Posted in family, pandemic, rural life, Travel

Covid in the Rearview mirror

The names roll into my head long before the road sign shows what town is next. The new shingles here or the added grain bins there stand out in my mind. I’ve been on this same trip literally dozens of times. But not since the pandemic and that in itself is what makes it feel a bit like a foreign world.

I felt it was important to document this first trip, both the reasons for it and how it felt. I will be submitting all of my isolation chronicle posts to the University of Saskatchewan pandemic archives project hence the “open road” story.


I set off down the highway with my second shot of vaccine well behind me and a negative rapid  test (a weekly requirement for my job). This means I am  physically not at risk to myself or to others. So it should not feel so odd. But it does…

My ancient aging mother has been missing her youngest. Which itself is an “interesting” side story. Her two out of province daughters (one Alberta and one BC) have gone home for visits (note the plural). This was even before a vaccine was developed. I still can’t wrap my head around it truthfully. My mom is 94, has COPD, significant osteoporosis and high blood pressure. She would never survive Covid19. And yet… Well fill in those blanks yourself as I am trying to continue with the family tongue biting I’ve been doing for months.

I record it here publically for two reasons. It is pertinent to family dynamics that developed during the pandemics and I am quite certain it isn’t just our family where risks were managed differently. Secondly it’s my blog and none of my immediate family sans my husband read it. I have cousins who read it but I suspect that they are also on the let’s not take unnecessary risks side of the spectrum and will just quietly nod their heads and also hold their tongues.

So back to the story, my mom is missing me because I haven’t been home. I usually go down about once every 4 to 6 weeks and have done that for a lot of years. Sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s a bit more depending on many factors.

We managed a 15 min visit in January when we came to pick up our locally raised beef. I wanted it to be a garage visit but -5 was too cold for her so we put on fresh surgical masks and had a short visit from the doorway but our last visit to stay was just after Christmas 2019.

This trip, theoretically, was safer. Now well over 65% of all Saskatchewan residents have had their first shot of vaccine although less than 20% are have had double shots. I wrote the start of this post the day I went down and struggled with some of it so that’s why the numbers seem out of date.

Sitting and my back don’t agree with each other so when I am driving alone I must stop around the 2 hour mark, walk and stretch. I often stop at the town where I turn of the divided highway. It has an outdoor food kiosk that we have frequented throughout the years. This was my stopping point as it was almost lunch time. It was busy but there was an orderly distanced lineup and partitions so it felt relatively safe. I ate on the grass in the shade. Did a few stretches and the next stop was my Mom’s house.

Small town rural life must have given the pandemic a different feel. Like it would not happen there. I think there were probably around 10 to 15 cases from what I heard. So I felt that the “downtown” risk was low but I was pleased to see that the locals were all still wearing masks in the grocery store. I can’t say I saw a lot of people but I did keep my distance from those I did see.

The return trip was a later start with a planned supper break at the same spot for a stretch. Except, wait for it, Covid struck there! 

Due to the close contact one of our staff member with a Covid positive person, and for the safety of the rest of employees and customers we will be closed till June 27th. Sorry for inconvenience and stay safe everyone.
Jun 14, 2021

So….. it’s still out there affecting people’s lives in small town rural areas. And… potentially still affecting travellers because if I hadn’t chose to stop there I would not have known. That’s why caution is still required until the vaccination rates go higher.

It seems the world wants to move on and open up. Interestingly enough the numbers here in Canada seem to be supporting this. But then one looks are England where they had a longer lock down and higher vacinnation rates and… You guessed it, their numbers are climbing with the Delta variant.

So while I want to believe, and I think we all do, that Covid is in the rear view mirror I am not convinced. I feel that cautious optimism is called for and an ongoing assessment of risk/activity.

Picture light, word heavy. A bit out of date as it’s now 2+ weeks since I’ve been back. And yes, she’s already asking when I am coming back. I had forgotten the sandwich generation feeling during Covid.

What are your thoughts about how we resume life “post restrictions”?

Bernie

Author:

I have had a love of the written word for my entire life. It's no surprise that eventually I found a platform where I could write. It's random; sometimes funny, occasionally sad, maybe even at times from anger and I lean towards creative photography and hands on crafts. I have a few blogs that high light these interests.

21 thoughts on “Covid in the Rearview mirror

  1. We are in the same boat Bernie. My wife’s father had a major heart attack in January and has been deemed palliative. He is 90 and as stubborn an Irishman as ever was one. He insists he will prove the doctors wrong, but I think he may be starting to face reality. We are headed out next week for a quick trip. Everyone is double vaccinated and more than 2 weeks in, but we are all worried about hotels, restaurants (we will be doing takeout) and the ferry to the Island. We are also worried what we will find as he is a bit secretive/devious. A side note is we will get to see our Vancouver kids briefly as we pass back through Vancouver. That part is good, but I am not looking forward to 4 days of long summer driving under any conditions. Things are not yet normal and somewhere between our precautions and everyone else’s wild abandon lies the truth. We still need to be very careful. Hope all works out for you. Have a great weekend. Allan

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    1. Allan, that’s the thing isn’t it — our cautious natures versus those that don’t feel any need to take precautions and think we are crazy. That’s a longish road trip and certainly comes with a lot of interactions – I was lucky that mine was just 3 1/2 hours. As to elderly parents — let’s just hope we learn our lessons and are willing to do what needs to be done when it needs to happen as we reach that real elderly stage. I hope you and Patti have a good visit with him and your children. Take care and thanks for stopping in. Bernie

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  2. I like your title, Bernie, and I hope it stays this way. Good for you submitting your posts to the archives project. I really enjoy your writing. Personal stories, yet also current for our time period. Family tongue biting is unfortunately a common event. And, yes, risks managed differently. This is why I used the word “weary” frequently this past year. I will be seeing my Mom for the first time in a year. She lives about 100km away on the mainland. You are absolutely right on “caution.”

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    1. Erica, Thanks so much for the lovely comment! It made my day that you like my writing style. Yes weary is a good word and glad to know I am not the only one biting their tongue to hopefully emerge with no rifts in the family (well any more than there already was but that’s a different story!). I hope you have a good visit with your mom and feel safe between here and there (cause that’s the issue — not the being at one place but the getting there). Thanks for stopping in to read and comment. Bernie

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  3. Hi, Bernie – I’ve been fully vaccinated since the beginning of June and have been starting to reemerge. The kalediscope of comfort levels regarding COVID always amazes me. Yesterday, I stopped into the shop at a local gas station. The sign on the door said ‘Masks Recommended’. Not one staff member in the shop wore a mask. Actually, only myself and one other customer had our masks on. The women behind the till, recognized the other customer and actually encouraged her to take off her mask. Even when the other customer said that she was not yet vaccinated, the woman continued to encourage her. I could only stare and shake my head! 😦

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    1. Holy smokes — it’s a personal choice and one should not feel pressured to unmask. I think in uncontrolled settings I will still be wearing mine despite being double vaccinated since June. You are right — there is and always has been a kaleidoscope of comfort levels since the entire thing began. But then look at bicycle helmets — not sure about in BC but here in Sask less and less people seem to be wearing them these days and it’s such a simple thing to do to protect your head. Sometimes human kind is not all that smart…. thanks for stopping in Donna.

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  4. I think you’ve captured what a lot of us are feeling. Even though my husband and I are fully vaccinated (and have been so since late February), we are still being fairly cautious. We feel comfortable interacting with fully-vaxed friends, especially outdoors, but still wear masks out where strangers gather (and we don’t get close). I’m sorry that you are put in the position of having to hold your tongue around family members I don’t think I would be that strong.

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  5. On July 1 our mask mandate was lifted. Like you, I am pleased to see most people still donning masks (yours truly, included) when in the shops. Even though numbers on the Island are down to the single digits again (and many zero new case days) and I am fully vaxxed, I’ll be wearing a mask indoors for the foreseeable future. It’s the least I can do, to show respect to others I encounter (especially the retail workers). The Island has opened up for travel again so I don’t know what the future holds…I hope our case numbers stay down.
    Deb

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    1. Our mask mandate lifts on Monday. Our building and work area will still require them. Just hope everyone continues on with vaccination. It will be interesting to see how long the 4th wave takes to arrive. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in some trepidation in regards to life going forward. Bernie

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  6. My beloved and I are off for two weeks to a cottage near Algonquin park tomorrow. I have concerns but…
    And there’s the butt…. that space where azz hits the road, which is what we are literally doing tomorrow morning. We’re driving east. Dropping off a car for friends from here who will be spending their summer at their cottage there. They can no longer make the drive so we’re doing it for them.
    To say I have niggling worries is an understatement — but, I’ve got the essentials all set in the car-to-go basket. Masks. Hand sanitizer. Lysol wipes. And, we’ll still be somewhat isolated as Ontario’s restrictions are still in place– and their cottage is on a bay with only 3 other cottages. (to call it a cottage is also an understatement but that’s a whole other story! 🙂 )
    It feels strange to be going somewhere – Alberta is restriction free — but not COVID free — our numbers are dropping and the % of fully vaccinated is climbing. 73.5 per cent of those ages 12 and up have received one dose (62.5% of total population) – with 42.2% of population fully vaccinated.
    So…. risk/reward ratio – I think we’re safe… but who knows with COVID — I also know… life must continue. As long as we take necessary precautions to safeguard our health, we will be able to enjoy our visit and time by the lake. We have seen these friends throughout COVID’s reign — outdoors even in the winter (Chinooks are wonderful) and most recently, indoors — on Sunday we had a family dinner with 8 people – my daughter and partner, sister and husband and this couple who are my daughters’ godparents. It fel soooooo wonderful. Normal. Reviving.
    Sorry for the long reply — lol – I’ve written my daily blog here!
    Take good care.

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    1. That’s a LONG drive and I would have to say it’s all the in-between places that I would feel nervous about. Kind of like my little half way point stop. Once at the cottage it will be fine. I suspect the flight home will feel weird as well.
      Definitely risk/reward scenario. We will be going to Alberta Sept long for a family gathering and internment for his mom. That makes me nervous – close contact with 35+ people. So let’s hope that the vaccine numbers continue to climb (instead of a plateau like in England and US) and that the variant doesn’t get a good hold here. Thanks for the long reply! Works for me. Have a good trip Louise and thanks for stopping in. Bernie

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  7. I’m/we’re resuming life post restrictions but I’m not totally comfortable with it. We’re doing things like shopping without much worry, but soon we’re scheduled to do a business event and a family lunch. Haven’t been around people in months, so as an introvert, I’m kind of dreading this as usual– but with the added layer of “are they really vaccinated– or just pretending?” No way to know for sure…

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    1. OMG – I had never even had the thought that people would pretend to be vaccinated. We were talking at work about whether it is socially acceptable to ask your friends if they are. Mostly we hang out with people are age who we know are. Good luck with the getting back into the deep end of people! Take care and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  8. While we’re desperate for some sort of normality to resume, lots of people are still anxious about a post-COVID future. Without a clear future anchor and the ability to create a longer-term plan, we lack the ability to prepare, and the constantly changing rules lower our tolerance to uncertainty. In Ireland, we haven’t even been fully vaccinated and much to our horror the new Delta Covid Variant has just started to sweep across Ireland making many people ill. We are still vigilant of the pandemic. We haven’t left Sligo for a year, we still wear masks and keep a safe distance from other people.

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    1. Here in Canada our vaccine rates are still climbing thankfully so it seems there will be a decent level of herd immunity although I hear they changed the original number. Which goes back to your comment about the uncertainty and constant change. I guess it’s just that – we ourselves monitor our risks and do what we feel is safe. I know a lot of your life is travel and it must be hard knowing if you can go home. No easy answers for sure. Take care and stay safe. Thanks for stopping by and continuing to read and respond. Bernie

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  9. I feel very similar Bernie. I will not be leaving my mask behind any time soon – pretty sure continuous masking policy will stay at work too. I am excited to know Rider games are back, but being around that many people will surely make me feel uncomfortable.
    It’s far from over, but I am so glad things are opening up. I will just go at my own pace.

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    1. Yeah a Rider game might just be too much for me. Pretty sure I’m not going to be good in a big crowd for a while although an N95 mask might make me feel a bit more comfortable. We were just talking this am about the 4th wave that will hit late fall early winter so yes it’s not over and we will all just assess our risks.
      I hope your own risk includes seeing me!

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  10. I’m with you on erring on the side of caution, Bernie. And we haven’t been out of town for over a year, and even then just a little over an hour away. It will seem strange as things open up more. But both our kids and their families are now able to enter the incredibly well protected border to the Maritimes, and it will be wonderful to see them this summer.

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    1. It does seem strange – come Monday no masks, no restrictions. We are holding our own in single dose and double doses with the rest of Canada. As a country our vaccine rates are still climbing which is good. A huge concern in third world countries unfortunately.
      So very excited that you get to see your children and grandchildren this summer!

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