Day 6 Isolation: I Took 3 More Covid Tests

When I first got that positive Covid test a week ago, I was so sure it must be correct that I canceled our much-planned-for flights without a second thought.

Then I learned a little more and became less sure.

Now, I’m at the point where I think it’s more likely than not that I never had Covid at all. And I’ll never know for sure at this point. But it’s looking more and more likely that I had a false positive last week.

Here’s what changed:

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Quarantine Journal: Doubt Creeps In

Last night I returned home from walking the dog — yes, the Health Dept. and Kaiser not only condone but encourage going out for walks while masked and social distancing! — I returned to my backyard entrance to see that my family was eating dinner.

Our dining table is flanked by a large window. It was just starting to get dark out, so the scene was illuminated from within. They were laughing and talking, eating the raviolis and pasta sauce I had purchased in what now feels like another lifetime. You can bet it felt poignant to stand outside, looking in.

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Covid Is Still Wrecking Our Trips

A year ago, no one in my family would dream of getting on a plane, because, hello! Global pandemic.

Starting this summer, once we were fully vaccinated, we started venturing onto flights again. In fact, we were going to fly to Oregon this weekend to tour Oregon State University, visit “Leverage” sights in Portland, and meet up with friends.


This time, not because of Covid in general.

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California to Hawaii for $100 Bucks

Have you seen these prices for flights between the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii? Someone tipped me off last night, so I started poking around Southwest and Google Flights, and wow! There are nonstop flights between a number of Bay Area and Hawaii airports for right around $100 each way. The airlines I saw advertising these cheap flights: Southwest and Hawaiian.

Usually, we pay around $500 for a roundtrip to Hawaii from here. If we’re lucky, $400.

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How Much Value Did We Get From Our Southwest Companion Passes During a Second Plague Year?

TL;DR: In this terrible travel year, our family still saved over $3,000 with our Southwest Companion Passes, so I think it was worth putting much of our spending on Southwest Visa cards.

Our first year ever having Companion Passes was 2020, and because of Covid we only saved about $500 each with them. That’s OK, I said. We’ll make it up in 2021.

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How Not to Take the Train to Chicago

I went to Chicago with friends this summer and in just 24 hours managed to squeeze in 16th birthday fun, a casual college visit, some amateur mycology, fabulous meals from three different cuisines, destination retail and a little light sightseeing. Also, we got Garrett’s Popcorn. Of course we got Garrett’s!

But I’m not going to tell you about all of that today. I’m just going to tell you how, even though I have successfully taken trains and public transit all over China, Europe and even Australia, I still manage to mess it up regularly. This day was an epic example of screwing up train travel and still having fun. In fact, all the fun we were having was responsible for a lot of the screwups, but it was all good.

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On Vacation on September 11

This is the only photo I have where some of us are watching 9/11 coverage. It was probably taken on about 9/21/01.

Everyone who was alive on Sept. 11, 2001, can tell you where they were when it went down. But for me, my location at the moment of the attack colored my experience to such an extent that I feel different than other Americans, even 20 years later.

For most Americans, the 9/11 attacks happened in the morning. For my husband, a few friends and me, because we were in Beijing at the time, they happened in the evening. Most Americans spent the days and weeks after huddling together, checking news updates and worrying. We, too, huddled, with the few Americans we had around us, but because we were thousands of miles away from family and work, surrounded by people who had a different perspective on the event, it felt quite different from what others have described.

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Wrigley Field in the Last Days of the World Series-Winning Cubs

I seem to have good luck catching last acts at Wrigley Field. On Sept. 26, 2010, I happened to attend the last game that Cubs legend Ron Santo ever broadcast — and not only that, but my family and I were sitting at a rooftop club where the radio feed was played. So unlike the fans sitting in the stands at Wrigley, we actually heard Ronnie’s last words to the fans.

Back in 2010, we didn’t know we were witnessing a last stand. Same goes for July 24 of this year, when my family and I took the Metra and the Red Line down to Wrigley to see Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. OK, we knew there was trading talk afoot, especially regarding Bryant. But I did not anticipate that the team’s whole core would be traded away within the week.

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Extremely Large and Incredibly Baroque: The House on the Rock

A central location of Neal Gaiman’s novel American Gods is The House on the Rock, a kooky museum where the characters ride a grandiose carousel in order to access another dimension. But you know the House on the Rock is a real place, right? It’s actually only a half hour from my parents’ cabin, west of Madison, Wisconsin. Last week, I visited for only the second time in my life, with some of my favorite people.

This was a group who had been mightily entertained by a simple commuter train ride the week before, so this place nearly blew all our mental gaskets. The phrase that keeps coming back to me every time I try to describe The House on the Rock Museum? It’s just so much.

When you drive up to this world-famous tourist attraction, all you see is a tasteful-looking visitor center and plenty of parking. That’s because most of the bizarre attractions this place is known for are all underground. When you walk in the glass doors, you’ll be in an airy lobby with bathrooms and a ticket counter. The staff will ask you if you want to tour all three sections or just the “highlights.” We found this confusing as we had purchased “The Ultimate Experience” tickets online for $25 per adult and $15 per kid. At the counter, that was the price of the “Highlights Tour,” including only sections 1 and 2.

What’s the difference? I’m still not sure. Once we went into the exhibits, we never saw anyone being blocked from any section. From studying the web site, it looks like Section I is the original house, Section 2 is the entire museum, and Section 3 is the Japanese garden. We skipped Section 3 as we had already seen more than enough after spending like five hours in sections 1 and 2.

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