Week 17

13 Jul

Last week was stressful (duh), but there were also some high points. Namely our super abbreviated Route 66 road trip.

I flew to Las Vegas on Tuesday night and met Mike, Michaela, and our nephew Peyton. The flight was fine– only 36 people on the flight, I sat in the first row, everyone wore masks the whole time, it was only an hour. They picked me up and we headed to Fremont St., which was a really weird and frankly unpleasant destination. There were so. many. people.; masks off as they were smoking, eating and drinking; it smelled like pot everywhere I turned; and people were not great about distancing. We hightailed it out of there pretty quickly and headed back to our hotel, which was a lovely suite on the 32nd floor of the Bellagio.

The next morning, we headed to the pool (easy to do when it’s 100 degrees at 9 a.m.!) for a quick dip. We were the only ones in the pool and the few people who were lounging nearby all wore masks. After that, we got on the road, driving towards the Hoover Dam (closed due to COVID) and dropping into Arizona.

We met up with the Mother Road, as they call Route 66, in Kingman, Arizona. The beauty of Route 66 as a COVID vacation is, you’re not around a lot of people. Much of the trip is driving and looking at old gas stations, Googie architecture, cool motels, etc. It was the four of us in the car (not towing the Airstream as we’d planned when we were going to do the full route), meandering along, generally at about 45 MPH. Very slow and relaxed.

We went west through Arizona. The few places we stopped and, say, went inside a store or used the bathroom, the people we encountered were nice… but unmasked. Coming from California, it was quite a change. And given what the infection, hospitalization, and death rates are in Arizona right now, it was really unsettling. I don’t know if it’s because they’re in small towns and think of COVID as a big city thing or if it’s the politics or what, but it was a trip.

After a day of driving and sightseeing, we made it to Needles, CA, where we spent the night in a hotel that was serviceable and clean, but a far cry from the opulence of the Bellagio. The next morning, we were off for another day of driving– this one mostly on the freeway because we were heading home.

The kids got along pretty well and complaining was minimal. Although they did torture me by singing “99 Bottles of Pop on the Wall,” an experience I could have lived without. Mike had wisely packed a cooler full of snacks, so we had many a nosh at a cool old place, gathered around the tailgate of his truck. It was, for me, less than 48 hours, but a peaceful respite.

The trip whetted our appetite to do Route 66 the way we’d originally planned, hauling the Airstream from Chicago west to Santa Monica. Maybe next summer…

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