My husband and I spent the winter in Florida this year. We packed up our little 16 ft travel trailer and headed south shortly after Christmas. Virginia winters are chilly, sometimes there is even snow. We chose to escape winter for many reasons, one being the lure of summer-like temperatures.
First stop was a six week stay at a private campground in Florida City, the gateway to the Keys. Our Florida State Park pass gave us access to all of the State Parks in the Keys and we visited many of them, bicycling around the parks as well as the local communities. We soaked up sun, swam in the waters, and hung out enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather. At the private campground, we participated in many activities, made friends, and were very sad to leave when our time was done.
From there, we headed north for a two week stay at Jonathon Dickinson State Park by the Atlantic Ocean. Florida’s state parks are in high demand, despite their limit of two week stays. We were fortunate to get in at all, as reservations must be made 11 months ahead. We logged miles on our bicycles on the park’s many trails and enjoyed campfires and nature. Our time ended and we moved to a private resort in Ft. Myers for the final month of our trip.
By then, we were starting to see news stories about a killer virus in China. Then reports started targeting cases in Florida, all travel and cruise related. Florida takes the COVID19 virus very seriously and nightly news reports stated how many cases were identified, where they were contracted, where the people were recovering (hospital, nursing facility, or their homes) and how many cases were being monitored for development. We kept a social distance from folks we met and didn’t participate in any group activities. Florida’s first COVID19 death occurred in a local hospital.
Our daughter back in Virginia was very concerned, especially as the news reported more and more cases of COVID19 across many states. She wanted us home!
We, however, were enjoying the 85 degree sunshine and were reluctant to trade that for 50 degree drizzle in Virginia. Besides, our campsite was paid until the first of April, with no refunds. We figured we weren’t in any danger to just stay in place.
There were only a few cases of travel-related COVID19 in our area when my husband surprised me by asking me to write out a 4 week menu for the two of us using only shelf stable foods. I don’t usually cook with shelf stable food, and figured we could eventually use it for our hurricane supplies. I didn’t think we had any reason for concern. We then purchased this food and stored it in a big plastic bin in our van. His reasoning was that we might be quarantined in the campground for a month and this way we would be prepared. I keep a pantry at home, but certainly didn’t pack food for a 12 week trip in our little trailer. We tend to visit the grocery store every couple of days, picking up milk, bread, meat, and whatever else that is running low. The shelves were full, the store relatively empty, and we gathered our lengthy list with no problems.
One week ago today we were the lone mini golf players at the resort’s golf course, arguing with our daughter by phone, trying to convince her that we were fine as she was trying to convince us that we were not. We had plans to meet friends at a restaurant the following day, but that evening Florida announced its first community acquired case of COVID19 in our area.
We prayed for direction and peace. Odds are, this wasn’t a huge threat to us, and prepared to make the 45 minute drive to see our friends. As I was getting ready, not thinking about anything except applying make up and fixing my hair, the voice of God spoke to my spirit. Clearly, I heard, “It’s time. It’s time to go home.” and a peace flooded over me. I told my husband it was time to go home and he agreed that we would leave in the morning.
We headed out to meet our friends, and on the way I developed a raging sore throat. It was almost instantaneous. With only three miles to go, we cancelled, turned around, and headed back. My husband made one stop at a drug store to buy a numbing throat spray for me, and we quickly packed up our campsite and started the drive back at 2:30 pm.
On the road we learned that three more community acquired cases had been identified in our area. This is no longer a virus limited to those who caught it while traveling over seas; it is now real, it is a pandemic, and it is in our backyard!
Because we were coming from an active community acquired area, we began practicing self quarantine while on the trip home. Usually we stop and eat at restaurants, use the public facilities and take stretch breaks. This trip was different. We used the facilities in our trailer for bathroom and meals, avoiding people as much as possible. My husband used disposable gloves for pumping gas and copious amounts of hand cleaner.
We are home now, our trailer is unpacked and returned to storage, and we have settled in for a two week isolation. Every day on the news, we see stricter regulations from our government and watch more and more businesses close. Our daughter is working from home and her computer equipment is spread over our dining room table. My husband is working on the kitchen table, filing our taxes and watching the stock market tank. I am spending lots of time in my home office, reading the Bible, writing and praying.
Every day we see more and more reports of deaths from this virus, accelerating numbers of cases and growing restrictions. We were fortunate to arrive home before domestic travel bans are implemented for civilians and military families. We hear the ever expanding time lines of projections when this siege will end.
We join the rest of the world watching COVID19.