Post Pandemic Travel

I took a trip last weekend for the first time since the pandemic hit. It was our firstbesties trip since January 2020 when we went on the cruise. Of course, I had to go see my bestie. It was supposed to both besties but Mikey had to work and couldn’t come down from Dallas. (We were in Houston)

At least Trev and I got to spend quality time together and reconnect our friendship. Overall, it was a great trip. Prior to the pandemic, we had two trips planned to spend time together but that all went to sh*t obviously. It’s been roughly 2 years since we’ve all seen each other. I’m headed back in July for Trev’s birthday and Mikey will be there then.

Our friendship has spanned a lifetime and I am grateful it has survived so long. We didn’t do anything crazy, just dinners, socializing, and a small pool party on Sunday.1  I was pleasantly surprised how many places still required masks. Pretty much every restaurant or business we visited required masks to be worn for entry. No one was being an ass or making a fuss about it. It was an affirmation that while Texas politics might be crazy, many of the folks who live there are still very sane. Well, except the bars. We went out Saturday night and it was like there was no pandemic once you got indoors at the bar. Barely a mask insight. Even half the staff weren’t wearing them.

To be fair, Houston has been pushing vaccines hard. Plenty of billboards were advertising for free vaccines and where to go. New cases are stable so while part of me was a bit shocked, it was my hope many of these folks were vaccinated. SF is now 70% for their 1st shot and 45% fully vaccinated. A few people I spoke to indicated they had had their shots so the overall experience was net positive in my mind.2  At this point, I’m pretty much over the ignorant folks.

Since originally it was supposed to be three of us, I didn’t feel the need to torture Shawn by making him go with me. (The two besties and I together is more than poor Shawn can handle.) He ended up traveling to Phoenix the same weekend. Ironically, he encountered a similar experience at an outdoor bar there as well.

The trip home was uneventful, but I was absolutely giddy when I got home. It felt so good to get away and do just normal things. Socializing and seeing friends and just being out in the world felt so good. I definitely came back feeling like we are really coming out of this now.

Sadly, it is looking like we won’t reach heard immunity because of all the idiots refusing to get vaccinated. We are still ahead of the curve at least. The current crop of vaccines are effective against all the variants out there so far. There are a few variants now that could potentially allow a person to become contagious or sick, but they would not get sick enough to die or even require hospitalization. And with speed the vaccines can be modified to incorporate immunity to new variants, I’m resigned to just getting a covid shot every year with the flu shot.

It was a great trip and I feel rejuvenated in many ways. I’m so excited to get back out into the world this year. Every day, we get news of more and more events being allowed due to dropping case numbers. SF is expected to reach herd immunity by the end of May. We could end up having no restrictions ahead of even the rest of California if this trend continues.

Hope springs eternal…

 

  1. Everyone in attendance was vaccinated. []
  2. Both Trevan and I have had our shots and with the current CDC guidelines we didn’t feel like we posed a risk to anyone. []

8 Years

The hubby and I recently passed our 8-year anniversary. There wasn’t much fanfare or hullaballoo this year because….COVID. He doesn’t like a lot of fuss anyway. We’ve settled into a life together so the milestone seems almost unimportant.

This last year has been rough because…COVID. He hates working from home and I don’t blame him. I could not work from home. Or let me rephrase that, I could not work from home successfully. Home is sanctuary and there are simply too many distractions and no motivation to keep me working. I could not imagine being tortured into working from home full time. Maybe, and I stress the maybe, if we had a big enough space to have an office setup that we only did work in. It couldn’t be a multi purpose room as anything else would probably distract me. Then, maybe, I could be productive. Maybe…

Having had our vaccinations, we are both finally venturing out there again. In the beginning, I almost felt guilty for not having to worry. We had a friend visit from Florida that wanted to have lunch while he was here and we agreed.1  That seemed to be the impetus that pushed us back out there. We both were so pleased to have such a simple social interaction it was like a breath of fresh air. I think that lunch made us realize we had passed a milestone. Now we are both eager to get out there again. And now that the CDC has clarified vaccinated people cannot inadvertently spread the virus, we’ve planned trips for the end of this month!

I just hope we keep up the pace of vaccinations before a wild variant pops up fully resistant to the current crop of vaccines. Shawn seems to think it won’t happen, but I am not so sure. I guess my faith in people has been damaged because I am definitely worried about it. And yet, I’m so eager for some normalcy again. I honestly don’t think I could survive another year of isolation. And in a bit of good news, even with the isolation depression, we didn’t have any big fights! I guess that is a good sign we are well suite for each other. I mean 8 years! Who does that?2

 

 

 

  1. I’ve had friends I’ve met up solo with for lunch but this was our first outing together since the beginning of the pandemic. []
  2. Of course I’m being sarcastic. []

Return Trip

Click on the image for the full album

I know, I’ve been horrible about keeping up lately. Forgive me. 🙂  First things first. The trip to Hawaii! OMG it was amazing. I totally didn’t know what to expect but it was nice and very relaxing. Our host, and my friend Rick, was so great and made the trip that much better by being such a great tour guide and a wealth of information. He really went all out helping us see and do anything we wanted. We stayed in his guest room but he also has a lovely AirBnB if anyone is going in the future. No seriously, it was gorgeous. And apparently, the biz is growing there so the rates were exceptional. I was shocked how cheap it was compared to the over-priced hotels. Anyway, I digress… We had a great view of the beach from our patio and it was so relaxing. The morning birds annoyed Shawn a little but I loved them.

I didn’t realize how big the main island was. It’s huge. Granted, I didn’t do much research but I always thought of Hawaii as being small and tiny. I remember Oahu being much smaller. I also didn’t know that it was mostly undeveloped. Oh there are a couple big cities with a few small towns scattered about but the big island as a whole really isn’t that developed. I couldn’t get over that part the whole time we were there. lolol  Rick made sure we got to see a lot of local culture and history and helped us find all the things we wanted to do.

As you can see from the album of pics, we got around!  We could have done and seen so much more but we didn’t want to spend the whole trip driving in a car all day. We had to cut some of the site-seeing short so we could squeeze everything in. We decided before we left we wanted to do a luau, see the volcano (and lava), and go snorkeling. Obviously, we wanted to spend some time at the beach as well. It was Shawn’s first time meeting Rick in person and they got along great. I also got to meet the famous Bubbles (Rick’s bulldog) as well as Freddie and Elvis, their other 2 dogs.

We did the luau first and it was ok. We had fun but would probably skip it in the future. It was a good, ‘yeah we did it‘ event. The next day saw us driving to see the different sites, and waterfalls. Rick was our guide again and took us to several great spots. We stopped at a local gay owned cafe in Hilo for lunch. All the driving really drove it home how big the island was. Rick made sure we stopped for malasades, a local pastry. We got lucky the day we visited the volcano as you could just barely see active lava in the pit. The whole experience was awesome and a tiny bit unnerving. The steam vents were probably the part that creeped us out. The idea of walking around on top of a volcano active enough to continuously spit out steam from the ground gives you a moment of pause. hehehe  The plant life all around the crater felt almost primordial. It was a serene and surreal environment. I loved it!  The lava tube was also eerie. You could see the lines cut into the rock from the flow of lava as it churned thru the tube at lord knows how much speed. Just being in a massive tunnel created by flowing molten rock was awe-inspiring. I think having been to the volcano itself before visiting tube helped a bit. I think the impact of what we were seeing was made ‘real’ by having just seen the vents and actual lava.

We saved the best for last. The last day before we flew out we went snorkeling. OMG what a great experience! I’ve only ever been snorkeling off the beaches of Galveston when I was a kid. It was no where near the experience of being in a coral reef.We even saw a whale on our way to the cove. It was literally in front of the boat and they had to stop. hehehe

I was a bit out of sorts at the very beginning. We got in the water and for whatever reason I couldn’t get my breathing sorted properly. It only took a few minutes to adjust but I remember feeling weird and a little irritated it might ruin my experience. After a few minutes of practicing, I got the hang of it again and I think the old muscle memory kicked it. Shawn was originally a bit nervous as he’d never been at all. However, he seemed to grasp it right away. His only trouble was getting used to the fins. We both opted for little float belts as the water was pretty deep around the boat. I hadn’t been actively swimming in ages and I was a wee bit concerned I’d get tired too soon. As it turns out, we probably could have skipped the float belts. The fins were fine. Shawn got the hand of his as well.

Swimming around the coral and seeing all the amazing fish was amazing. It was like being in a tank at the Aquarium. So much diversity and most of the fish ignored us. The tour group offered lunch on the boat and I opted to hop back in the water after lunch. Far fewer snorkelers meant more fish! There were a ton more fish casually swimming in/out of the coral the second time. I cruised around the whole cove. It was by far the highlight of the trip for me. I’d be doing it here if the water wasn’t so damn cold.1

We lounged on a beach for awhile after the snorkeling trip. I didn’t spend much time in the water as my eyes seemed to have trouble adjusting. I think I might be developing low tears or something. I simply could not keep my eyes from burning every time I got a tiny bit of salt water in them. It was never a problem for me when I was younger. Having had 2 eye surgeries might have impacted me as well. Regardless, it made playing in the water a struggle. The beaches are much more rocky on the big island and finding smooth sand is a hot ticket for beach goers. We drove out to a couple of remote beaches and even those were very busy. I still had fun relaxing in the sand. The funny part is we barely got any sun. We were both afraid of getting burned so we stayed covered in SPF spray.

That’s it in a nutshell. It was great to see my friend Rick and his family. We socialized and caught on on things. The dogs were a treat as well. Seeing Bubbles madem

 

  1. Ocean water this far north stays cold year round. []

Hawaii Trip

We are headed to Hawaii this week! OMFG I am sooo excited. We’re going for the obvious reasons and to see my buddy Rick who moved back home from SF a couple years ago. He (and his partner Jeremy)  graciously offered to put us up at his place so we are saving money as well. Win, win!  I’m also looking forward to meeting Bubbles, his version of Cooper. She is a brindle and white bully and looks ever so sassy! I can’t wait to meet her. Sadly, I can’t bring Cooper. He is too old to fly, even inside the plane. And I’d never forgive myself if something happened to him.

I’ve only been to Hawaii once and it was back when I was a wee lad at 18. I was invited along by a guy I was dating at the time. All I remember is the visit to the lava and booze.1  We also went to one of the smaller islands. This time, we are headed to the Kona on the big island. I’m really looking forward to the trip. The closer it gets the less focus I seem to have. hehehe

Shawn surprised me with my very own Nintendo Switch this week. He also managed to get me hooked on the new Legend of Zelda gama. hehehe  I’m usually not a Nintendo fan; however, I admit to enjoying the game. I don’t want to bash Nintendo as a console, but they are usually pretty basic. The switch is pretty polished and nails the potability factor hands down. I’ve yet to play any online games so can’t really review the process so far. It’s a tad more basic in design and graphics than Xone or PS4 games; however, Zelda also clocks in a roughly 80-hour game time. That’s pretty damn good for one game. It should keep us busy on the loooong plane rides to and from. And I’m always flattered and appreciative of Shawn’s kindness.

I’ll try to remember to take pics while I’m gone. I’m horrible about taking pics on vacation. Ironically, being on IG this past year may help me to remember. heehee For you folks that have been to the big island, feel free to send tips or great places to see/do.

  1. I drank way more before I turned 21 lol []