Like the rest of the country, we heard about the virus in January after news was released about a new SARS-like virus in China and the possibility of a spread in other parts of Asia. Later in January, while in Tempe and Phoenix, we heard that there were cases popping up in the US and that there was a possible case at Arizona State University.
However given the cover up in China and not having enough information on the level of contagion and severity of the virus, we blissfully continued our road trip through Sedona, Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Zion, Page, Monument Valley, Canyonland, Arches, Moab, and Capitol Reef.
It was after a relaxing weekend at Capitol Reef’s Fruita Campground (where we happily devoured their fresh fruit pies daily) that the virus was finally taken seriously with a shutdown of the Fruita Campground and surrounding Moab’s national park campgrounds.
We checked in with family in Rhode Island and Maryland, who at that point, was given the option of working from home or still going into work. In RI, there was a directive in place to have a homeschool plan in place but no plans to shut down schools yet. In towns we were passing through, grocery stores like Walmart was starting to run out of toilet paper and other perishables goods. It seemed like a good time to slowly stock up on perishable goods.
Plans to Alaska Postponed Indefinitely
We were heading north near Salt Lake City, UT (very slowly making our way to Alaska) when we started to hear about the increasing number of cases and deaths. We also hear about the closures of state and national park campgrounds, entire school districts, and Canada’s borders. This was when we decided to shelter in place for a week at a state park not too far from Provo.
Due to the circumstances, this was the first time on our road trip that we could not fully enjoy the beauty of the campground. We continued with business as usual (work, homeschool, hikes, family movie nights) but with everything going on, we decided it was time to put the trip on the back burner and figure out next steps in case things got worse or one of us got infected.
Sheltering in Place
We began to make plans to shelter in place for a month or more in case more extreme measures are called for by government officials. Our original plan was to stay at various state parks for two weeks at a time through May 15, unless the UT state parks were shut down. Unfortunately, we were limited to a maximum stay of 2 weeks at each state park. Additionally, some parks don’t have electricity and water and we needed both. We especially needed electricity for heat because it was so cold in Utah (snowed two nights while we were there) and we needed water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes, showering, etc. So, this plan wouldn’t work very well. Also, on May 15th, Utah’s state parks would no longer be first-come-first-served. All campgrounds were fully reserved from May 15th through the end of summer. Private campgrounds were probably booked as well. We would have to find some other place to stay after May 15.
Pausing RV Life
Eventually, we made an alternate plan to rent an actual brick and mortar for a short term (on a month to month) and even drove an hour to look at a basement apartment in Lehi (a.k.a. Silicon Slopes a booming tech town outside of Salt Lake City). The apartment didn’t work out. We also made dozens of calls to apartment buildings about short term leases on furnished apartments which advertised acceptable prices but weren’t explicit about extra fees and other add-ons like parking spaces. None of those panned out.
Our plan B was to drive 11 hours down to Phoenix and stay at a friend’s house and store the RV until further notice. After our week at the state park ended, this was the decision we made.
Our Temporary Home
And so after driving 11 hours with an overnight in Page, AZ and through a brief snow storm near Bryce, here we are, in warm (soon to be hot) Phoenix. It took us two hours to move everything we needed from the RV into our temporary home. It took us four days to find toilet paper because most stores were running out as soon as they stocked their shelves. We found the local Asian grocery stores and bought some rice. (We know they are out in other places on the west coast but we lucked out here in Phoenix.) We’re glad to report we are settled and safely sheltering in place for the next month or however long it takes to address the pandemic.
Throughout all of this, we are so saddened by the lives lost to this pandemic and look forward to the day we are able to prevent and treat the coronavirus so we don’t lose another life. We continue to be grateful for the hard work of those in health care, law enforcement, human services, residential services, campground/parks, grocery, and so many other dedicated employees, individuals, and volunteers who are risking their lives or stepping up to keep this country running while we get this virus under control. We are also grateful for our health and will continue to do our part to stay home while the country does its part to contain and treat the virus.