Month: March 2020

Tucson-Vancouver 2019: COVID-19 Edition

Tucson-Vancouver 2019: COVID-19 Edition

(this was a FB post circa 3/28/20)

For those of you who have just stumbled onto this page (we’re sorry!) I (Scott) have been driving, solo, between Tucson, Arizona and Vancouver, British Columbia twice a year for about 10 years now. Usually the trip is uneventful, long and boring. I stock up on junk food (which I don’t really eat any other time) and audiobooks to manage the monotony. And I drive about 500 miles/900km a day, stopping twice a day for gas and sometimes lunch.

However… most years the world is not in the throes of a pandemic. So this drive was a little more… focused.

Where to begin! First, yeah I made it (thanks for asking) and I am in day 4 (or perhaps 3 1/2) of what is now mandatory (it was “recommended” when I arrived) 14 day sequestration. CDN$1M potential fine (that’s about US$25 these days) or 6 months in prison. Singapore got nuthin on that!

At the urging of Kathy, and more or less insistence of an Epidemiologist (I can almost spell that by myself now) friend, I detoured from making my last overnight in Bellingham, to driving north from Boise (the previous night’s stop) all the way up through Idaho into BC at Creston. The drive is beautiful if you don’t mind the snow;

there was none actually on the roads just the scenery, but a few spots that were below freezing and wet, and any northern-states driver knows that can be bad news. I did pass one car that in no way could have been parked

that must have spun off the road: unfortunately it was about 40 miles before I had a cell signal to potentially report it. Later on I passed an accident with a big RV on its side and a truck that had obviously tumbled, then landed upright. In retrospect I could have chosen other Canadian border crossing in Washington state without actually “exposing” myself; the choice of Creston was sort of knee-jerk: “ok if I don’t want to stay in Snohomish(?) County overnight, where do I re-vector?” Look north on the map, found a border town with Idaho. Far northern Idaho is militia country… it was a little creepy. The “This is Trump country” billboard did not assuage my anxiety.

The first “rural adventure” was following the GPS’ instructions to a parking lot loaded with tons of RVs (BC & Alberta plates, mostly)… but no motel. No buildings at all, in fact. Took a guess that it might be near the two gas stations in town (Alamo, NV) and continued up the road (I’d been driving for closer to 10 hours at that point), found somebody to ask (at the other motel/liquor store) and, yes “It’s just past the gas station”. The Innkeeper there told me that there aren’t actual street number “in these parts” which sort of obviates traditional GPS navigation. Later I spotted that his business card had actual lat/long coordinates on it.

So, Tucson, Boise, Creston BC over three full driving days. I left Creston (where the Innkeeper there had no idea where I could find food in town, fortunately I had some packed + my stash for the quarantine if needed) by 6:30am and arrived in Vancouver around 4pm. The detour added about 350 miles to the trip, but it’s beautiful country – the Kootenay mountain range and Okanagan valley. A buddy helped me unload the car (we joked about him dusting off his bunny suit and popping it in the autoclave. I was wearing nitrile gloves, I guess his bunny suit was at the cleaners. We’re in an apartment building with 92 units = 400 or so hands to contaminate all nature of surfaces from door handles to elevator buttons. Interesting what side-knowledge you pick up with unrelated training: from class in giving Naloxone shots (I have two vials and two syringes in the apartment; I do have to climb over junkies when volunteering from time to time) I learned how to take off contaminated gloves. From Food Safety training I learned about proper hand washing and cross contamination. I digress.

The border crossing was a bit of “3rd degree” but professional not nasty. “Why are you crossing here?”. “Do you know you need to go into quarantine?” + the usual – where are you headed, alcohol, tobacco, items to declare… It took maybe 5 minutes instead of the usual Nexus 30 seconds.

So there you have it. Haven’t been beyond “these four walls” since Sunday evening. Desperate for a walk but “being a good citizen”. I’ve got gin, and tons of protein and carbs along with canned stuff (beans, tomatoes…). Have a strange longing for salad, however.

Local supermarkets are booking up to 2 weeks in advance (but no further) for pickup – I was just looking and most have no slots, one had one slot on 4/4 and another had two on 4/8. TP is in spotty supply, hand sanitizer and alcohol are not to be found. NO market has delivery slots available. On the other hand, yesterday’s new virus victim count dropped by 50% from the previous day, changing the slope from exponential, downward. Too small a sample set to come to any conclusion about the interventions, but I’ll take the data point. They’re taking this shit seriously here, both at the federal and provincial levels. Coupled with having universal healthcare I’m glad I’m here, but worry about Kathy and and her sister Sue back in Tucson.