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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default Family Trip Despite COVID

    Despite the COVID panic going on, my husband and I chose to go off on a road trip to see family. Though we had initial plans to head up to Yellowstone after visiting with family, we decided to hatchet that part of the plan and just concentrate on family. Most of our family is thrilled to have us visit. Since the two of us will be moving in a year or two, we started loading up the truck with some of the stuff that needs to go back to our offspring -- purging, so to speak. So the back of our truck is filled with stuff again.

    I will try to include some information about COVID-19 prevention in our daily reports.

    DAY 1 - HOME to RICHFIELD, UT - 604 miles, 10+ hours

    What a smooth first day this was! We were out the door right at our scheduled time, truck loaded and out the driveway. We headed out to I-15 and then north. It was still dark at this time and we could see that traffic was slightly heavier heading south (for whatever reason) than it seemed to be heading north.

    Cajon Pass is usually full of construction and traffic. But we summited with ease this time, pulling over in Hesperia into a parking lot to grab something out of the back end of the truck. Our next stop was just past Barstow, for breakfast. We chose Peggy Sue's 50s Diner, because it would be open for breakfast and was not a chain. It was excellent! All staff were wearing masks and gloves, and they had social distancing in place in a fun way -- every other table was "Reserved for XXX" (XXX being the name of a 50s or 60s celebrity that is long gone, such as John Wayne, James Dean). The diner barstools were all closed off in the same manner. Loved the way they did that in keeping with the theme of the restaurant.

    We kept barreling through after breakfast. Both rest areas between Yermo and the NV/CA state line were open, which is almost unheard of! We utilized the second one, and most people using the rest area were wearing masks. Moving on, we flowed through Las Vegas smoothly and noticed how much less traffic there was despite the fact that some of the Strip has officially opened.

    Our next stop was for fuel on the Moapa Indian Reservation. I'd called up there ahead of time so that we wouldn't be surprised by a closure, but the reason for stopping there was to avoid urban areas as well as a much better price for fuel! Once again, most folks were wearing masks, though I only went into the building to use the facilities and went right back out.

    One of my favorite areas on this leg of the trip was the Virgin River Gorge in the 29.5 miles of I-15 that goes through Arizona. However, some of it was under construction, which makes it less enjoyable. It was also starting to get later in the morning so the heat was setting in. We'd already turned on the AC between Primm (CA/NV state line) and Las Vegas.

    Next stop was at the Kanarraville Rest Area, where it was a bit cooler and we took a few to really stretch our bodies. Then we went on in to Richfield.

    For a number of years now, we've stayed at the Quality Inn there in Richfield whenever planning to stay overnight there. We had no issues with social distancing there or anywhere that day, really. The place was super clean. The staff was behind a partition and didn't wear masks, which surprised me, but some did when they went out to a different area. We had the pool to ourselves.

    Later, we walked next door to Steve's Steakhouse. We'd never eaten there, and decided to give it a try. We had to give our names and a phone number "for the health department". (When I asked why, the Health Dept insists on that so that they can track who had contact with a given person that could contract CV-19. Okay, I guess.) Everyone was wearing masks and gloves, required of food service in that county in UT. Where there were booths, every other one was taped off. Where there were tables, some were moved out. We had an excellent meal whose prices were on par for Richfield.

    We crashed quite early that night.



    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,490

    Default Did you visit the women's toilet???

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    We chose Peggy Sue's 50s Diner, because it would be open for breakfast and was not a chain. It was excellent! All staff were wearing masks and gloves, and they had social distancing in place in a fun way -- every other table was "Reserved for XXX" (XXX being the name of a 50s or 60s celebrity that is long gone, such as John Wayne, James Dean). The diner barstools were all closed off in the same manner. Loved the way they did that in keeping with the theme of the restaurant.
    This restaurant has been fabulous for a long time.

    DID YOU GO INTO THE WOMAN'S BATHROOM? Visiting the women's toilet is always one of the best parts of that place!

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Moving on, we flowed through Las Vegas smoothly and noticed how much less traffic there was despite the fact that some of the Strip has officially opened.
    Traffic is almost back to normal...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default

    Yes, I did use the facilities there. Hilarious! I have to admit that it took me by surprise the first time I walked into the restroom. (I visited it twice, for good measure.)

    DAY 2 - RICHFIELD to AURORA, CO - 495 miles, 9-1/2+ hours

    Off we went from Richfield, trying to get out of there by 6, but didn't make it due to an issue with the computer at Quality Inn (later rectified by the personnel there and emailed the receipt to us, which is fine).

    We chose not to fill up the tank at Richfield, as it was about 25c per gallon cheaper down in Salina, UT. There we had to fuel up "with the big boys", the way early diesel pickup truck owners used to do, before most stations moved "auto diesel" to the front pumps. It was pretty much contact free there.

    The next part of my trip was Favorite Part #1: The San Rafael Swell. I did take some photos, which I will upload when I get a chance to put them on Flickr. Lovely trip through the Swell! We stopped here and there to take in the view, but moved on to our breakfast stop in Green River. We went to a place where we'd been going for years, West Wind Restaurant (part of West Wind Petro truck stop). Food is usually good, they had all the measures in place except their health dept didn't require names & phone numbers of customers.

    My husband overheard part of a conversation at one of the Swell scenic viewpoints, where one woman told another in her vehicle, "oh, it's just another hour and a half from here to Grand Junction." Obviously, somebody wasn't reading their map or they were driving faster than the 80 mph posted. (We did 75 mph and took well over 2 hrs, not including the time we took in the restaurant.)

    At Grand Junction, we first stopped to take care of an issue, but didn't fuel up. On the other side of town, we saw the diesel price of $2.09/gal and decided to take advantage. (So far, we'd paid $2.29 at Moapa, $2.14 at Salina.)

    Between Glenwood Springs and our exit in the Denver area, we had to slow/go for an accident, but quite a few construction areas. It was 2-way traffic through Glenwood Canyon (another favorite part of the day's ride, usually) and then some other slow/go areas where we had to merge down to one lane. We did stop at the rest area at Vail Pass -- that's a tradition! Most folks there were NOT wearing masks, perhaps because of the thin-air there. I put mine on as a courtesy when I saw an older gentleman with a cane struggling up the walkway to the restroom.

    Since we go to the southeastern section of Denver, we used C-470 to get there. Nice freeway, interstate quality but not registered as a true bypass. Took that to I-25N to our exit, arriving at our daughter's home before our target time of 4 pm.

    Our plans were to stay here for almost a week before continuing on. Besides calling this the Family Trip Despite COVID, I could have also called it the I-70 Family Trip, since so much of our family lives within an hour or so of I-70 across several states.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default

    PHOTOS FROM THE FIRST TWO DAYS:

    Construction in the Virgin River Gorge:



    Utah:



    Colorado River in CO:



    Still Snow Near Vail!:





    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default

    MUSINGS about Colorado during COVID

    So far, no state has pulled us over due to out of state plates. Daughter read an article where folks with out of state plates have had notes left on their windshields stating something like, we love having tourists but this isn't a good year for it." But we haven't had that. Our truck has pretty much been sequestered in front of their home and we take their mom-van anywhere we go.

    Retail stores are pretty much like home: folks wearing masks to shop and the workers there wearing masks and gloves. Restaurants, same. Outdoor activities? Out on the neighborhood sidewalks, people honor social distancing but no masks. We went to a local park, Cherry Creek Ecological Park and Preserve, where hikers were wearing masks when they were near others, but the folks sitting in the "wading area" for the creek, were not.

    Closed vs open. We came to visit family, and while doing things as a family can be fun, perhaps this is just another stop where we do things in the local area like the parks. Many places are still closed and not opening until July. We aren't too worried about it, as we will be back again. I would have loved to have taken my grands to the North Pole place in Colorado Springs, but that had JUST opened and is experiencing a lot of visitors. No thanks, we're staying away from crowds and washing our hands a lot, as our doctor recommended.

    I'll probably add more before we depart Colorado.



    Donna

  6. #6

    Default

    My son and family are in Parker,CO and he’s been very pleased with how Colorado has handled this. My DIL is a nurse in a local hospital and while she did a little bit of rotation on a Covid floor they did not need as many floors as first anticipated and now she’s back on her elective surgery floor. Since summer camp is canceled they are using this summer to go family camping. Lots of places out there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default

    More Musings about CO during COVID: Restaurants

    Another thing we did in Colorado was to go to a restaurant for dine-in, with the family. My daughter and her family had not been out to dinner since before CV-19 hit. For several reasons, we decided to try the Olive Garden in Southlands Mall (Aurora). They were taking day-of reservations, where you call the place when they open and let them know when you want to come in. With a party of 6, that's a good idea anyway.

    Olive Garden has limited their menu completely. No more laminated menus, only two-sided disposable paper with their food on one side and drinks on the other. No more "Under 600 calories" meals, but the waitress allowed me to order a lunch size entree. A lot of other things were missing, but there was a decent choice. The food was good, though the bread sticks were "below par" (all of us commented on that).

    Service - instead of being shown to your table by one person, a drink order taken by another, food order by yet another, served food by a 4th -- it was contact limited to one waitress, who wore a mask and plastic gloves. She was the only person we saw other than the greeter outside who checked our party in (one person checks in while the rest wait in the car until your table is ready; no more waiting inside the restaurant), and one other at the inside check-in station. Our waitress was very forgetful.

    Tables - every other table was cordoned off. We were in a back room with about a dozen tables, but only 2 tables were in use while we were there. Both were for parties of 6 or more.

    Masks - masks on until you are seated. Staff were all in masks that we could see.

    As for sightseeing, in the Colorado portion of the trip, we have avoided sightseeing. I stated above about the notes people are getting on their vehicles with out of state plates. When I've said something in stores about being from California, at least one said, "And you decided to travel? How brave!" Not sure that's an accurate statement, we're protecting ourselves with masks and washing hands a lot.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-28-2020 at 02:47 PM. Reason: corrected a typo

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default Day 8 - AURORA CO to SALINA KS

    Day 8 - Aurora CO to Salina KS - 420 miles, 7-1/2+ Hours

    We had a leisurely morning of coffee with our daughter and her family before loading up the truck for our 425 mile driving day. We left at about 9 am and headed up to I-70 via “the back roads”. This was achieved by going east on Quincy, and then north on Watkins which took us directly to the freeway with a stop at the Shell station ($1.98/gallon for diesel!) before getting on.

    It was about 2-1/2 hours to Burlington, so we stopped there for a lunch at Arby's (always a favorite stop since I don't know where San Diego has Arby's any more). Back on the highway, we only stopped at rest areas. It was HOT, most places in Kansas registering between 94 and 98F, but with humidity to make it feel like “104”. Come to find out that the projected temperatures for the next day were in the 100s. Whew! Turn off the furnace, Kansas!

    This was one of the latest days for checking into a hotel, than we have had in a long time. It was around 5:20-ish. Once again we had issues with their credit card processing -- not our card (our card-issuing financial institution assured us it was NOT us!) but their system.

    We were first disappointed that the pool was not open here due to COVID. I don't understand closing a private pool like that, but counties and states are fussy. So rare is it to find anyone in the pool besides us. Then disappointed that Taco Bell was about the only fast food place in Salina who did not have dine-in open. So we first went to DQ and had both a sandwich and a hot fudge sundae – not exactly the best thing for the health, but a good treat like that is rare, too.

    Then tried to find cheap fuel. In the Midwest everything is cheaper than in CA, diesel-wise, but $1.97 sounded good to us. However, the station that advertised that price had a swarm of bees directly over the car/pickup diesel pump. The price was $2.07 anyway for debit/credit. So we moved on across the street to a cleaner station, at $2.11. We hadn't fueled up since Watkins, that morning, so the tank was reading somewhere between ¼ and ½ tank.

    Finally found my family's new place. We enjoyed a short visit, inside their living room, where it was much cooler than outside.

    Headed back to the room for a glass of wine and relaxation while allowing our bodies to adjust to Central Time (we crossed over that between Goodland and Colby KS, about 12:30/1:30). We had brought our new travel wine glasses (stainless steel) and some small bottles of wine (a 4-pack of individual servings). We'd put the wine in the room's refrigerator.

    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-30-2020 at 07:04 AM. Reason: fixed a spacing issue

  9. Default

    Enjoying reading about your travels since we are SIP.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,508

    Default Day 10: Salina, KS to Lake of the Ozarks, MO

    Day 10: Salina, KS to Lake of the Ozarks, 360 miles, 7-1/2 hrs+

    Today was mostly a driving day. We tried to get out by 8 am, but once again, Choice delayed us. They tried to make us use a different card, but we held our ground. We got a later contact from the hotel saying “it's all taken care of”. This is a problem within all of Choice, obviously.

    Breakfast stop in Junction City at Cracker Barrel was the reason for an earlier departure. It was an enjoyable meal.

    We took I-70 to I-435, a belt loop around Kansas City, KS. We took that to I-49, but we were only on that for about 2 miles when we got off to do a little sightseeing. We went to Harry Truman's Farm in Grandview, MO. It was a mere shadow of what it had been in his time, down to 10 acres from over 600 acres. We saw the home (outside only), the chicken coop, the outhouse, a water pump, and lots of good brick “fence posts”. Took some photos. We were probably there about 20 minutes or so, then moved on. I will upload photos a little later.

    We took I-49 down to Harrisonville, where we picked up MO-7 as far as Clinton. In Clinton, we took MO-13 down to Collins. Both MO-7 and MO-13 were 4-lane divided, but when we got on US-54, we were on 2-lane road.

    The fuel prices were best in Camdenton, and we were over 350 miles on the tank, so our next stop (after a rest area stop) was at the gas station. It was nice to put in 22+ gallons for less than $50, for we paid $1.85/gal for diesel!

    It took awhile to check in at Margaritaville because the room wasn't ready. It was 45 minute wait, then time to get the room keys and the luggage moved in. It was about dinner time by the time we got up to our daughter's.

    It was a lovely family reunion. After dinner (meat loaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli), we shared all the things we'd brought for everyone. Oh, my, how the girls were appreciative!

    Came back to the room to enjoy wine before bedtime.



    Donna

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