Today (January 16, 2021) was the day Hannah and I were to fly to California for our two months in Carpinteria. We did not go. Let me explain.
On the last day of 2020 we were hiking with our extended family. Good times, masks, social distancing, the works. The following day one of them started having a headache, sore throat, temp of 100F, and body ache. Sure, it could be Covid, but this family took every precaution. It didn’t seem possible. But damn if he didn’t have Covid. And the kicker is, he has no idea where it came from!
Consulting the Covid nurse at York Hospital, she thought that it was unlikely that we had Covid since we were outdoors and not in “close contact” (i.e. being within six feet for 15 minutes). Even so, she recommended that we self-quarantine for ten days. Better safe than sorry.
Jet Blue didn’t want us to fly anyway if we had any such contact for 14 days. So we pushed back our January 9, 2021 departure by one week to today.
Self-quarantining was a bummer, but still very doable. Gone was our Covid pod with Karen on Sundays, daily going to the gym that we have been doing regularly since June, weekly ping pong with George, going into any building (e.g. grocery shopping), and Hannah cutting hair. Inconvenient but hardly a sacrifice. Our neighbor Laurie shopped for us.
On the morning of January 8, 2021 as Hannah and I lay in bed, I asked her if she felt safe flying to California. She did, but it was the Covid crises in California that concerned her.
Currently in Santa Barbara County, there are 2,895 active cases in this third and worst wave of the virus; compared to just 241 during the peak of the first wave last spring and 444 in the summer surge. The virulent, more contagious British variant of the original Covid also has been found in California.
Since December 7, 2020, southern California has been under a Shelter at Home order by Governor Newsom. Though California would rather not have us, we were technically good to go since we were staying for two months and could quarantine for fourteen days at our rented house.
Though we are very healthy, quite the rule-followers when it comes to Covid protocols, and have ten months of being Covid-free under our belts, Hannah didn’t want to further stress the health care system with our presence. We are not invulnerable.
With that major medical concern real, I began thinking that my memory of winters past in Carpinteria might be muddling my thinking of what Carpinteria 2021 would be like during a Covid winter.
We’d be pretty isolated with no pickleball connections (3-4 times per week in previous winters), no Unity of Santa Barbara connections, no Santa Barbara International Film Festivals, no movie theaters on rainy days, no community events at the local Alcazar Theater, limited time with our friends, Kim, Nancy, Claudia, and Bill since indoor gatherings, evenings, and parties are out.
True it would be sunny and warmer there for beach walking, Cruiser biking, and into the mountains hiking. But the health risk to us and others eclipsed the lure of warm weather this year.
We’ve been sitting with our decision for eight days, and it still feels like the right thing to do.
And wouldn’t Hannah’s brother Doug (1946-2002) and my college roommate Big Steve (1950-2011) love to be “stuck” in Maine for the winter? Hannah and I turn to gratitude at this time. AND… (drum roll)
… we are still celebrating the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia and a new president in four days. I’ve already begun planning a California national park tour to celebrate my 75th birthday in September of 2021 once we and much of the country have been vaccinated. It seems vaccines will be available within two weeks in Maine for us 70+ year olds.
Here’s a first draft of national park itinerary. We’d fly into LAX, spend three days in Santa Barbara, then head to Sequoia National Park, later to Yosemite…
California here we come, eventually.
PS Though we had non-refundable tickets, Jet Blue has given us credit for them that we can use to schedule another flight in the coming year. The VRBO owner of our two month rental refunded our entire payment.
A friend from Santa Barbara who thinks our decision not to to come to Santa Barbara a wise one and a reader of this blog, sent out this news today from the Edhat newsletter of Santa Barbara. For the bad news, Santa Barbara County is now the worst county in California in terms of COVID-19 spread. This means, according to our data, a person with COVID-19 is likely to infect more people in our county as opposed to other counties. This is directly related to behavior and people not following the guidelines. Do not gather with anyone outside your household, wear a mask, and keep at least six-feet away from others.