FULLY VACCINATED BUT GOING NOWHERE

FULLY VACCINATED BUT GOING NOWHERE

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It  been over two months since I had the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

So I am presumably as protected as possible at the present time from getting infected, seriously ill, hospitalized or dying due to the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, April 2, 2021, the Washington Post reported that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (better known as the CDC) announced that fully vaccinated persons could resume travel within the U.S.

“without getting a coronavirus test or self-quarantining, provided they follow the other recommended public health measures, such as wearing masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.”

The newspaper also reported that the CDC had decided that

“For international travel, fully vaccinated people do not need to be tested before their trips unless it is required by the destination, the guidance says. For their return to the United States, fully vaccinated people should get tested and have a negative result before they board an international flight back to the United States.”

The last overnight out-of-town trip I took was in January of 2020, before the pandemic began its deadly spread across the U.S., when I went to Coos Bay to see one of my films screened at the historic Egyptian Theatre during the Oregon Coast Film Festival.

During the past fifteen months the farthest away from home I’ve ventured is about 10 miles east to get pizza-to-go once a month and once 10 miles south down I-5 for an outdoor lunch last summer at a bakery favored by “locals.”

So you’ve think like other Americans suffering from long-term “cabin fever” I would planning at least a short “getaway” trip by car or a farther-away-from-home trip by air and be busy booking lodging and flights.

But I’m not. I’m staying put. At least for the moment.

Here’s why.

Been There, Seen That

Unlike my travel writer colleague, Gary Ardnt, who travels frequently and who publishes the travel blog “Everything, Everywhere” I have not seen “everything” and not been “everywhere.”

But I during the five decades since I reached “legal adulthood” (old enough to vote, drink alcohol in every state) I have been to many places, particularly in the Western U.S. where I have lived most of my life, and parts of Canada, plus the British Virgin Islands, and several European cities and countries. And the U.S. Air Force sent me to some places I may not have chosen to visit on my own: Indiana and Texas, and the island of Okinawa.

(Dick Jordan Photo/Crater Lake National Park)

I don’t have a “bucket list” of destinations that I “must visit” before I “kick the bucket.”

Now approaching the middle of the seventh decade of life, and having lost well over a year of the “traveling life” to the coronavirus, most of my future travels will probably be to see friends and family rather than to visit “tourist destinations.”

Getting There Isn’t Half The Fun Anymore

Traveling by car any significant distance from my home in Eugene, Oregon is likely to involve “trucking” up and down I-5 which, particularly as one nears the larger cities along the path of that freeway from Washington State to Southern California, is no longer “The Open Road” but a highway clogged with local traffic, long-haul trucks and, at least in the summer, RVs, pickup trucks with camper tops or ones towing boats or trailers.

(Doug Kerr Flickr Photo)

Gazing through the windshield and the passing scenery instead of keeping your eye on the road before and behind you creates a risk of becoming a traffic fatality.

The “Joy of Driving” which I experienced as a teenager with a newly-minted driver’s license and the first car he purchased can no longer be felt, replaced by stress-inducing fear as one heads down the highway.

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area catching a non-stop flight out of the international airports at Oakland and San Francisco to places near and far was relatively easy even though it could take an hour or more driving in heavy traffic to reach those airports.

(Wikipedia Commons Photo)

The Eugene airport is about a twenty-minute drive from my home, has decent, cheap parking and is small enough that getting to the gate from which your flight will depart is quick and easy.

But unlike airports serving major metropolitan cities, there are fewer flights on fewer airlines and fewer destinations served by non-stop flights.

If you are headed to the East Coast from Eugene plan on leaving home at “O-Dark Thirty” to catch a flight out about 6:00 a.m. and changing planes at least once if not twice before reaching your final destination sometime, perhaps even quite late, in the evening.

There are no flights from here to international destinations. From San Francisco there were at least four ten-hour long non-stop flights to London daily. From Eugene it would take at least twelve to thirteen hours with a stop along the way to change planes in Seattle, Denver, Phoenix or San Francisco to reach the capital city of the U.K.

Although the Eugene airport can handle 737 aircraft many airlines the serve the destination fly smaller, more cramped, “regional” jets.

And regardless of whether I’m flying “Up Front” in First Class or the last row of “Coach” next to the galley and restrooms I’ll be required to “mask-up” during the entire flight (except presumably while eating and drinking). But will all of my fellow passengers agree to adopt the COVID precautionary measure or will there by harsh words and even fisticuffs between those who refuse to wear masks and flight attendants or those passengers who do wear masks?

So “getting there” from where I live, whether I travel by air or car, is definitely not “half the fun.”

Destination COVID Blues

How will I be greeted on arrival at my vacation destination?

Even if I traveled in my own car, or if the airline didn’t require it, will I have to provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID by presenting a vaccination record card of a digital “Vaccine Passport” either by the destination itself or hotels, restaurants of other venues visited by tourists?

Will I have to self-quarantine for a few days or as long as two-weeks and undergo periodic COVID testing?

Of course, I will probably still be required to “mask up” wherever I go in public and face possible ostracization from others around me or perhaps even local authorities if I don’t do so?

And then there is the troubling aspect of rising rates of COVID infection even as the percentage of the population being vaccinated is on the rise. Will I arrive at my destination only to discover that the increased rate of infection has just caused COVID-based restrictions on indoor (or even outdoor) dining, events, and public gatherings to be approaching “lock-down mode?”

Why Bother Leaving Home?

When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area a former Fotomat kiosk that been turned into drive-through espresso stand offer a drink known as a “Why Bother?” It was a coffee latte made with decaffeinated coffee and non-fat milk.

So planning and taking a trip during this “COVID roller-coaster” period strikes me as a “Why Bother?” Even if your trip comes off without a hitch the travel experience is likely to be a bit “edgy” and nothing like it would have been in pre-pandemic times or, if we ever get there, the post-COVID era.

If you’re off to see the world, or just a tiny bit of it close to home, have a great trip and let me know how it went.

But don’t look for me in the airport or on the highway anytime soon.

For now I’ll be at home doing a “staycation.”


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