I did not have important business to attend to, a family emergency, or anything pressing that required me to get on an airplane and travel during this Covid 19 pandemic. That fact was, I was going nutty fruitcakes having been so restricted for so long. I NEEDED TO GETAWAY. I guess this would come under the mental health category. After venting to my sister outlaw (former sister inlaw), Jean, a couple of months back she said “why don’t you come up to Juneau for a visit?” A trip to Alaska and a lot of hiking in the wilds sounded like just the ticket. Before I knew it I had gone online, cashed in some frequent flyer miles, and then was to be on my way August 5th for a 6- day trip.
I have to say that before I departed I consulted my inner “riskometer.” I knew I would be forced to be closer than was recommended to strangers, but I also knew that Alaska Airlines had HEPA filtration and offered every other seating. All passengers and crew were required to wear masks. That combined with the N-95 masks and face shield I just purchased to wear would make my risk of acquiring the virus very low. Juneau, Alaska also had a very low infection rate.
When I left I was self-contained with my PPE, hand sanitizer, and enough food so I would not need to purchase anything to eat. The Portland, Oregon airport had maybe 20% of its normal traffic. I felt secure there. The first leg of the trip to Seattle I had an entire row to myself. Now Seatac airport, a major airline, hub was a different story. It seemed to be more like at 80% capacity. The gate of my departing flight was fairly crowded with its share of sloppy maskers. I waited outside of the gate area in a sparsely occupied alcove area and then waited to board last. As advertised the middle seat was empty. I did not accept the offered drinks from the flight attendant and avoided using the lavatory during the 2-hour flight to Juneau. On arriving I got a Covid test required from the State of Alaska. Then Jean and I were off for some adventures.
Every day we were out hiking rain or shine and there seemed to be way more than the former. It didn’t matter. It was so nice to be out in nature and such a beauty- not that the Willamette Valley in Oregon isn’t beautiful. This was a different beauty- a total change of scenery. We saw a beaver, 4 black bears, including a mama and baby, a beaver, porcupine, spawning salmon, bald eagles, ravens, and a plethora of wildflowers
Three days later my covid test came back negative which made socializing less stressful. There was no going out to eat nor shopping which was fine with me. Being outside was what I needed in cooler weather than what the Oregon summer was serving up.
I’ve been back home for over two weeks and no Covid. For me, this trip was worth the calculated risk I took. I’m in a better frame of mind and feel refreshed. This pandemic is going to be around for a while – probably at least another year or so. In my late 60s, I don’t want to lose two years of my life to this pandemic, but I don’t want to lose my life either. So it continues to be a dance with risk, being safe but not paralyzed with fear. I can hardly wait to look at this time and talk about it in the past tense- while being healthy.
Alanna also blogs at onesweetearth.com