Anyone can find all the statistics and news information they want to know about the 2019 CoronaVirus pandemic on the internet. But I thought I’d document some of my personal experiences while we are still in the middle of it. As of this writing, there are 3.3 million cases with 231K deaths worldwide, and over one million cases and 62K deaths in the USA.

The virus started in Wuhan, China around December-January, and by mid-late February had made it’s way to the US. The stock market took a dive the third week of February, and I sold a few shares of Marvell just to ensure I had enough cash to get me through the summer. Turns out, I shouldn’t have panicked, because a month later, the market was back up quite a bit due to economic provisions the government made. But as Daryl always tells me, don’t waste a lot of time comparing the price you got for a sale if it was the right time to do it. At least I didn’t sell much!

I made a big grocery run on March 5, stocking up on all the supplies I thought I’d need for several weeks. It was a good decision, because ten days later, the country began to shut down as the virus began to rapidly spread. Since that provision supply run, I’ve done three grocery orders from Fry’s that I picked up in their parking lot. I’ve also gotten a few items delivered from Amazon. But I’m pretty proud of myself for taking care of business without going into any stores and exposing myself, and more importantly any of my family, to infection.

The only visitation outings I have done is going over to Brian and Carrie’s a couple times a week. I can only do that because both of our households have been practicing a strict quarantine protocol, and we can be sure we are all virus free. Both Brian and Carrie are working from home, and both the boys are keeping up with their school work via online education. Carrie suspended all of Lauren’s therapists and care givers from coming to the house, and she has been providing all of Lauren’s care with help from Brian and Nathan, and now Carrie’s father.

Carrie’s mother died on April 8 following a years-long illness, and several weeks on hospice care. It was a difficult ordeal, but came with some blessings; Bonnie is no longer suffering, and she passed peacefully at home while Dennis was holding her. Now Dennis is spending a lot of his time at Brian and Carrie’s doting on Lauren and participating in family activities, including many game nights and movies.

And me, I am home the majority of my time. My days consist of trying to get my walking miles in, taking a little nap each afternoon, and many hours of watching TV, reading and surfing social media!

Of course, there have been political implications and many hateful differences of opinion on the way the country is responding to the pandemic and trying to slow the spread and keep the most vulnerable safe. But as the graphs begin to show glimmers of hope and optimism that we may be seeing some success in that regard, the cries to get back to normal are increasing. Some states are starting to slowly reopen a few businesses with strict limitations in place regarding sanitizing, limiting the number of mask-wearing people allowed inside, and expanding pick up and delivery. Some folks will rush right out in celebration, but others will remain very cautious about coming out of our safety cocoons. It will take months or even years before the nation (and world) recover from all the set backs.

Each day as I walk out in the sunshine I think about how lucky and blessed I am to have my comfortable home, plenty of food and supplies in my cupboards, good health, financial stability, and many family and friends who love and care about me. I know that is not the case for millions of people around the world, so I don’t take it lightly. Keeping focused on those positives, along with being an introvert who doesn’t hate living alone ;-), helps me deal with this unique season of life with continuing joy.

Stay healthy, everyone!

31. January 2020 · Comments Off on Caribbean Cruising in The Haven · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

I asked Brian and Carrie if I could tag along on a cruise with them sometime. They had just booked a week in January on the Norwegian Escape for their family. They made arrangements to upgrade their one bedroom suite in The Haven to a two bedroom, and I paid the difference. It was a lot cheaper than a private cabin for myself in the exclusive upscale area would have been, though slightly more than a standard stateroom on the lower decks. However, it was well worth it. The accommodations were supreme, and service was exemplary. Many of the things you pay extra for in a standard cabin were included in the Haven’s suites.

We flew to Miami on a red eye flight on January 4, and boarded the ship about 11:00. They served us lunch in The Haven reception area while we waited for our room to be ready and luggage to be delivered. We explored the ship, and watched our ship leave the port from the Sundeck.

We had four ports of call: Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. We had booked excursions in all four ports. We did a Catamaran and snorkel cruise in Roatan. Unfortunately, Andrew tripped on deck and severely sprained his ankle, and required a wheelchair for the remainder of the week.

On the catamaran
Snorklers

Harvest Caye is a small island owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Many of the cruise lines do this, as it’s a way for passengers to visit foreign countries that may not be safe for American tourists. They still get a taste of the culture and climate, but are completely isolated from the mainland dangers. Carrie and I did some window shopping while the guys played water sports.

On the morning we docked in Costa Maya, Carrie woke up sick. The boys and I had booked a dolphin encounter, but Andrew’s ankle prevented him from going, so Brian stayed “home” to be nursemaid. Nathan and I really enjoyed the dolphins; it’s quite an awesome experience.

Extremely gentle and affectionate animals
The dolphin is pushing me by my feet. It was fast!

By the time we got to Cozumel, Brian had come down with flu, and he and Carrie both quarantined themselves in their bedroom. I took Nathan and Andrew (in his wheelchair) and we went off on our excursion to Chankanaab Adventure Park. This is a small sea life park with a few attractions, including dolphin and manatee encounters, sea lion show, crocodile exhibit, and a replica Mayan village. There were also pools and a beach for swimming. We had a good time, though pushing that wheelchair on packed sand was hard work.

Andrew was enthralled with the Mayan exhibit. He stood on one foot for a picture.
Crocodile exhibit (Notice the pointed snout. Gators have a rounded head.)

We arrived back in Miami the morning of January 11, and Brian and Carrie were feeling some better. We had booked a final excursion riding an airboat through the Everglades. This was a great experience, and we all really enjoyed it. By the time we got back to Miami, Brian and Carrie were worn out, and we went straight to the airport to rest and wait for our evening flight back to Phoenix.

Gator sunning himself.

This adventure has made me want to do more cruises to exotic places around the world and, if I can swing it, to stay in the luxury suites.

07. September 2019 · Comments Off on Fun year · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

I have not written a blog post here since my annual review, so I’ve got some catching up to do.

In February, I updated my kitchen by having new countertops installed, putting a fresh coat of white paint on the cabinets, laying new wood-look floor tile and updating the backsplash and window coverings.

Before

After

In March, I went with Carrie and the boys to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Although Disneyland and California Adventure are our favorite theme parks, we like to visit Florida once every couple of years to catch the attractions we don’t have in California. Since Carrie and Brian have a timeshare, we usually get a condo near the parks, and I pay for the car rental. I have had Southwest frequent flyer miles from my credit card that I have used the last several flights, so it’s actually a more affordable trip than one might think. Of course, tickets into the theme parks are the biggest expense by far, but you really can’t put a price on family fun.

Nathan made Eagle Scout this year, and his troop ceremony was held at Brian and Carrie’s.

I took my Minnie to New Mexico this spring to spend time in the state parks there with Dale, I wrote all about that on my RV blog.

It’s been a very long, very hot summer here. Instead of monsoon, we had “Nonsoon”. Summer thunderstorms have been few and far between, and temps have been in the one teens the majority of the summer months. We decided to celebrate Richard’s recovery from his critical illness earlier this year, and what better way than with a barbecue and swim party at Brian & Carrie’s.

Robin and Ken put in a new pool this summer, and I hadn’t visited since last Thanksgiving, so I flew up to Boise to spend a long weekend in mid-August.

While I was there, I mentioned to Robin that I was doing a quick trip to Disneyland the first week of September, and suggested she sneak away and join me. She said yes, and we had a wonderful three days together experiencing all the Magic. The parks were the least busy I can ever remember, and we walked onto the majority of the rides in both Disneyland and California Adventure. The only downer (and it was a huge downer) was the heat wave Anaheim was experiencing. With temps in the high 90s (one day even hit 101°) and humidity climbing to 85%, we were melting. It was a good thing we didn’t have to spend much time waiting in long lines in the sun or we would have packed it in and gone home. But it was a fun three days and something we haven’t done together since 2003.

I’m getting ready to head out on a fall trip in my Minnie. First I’m going to Gulf Shores in Alabama to join Wendy and Denny’s friends and family celebrating their Golden Anniversary. From there, I’ll make my way back to Mississippi to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway all the way to Nashville. I’ll be blogging about that on my RV blog, so catch up with my adventures there.

By the time I return, it’ll be holiday season. Hard to believe 2020 is just around the corner!

I drove my Tesla to Boise for Thanksgiving week. It’s been quite a few years since I spent a Thanksgiving with the Holsingers. I’ve been up to Eagle for Christmas and New Year’s many times, but they were making travel plans for this December holiday, so I thought turkey day would be a nice change of pace. Besides, it would be another opportunity to take my Tesla on a road trip, and test out a colder climate and the impact on an electric vehicle. I experienced the reduced battery range that cold temps cause, and also the importance of tire pressure. By the time I drove as far as Flagstaff, I started getting continuous “low tire pressure” warnings.

Snow on the Supercharger

Frosty car

Chilly morning in Richfield, UT

Since my Yuma trips in October, Tesla has added “Navigate on AutoPilot” to the firmware. This feature incorporates lane guidance, on and off ramp navigation, and blind spot awareness when driving on the highway. I’ve found the autopilot works great out on the open road, but in crowded cities, especially with lots of semi trucks on the road, I get a little nervous that my car doesn’t give an inch when someone encroaches on my lane. So I typically turn off the auto steer as I come into heavier traffic, and drive with just the traffic aware cruise control engaged.

At 1025 miles from my house to Robin’s, I like to stop at a hotel about halfway between us. I price-checked on Orbitz, and selected economical hotels that were near Superchargers. Hotels with destination chargers tended to be about twice as expensive as I like to spend, so I didn’t book those, but it may be worth it to folks who don’t want to spend extra time charging at the end of a long driving day and who have money to spare.

I admit I was surprised that charging stops took more time than I anticipated, but I really didn’t mind the waits. I always got out and walked around a bit to stretch my legs and to use the restroom. Sometimes I wandered through a store nearby or got a snack, but many times I just got back in the car and perused my phone. I spend a lot of time at home on my phone or iPad reading news, blogs and social media, so I didn’t feel like doing it in the car while I charged to be much different.

When I arrived at the Holsingers, they all ooh-ed and aah-ed over my car, but since it was dark, no one took rides. I made it clear anyone was welcome to do a test drive anytime, but sadly no one took me up on my offer. Instead, we stayed home all week watching TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, chatting and — most of all — EATING!

Steven and I worked on a fun puzzle together while Ken made scrumptious food.

Robin put together a 1000 piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Lucy is a good girl.

Friends of Robin and Ken joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Casey smoked the turkey in a bacon wrap, and we provided the sides.

Who doesn’t love bacon?!

We had a delicious meal and a lovely day, topped off with silky chocolate pie (the Holsingers fully embrace that Lafferty tradition!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m planning a three day trip to Disneyland next week. My friend Glenda is going with me. It will be fun to enjoy the beautiful Christmas decorations and holiday spirit with her in the Happiest Place on Earth. Merry Christmas everyone!

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