Day 226 of Pandemic Paranoia. March 12th was the date I was to fly to Chicago rendezvousing with my daughter to celebrate my son’s birthday. Inklings of a lethal virus were circulating. National and state borders were closing. So, like many others we cancelled our travel plans, fully expecting to be able to rebook in short order.
Short order never materialized. At the risk of sounding like a grumbler, we had moved a few mountains coordinating three sets of schedules to make our March Chicago birthday trip happen. Let me be quick to add, however, I’m utterly grateful we all have been Covid-free as the virus pillages its way across the world.
As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam my adult children live away. My daughter resides in Southern Illinois, my son near Chicago. The last time I beheld my babies was early December and mid January respectively. A common complaint I hear from Baby Boomer women is how much they miss their children and grandchildren. Two of ours live in Chicago. FaceTime has been wonderful but I miss actually touching those cherubic cheeks. So we relented and made travel plans.
Negotiating with my son was nothing short of a treaty negotiation. They can’t risk their nanny getting COVID since she is a critical factor in their ability to make a living. My daughter posited no restrictions on our visit to see her so she quickly moved to the top of the list in our travel plans.
The Makanda Inn is nestled in the Shawnee National Forrest. Our cottage was situated well away from the Lodge. Mornings found us sitting on a little patio outside our loft bungalow. The wood-burning Chiminea perched on our patio provided warmth from the 45 degree evenings and blustery mornings.
The trees and foliage were just beginning to shed their leaves with the remainder coloring to golds and reds.
It was strange coming from a southern urban area to hear only the sounds of rustling leaves and crackling kindling. Even the birds had grown scarce making as their way, like many other northern residents, to Florida.
Just this change of scenery and sound refreshed my spirit. My 41-year-old daughter backed up to my legs one evening as she seated herself before the fire. I was able to wrap my arms around her sheltering her slender self from the onslaught of the windy cold. I rubbed her back and kissed her head, an act I’ve not really had the opportunity to do even before the pandemic began its pillaging.
Traveling in the age of COVID is difficult. So many questions plagued us…Are our accommodations sufficiently sanitized (ok so I brought a vat of sanitizer and wipes); will we get COVID cooties from rest stops or gas stations; and the biggest question of all, where can we eat? In Orlando I’ve not dined in-doors since March. I discovered, to no surprise, my kitchen makes a much better eating venue than our car.
Our sixteen-hour drive home convinced us our next journey north to Chicago will include an airline flight. Southwest continues to keep middle seats unoccupied at least until the end of November. I’ve purchased K95 masks (not the N95 which are unavailable) and face shields. I will get yet another COVID test once we arrive in Chicago. Fingers crossed. I hope careful counts. I’ll report in on the experience.