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“All of life is a foreign country.”

 

Today ends nearly 5 months since my last monsoon, and 5 years since my last domestic road trip across America. Sometimes it takes a pandemic to put a life of travel on pause, but alas, even life has its rest stops.

 

 

I’ve survived and worked enough to reach this point: After 3 months sheltering in place before I began to peek above our fences with last month’s trial road trip in New England, and amidst months of posting on my social media about what was going on outside of NYC regarding the rise and plateau of COVID-19, a small group of us have now decided to band together and finally see the rest of the country westwards for ourselves.

Maximizing safety, I can assure the many of you reading that not only many of us have traveled together already before, but also a large portion of us have had direct face to face healthcare experience with COVID-19 and stared at this pandemic in the face. Add on face coverings, hygiene training, a self-sufficient RV that can be sealed from the outside world if need be, and with all of us having tested negative for COVID-19 this week, we don’t know how — other than to not travel at all (which would be unsafe for my mental health) — we can get any safer than this.

For a more in depth point by point analysis on what we’ve done to maximize safety, check out our previous entry.

It’s been so long since I’ve led a trip, I even missed packing.

 

 

Yesterday I briefly showed Brynn around NYC as she arrived in from Maine (it’s her first time back in the city in 10 years!), and then introduced her to the other first-time monsooner Noeleen:

 

 

. . .  then we rendezvous’ed with the 5 others based in NYC for one final in-person orientation going over expectations, hygiene training, COVID-19 infection training, and contingency plans.

I also reassured everyone about life when returning home from the trip as on the NY State website, it’s written: “The requirements of the travel advisory do not apply to any individual passing through designated states for a limited duration (i.e., less than 24 hours) through the course of travel.” Given our nature of monsooning, we don’t plan to be anywhere longer for 24 hours in a high prevalence state, so hopefully no issues when we return!

One toast to celebrate good vibes and good luck.

 

 

Look how excited I get at 6:30am. We’re going on an adventure!

 

 

This morning we met bright and early at 7am for breakfast at Bluestone Lane in Astor Place.

 

 

Mask on?

 

 

Mask off? You can’t please everyone.

 

 

After everyone was ready, we then hailed a Lyft SUV for an hour’s drive to the NYC chapter of Road Bear RV in Middleton, NJ.

 

 

After an hour filling out the necessary paperwork and paying off the remaining balance to pick up our pre-reserved RV, we got to know our home for the next 10 days: A 12 foot high, 27 foot long Class C motorhome.

 

 

It comes complete with a full kitchen: oven, microwave, dining set, sink, coffeemaker, plates, silverware, and stovetop.

 

 

In the back is a full bathroom (with shower!) and queen sized bedroom that can be expanded outwards.

 

 

And in the front, we have a work station with couch that both can be converted into full-sized beds, as well as a queen sized bed in the cab above the driver’s seat.

 

 

After another hour acclimating, we set out west into Pennsylvania at 10:30am.

At this point, a girl named Rachel who I had just met for the first time 12 days ago in NYC reached out to say hi on our way through PA into OH…and who am I to say no if you’re on the way? So we did just that about an hour and a half later:

 

 

After an hour’s lunch with Rachel and her husband Chris, we then continued on the 6 hour drive towards Cuyahoga Falls in Ohio, in the outskirts of Cleveland.

 

 

We had already been briefed this would probably be the least photogenic and eventful part of the trip, so we made up for it with good music and the excitement for the adventures ahead.

 

 

Planning this sometimes feels like:

 

 

“And he had a nice home in Ohio with wife, daughter, Christmas tree, two cars, garage, lawn, lawnmower, but he couldn’t enjoy any of it because he really wasn’t free. It was sadly true.”

 

As we approached Akron, we received a trend of messages telling us to eat at local favorite burger joint Swenson’s, which is also a favorite of LeBron James (I’d say he’s a little biased being that he’s an Akron native himself…).

So we did just that, sampling their iconic Galley Boy burger (and in our case we had four).

 

 

We arrived at Streetsboro / Cleveland SE KOA Holiday by 9:00pm, settling in after our first long day on the road.

 

 

It took us about to figure out the hookups by ourselves but we managed.

 

 

The sleeping arrangements took a little longer.

 

 

Tomorrow we continue onwards to Chicago.

 

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” 

 

- At time of posting in Cuyahoga Falls, it was 23 °C - Humidity: 74% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: mostly sunny/clear