COVID-19: The Day The Music Died
Beastie is big, but not so big to haul around a Costco bulk-pack of toilet paper!!! ↩
A group of 10 Australians vacationing in Aspen tested positive for the virus (one of them tested positive upon returning to Australia), with three others in their party — who were exhibiting symptoms (!) — refused to be tested. Talk about selfish.Two of those who tested positive and were required to isolate defied the health order and went skiing at Snowmass. What a bunch of complete a-holes. ↩
Since we left San Francisco on February 3rd, a silent, scary black cloud has been chasing us, and up until now, it's been easy to ignore. But now it's right on our tail, and we knew it would eventually directly impact our lives. We just didn't know it would be now, in such an abrupt way. Of course I'm talking about the Coronavirus / COVID-19.
We could never find the words to express the incredible amount of gratitude and thanks we have for what we've experienced on this (and every) trip. This post marks the day when everything changed — profoundly — forever. And I'm not talking about our Ski Bumming 2020, Yeah Baby! trip.
Because of the big storm that blew in last night, we are spending the weekend in Bozeman to replenish / restock at Costco and Target, do laundry, and then head back to Big Sky to ski our final day on Monday or Tuesday.
The drive to Bozeman was pretty gnarly. It was snowing heavily and visibility was bad. On the way down, we saw the aftermath of someone who skidded off the road and wrapped their car around a tree. Yikes...
I went into shock walking into Costco.
Prior to this moment, at all the places we've been since we left home, there have not been any overt signs of any problems or worries of a health scare, or any major problems for that matter. All the towns and ski areas were literally operating as normal; no one was talking about the virus or acting differently, and everything seemingly was just as it always was.
When you're living a blissful, simple life in Beastie, where all you have to do is pop the top and cover the windows to be in, no matter where you are, your little slice of heaven, it's easy to live in a cocoon. But for the last few weeks, we've been extremely worried reading about all that's been going on in a world that seemed to be in another galaxy, and it was only a couple days ago when our Mayor in San Francisco very smartly issued a Shelter-in-Place order for the City. We are really glad she did this. Everyone there is in lock-down mode, and all around the world, people are hoarding toilet paper. Absolutely surreal.
Two days ago, even though there were no virus cases in Montana, the Governor declared a state of emergency. He was also smart to do that, especially since yesterday, four cases were confirmed in the State, all from people who had traveled out of and returned to Montana. Luckily no community transmissions.
So here we were at Costco, and this is what we encountered at the entrance:
Remember, we are in Bozeman, Montana, the state that is:
- ranked 44th in population
- with only 1.08 million residents
- in the fourth largest state size-wise in the US, behind only Alaska, Texas and California
- with a population density of only seven people per square mile
- making it the 48th least populated state in density ratio in the US, behind only Alaska and Wyoming
Thankfully, we got everything we needed, and the shopping experience wasn't bad. Except now we are keeping our distance and minimizing any contact or conversation with anyone. Which made going to the laundromat a very stressful chore. We were relieved it wasn't crowded, though the last 1.5 hours were dicey as more people came. Who knew the laundromat would be such a popular place at 9pm on a Saturday night...
While waiting for the clothes to dry, I was texting our friend in Aspen to confirm everyone in the family was okay as there was a very alarming breakout of cases in Aspen due to some visiting Australians.
Luckily everyone is safe, and she relayed the Governor of Colorado literally just shut down all ski areas in the state. The order went into effect immediately.
We knew at that moment that a tsunami would envelope the ski industry, and likely all mountains and Governors would quickly follow suit with closures. And us? Here we were, at a laundromat in Bozeman, wondering what will be our fate for Big Sky, the rest of our trip, our community, the country, the world.
Today is the day the music died.
It's been cold and snowing off and on all day, and right now at 1am, it's 1°F/ -17 °C outside. We're all tucked in for the night, pretending we're parked in a magical place with an amazing view ready to greet us in the morning.
I'm also pretending I don't hear the sounds from the constant stream of traffic, while fully knowing our view tomorrow will be the Rest Area located right in town, just down the street from Costco and directly adjacent to the Interstate's on-ramp.
But then I get supremely annoyed when the car parked next to us starts up and idles really loudly. Seriously people???? At this hour?
I look outside after listening to this for several minutes, and my heart begins to bleed. The idling car is a clunker, held together with "duct tape and bubble gum," and it's clear the man inside is idling to keep warm. This is his home. This is where he is sleeping tonight and likely the next, and where he probably slept last night.
This poor man must be utterly miserable in this environment. And here we are, in Beastie, all safe, cozy, warm and tucked in, right next to him, but a million miles apart.
Finally, he turns off the car, and I can now go to sleep, but not without first reflecting on how incredibly blessed we are, and the tremendous amount of gratitude I / we have for all the amazing gifts that life has given us.
Tomorrow I want to give him some food. Hopefully he'll be there in the morning.
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