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coronavirus vacation

Vacationing While Quarantined/COVID-19

It’s been 61 days (but who’s counting?) since the only place I’ve gone was the grocery store. One time. Grocery shopping is my husband’s job, and he wants to continue it. Fine with me. On a typical boring day, I decided to take myself to Walgreens for some nail polish remover (No nail salon is open. After two weeks I removed my nail polish because my manicure was starting to look like Morticia’s after she’d scrubbed every floor in her home), but my car wouldn’t start because I hadn’t driven her in weeks. I turned the key, heard the err, errh, errrh of the engine, and stopped trying for a minute. After about four tries, I guess she figured out I wasn’t going to leave her alone, and she started.  

When I arrived at Walgreens, I was surprised that the shelves of the nail supply area were more than half empty, and there was no nail polish remover at all! Maybe smarter women stocked up in anticipation of closed salons. I looked for other items: toilet paper, raisins, juice, but it looked like some aliens had swooped in and made everything vanish. Row after row of empty shelves. It was like a ghost store. Not wanting my one outing to go to waste, I bought some pens. Of course, I stood on the six feet apart circles to wait for my turn to pay. Now I’m using my new pens for the rough draft of this story. I wonder if by the time my future great grandchildren read this, they won’t know what pens are!

I really need to get away, do new things, see new people. Alas, that is not happening; at least not in the foreseeable future. One good thing, though, is that we’re saving money by not going anywhere. I decided to make this new life a staycation.

Here’s how it’s going: Just like on any vacation when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is visit the bathroom (I bet you’re not surprised to know this). After brushing teeth and using toilet, I start my back exercises which I have to do to maintain this 75 year old body whether I’m home or on vacation. I do this in my lovely, comfortable bedroom which has a better bed than any I’ve ever slept on in a hotel. Now there’s nothing exciting about this, but I do like that I’m in my own space, and I didn’t have to worry that packing weights would make my luggage heavy. Actually, I don’t have to worry about packing anything since I wear the same lounging pants and a t-shirt every day.

However, my room does have one added item. I have two skirt hangers (which is amazing since I haven’t worn a skirt in about 13 years. Sometimes saving things comes in handy). The clips that would hold the skirt now have two masks and several pairs of gloves clipped in them. These are mandated by the government to protect ourselves or others when we go out. After each time one of us uses these, I wash and clip them on the hangers which I hang from the bar of my window shade right over the heating vent. Not sure what I’m going to do once the weather gets warm and we don’t need the heat. So far, May has been unusually chilly.

coronavirus vacation hanging gloves  and masks to dry

When I finish my exercises, I go downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast. The good thing about breakfast in this hotel is that the menu has items I really like to eat. Admittedly, that’s only oatmeal or an egg. Even on vacation, I try to watch my calories. The bad part is that I have to make it myself and then have to wash the dishes. I don’t mind that too much, though, since it’s usually just a bowl and spoon. Plus, there’s a dishwasher.

My next adventure requires climbing the steps to my hobby/exercise room. (Not exactly climbing the rocky ridges of Sedona trails, but it is something.) This is where one can find all my scrapbook material in many bags and boxes.

Book shelves display assorted photos but also hold typing paper, envelopes, notebooks, etc. All my diplomas are displayed over the desk where the computer, paper, pens, and more photos sit.

Against one wall is a file cabinet and dresser containing clothes of whatever season we are not in. There’s a closet that is mostly for storage of seasonal items.

This leaves a tiny space, six feet by five feet, in the middle of the room for me to do my exercises. Still, It’s conveniently located. It doesn’t take ten minutes to walk several halls or use the elevator as is often the case in many hotels. It does have everything I need, though: weights, mat, exercise bands, etc.

I open my computer and go to my Beach Body programs to decide what exercise routine(s) I feel like doing that day. I have my favorites and my challenges, and I just mix it up but always try to get in one hour.

The best part of this room is the views even though they aren’t the beauty of the Arizona desert or the calm but breezy clear blue ocean of Hawaii. Because when I’m in the final stages of stretching and lying on the mat, I turn my body left and head right to face a large picture window and see our mature sugar maple tree. This is the time of year when it starts to wake up and display its abundance of lovely leaves. A wonderful calming sight to view while deep breathing in a spinal twist.  

When I switch and turn left, I face a wall where I hung a collage of my granddaughters when they were two and five. It includes assorted adorable photos of them wearing princess costumes, walking on the beach holding hands; their handprints made in clay, one colored orange and the other purple. The background is sprayed with sparkles and also includes ribbons and feathers. There’s a cutout of a clown that was colored (probably by Arianna who’s older). At the top, she wrote “Love, Arianna and Emily.” They probably do not remember making it, but if it were a Renoir, I couldn’t cherish it more. What a treat to look at it while I’m stretching, the best part of my exercise routine. 

But this room has one added component: Toilet paper. Yes, in the corner are several packs; some are our usual brand of Cottonelle but also other brands because during this pandemic, you buy what they have. We even have some industrial-grade TP that our mechanic was giving away since no customers are using his facilities. If this quarantine goes on much longer, we’ll have to resort to facial tissue, since there is no TP to be had in any store, anywhere, anymore and my frugal husband (much before the pandemic) bought two packs of three boxes each of tissues because they were on sale. Go Stuart!

Sometimes, when I’m stretching, Missy, my cat, comes in to keep me company. She loves climbing the TP packages and kneading the cellophane of the partially opened one. I wonder if she knows this staycation is a bonus for her since when we go away, she and her mommy have to go to the Kitty Kastle. 

Some hotels have spas, but the bathroom will have to do. I do love that the showerhead gets with the program, none of that dribbley crap you sometimes get in hotels. Also, the towels are big and fluffy. No one was chintzy in purchasing them. And the hair dryer kicks ass. I really hate the pathetic ones you get in some hotels.

There are two drawbacks, though. The toilet runs forever! Someone should really fix that, but it’s not Stuart’s strength and no plumber can enter this house of quarantine. Another perk we don’t have here is that I can’t just throw the towels in the bathtub knowing housekeeping will be by to put out fresh ones and launder the used ones.

I’m really hungry after my morning exertion, so I guess it’s lunch time. Unfortunately, all restaurants are currently closed. (It is a pandemic, you know.) But I don’t mind too much because on real vacations, I rarely eat lunch ‘cause we’re busy doing fun stuff.  

Stuart and I do our “kitchen dance” as we each prepare our own food. We have a small kitchen, but we’ve been married 27 years and are adept at weaving and dodging as we share the microwave, fridge, counters, and sink. When my food is prepared, I carry it to the combination living/dining room. This is a wonderful vacation spot because as I sit at the table facing the large window, the view is of lovely trees that mostly hide neighboring houses and make for a dappled sky. And the sun is brilliant! Since it’s a vacation, the days are always lovely. (Hey, this is my fantasy vacation. I can have whatever I want!) 

After lunch, it’s time to read the mail (not a normal vacation activity, but there’s nothing “normal” about this one) that came three days ago. This is because it’s been lying under the desk while we wait til it’s no longer contaminated before touching it. It doesn’t matter much really because most of it is junk just like when my phone rings; 90 percent of the time it, too, is junk. I do this while in the family room, resting my aging back while lying on my comfy couch, a specialty of this hotel.

Other hotels do have chairs, but they’re not usually comfortable enough for my back. I check my cell for texts and emails. Another thing this hotel has is excellent lighting, 150 watt bulbs, one more perk you don’t often find in hotels.

On a ‘normal’ vacation, my husband and I would be seeing sights, hiking hills, taking photos, buying souvenirs and just having fun! Here’s the daytime entertainment on staycation:

  1. Work the puzzles that the newspaper generously provides every day.
  2. Read the paper and feel crappy about what’s going on and how our idiot president is “handling” things.
  3. Watch “Hot Bench” and “Judge Judy,” always worth a laugh.
  4. Bonus: I know all the channels and what shows are on each channel. I always hate trying to figure that out while in other states. 

The final spot is the lobby powder room. I love this tiny half-bath. It’s painted a soft violet with a flowered border along the top of the walls. My lovely little white cabinet has doors with windows where I put pretty knickknacks and there’s a shelf for space to put extra hand towels. On the top shelf, I placed a favorite photo of Stuart and me in our younger years. On one wall is a framed needlepoint picture of an old-fashioned toilet that my mom made using colors in the lavender family.  

Now that I’ve written this, I’m not feeling so bad about no actual vacation. We are healthy. We have each other. Everyone we know is well and virus free (for now). So, I’m counting my blessings. But I’m never going to get over not going to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to cheer the O’s on their Sunday home games. But I still wear an Oriole t-shirt every day.

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