Preparing for travel across the country during a pandemic to Arizona was the same with the addition of a N95 mask, goggles, gloves, wipes and hand sanitizer. Other than that, my packing was pretty simple because I needed something light for the testing, compression garments for support and a whole lot of prayer. I was very fortunate to have friends in the area because I didn't have to stay at a hotel. It was comforting and also concerning because with the pandemic being so new, I didn't know what to expect most of the way across the country.
If you were cautious travelling in the early part of pandemic and decided to hang back, I can tell you that you missed an eerie experience. I live in a bustling region and one of the busiest airports on this coast was practically empty. I saw more employees than I saw actually travelers. A few months earlier we went to Toronto from the same airport, and it was teeming with people. The kiosks were open selling you overpriced phone charges and neck pillows and the air was full of the daily offerings of your favorite brands competing for your dollars. To see it so barren really hit home that this virus and its impact was serious. With everything closed but the restrooms, we just waited at our gate with a handful of brave passengers. Were they really brave or just reckless? I couldn't say. But I figured that they had their reasons for wanting to make this particular trip. I remember in these early days of the pandemic it was almost impossible to get your hands on a mask so there were many people with regular bandanas covering their mouths and noses. My daughter and I were fortunate to have ours because my aunt who is a doctor in NY sent us a package with my additional items. She recommended the goggles because of virologist caught covid on a flight and he suspected that it was through his eyes. Better safe than sorry.
We flew Southwest and there were maybe twenty people on the entire flight, and this meant that we could choose our seats. My daughter and I opted to occupy and whole row each for ourselves so we could spread out a bit for the long flight. The staff was friendly, given the situation. They even joked that the plane was the cleanest has ever been since they JUST cleaned it and then we, in turn, did it again when we got on🤣. The other bonus was that the passengers were actually civil. I am looking at you present day fliers. We were respectful of each other, and the flight was peaceful for the whole ride. The only downside was that there no snacks offered on the 4-5 hour flight but it was fine. I was too nervous to pull down my mask to eat anyway. I didn't want to risk catching covid and make this a very expensive site seeing experiment. The airport in Arizona was a little more active than the one we just left but the numbers were still down. The rental process with Enterprise was altered as well. There were so few cars available and what was there was sad and tiny. The handoff was very quick and I was escorted to my car. However, he didn't get in or really check anything. I agreed to the rental and when we got it in it reeked of some strange chemical concoction that wouldn't only kill covid but scare it far away from the vehicle. Reminded me of what Buckleys did for a cold. I figured it was the best that they could do.
The ride to our friend's place, a family with 5 kids, was about 20 minutes away. I did notice that the scarcity of my city streets was replaced the streets business as usual in Phoenix. It felt like they were suspended in disbelief and denial, like this virus wasn't really a thing. When we arrived, we were welcomed warmly and it temporarily distracted me from the enormity of my appointments and the virus raging outside. Everyone has had that time when you have longed for something for so long and when its finally in reach, it feels like it will still elude you. That is what I felt that evening and had trouble sleeping. That and that fact that I was three hours off and I work at 4am thinking it was 7am my time 😪.
The next day was the last hurdle to my appointment which was my first nasal covid test. We had to travel to the location in Phoenix for the drive through testing. You have likely had one or seven by now but let me tell you, when that lady told me to put the car in park and turn it off...that was a lifesaving maneuver. The probe traumatized me to this day. However, it was necessary for me to even to even get in the building in Scottsdale for the testing.
The next post on this saga will be all about testing of day one. Get your snacks ready.