I used to think “flattening the curve” was a reference to losing weight around my belly.
Who knew I would learn the TRUE meaning of “flattening” when a nasty little virus named COVID-19 crashed into our world.
“Normal” RV plans
Like you, John and I are entering the third week of self-isolating to avoid the highly contagious Coronavirus – and it feels so weird.
Even just a month ago our RV life was “normal”. Our plans for May were supposed to contain 14 exciting stops for our east-ward travel toward Philadelphia to visit our sons. We had scheduled a week at Big Bend National Park in Texas, a 4-night stay in Clarksdale, Mississippi for a Blues festival, several Harvest Host stopovers, tours of historic sites, several visits to friends along our route, and a visit to where John served during his tour in the Navy.
In June we even planned to sneak away to New Hampshire for a week of hiking and camping with some friends.
July was going to be awesome. We had reservations to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary hiking around Mont Blanc (the highest peak in Europe) experience the last days of the Tour de France and return to our annual family gathering (60+) at our beloved lake cottage in Indiana.
Last week when I realized this pandemic was snuffing out my travel plans, I cried.
Seriously, I was snot-nose crying.
This would be the second summer in a row we had to cancel our trip out east to see our sons and family. (Read about John’s medical issues for last year’s travel cancelations.) The disappointment I felt was worse than finding only one chip left in my Doritos bag. (My son’s totally got this!) Luckily, I had flown out twice this winter to visit my the guys but still, I was heartbroken.
Instead of gearing up for our cross-country road trip I was canceling reservations, retrieving refunds, and researching where the heck we were going to land for the summer.
RV’ing, Grieving, and Solutions
Yes. We’re all grieving the death of our “normal”. There is no escaping the reality of COVID’s impact on our day to day living.
In fact, we seem to be navigating through Dr. Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.
But here’s a reminder. We are not moving through the stages at the same time or same rate as our partners or friends.
They need to grieve in their own way. Avoid platitudes like “Oh, this will all blow over soon, don’t worry”. Instead, validate their feelings with “that must really feel scary to you right now” or “I too am really sad that we can’t ride in a car together or play cards anymore”.
Where the heck are we staying?
If you’re like John and me – your discussions about where to “stay safely in our RV” during the pandemic include:
- What is the rate of COVID-19 spread in that town?
- What precautions is the RV resort taking during the pandemic?
- How are the medical facilities nearby?
- What is the average summertime temperature there?
- How far is the nearest pharmacy?
- Can we find a grocery store that allows online orders and pick up in their parking lot?
Don’t get all snarky as you discuss these points. Instead, do your research together and agree on these items before you make your plans. Oh, and don’t forget to check the local toilet paper supply! (I’m Kidding!!)
Grocery shopping and cooking vs. takeout.
Really? Yes, really.
Before you get in an argument about the “germ-proofing” capabilities of the local carry-out restaurant read up on what the CDC recommends. Then when you call to order you can ask them about gloves, masks, hair nets, hand washing, etc. Make sure you also agree on how you’ll wipe down carry-out food, grocery items, and packages that arrive from UPS. Lastly, make a pact to wash your hands every time you enter your RV from the outside. And be nice when if your partner needs reminding.
Cleaning the RV, cell phone, and car steering wheel.
The good news of RV life is our space is small and it doesn’t take long to clean. The bad news is – our living space is small, and we quickly contaminate our RV’s with the great outdoors.
Just being aware of how often the door is open will alert you and your partner to have cleaning wipes available in easily accessible areas. Also, when packages arrive from UPS or your mail, wipe off the outside with Clorox wipes before opening. Dispose of the boxes inside a plastic bag or take to the dumpster right away. THEN go inside and wash your hands before you touch the inside of your RV or touch your face. Keep sanitizing wipes or gel in your purse, the car, your backpack, etc. for instant cleaning of contaminated areas. Run an air purifier 24/7 that has an ionizer. Also, it’s a no-brainer to keep other people out of your living space during this pandemic. You never know where they sat, or who sneezed on them in line at the Walmart.
Avoid contaminating yourself.
Nursing School taught me about protecting myself while caring for people in isolation and how to clean areas without re-contaminating. For instance, it’s best to use paper towels (instead of that week-old dish towel) to dry your hands after washing hands (20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing with soap and water). Let the water runoff toward your wrists, not your fingertips. This avoids the dirty wrist germs from contaminating your fingers. Let dishes air-dry instead of wiping them with a towel.
Wearing face masks and latex gloves have become socially acceptable and are a great reminder for you not to touch your face. Use your knuckle to punch the numbers in elevators and cover your hand with your sleeve when opening any public doors. If you have to be in public, change clothes right away when you return to the RV and wash them in warm water.
Social distancing but not emotional distance.
Maintaining social distancing is our best practice to flatten the curve of the corona spread. This is so boring and seems like nothing is happening, but that is just the point.
Nothing can spread when distance is between us.
On the other hand, make sure to keep close emotional distance with family and friends even if you cannot hug them, play cards, or eat their potluck meal with a group. Texting and Facetime are great! Or try playing virtual games on Zoom like Jackbox TV Game Box.
Exercise each day to avoid going bonkers and getting depressed.
As you move your body, you’re treating it to natural brain chemicals called endorphins which are the “feel good” transmitters for your body. The more you exercise the better you feel. Luckily as RV’ers, we do get out every day even if it’s dumping the tanks, walking the trash to the dumpster, walking the dogs, or biking over to the mailbox.
Inject “being nicer” into each confinement day!
Write silly notes to each other, or to a friend if you are a solo. If you live with a partner take advantage of physical touch since you can’t safely touch anyone else. Get away from the news reports and watch a funny show together.
I’ve mentioned it before be aware of your tired times. This occurs to all of us when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. It’s easy to remember by the acronym HALT.
My susceptible times are late in the afternoon and then again after dinner. My ability to be kind decreases significantly and John knows it. His sensitive time is just when he wakes up either from a night of sleep or a nap. I know better than to bombard him with questions or be all jazzed up for projects for the day.
Too focused on the news updates.
It’s tempting to want to be informed. It’s like a control thing. Knowing the latest data may seem to calm our feeling out of control, but too much information actually increases your anxiety – even giving you nightmares or weird dreams about these unprecedented days.
Take care and be well, everyone! I want to hear your tips on how you as an RV’er are helping flatten the curve of this pandemic. Remember, We Can Do Hard Things!
Gretty, Your Unlikely RV’ing Girlfriend
P.S. Follow the CDC recommendations, look at RVillage updates for Campgrounds that are open to RV’ers, check out my friends’ Julie and Marc Bennett who give awesome comprehensive COVID-19 info for RV’ers; RVLove, and get physical each day by watching; The Joe Wicks School of Workout.