Two months ago, I was preparing to backpack portions of Arizona and the Pacific Crest Trails. By mid-March, the trail administrators closed all hiking trails demanding everyone leave due to the COVID-19 World Pandemic.
Their concerns surrounded the health and safety of volunteers, trail angles, trails towns, hostels, and all supporters who may encounter hikers. Many such organizers are volunteers who provide rides, and small towns do not have hospital infrastructure to deal with hikers who may carry the virus.
The small communities have a valid point, as I know most hikers like me do not shower for days and to enter a town emitting odors just below the scent of rotting corpses, I could not blame them.
I continued monitoring state and federal officials as I isolated in the Arizona desert upon Bureau of Landmanagemt Lands, also known as BLM, where my nearest neighbor was 50-70 yards away. I would travel to local towns for food and fuel or F&F as I call it.
I was planning to backpack for a month along the trails in Arizona and New Mexico, finishing in Silver City, New Mexico, to attend the annual Continental Divide Trails Days scheduled for the last weekend in April. Trail days was canceled, as were all hiking trails across the country, so it was time to initiate plan “B.”
The Air-BnB application on my phone became a useful tool for me to searched and located a place in Tucson, AZ, where I hibernated for three weeks.
I began reading my way through the thousands of books I saved in my “I want to read” list on my Goodreads.com site. The forced isolation allowed me to re-edit short stories and novels I had created over the years. So my time was productive. But after three weeks, I longed for the open road, fresh air, trees, and a trail to hike.
By the end of April, Arizona began heating up, so I pointed White Blaze pictured above east, towards Florida. As I drove along the asphalt ribbon of interstate ten from Arizona to Florida, I often thought about one of my favorite authors, Jack Kerouac, and his novel “On the road.” If he traveled during a pandemic, I sure he would not care about distance rules or any one he picked up hitch-hiking.
I noticed with consistancy every franchised business employee at a Flying J truck stops, Starbucks, and McDonald’s wore a mask, gloves, with a clear plastic barrier between themselves and the customers.
It was also easy to notice at every truck stop males above the age of 50 wore neither mask or gloves while employees and mostly younger people adhered to protective protocols, including me.
It is my perception, people within and near densely populated areas follow COVID-19 CDC protocols. Simultaneously, smaller towns and communities continued with life as usual, as if nothing outside their world is taking place. I believe the death of a family member or friend will turn skeptics of the pandemic into believers.
It was 10:30 pm when I approached the first rest area in Florida, and the hundreds of reflectorized traffic barrels forced all traffic into the rest area, separating trucks from automobiles.
I slowed down to where a man stood in blue scrubs with a surgical mask. He lowered his mask and asked.
Have you been to New Jersey, Connecticut, or New York in the past two weeks?
I was a little surprised and stunned with his question and simply answered, no.
He told me to turn on my left turn signal and continue on.
I did as he said and moved White Blaze along.
None of the trucks on the other side of the visitor’s building were stopped. I thought of all of the truckers I saw not wearing masks and wondered, how many were carriers of the virus.
I stayed around Florida long enough to absorb the feeling of how people were not concerned with any health issues yet alone COVID-19. So, I pointed White Blaze north towards Virginia, where I have a campground to isolated away from others to ensure my days into the future are numerous.
My retirement life has unfolded to be fulfilling beyond my ideas and imagination. My nomadic travel lifestyle and the pandemic are things to write creatively about as the days we live are historically changing.
Our planet earth will survive the world pandemic with humans isolating from one another to reduce the chance of the virus infecting others.
Every wild animal in the photo display above within the National, and State Parks, along with the Wildlife Refuges, have awakened from their winter hibernations to discover fewer humans within their natural settings. While domestic pets are walked and played with more than ever.
We can reduce, prevent, and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus to see and live for a brighter day, as these times will pass. So, until a vaccine is discovered and everyone is inoculated, stay safe and healthy.