Note: I already wrote a blog post about our visit to Wrigley Field this summer. But then I put together this essay about how that trip to the Midwest was in part rain tourism for us dusty Californians. I was thinking of trying to sell it, but heck, I’ll just share it here with you. After all, the rainy season actually showed up on time in California this year, so this piece may have passed its sell-by date. Still perfectly good though! Enjoy.
How dry was our pandemic?
So dry that my son’s Zoom class went nuts when one of their classmates announced, “It’s raining!” and focused her camera on the falling drops. I rushed over, squinting to catch a rare glimpse of precipitation.
The classmate was attending school from Puerto Vallarta, and there we were in the umpteenth year of California’s megadrought. To make things worse, Covid cancelled our annual visit to the grandparents in Wisconsin, where we usually received a welcome deluge in one form or another.
Finally, vaccines in arms, we prepared to fly East in July 2021.
“Please let there be a huge thunderstorm with pouring rain and lightning!” my daughter wished.
I made it! I earned my Southwest Companion Pass for next year! And I swear, like Scarlett O’Hara with a handful of dirt, that I will fly more with that Companion Pass in 2022.
But what do I do now? We still have stuff to buy every month — groceries, a new roof, this and that. Which credit card to put the spending on now that I really don’t need any more Southwest points unti January?
I’ve been trying to scrape up enough American AAdvantage miles to take the family to Europe at some point in the next year, so my ears perked up when I heard that American is changing things up with their loyalty program.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.