Opportunity and optimism amid the pandemic

For many, the pandemic turned the world upside down. For some, it offered an opportunity to view life from a different perspective. This is the brief summary of how one of our clients and her family found solace in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As far as pandemics go, my family and I were lucky. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and were surrounded by outdoor activities and amazing scenery. Our daughters were 6 and 8 when the pandemic started, so old enough to be somewhat self-sufficient, but still young enough to spend hours playing with Legos. And while I lost my job a month into the pandemic, my husband’s job was secure.

In the summer of 2020, with California burning all around us and when it was painfully clear schools were going virtual in the fall, my husband and I decided to buy an RV as the majority of both our families were in New Jersey. Now, don’t get me wrong, pre-Covid a purchase like that would have been completely absurd for us, but of course this made all sorts of sense in our new world.

We found a used RV online and put down a deposit sight unseen as RV’s were in high demand. We picked it up on a Thursday in late August and two days later loaded it up with our girls, 12-year-old dog (Otis), and tons of food and clothes to head across the country. Two days into the drive, the Wyoming winds unfurled our canopy at 70 mph in the middle of nowhere; we were off to a shaky start.

Our first stop was Rapid City, South Dakota. Our good friends had moved there a couple years earlier and, like us, were pretty strict when it came to Covid restrictions, so we felt comfortable seeing each other. It was the first time our girls and their kids had been indoors with other kids in months, and they were thrilled.

After an ideal week in South Dakota, we took off for the rest of our journey. On Labor Day, we rolled into Cape May, NJ to visit the first set of grandparents. To say my in-laws were excited to see their granddaughters would be an understatement. Our luck continued as it was still hot in Cape May, which made for fantastic beach days – especially when compared to the red skies and smoke in California.

With the in-laws fully on kid duty, my husband and I snuck down to Washington, DC for a few days. During our DC excursion, after getting the RV to just barely fit in our friends’ Bethesda driveway, we managed what felt like almost normal (although still outside and socially distanced) visits to many of our friends in the area, including a backyard, socially-distanced visit to see the Flemings.

After returning to Cape May and spending a couple weeks there, we headed north to central NJ to visit my side of the family. We’d been traveling for about a month by then and my husband and girls had gotten pretty good at dealing with the time difference. We kept the girls’ school schedule, converted to NJ time, posted on the refrigerator so anyone in the family could know when the girls would be free to play.

Finally, it was time to make our way back west. On the way east, with an old dog that hates driving and two kids that somewhat tolerate driving, we quickly realized that the six-to-nine hours a day on the road were just too much. For the drive west, we decided to take our time and see the country.

Although we had a more relaxed driving schedule, we still had to coordinate school and work schedules (we were constantly hunting down a data signal), and we had Otis, who couldn’t be trusted to be alone in the RV (with A/C running).

Based on these criteria, we managed to visit five national parks:

  • Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, they offer dog kennels for rent
  • Hot Springs in Arkansas, this park is in the middle of a small city, so dogs are allowed
  • Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, they also have kennels
  • White Sands in New Mexico, dogs are allowed in the park
  • Petrified Forest in Arizona, as they say, their name starts with “Pet.” This park is very dog friendly – Otis even became a Bark Ranger which thoroughly delighted my girls.

In mid-October we arrived home, which after being gone so long, especially in a RV, felt a little surreal. The time away helped cement a decision we had been tossing around pre-Covid – to start a new adventure in a new city. So, this summer, we moved to Boulder, Colorado and the RV did not come with us. In California we were able to park the RV in our driveway, and with weather we could hit the road anytime of the year. In Boulder, it’s more of a hassle with less time to use it. To our amazement, RVs were in higher demand this summer, so when we found out we could actually break even with the sale, our decision was made – although my husband is already searching for our next RV for when our girls are grown and out of the house.