Mothers Day and Memorial Day

It’s been awhile so I wanted to give an update from here in Texas.  I’ve collected pictures from the last couple of weeks to share all at once, so although its a bit of a hodge podge I will try to keep it in order.

First I wanted to mention that Cori and I recently attended a special farmers market.  The event was sponsored by a local food bank and they had a wholesaler come with a truck full of vegetables that were ordered ahead of time online.  The prices were great and we wanted to support the food bank, so since they talked quite a bit about safety and social distancing we decided to give it a try.  When we pulled up the line was already pretty long but we were happy to see most people were wearing masks and initially trying to social distance.  The problem was that they didn’t have anyone calling out the names of the orders that were filled so people kept walking up to see if the bags had their names written on them.  The disorganization was seriously making me itchy and both of us had a hard time not just jumping in, but eventually our bag was done and we were able to leave.  The food was good and the prices were terrific but hopefully for the next event they will have a better system for distributing.

Those of us who pre-ordered had bags on the left and they had a line for walk up purchases on the right. Again nice idea but poorly executed

the one thing that really upset me was the woman in blue who was running the event didn’t wear a mask. That really bugged me since the website specifically talked about masks and social distancing being a requirement. Definitely do as I say not as I do.

Speaking of masks and social distancing as things start to open up, I reached out to someone in the medical industry to talk through my concerns.  Rather than taking my information from a bunch of politicians I decided to trust a medical expert with what is essentially a medical problem.  My question was “Is it time to start relaxing some?” and the answer was “not yet”.  The reason why surprised me though, and I thought I would share it here.  The concern of the person I spoke to wasn’t so much about people dying (this happens), but about the death itself.  It is a long and painful affair for most people, and worse, they are alone when it happens.  Instead of being surrounded by loved ones, because of social distancing people are dying alone, and to the person I talked to that was the worst part of it.  This perspective was one I hadn’t really thought about and convinced me that social distancing and wearing a mask was a relatively small price to pay for sparing someone a painful death away from loved ones.  Just my two cents.

We have been going more places though, and with the help of Kelly and Bill purchased something for Cori and Greg.  As you know Hobie passed away a few weeks ago and the four of us wanted to do something for them.  It took some effort with social distancing but we were able to purchase a memorial and have it engraved.  We picked it up from the artist and put our money in cash under a rock, which was sort of funny, but totally safe.  I loved the way it turned out and really appreciated the job they did.

The small rock is where we put out money 🙂


Loved it!


Mother’s Day was next and that was a hard day for me.  I am often away from my family on Mother’s Day but would have loved to have been with my daughter for HER first mothers day.  We skyped and I got to speak to all three of my kids which is one bonus for me of Covid.  Two of them work in restaurants and usually work a double on Mother’s Day but they were home and we were able to talk together. And my oldest sent me one of my all time favorite presents, a Oliver blanket that says Best Grandma Ever.  Made me cry.

I am upper left and Lee is upper right. So wonderful!! I will absolutely cherish it.


Speaking of social media we finally got to try Zoom and we all got together for a family chat. It was super fun and thanks to my youngest daughter for getting us organized.  Lee put it up on our TV screen which was great as I could actually see their faces.


The next couple of weeks were crazy busy with work because we were put on a big project.  That was great because these are uncertain times and it’s always good to be working on something high profile.  It was long days though and it was pretty intense so I was thrilled when the three day Memorial day weekend occurred.  Unfortunately we all decided there wasn’t much we could do outside that would allow for social distancing so we are all staying close to home base and waiting it out.  The small town near us is on the river and the tubing crowds have been heavy all week.  The out of towners are not wearing masks or social distancing so it’s best to just stay away.  I was super impressed by how many businesses just closed down for the weekend to protect their employees but some need the revenue desperately.  I appreciate that they are trying to keep their employees safe as best they can, but wonder how many folks will end up getting sick from this one weekend.

Staying in place really isn’t that awful especially with friends like Cori and Greg.  My main complaint is I still can’t get a haircut and after seeing the new story about the people in Missouri, I feel like I need to continue waiting on that.  Texas hit their peak on May 15th, so we want to wait at least two weeks before doing anything that requires close contact.  On the plus side staying home is definitely helping us save money and we are putting some more money in savings.  That’s good because next week I will find out if I am one of the people being laid off.  A major restructure in our company is happening next week and it’s hard to tell who will be on the final list.  I feel I have done everything I can to show I am a person worth keeping but being relatively new and having a newer boss I just don’t have total confidence.  Whatever happens will definitely determine what our next steps our, so all plans are in jello until then.

In the meantime we continue to stay safe as best we can and keep saving just in case.  Take care everyone and hopefully talk soon.


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We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Navigating a COVID world

Everyone needs to make their own decision about how much they will quarantine and in our case we have definitely been more isolated than many.  Lee has been concerned about getting COVID because he was a long time smoker and has a heart condition, and in order to support that I rarely left the compound.  Like most people though it has left me feeling incredibly restless, made all the more difficult by the fact that personally I don’t worry that much about getting sick.  I think its extremely important to protect other people though, but as they opened up Texas it became harder and harder to sit at home.

The reality is that in this lifestyle what one of us does has a significant impact on the other.  There is no space to social distance from each, and unlike when we had a house we can’t sleep in separate beds or take over separate areas of the house.  My choices are his choices and vice versa and that has been brought home during this crisis.  For example, we had a plan for Lee to work in South Dakota this summer, but after learning the specifics of the safety measures they were willing to take and the fact that Lee would come into contact with hundreds of people a day, he ultimately decided not to go.  I completely understand that decision, but obviously it also impacts me as we will be staying in Texas through the summer.  It gets hot down here, and for folks that like to follow the weather I think we will have some challenges. Don’t get me wrong, we are both incredibly grateful to have a place to stay, but we were also looking forward to a summer in the badlands, where the elevation keeps in cooler. Plus we were looking forward to a summer of exploring the region and just generally “getting back to normal”.

Before he made his decision we had a somewhat heated conversation about what this looks like over the next several months.  Essentially I have felt it was important to stay at home to avoid putting others at risk, but if Texas was going to throw themselves wide open I wasn’t willing to stay on strict lockdown for the next several months.  Unfortunately that puts him at risk, and we were having trouble finding common ground.  Ultimately Lee agreed that if Texas had 14 consecutive days of declining new cases he would be OK with higher risk activities (ie: haircut, etc).  In the interim he has been softer about me taking short trips out as long as I am masked, gloved, and try to maintain social distancing.

I have spent the last few days going to several places and it has been such a mixed bag of experiences I wanted to share them with you.  Keep in mind we are in Texas where the laws are relatively loose but this may show you what things look like when those rules are loosened.  Here is a summation of those experiences in no particular order.

  1. Home Depot – I intentionally went at 10:30 am on a Friday hoping that I would beat the crowds, but the parking lot was mostly full.  I couldn’t enter through the garden center but instead walked down to a tent and then in the front doors where an employee was keeping track of the number of people.  My main issue with that approach was the employee was not wearing a mask, and I had trouble keeping 6 feet from people when I went in the door.  I made an immediate left and went into the garden center and picked my tomato plants, two pots and soil.  All of the elderly people I saw wore masks and most of the people my age but none of the employees were masked at all.  This particularly bothered me when I came to checkout.  Although there were no lines painted we all naturally fell into a six foot distance pattern, but unmasked people kept cutting through the line.  At least 4 different people did this in the short time I was standing there which kind of defeated the purpose.  The check out person didn’t have a mask either and did not stay behind the plastic.  Mixed experience but I am happy with the tomato plants I bought.

I bought two heat resistant plants I have never heard of. Summer set and solar free. Hope they taste good because all in it cost about $58.

2. Spring Creek Gardens – Unfortunately Home depot didn’t have grape tomato plans so on Mothers Day Cori and I ran up to a local nursery.  It was a very nice place and had beautiful landscape plants but unfortunately hardly any good vegetable plants.  I did get two scrawny grape tomatoes plants but couldn’t find any inexpensive pots.  Worse, only one person there had a mask on.  Yes it was mostly outside, but people were close to each other and social distancing wasn’t always possible.  Plus there were kids because there was a petting zoo which worried me more. We left as quick as we could and again the employees had no masks or gloves.


3. Dollar General –  I didn’t think I could handle Home Depot on a Sunday so we stopped at Dollar General to see if they had pots.  Not only did they have a nice selection but about half the people were masked, the aisles were relatively clear, the checkout line had spacing lines for people to stand, and the cashier had a mask and Plexiglas.   I was thrilled to see they were being safe and will definitely be going back!

4. Whataburger – I was hungry after stopping at Home Depot and went through the drive-thru for a sandwich.  I was pleased to see everyone had a mask and gloves and they have not opened their dining room yet despite being allowed for 25% capacity.  I felt completely comfortable and the food was great!

5. Pizza Hut –  In complete contrast on another visit I saw that they were doing curbside drop off for Pizza hut and decided to give that a try.  I haven’t been to Pizza Hut since this entire thing got started and when I tried to social distance they looked at me like I was crazy.  Since they now have curbside drop off I decided to give it a try.  I was only there for a minute or so when the door opened and the same employee from last time walked to my vehicle.  He was holding my pizza box which now has a sealed tag on it, but he had no mask or gloves.  He walked right up to the driver side window and I quickly put my mask on.  He was less than two feet from me and handed me the box and then asked me if I wanted to tip the cook.  I stated I did not and left fuming.  That was twice in a row I had a bad experience and I would not eat that pizza until I could recook it.  I also filled out a COVID specific online survey about the experience and was scathing in my scores.  I rarely do that, but I like Pizza Hut and hate that I don’t feel comfortable eating from there because they are not following their own policies.

6.  City of Gruene – Another day Lee and I ran over to New Braunfels to run a couple of errands and on the way we passed through the tourist town of Gruene. We were both really surprised to see that the town was packed with tourists and only one person had a mask.  All the small boutique shops were open and there was absolutely no social distancing going on.  We didn’t even get out of the car.

7.  Sea Island – When we got to New Braunfels we stopped for pickup of Sea Island.  I absolutely adore their shrimp and although it is a long drive I have wanted it for a couple of months.  I was surprised that their parking lot was very full but we did managed to snag one of the spots that said for pickup.  I had ordered on their app, and wasn’t sure how to tell them I was there so I asked an employee but he said to go inside to get my carryout.  That defeated the purpose so I called the number I saw on the sign and they did bring the order out right away.  The employees were masked and I did not need to go inside, but I didn’t feel great about how full the parking lot was.  I thought restaurants were on 25% capacity but it definitely seemed like there were more people than that.

8.  Auto Zone – Lastly we went to Auto Zone for Lee to pick up a car part.  He masked up and went inside and came out very angry.  Not one person in the store was masked and the cashier gave him attitude when Lee kept backing away because the employee was standing too close.  The person handled his purchase and receipt without gloves and the credit card terminal wasn’t clean at all. Lee didn’t see any lines at all for social distancing in line.  He was so upset that when he came home he wrote an email to the company.  It wasn’t just the complete lack of measures that bothered him but the lack of respect for his safety, and the fact that their website has lots of specific things they are “doing” but they’re not actually doing any of those things.  As he stated in the email he can order every product they have online from Amazon, and next time that is exactly what he will do.

So it was a mixed bag of experiences over a three day period.  I was really happy in all those cases where companies were attempting to keep people safe and really angry when they weren’t.  The anger isn’t so much for myself but for those people who are stuck in their homes because folks won’t follow some simple recommendations.  I want to get out and spend a little money like anyone else but I am going to have to be very choosy about what places allow me to do that.  I say allow because they are making a choice and I get to make mine. And for those of you who may think I am making some sort of political statement, please keep in mind that the major principle of capitalism is I get to choose where to spend my money. 🙂

Supporting our Blog

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  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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April 2020 Budget

Update:  Lee forgot to add the $404 RV payment (thanks Bill and Ellen for noticing) so the actual monthly costs were $2965.  Still a good month but sorry we missed it. This is a pretty weird month of course because we are strictly quarantining ourselves, but we still managed to spend $2561.  Most of that was food and Amazon purchases.  When the stress gets a little high I was buying presents for people and since even at furloughed wages I made enough to cover it we were actually able to put some money in the bank.  For the details please see below.


Campground Fees – Our friends are being incredibly generous and letting us stay with them, but we all agreed it would be fair if we contributed $100 a month for electric and that is what I am putting in this category.

Dining Out – This is the lowest its ever been 🙂  We had pizza one night and Panda Express a couple of times.  I adore their mushroom chicken and am so glad I discovered it in quarantine!

Entertainment – Lee has ordered some books, and this also includes some iPad games I play.

Gifts – OK, I went a little crazy in this category spending $397, but I don’t care.  It wasn’t all Oliver this time, and I am glad I have a job so I can do a little nice for someone I love in my life. Plus it’s a nice little stress relief. (It wasn’t all Trace, though. I bought a little something for my Mom for Mother’s Day. – Lee)

Groceries – We spent $659 and are stuffed to the rafters with food.  Every time I think we need to back off a little there are concerns about something (ie: meat) and we stock up just in case.  If we can’t take it all with us when we go we will donate some to Cori and Greg and in the meantime we all feel better that we have lots of food available.

Truck Fuel – This is the best category because we only used 3/4 a tank of gas in a month.  We aren’t going anywhere, and that is good for the wallet and the pocketbook.

Basically it is one of the best months we ever had but we cant really take credit for that.  Despite Texas opening up we are continuing to quarantine, so I don’t know how much that will change in May.  More about that in my next post though.

(UPDATE: For those who caught it, we DID pay the RV Payment this month, I just forgot to put it in the spreadsheet. $404.03, as always. – Lee)


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

RIP Hobie

In a world where 3,000 people are dying a day from Covid it might seem strange to be so deeply impacted by the loss of a pet, but as many of you know pets can often have more impact on our day to day lives than most people.  Yesterday the friends we are staying with lost Hobie, their dog of 14 years, and although he wasn’t my dog I find myself incredibly sad and missing him.  Over the last six years of travel we have spent more time with Cori and Greg than anyone else, and for most of those years when we didn’t have a pet, Hobie filled some of that void in my life.

For anyone who ever met him he had a larger than life personality and definitely was the boss in the Cori, Greg, Hobie relationship.  We affectionately called him “Thug Dog” because he ran the show like a gangster, and although there wasn’t a mean bone in his body he could let you know in no uncertain terms when he was displeased.  When I talked to Greg yesterday he mentioned that Hobie was the reason Jack came to us and that is absolutely true.  I wanted a dog just like Hobie, and although I knew that was unlikely I bought Jack (same breed and look) in the hopes he would have some of the same characteristics.

Watching Hobie take the young puppy under his wing was both fascinating and a little frightening.  Jack is a pretty good puppy, but when he got around Hobie his ornery side would definitely come out.  Hobie was amazingly tolerant of the new puppy antics and showed Jack some tricks of the trade like lifting his leg to pee, hiding toys, and reproachful looks when displeased.  When Hobie got sick a couple of months ago, we were worried that Jack would make him feel worse, but as dogs often do he was solicitous of his friend and seemed to be looking out for him.

It’s easy with animals to see what you want to see, but all I know is the night Hobie died Jack woke me up at 4am and when I took him outside his behavior was very unusual.  Believe what you want, but I think he knew something was wrong, and I know he is sad his buddy is gone.  We are all sad, because the loss of a beloved pet can often be worse than a person.  They provide unconditional love, are with you more hours than most people you know, and definitely provide something unique and special that nothing else can.

We loved you buddy, and we are grateful you were in our lives.  Jack is a living legacy of the impact you had on us, and you will be missed.

Here are some of my favorite Hobie memories.

Before we had Jack I would buy Hobie a toy every time we were going to see him.  When  I bought him stuffed toys he would destroy them immediately to get the squeaker out. It became a game and we would time him. This frog he destroyed in less than five minutes and he was so proud of himself.  The great hunter!


The first time Hobie met Max was very interesting. Max is also a Cavachon and was a beautifully coiffed, smart dog. Max could do some pretty cool tricks, which Hobie never deigned to do, and the attention Max was receiving was not to Hobies liking. As Max showed us all how he could catch a ball in mid air and we oohed and aahed, Hobie decided enough was enough. When it was his turn to catch the ball, he instead trotted right over and peed on it. #thugdog was born that day and continued through the rest of his life.

When Jack and Hobie first met there was definitely some tentativeness. It didn’t take long for Hobie to firmly establish that he was in charge, but he was nice about it and it helped settle Jack down a bit.


When Hobie visited he would gather the toys he wanted and they were his for the duration!


Last April we spent several weeks together in Utah and the puppies got tons of love and had a wonderful time.


Although they were both pink the entire time from the red sand.


We are all grateful that we got to spend time with Hobie and be with him until the very end.


Best buddies forever


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Getting Crafty

With all this extra time on my hands I decided to get serious about a craft I have wanted to do for years.  For a long time I have been looking for a US map shaped corkboard and several months back I ran across one for $9.99 at Hobby Lobby.  My goal was to print a picture from every state we had visited and then glue it on the board to make a 3D wall hanging.  This sounds easy, but was more complicated than I thought, as I realized when I first started selected pictures.  I spent hours combing through the pictures I had looking for ones I thought would work with the specific states.  Then I needed to print them out (correctly sized) and I used tracing paper and an X-acto knife to cut them into the right shape.


After many starts and stops I was starting to make progress, but soon realized that the smaller states would be a real challenge.  The bigger states out west were pretty easy but oddly shaped states like Virginia and Ohio were simply not going to be an exact fit.  I knew I could live with that, but was VERY concerned about filling in the gaps and ultimately I had to admit that no matter how careful I was my finished project was going to look like a kids 5th grade school project.

It’s hard to back away from a project after so many hours invested, but if the end result wasn’t going to be worth the hours I realized it was better to just stop.  Plus I had an idea.  We use Adobe Photoshop for our pictures, but I have always known we have barely scratched the surface of what it could do.  I thought perhaps there would be a way to accomplish my goal in Photoshop and asked Lee if he would mind looking into it for me.

This turned out to be more of a challenge than either of us thought but after two days and several hours worth of research he figured it out!  We purchased a template for $10 with all of the states and the larger map and cropped each state into an individual template.

The template we purchased


Here is the cropped version of Vermont

Once we had the “mask” of each state I could start putting my pictures in.  This sounds simple but requires multiple steps as you have to make the mask outside areas transparent and then pull in the picture and align it properly.  This leaves you with a picture like this.  (The checkerboard area is transparent).

Once you have the picture, you then pull it onto the larger state map and carefully align it onto the state.  Because you can make the section larger, it makes it a little easier and by scaling and rotating you fit it like a piece to a puzzle.  The only problem is that for some reason the state cut-outs are not an exact match of the states on the larger map.  I know that’s crazy but they just aren’t so I got as close as I could and then use  a cleanup tool in Adobe to fill in the gaps.

You pull it to the general area and then scale it down and rotate so it fits.

The good news is it is MUCH easier to fit two states together, and even better, if it doesn’t look right you can easily delete a picture and start all over.  Yes it is a bunch of work to start over, BUT you can change just one state.  What excites me about using Photoshop is as we travel and I get better pictures I can change them out and reprint versus with the original plan I would not have been able to do that easily.  Plus the steps get easier the more you do it and I was able to do several states in a few hours.


So far I am pretty happy with the results and once it is done I can either print it on canvas of print it as a poster.  I also like that it has Alaska and Hawaii, which the cork board map did not have.  This kind of project is something I would rarely have time to get up and running, but now that I have the basics I can add to it at any time.  Really grateful that Lee spent so much time helping me get started and feeling good about doing something positive with my furlough time.

Oh and one more thing.  If this is too technical for you, I also treated myself to a Nordic Heritage bundlette pan.  I have been watching The Great British Baking Show and was inspired to try some lower calorie baking. I decided smaller sizes would be helpful with that so invested $28 in this cool baking pan.

I have to say I am absolutely thrilled with the results.  I made lemon cake budlettes first and one box of cake mix makes twelve of these little beauties.  I dusted them with some powdered sugar and lemon zest and they were absolutely yummy.  Plus the smaller size makes it much easier to make the cakes calorie friendly.

They turned out perfect and were only 260 calories!


Then I made Pineapple cakes with a pineapple slice under the base and cherry juice sprinkled with a cherry in the middle!

Trying some lower calorie recipes next, but I have to say I am thrilled at the results.  Who knew a little pan could make baking so much prettier? And I definitely feel fancy with my stylish deserts. Once again just glad to be doing something fun with my extra downtime.  And it’s nice to have something pleasant to write about.  Stay safe everyone.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Jack Turns Two

Finally a post with some lighter news in it, as Jack turned two last week.  I am sorry to say the milestone passed without us recognizing it, but his vet sent a happy birthday E-card which reminded us.  He has made such a positive difference in our lives, far outweighing any inconvenience.  Here are a few Jack pictures to brighten your day!

Jack and Hobie being good boys!


Usually their relationship is more like this 🙂


Jack and Hurley.  Hurley is super patient with him.


Love this picture of them running through Goblin Valley.


Finn and buddies.


Doggie Day Care with Peyton, Jack, Sammy, and Hobie.


Me, Oliver, and Jack. Oliver and Jack are both sticking their tongues out!


Jack’s first hike


Jack at the beach



Jack in Oregon


Jack staring down the cows


Jack’s first Christmas




Jack Gate Guarding


The day we picked him up.


We both had major concerns about getting a dog after five years without one, but I am so very happy to have him in our lives.  Hope these pictures made you smile and have you a little sunshine today!

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Covid – Playing the Odds

I wish I had something else to write about, but it seems that all aspects of my life right now are colored by the virus.  I know I am not alone in this, but since I write about what’s on my mind and I am not sleeping well I thought I would spend some time sharing my thoughts.  Almost every day I wake up and spend some time in the morning looking at the data.  People get their news from a variety of sources but looking at the numbers grounds me.

Despite assurances by multiple sources that we have turned a corner the data still scares me.  The most credible source I use is Johns Hopkins. It is not the friendliest view for sure but I trust the data and they have added some new pages including critical trends.  I don’t spend much time comparing us to other countries, mainly because I don’t trust their reporting, but I do look at areas of the country where I have friends and family and see how things are going there.  I can also see the mortality rate, which is a key statistic for me, because at the end of the day what matters the most is how many people die. Currently we are at 8.66 deaths per 100,000 people which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t look that bad.

But then I dig a little deeper.  I look at a dashboard that a person in Seattle has run since the beginning and look at the overview. 2M confirmed cases worldwide, 135K confirmed deaths, and 28,554 deaths in the US alone.  I like trends though so I check out the NBC graphs that show the number of US cases per day.    Yesterday we had 30,000 cases, which is down from the high of 35,000 cases but when you look at their curve it looks like this.  Definitely not flat.

That’s the big question really.  Have we flattened the curve?  I watch the briefings almost every night and he and the experts talk about we have flattened the curve.  They used projections from this website and again I have no reason to not find it credible.  But the pictures don’t match.


According to this site the peak is over and as a nation we are starting in the downward trend.  That supposes stay in place measures are happening, but so far it seems pretty accurate.  When the president talks about each state’s reaction and the differences he is using this data.  For example Texas, with its rural areas and dispersed populations is doing pretty well so far, but it’s peak isn’t estimated to be for another  14  days.




Even though it isn’t for another 14 days the projected death toll per day is relatively low.  At peak it is 71 deaths per day, which in a state as large as Texas is objectively not that high.  As conversations ramp up around getting the country back to work, believe me I understand the need for folks to get back to normalcy.  We are spending trillions of dollars to keep some money flowing to people, but even with those additional funds, individual people will start getting desperate soon, if they aren’t already there.  The question then becomes do we accept the deaths (and perhaps more) by lifting the stay at home measures or do we hope we have passed the peak in enough areas and roll the dice.

As a person who likes to work and was raised to be a productive member of society I want everyone back to work as quickly as possible.  That’s not about my individual 401K portfolio, or my loss of income from partial furlough, but about understanding that the long term impacts of being out of work for some people could last for years.  Unfortunately those desires are at war with the reality of what I am seeing on the ground.

I personally know many people in our healthcare communities, and when I reach out to them they are still telling me that they don’t have access to basic protective equipment.  For example a daughter of a friend works in trauma at a hospital and is forced to wear the same gown and face protection all day.  Before Corona they changed gowns between every patient , but there still aren’t enough supplies for them to do that.  I know a doctor who was exposed (through no fault of their own the patient lied about having symptoms) and doesn’t have access to a test.  In many parts of the country if you are asymptomatic you simply cannot get a test unless you have had a fever for two days.

In addition to the healthcare situation, we still continue to see hot spots bubble up.  In the last few days we have seen that they are putting bodies in refrigerated trucks in Detroit and they closed down a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, SD because of 300 cases.  Those are just the examples that made the news. With examples like those it doesn’t seem like the danger has passed, although I can allow for the possibility that they are isolated cases.

Except personally I really don’t believe that.  We are a country that takes our personal freedoms very seriously, and I can’t believe that if we lift restrictions folks are just going to stay in one area and keep to themselves.  Airline travel will start up again, and even if we don’t allow folks from the outside into the US we have plenty of opportunities to cross contaminate ourselves.  I personally have numerous business trips that have been delayed due to corona and have to believe as soon as the bans are lifted I will be back to flying.

Then there is Lee.  He has a summer job he is really looking forward to at Crazy Horse Memorial  in South Dakota.  At first glance this seems like a great place to be, but they are expecting record crowds this summer despite delaying their opening until Memorial Day.  Since few people will vacation internationally, they will likely vacation in the US and just like after 9-11 our National Parks and Memorials will probably see record crowds.  Since Lee is doing lighting at the show this might not be a bad thing, but in order to get his 40 hours he will also spend some time each day taking tickets.  The memorial gets one million visitors per year (most in the summer) which means Lee will be coming into contact with thousands(?) of people each day.

These folks will be from all over the country and I have to believe some of them will be carrying the virus.  No matter what protections are provided, and they will probably be minimal, chances are he could contract it.  But even if he did only 8 out of 100K die, so those are pretty decent odds right?  Maybe, but at least in our case we have a choice.  For now at least I have a job that pays our bills so he doesn’t have to work this summer.  Or he could try and find a less risky job somewhere else.  We are lucky in that respect at least for now, but I am fully aware that this is not the case for many Americans.

As much as we are about choice and individual freedoms, there is precious little of that when you have bills to pay and kids to feed.  Despite any reservations many people might have they will be driven back to work by necessity. The immediate concerns of making rent and putting food on the table will fully outweigh the outside possibility of getting sick.  Those of us who have jobs where we can work from home will continue to do so for awhile, but eventually the pressures of the need for business travel will outweigh our concerns as well. We will travel, we will expose ourselves and others, and perhaps will we see more hot spots bubble up over the summer.

The problem is we simply don’t know and we don’t live in a perfect world were we can reasonably say with certainty what will happen.  Personally I would feel a lot better if the antibody test was widespread, but even when it is what will that solve?  Will people who have never had the virus expose themselves under controlled conditions, like we did with the chicken pox?  Would businesses understand that there is one set of rules for those with the antibodies and those without?  Doubtful.

There will be risk in the upcoming months regardless of what we do.  Best case scenario you have the disease and didn’t even know it and are carrying the antibodies right now. For us, since we have some choice, we need to talk about what we want to do.  How much risk do we want to accept? When will I be willing to get a haircut, walk into a crowded store, or get on an airplane?  To some extent life will make those choices for me.  The pressure to normalize will be very great, and it will be harder and harder to push back against those forces.  We are already seeing that and when they start opening things back up it will be much worse.

As always, we will let you know.

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