaches, including our favorite dog beach Walton Rocks.  Many of the local golf courses are still open.   Keeping 6 feet from fellow golfers is not a problem, so far.  If the courses close I can always walk on, there is no one there to take your money or tell you to get off.  I remember my first Christmas in Washington, D.C. the temperature was in the 60s and I called Mom in Alaska to let her know I was playing golf.  Even if the course was officially closed.

Speaking of Mom, she and Erv are in their assisted living home together, but no visitors are allowed and their meals are being brought to them in their apartment.   Fortunately, they can go outside and get fresh air, take their meals out on the patio.  But, isolation even with another person isn’t what any of us would wish for.  We are so woefully unprepared.

I especially feel for the grocery store workers and truck drivers in their valent effort to keep shelves stocked. They should get hazard pay.  I am going to start tipping the cashier $10.  Thank goodness FL grocery stores sell wine and beer.  It reminded me of the first Snowmageddon in Washington, D.C., I stood in line with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the Capitol Hill Safeway, we both agreed we could go for days with canned food but not without wine.  Floridians have commented this is worse than any hurricane they have experienced.  Isles are empty and not just toilet paper.

I don’t have a large pantry or refrigerator.  I enjoy shopping every few days and buying fresh produce and fish.  Now I have a real challenge of how to pack my fridge and even smaller freezer.

Looking through my lifetime of photos from my storage unit and photos on my phone, it is inconceivable what has happened.  Just days ago I was walking on public beaches, swimming and playing golf.  Now we are hunkered down because of an invisible enemy.   There are millions of refugees around the world fleeing bombs dropping on their homes.  Bombs you can see and hear.   I hope if nothing else comes out of this horrific event we might be more sympathetic to refugees and other displaced persons fleeing violence in their communities.  We are the most privileged and wealthy nation in the world, but we are also vulnerable.  Walls and bombs won’t stop viruses.   If we don’t work together we will die together.

Be safe and keep hope alive.

THE ROAD AHEAD

I haven’t had a permanent residence since June 2016 when I retired from work and sold my Washington, D.C. home.  That summer I house sat Michelle and Duane’s beautiful Stuart, FL home.  Hurricane Mathew came roaring up the coast and I spent the night enclosed but had power, so I was able to check off riding out a hurricane from my bucket list.

That fall I bought Scout I, a 19” Airstream (AS) Flying Cloud in Houston, TX.  I drove west to Austin, Tucson, Palm Springs and up the west coast to Vallejo, CA.  Scout spent the summer of 2017 in storage in Sacramento, CA while I enjoyed my sister Robin’s Long Island home.  I found Scout II for sale in Nassau, NH.  Scout II is a 20’ AS Flying Cloud, the model I always wanted.  One foot gets a great kitchen, large shower, and a much better floor plan.  I sold the 19’ and moved into my new home – Scout II.

Since 2017 I have spent each summer at Robin’s house in Westhampton, NY.  Robin works for Disney (the Mouse) in Los Angeles and will be moving to Paris, France later this year.   I have been so grateful to have a successful and generous bi-coastal sister, with a summer house on Long Island.  Her move to France, however, makes leaving her NY home empty for winter less than desirable.  Wine vendor Mark has been living there since last October and will stay on through next winter.

This short synopsis of my life since retirement is to bring everyone up to speed on where my Road2Reinvention will take me going forward.    I will be a real “FULL-TIME RVer” for the first time since leaving my brick and wood home. 

Winter travel in Florida requires making reservations almost a year in advance.   Other places where snowbirds don’t congregate are generally easy to find camping spots – the kids are in school.  I have enjoyed my winter travels and this winter my semi-permanent place on Hutchinson Island being stationery from Christmas to end of April.  A pool and walking to the beach daily is a great life.  Also, I really like golf in FL.  The courses are green and there is no cactus.

Summer 2020 will bring new opportunities and challenges.  Challenges because I won’t be staying in Robin’s Long Island home; and, opportunities to travel in the northern states and maybe even Canada!  Spending summers on Long Island has limited my travel.  The challenges will be making camping reservations all summer, most notably finding places over weekends.   School is out and summer camping is one of my fond memories growing up.

It isn’t too difficult to find campgrounds but finding availability on weekends can be tough.  I foresee Wal-Mart Parking lots in my future.  Something I vowed never to do.  I would prefer to find campgrounds that allow stays of 10 -14 nights with full hook-ups.  Public campgrounds (National, state and county parks) prohibit stays longer than 14 nights.  But, public campgrounds rarely offer full hook-ups, no sewer connection means using public toilets and showers and very judicious use of water in the trailer for dishwashing.  I can stay just about a week before the black tank is full and requires a trip to a dump station.  If I am going to hook-up the trailer and drive to dump the black tank/wastewater tank, I might as well move along and try a new spot.

This summer there will be lots of moving, and places where I don’t know anyone.  Thank goodness Maggie is so great at introducing us to fellow travelers.  Two great apps for RVers help planning routes and stays, paper maps are a thing of the past.  AllStays and RVWizard are apps that show campgrounds, truck stops, rest areas, Wal-Marts, road elevation and grade, and low bridges.  RVWizard allows your route to be exported into an Excel spreadsheet, invaluable.

Tentatively, I have decided to head north to Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin where I have friends and family.  See a good part of the Great Lakes and Niagra Falls.  I will swing east in late August and head to Maine to visit my new golf pal Diane.  I plan to spend October to the election in North Carolina for GOTV hopefully defeating Trump, and electing Joe Biden.  Thanksgiving with Family in Chapel Hill, and then south again for winter TBD.

If you are in any of the places mentioned above beware!  More to follow and finalize, but for now, I will enjoy my FL winter and get Scout ready for 3,000+ miles of real “FULL-TIME RV” travel.  The travel will give me lots of time to write and I am certain there will be trials and tribulations to report on. 

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PITCH IT IN THE BIN

I have seven days to finish emptying my 5’x5’x10′ storage unit.  Thanks to Craig’s list and Facebook Marketplace I have sold stuff for $20 to $50 and donated lots to the Hospice Thrift Shop. At my first meeting with a potential buyer, she agreed to meet at 10:30 a.m.  At 10:20 a.m. she texted to say she was just leaving; 45 minutes later, she shows up and says, no I don’t I want it.  A harbinger of things to come?  Luckily and my other sales have gone well and I am down to family photos and odds and ends.  I only wish I had done this when I left Washington, D.C., and not brought stuff to FL.  The D.C. population is very transient lots of college students and interns.  What was I thinking?  For a moment I thought I might buy a condo in Florida, so a storage unit made sense at the time.

I have stopped my autopay and will be out of the storage unit on February 28.  Whatever is left is going to be “chucked in the bin”.  It is the family photos I feel really bad about, but a woman with no kids, don’t have anyone to give photos to, so they will be the last to be chucked.

After 4 years, I really didn’t remember what I thought I wanted, or would want?  I am surprised every time I open a box.  Boxes of books?  Sheets, pillows and other linens?  And, a lot of kitchen stuff.   I admit I love kitchen gadgets, pots, and pans, my Cuisinart food processor, Kitchen Aid mixer, etc.   

I did find my Imelda Marcos golf shoe collection.  They are all in plastic shoe boxes, and in great shape.  Did I really need all those golf shoes?  Did Imelda ever ask herself if she needed all those shoes?  I have two pairs of golf shoes in Scout, and they do me just fine.

It is my 66 birthday and seems the very best time to lighten the load.  When my Dad died all he had to his name was a watch.  We gave it away, what are four daughters going to do with a silly man’s watch. 

Seven days and counting with some cash in hand, and FREE of stuff!