Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, Are the Great Outdoors Off-Limits During a Pandemic? You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.
I’m quite self-contained when I travel, solo camping in my truck to remote deserts, mostly. I can likely avoid most people-contacts and not get the virus. Here’s the problem, however. I might actually have the virus and not know it. I or you might be a carrier, and we’d be traveling out of our own home zone into, perhaps, a rural area that has less of an infection rate. All unawares, we could be the vector to spread it into that area where the local populace and medical community very likely have even fewer resources than the urban areas do for helping themselves if they get deathly ill from it.
I’m staying put until this accursed thing passes us over. I had planned to drive out to Big Bend National Park here in Texas to hike and take photos, but I will wait now until the fall. The desert will still be there then, and I hope all the folks who live and work out there will be, too.
Luckily I live in the great outdoors in rural North Texas so I’ve been able to go walking around in the woods a bit now that the weather has warmed up. It’s still flooding sporadically though so I’ve had to space my walks between times the ground dries up enough to keep from sinking into to it over my boot tops. I was scheduled to go down to Rockwall and meet with Historical Foundation members to photo document some additional sites but they’ve been hit worse with flooding than we have. Then I received word that all the lectures had been cancelled and the museum closed until further notice because of the covid-19. Since it’s closer to the Dallas Metroplex there have been more reported cases than up here which luckily have been nil locally so far. I had seriously been thinking about returning to the Mojave near Calico to investigate a site that was just discovered after I returned from there last summer with my sister. However, she’s trapped outside Seattle in the lockdown and it’s the worst hit state on the west coast. I’m not sure I could even get out there with the way travel is being restricted in some places. An archaeologist friend who lives out near there says they are all self quarantined right now and get no further than the local park for exercise in ones and twos. As for the Mexican state of Sonora just below Arizona, there have been recent protests against U.S. citizens visiting there. Even if the Zapatistas had not taken over Casa Grandes, I guess I would not be a welcome visitor there. So for the time being I guess a lot of the great outdoors are de facto off-limits until this bug hunt is over with.
Mexico has very few cases of COVID-19 yet; and ironically we also have people in our border areas like Mexicali, Tecate, and Tijuana who want the Mexican government to close the borders people from the USA as well. There have been some formal demonstrations at border crossings due to this.
While you can still go outdoors in the San Diego area, we are still on a pretty steep up-curve of new cases daily. The weekend before last, there were a lot of very foolish young people who were gathering together and not maintaining the proper social distancing at our beaches and parks, so the city took the action of closing all parking lots for these area, and then then next day, actually closed the beaches and parks completely. Police are patrolling and turning surfers away from the beach. So far it is mostly warnings, but violation of these orders could lead to both arrest and a $1000 fine. Around the same time, the Governor of CA closed all state parks. So is it difficult to find a place close to your home to get outdoors for us, and travel by car is even discouraged for purposes other than going to work, health related trips, or buying groceries. The rationale is the more time you are on the road, the more likely you could be in an accident, and end up in one of our already overstressed emergency rooms plus pulling first responders away from work related to this crisis.
Fortunately for me, I live in a house with a good sized yard, and I have been working in my garden and enjoying sitting outside (now that we are having some days without rain) to enjoy my roses, the birds, and absence of many planes taking off from the nearby municipal airport (I am in their flight path).
I was in SE Asia for the entire month of February, and got to be outdoors there quite a bit, so that helped. Sadly I have cancelled a trip to France that was supposed to occur at the end of April.
THIS is the right answer! It’s not too much to ask folks to take a few weeks out of their lives and just shelter in place. The great outdoors will be there when we all emerge. I know I’m itching to go, but as someone who actually has an underlying medical condition, I’m staying away for my safety and the safety of others.