Personal Essay: A Pandemic Vacation

by Michayla Kimble

This past year was one of isolation for most people around the world and my family was no exception. However, as the country started to reopen we decided to try our own return to normalcy.

We took a pandemic vacation and it was a little different than years past, but still provided the getaway we needed from the gloom that was the year of quarantine.

Flying is still risky for anyone who is not fully vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of this our family decided to drive to Florida.

The trip from Oklahoma to Florida is a long drive and amid the ongoing pandemic it was unique. We wore masks into all our stops including convenient stores and gift shops. We even wore them when interacting with people in restaurant drive-thrus.

Our halfway point on the drive was Nashville, Tennessee. We had already booked a motel, and before we got there, Mom called to check on the room. This led to another reminder we were still in a pandemic.

The hotel clerk wanted to make sure there were just three people from one family staying in the room.  We learned there was a party at the hotel before we arrived, which violated COVID-19 precautions, and the police were called.

The tension left behind made the stay a little uncomfortable. We left early the next morning to limit our stay and get our trip back on the road.

While pandemic travel was generally uneventful due to the decrease in people on the roads, there was one major exception. When we entered Georgia traffic increased.

Perhaps it was the year of not driving as much, or maybe pent up frustrations or maybe just the way things work, but in the Peach State drivers weren’t very friendly.  We were cut off and tailgated. At one point our trip came to a halt because of an hour-long back up caused by a car accident.

Despite the traffic problems, the scenery of Georgia was beautiful. The mountains were a welcome sight after hours on the road.

After several more hours of driving, we finally made it to Florida. 

We stayed at an Airbnb in St Augustine. Our place was one of several condos set up for family vacations. It had its own private beach and a pool. 

There were other families vacationing there, but because it was a private beach it didn’t feel crowded. There was still plenty of room to be socially distant, but still enjoy the beach.

Florida was beautiful.

 Early each morning we would walk up and down the beach. Sometimes we’d find washed up jellyfish. 

One afternoon my mom and I built a sandcastle and just splashed around in the ocean.

Each night the sound of waves crashing on the shore lulled us to sleep.

Once we got settled in, the pandemic seemed to fade away. It was a welcome respite from the past year. We were able to order in food and spend quality time together without worrying about a virus or the walls of our own home.

As more people get vaccinated and the pandemic ends we hope this will be the first of many more trips that allow us to get back to normal.

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