COVID Camping – sort of…

We returned from our Spring trip just as the virus was gathering momentum. Toilet paper was already in short supply & hand sanitizer was scarce. We made it home a couple weeks before Minnesota started shutting down. I’d rather not travel in and out of unaffected rural areas during a pandemic, just on the off chance that I’m one of those asymptomatic super-spreaders. In this case we accidently timed it right.

I follow various #vanlife & full time RV’ers on YouTube. As the pandemic shutdowns started I payed attention to their plight. Some were happy to stay put & hunker down in a campground or RV park. Others found a spot with friends or relatives. Some seem to have hid out on BLM land. For those traveling in foreign countries the options were fewer and the decisions were often out of their control. Some made a mad dash for their home country – either in their RV or not – others got stuck in a foreign country that had much tighter travel restrictions than us. Some seem to have given up the #vanlife (or given up posting on YouTube).

In Minnesota the campgrounds were closed but the home improvement stores were open – though whether or not they were open for non-essential purchases was ambiguous. That meant that we were stuck at home with no excuses for failing to get work done around the house. We took advantage of the downtime and re-painted about 1/3 of the interior of our house (≈ 7 gallons of paint) and made significant progress on a bathroom remodel that I’d postponed in favor of our Spring trip. I also took advantage of the dead time to tweak the campervan just a bit.

Our first post-COVID outing was our annual ‘family reunion’ camping trip at a Wisconsin State Park in early June. My parents, siblings & nieces have camped together once a year for many years. We (barely) kept the tradition this year. The Wisconsin State Parks opened late so we lost a few days at the beginning of the reservation, and because the park was full we couldn’t extend. The cabins didn’t open at all so we had to make last minute adjustments in accommodations.

As of early June the propagation vectors were not well understood and the various virus mitigation strategies and behavioral restrictions were inconsistent and illogical. So simple things like using the campground bathrooms and showers or socializing at mealtime or around a campfire were done (or not) without clear understanding of the risks we were incurring. In the month since, that has not changed. We got to visit with the family though, so all was not lost.

We also spend some time camping on land that my brother owns up in Ely Minnesota. My plan was to get far enough north that we’d escape a regional heat wave. Beautiful land, beautiful lake, but we did not escape the hot weather.

We’re not fans of hot weather camping and the second wave of the virus is tearing through parts of the country, so we’ll likely defer our next major trip until early fall. It’ll be interesting to see how travel has changed as a result of the pandemic. Seems like many folks think that camping is a safe way to travel without incurring the risks associated with flying, eating in restaurants and staying in motels. If demand is high in fall, we’ll have to adjust accordingly.

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