On Traveling in a Difficult Time

I am midway, a little over the middle, of my six weeks in the US. Traveling in these days is interesting. Which is a way of saying complicated, not easy, but not terrible, and contains unexpected surprises both good and bad. I landed in Minneapolis, and shortly thereafter Kij and I began driving across the northern route to the west coast. There was a lot of beauty in this drive. A lot worth exploring in more depth. But the west coast called, and we had plans.

Which were destroyed utterly. We were on our last day driving to Portland when we got a call from Kij’s brother that his wife had tested positive for covid. He had not, as seems often to be the way. We had both been feeling like a head cold or allergies or something. I thought maybe that plus jet lag. But not terrible. But alas we tested positive and arrived in Portland as plague dogs.

Fortunately, I have the best friends in the world. Marti and Jay cleared out their house for us, did grocery shopping, and left us to recover. That took days. This was my second (my third?) time with covid, and I never felt more than an annoying head cold. But it was Kij’s first time, and she felt miserable. Obs, we survived. But nothing happened as planned. We got in one day at Powells, I was able to do a few errands while Kij was still sick. (snowshoes!) And then we left again, to drive to Kansas, which is where I am writing this from.

How did we get sick? We can think of three potential avenues of infection so there is no way of knowing. No one is tracking covid any longer (unless you are hospitalized), and most of the time it is not serious. Each person has to decide for themself how they want to live now. I have made my choice. I will treat is as the flu and live as I have always done. I will take reasonable precautions, and when I get sick, I will stay home. But that is me with good health and a robust immune system. I cannot say how anyone else should live. We must make our own decisions based on our own circumstances.

The drive back east was even more beautiful. The brief day through the Badlands was ravishing. The drive over the Rockies through last year’s burn was sobering. Moving through the midlands both east and west made me glad we had Kansas plates, not Cali plates. There is so much anger, so much rage, in this country. I had nightmares here for the first time in years. Different every time, but a sure sign of anxiety and I am not an anxious person. I fear for my country. I believe much of this anger has been successfully manipulated to create an atmosphere of fear and rage, and that it will be directed at those who have always been victims. I see no good coming from this. I am afraid that, as the majority continues to be disenfranchised and as conditions worsen (and should the Republicans come back into full power, they will worsen even more) I believe there will be violence, and on a scale we haven’t seen before in the US. That concerns me greatly. I hope to my toes that I am wrong.

Now I am in Kansas, shortly to travel again. These days have been a break in some ways, and not in others. I have done four grant proposals. I need money for the Spitsbergen Artists Center, in order to make of it what I would like. I hope at least one of them comes through. My days are spent in early morning walking (if the temperature is below 75F/25C, the humidity is over 80% every day which is miserable), proposals, and reading detective novels. I have a room here, carefully curated for my comfort with wool blankets, art works of mine, and to my taste, and shelves full of detective novels which I read like potato chips. There is minimal cooking, Kij and I are both grazers. But last night’s Norwegian salmon (it is the Best Salmon) was exquisite, and I have missed good Mexican. Good BBQ. Good steak. And the world’s best chocolate chip ice cream at Sylas and Maddys.

Tomorrow I leave for Nevada.

6 thoughts on “On Traveling in a Difficult Time”

  1. Awesome photos, awesome writing … as always. I’m sorry the visit was so brief and un-huggy, but it was wonderful to see you both.

  2. Where in Nevada and what will you be doing? I have a fondness for that silly state and its magnificent basin and range geology. Many paintings from there. And a whole host of good memories, from Beatty, NV along the north-south corridor. Don’t drink the Pahrump wine; the garage store wine in 3 colors (red, white, and pink) isn’t nearly so bad. Didn’t try the gin.

    1. Elizabeth Bourne

      At this point I don’t know where or what, but it does have stunning geology! I will take your advice and avoid the Pahrump wine!

  3. Glad the ‘VID wasn’t worse for either of you, and that you’re through it now.

    So scary re: the mood of the country.

    Love your pics, as always.

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