When my daughter and I left for Orlando on March 6th, our greatest worry was getting out of Newfoundland before a pending snow storm I feared may ground flights.
With Coronavirus (COVID-19) being somewhat in the news, we packed a baggie of Lysol wipes to wipe down our plane seats and a few masks we had in the crawl space for some odd reason.
I also packed toilet paper. Lots of it. Not because I’m a bum wad addict, but because it seemed practical. Fact was, we were heading to a condo rental and we’d need our own toiletries.
Family road trip
Because we had planned on ending our vacation with a road trip through the US states between Orlando and Ontario, we packed our clothes into small carry-ons. However, I also get free check-in luggage, so I packed two collapsible bags with toiletries and, yes, large jumbo packages of toilet paper fit for a family of five.
Funny fact; the border guard asked why we didn’t have a return flight? I told him my sister and her two children were driving from Ontario to meet us and that we were driving back to Ontario with them then flying home, so we were travelling light.
He then asked why I had two oversized checked bags. ‘’Toilet paper,’’ I replied honestly. He laughed.
Days later, word came of a worldwide toilet paper shortage. I’m sure that US border agent thought of me, the now not so crazy toilet paper packing lady, a few times since.
The first six days of our trip were all about bonding, sunshine and shopping and life was glorious, but things quickly changed.
The first warning we had was word that we’d have to self-quarantine when we returned. We made our arrangements. But things, from March 12 to March 18th changed very rapidly.
We went from partying at fun Orlando parks and lounging on lounge chairs to news that Disney parks would close, something they hadn’t done since 9/11, and that was just for the day as they feared becoming a terrorist target.
The timing of our vacation was interesting. Just after we arrived some flights from certain destinations were cancelled. March-breakers cancelled their travel plans. Sporting events were cancelled. Travelling slowed. We had the resort to ourselves, parks to ourselves, and our choice of beach chairs.
But there was worry too. Well meaning friends and family sent us false or misleading news, reading only headlines and jumping to unhelpful conclusions. The real news was bad enough.
We worried about a panicked public. Getting food. Access to gas. Armed Americans. Having a place to stay as hotels shut down and began evicting vacationers became a real worry.
Run for the border
Word that New York, not far from Canadian borders, were planning a shelter-in-place order, was frightening. Ontario declared a state of emergency. Alberta followed.
Still, we were reassured that the Canadian/American border would remain opened for Canadian residents returning home. So we waited.
Truth is, we were worried to leave. We fretted over packed highways as everyone made a run for the border. But, an email from a media pal warning that word was borders could close as people over the planet were ordered to shelter in place got us moving.
We went from a deep sleep to packing what was left of our toilet paper stash within the hour. We were on road before dawn. As of now, we’re racing as safely as we can down the highway making the best of a bad situation. It’s a road trip we won’t soon forget.