Monday, July 5, 2021

On the road again -- post(?)-Covid travels

Passengers arriving at CWA (Central WI) airport with masks

I have spent the last year living in fear --only a low level, but fairly constant. I take an immuno-suppressive drug to counteract an auto-immune disease, leaving me susceptible to the weakest virus. So during the Corona virus pandemic, I adhered strictly to WA state's restrictions, and isolated myself from family, friends, and travel.  For those of us in WA, those restrictions began in March 2020, so that was a very long time, and there were very few exceptions.  Doing my part to "flatten the curve" for the community morphed into doing everything possible to protect myself.

For me, the approval of the vaccine was almost a miracle.  I say "almost," because there was some concern as to the effect of the vaccines for those with suppressed immune systems, leading to the depressing thought that I might be stuck in isolation forever.  However, my neurologists assured me that the vaccine was probably working for me through unmeasurable mechanisms.  With this, I felt this miraculous sense of freedom and permission to once again see friends and family, interact with people, and travel.  I decided to take advantage of the extra security of airports and planes still requiring masks, in order to fly to WI and see my parents.  

I think that the trip to WI was the best thing I could have done to ease myself out of a Covid-restricted life.  Flying was not as scary as I thought it might be: my neurologist assured me that airline flights were not known virus-spreaders, my research indicated that plane's air filtration systems worked to prevent disease spread, and Delta was very conscientious about requiring all passengers to wear masks, except when eating or drinking.  Airports were also not as frightening as expected, since they required masks and distancing, as well (though the passengers in SeaTac and MSP were a little less likely to comply, and the staff was less likely to enforce the rules)

Sign at MSP airport
Sign at MSP airport

Free vaccinations and coffee
at the MSP airport

At my destination, I mainly visited with family and friends, who were also vaccinated.  When we did venture into public spaces, it was always and only outside.  WI was a scary place for a West-Coaster to visit, because of a contentious history with the virus, masks, and restrictions.  Still, I clung to the data showing that no case of Covid-19 transmission had occurred outside.  Every time I've visited, the town has been different: at first, changes, such as the installation of city utilities, seemed oriented toward residents.  Then the big-box stores moved in, incorporating the desires of the whole region.  Current changes are oriented toward residents and visitors alike, and the concept of "accessibility" seems to have entered into the language and mind-set.  For example, a local park has a paved and accessible path, a paved walk-way was built along the river, and botanical gardens were being built with an eye toward accessibility. Thus, we were able to enjoy outdoor activities relatively free of crowds.

New river walk in Wausau, WI

Sign for accessible paved path to Eau Claire Dells, WI

I doubt that the cavalier approach to potential virus transmission was good for the state of WI.  Still, I think it may have been good for me -- confronting my extreme caution with extreme unconcern may have allowed me to settle on a happy medium, which helped me to prepare for the flight home and the upcoming end of restrictions in WA. I realize that the articles in The New York Times may be accurate, and my immuno-suppressant medicine may yet be proved to render the vaccine less effective.  However, for now, I have to believe in the power of these vaccines, the assurances of my neurologists, and my experience during my travels.  And I must admit that it felt wonderful to travel again!

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