Social Distancing Week 22…Off The Grid

Friday, August 14, 2020…11:59am

The end of week 22.

We spent most of this week off the grid. After waiting most of the summer to make plans for travel, we finally decided a few weeks ago to make some low risk camping plans. We almost always take at least one camping trip per summer and it definitely felt like the safest way to get a change of scenery.

Living in CA where the options for camping are seemingly endless…..beach, mountain, desert, state park, national park, private campground…it’s generally not difficult to find a place to go even when you don’t plan ahead. In a time of COVID-19 however, when about 50% of the possible campsites are closed and more people than normal are camping it was a challenge to even find a spot. All of our favorite places were either closed or full for the week we chose, so we made a reservation in a campground in a part of the Sequoia National Forest where we had never been before and crossed our fingers that it would work out. Once the plans were made, we decided to invite another family – one who has been part of our very small “bubble” since the beginning of COVID life – to go with us. Camping is definitely more enjoyable for all of us when there are other people in our group.

So on Sunday morning we headed for the mountains – 2 vehicles, 3 adults, 3 teenagers, 1 kid who did her best to keep up with the teenagers, and 2 dogs. The mountain road for the final hour of the trip was full of hairpin turns and made half of us nauseous. The campground was small, the sites were strange, and we had to drive at least 30 minutes to get to places to hike or play in the water. My concern that the extended time at home was possibly leading to agoraphobia in my eldest child was validated when he had a panic attack in the first hour of being at camp and kept saying that it all felt “too big”. Over the course of our time away, two of our camp chairs and an air mattress broke. Our blind and diabetic dog suffered heat exhaustion on our last full day at camp, basically collapsing in the middle of a trail leading to some natural water slides. And life being the unpredictable thing that it is right now, we found out 3 days before we left that the high school scheduled virtual freshman orientation for 10am on the day we planned to travel home – so on our final morning we were up before the sun to quickly pack and drive far enough back toward civilization for our eldest child to have a cell signal so he could log in to orientation.

It was definitely not the most relaxing camping trip of our lives. But we were away from the place where we’d all spent most of our time for the previous 21 weeks, with great friends and in fresh air. The days weren’t easy, but there was so much laughter. We didn’t completely escape being around other people, but there was enough space that we only wore masks on one hiking trail and when we went inside the small store for ice or food. It wasn’t a perfect trip, but it was a little bit of what we all needed in this strange time.

It was family…

and trees…

and mountain streams…

and wide open views…

and friends who are family…

and dogs covered in mountain dirt…

and tailgate meals as a safe alternative to eating in restaurants on the road…

and just a little bit of peace.

Be well my friends.

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