It's a bright, sunny and cool day here in Sisters, Oregon. Current temp is 50 degrees, but when I went out to Miranda this morning to make our coffee at around 6:30 a.m., it was 33 degrees. The days may be getting longer, but the temperatures still feel like early spring.
Melanie and I have decided, after being quarantined in Sisters for almost two months, we are ready to begin our travels again. We do so, as you may imagine, with some trepidation, but armed with good information about how to stay safe in the time of pandemic.
We will miss our spot in Sisters. Our stay here has been nothing short of great. Even as the virus continues to plague many areas of the country. We are fortunate to have been invited to shelter here and grateful for our hosts, Christy and Jack. It's good to also know, if things don't go as we hope and plan once we're back out traveling, we have a place to which we can return, if need be.
It's the Sunday before Memorial Day. The New York Times headline, U.S. Deaths Near 100,000 an Incalculable Loss. Meanwhile, 45 spends Saturday and today golfing and posting racist tweets from a racist supporter. No mention by 45 of lives lost due to COVID-19. So it goes.
Memorial Day 2020
We end our Sisters quarantine tomorrow and begin our travels anew. First to Eugene, Oregon, then on to the Oregon coast.
I'd intended to cycle one last time into the Cascades on McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway to McKenzie Pass, but there's much to do in preparation for departure tomorrow. Aside from the beauty and great exercise I've gotten from my rides around Sisters and on the scenic highway, I'll miss the many and varied conversations I've had with people who take the scenic route.
Always maintaining the proper physical distance, I was reminded by a physicians assistant from Bend that physical distance didn't necessarily mean we had to forego social contact. We could talk to each other from safe distance.
I met someone from my hometown of Columbus, Georgia one day while in Windy Gap. She had worked in Portland, but retired with her husband and now lives in Sisters. While we went to the same high school, she is younger and so I missed knowing her when we both lived there.
There was the guy from Bend who misunderstood me thinking I was being critical of him when I said you'd have to be missing a brain not to understand the gravity of our situation during the pandemic. His response was to declare he had a very large brain and to ride off abruptly leaving his companion to apologize to me. Luckily, I saw them both again and was able to explain my comments were not critical of him. I did not mean to insult. He apologized too and, I assume, all was well.
I met another couple, John and Susan, from Bend as I was stopped and was drinking water at the closed seasonal gate on the highway. John asked if my bike was an electric assist. When I responded, yes, he mentioned his was also. We struck up a conversation as we ascended the highway and Susan mentioned that John would soon turn 91 years young. I suddenly felt like a kid.
Turns out John, who is a retired Mathematician/Physicist, had, for a time, taught at Auburn University in 1958. John has a blog, Hoalablog, you may find interesting. He suggested I start at the beginning, I would suggest you also start there and peruse at your leisure.
I've exchanged emails with them and hope to stay in touch from time to time. Susan sent along places along the Oregon coast she and John have enjoyed for us to consider.
Here's an excerpt from John's blog:
It is fall, 1957. I am newly married to Barbara, my first wife. We are in Auburn, Alabama where I am a Temporary Instructor in the Physics Department at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later to become Auburn University. We have ended up in Auburn because Barbara was acquainted with Dr. Howard Carr, head of the Physics Department and knew that the department badly needed people to teach elementary physics to engineering students and liberal arts majors. Letters written from Innsbruck plus a positive reference from my graduate adviser at Stanford (Georg Polya, a well-known mathematician) sealed the deal. Of course, I had pretty much forgotten the little physics I had ever known so I would need to learn the subject from the text I was teaching and try to stay a week or so ahead of my students. Since I was planning to become a physicist anyway, this was a fun challenge and I didn’t do too badly in meeting it. Certainly, I could appreciate and relate to the difficulties my students were having with the subject. Meanwhile, Barbara had decided to switch her major from mathematics to English literature so was taking graduate courses in the English Department.
That fall we were totally absorbed in life. I was passionately in love with Barbara and working hard on learning elementary physics and doing well with my teaching. As a faculty member I had easy access to football tickets and enjoyed going to games. The Auburn team that year was winning all their games, a new experience for me after watching games in high school and at Stanford. In high school I watched Punahou lose 64 – 0 to Kamehameha in their first game and lose every subsequent game thereafter. Stanford had a similarly bad season my freshman year. In retrospect I think that the Auburn team was the best college team I’ve ever seen. They had an overwhelming defense often holding opponents to negative yardage on the ground. Their games were not exciting because they did not seem to be very fired up. They would get a lead of a few points, shut down their opponents, and play out the rest of the game in a boring manner. There was only the suspense of wondering if the opposition would score on a fluke play. When it came time to play the last game of the season against arch-rival Alabama, the press was wondering if there would be an upset because Auburn’s wins had been less than dramatic while Alabama hadn’t done all that badly. The game started in a usual manner. Auburn won the toss and, as they always did in such circumstances, elected to kick. As the kickoff sailed down the field I suddenly realized I was looking at a different, fired up, team. The Alabama receiver took the ball in the end zone and started up the field, making little progress as flying tackles narrowly missed their target. The runner was shortly overwhelmed at about the 15 yard line. In the next few plays Alabama lost yardage and finally fumbled after a hard hit in their end zone. Auburn 7, Alabama 0. Subsequently Auburn finally displayed their offense. They did have an all-American end, Jimmy Phillips, who played sensationally and their ground game became effective. Final score 40 – 0. What impressed me about that Auburn team was the philosophy of doing the minimum necessary to win, in a relaxed manner, never playing to potential unless necessary or in a game with Alabama. This attitude, with its suggestion of power held in reserve, smacked of the Zen I would later encounter.
Also in that Fall Quarter I was becoming acquainted with Barbara’s family and numerous relatives, taking in the friendly Southern atmosphere, which overlay a terrible racism, seldom explicitly on display to me. However, I knew it was there. The first morning in Auburn I was awake at dawn, still not adjusted to the time change, so got up in the early light and headed to town up the main street. A black man came down the side walk in front of me, began to hesitate when about thirty feet away, then stepped off the sidewalk three or four feet into the street and cowered, half turned away from me with head bowed, as I walked by. I was totally appalled, having grown up in Hawaii where there are too many races and racial mixtures for serious prejudice though people other than haoles (whites) had been quite subjugated in the days before I grew up. By the time I was in high school, however, one could be taunted for being a haole and perhaps beaten up, so what prejudice there was operated in all directions. In Alabama, because I am a realist and definitely a coward as well, I never openly challenged the mores of that time, but tried to treat black people with respect.
From Oregon Health Authority on Memorial Day 2020
The (Coronavirus) War Prayer
Lord our Father, we beseech Thee, declare our lives more worthy than the aged or infirm, than any who might perish so that we may return to ways that are more comfortable. Let them gasp for air, for we are afraid of losing status. Let them be martyrs, collateral damage in our campaign to dine out when we want, to cut and shampoo and bowl as we please. Let our grandmothers die alone, so our lives do not have to change. Let our neighbors and uncles and aunts and even our children succumb, so our other sons may play sports before crowds.
Let us return to normal quickly to recover our losses, Lord, even if it causes this plague to persist. Allow us to feel good about that, Lord. Let our cries of “freedom” wash our sins away.
We ask it all in love. Amen.
Thanks, John Archibald
It's late morning here in Sisters on a rare cloudy day with rain in the forecast. The weather here has been very spring like of late with temperatures reaching into the low 80's Saturday past. Near noon now, it's hovering in the low 50's. Life in the high desert.
While Melanie and I are still physical distancing, we've begun to think about continuing our travels. It's not likely we'll leave Sisters before the beginning of June, giving ourselves a few more weeks to carefully consider how to proceed with everyone's safety, including our own, in mind.
As I've mentioned before, we are very fortunate and thankful for being invited to take refuge and quarantine off the road. Our hosts, our new friends, are kind and generous souls and we've throughly enjoyed spending time with them in their home. It's nice to know we have a place to be in case we need to be off the road again.
I receive the Oregon Health Authority's COVID news email daily. Governor Brown is slowly beginning to open the state back up. From what I can tell, new cases and deaths from COVID-19 have remained pretty level in the state for some time. Yesterday, Oregon reported 51 new cases and 3 new deaths. Most people who die from the virus here, as in many other states and locales, are elderly, most, but not all, have underlying health problems. There are no known cases of the virus in Sisters, another reason we are happy to be here.
Good information about the virus is not hard to come by, but that doesn't keep people from believing all kinds of nonsense about it. Spend any time on Facebook lately and you know conspiracies and propaganda are abundant. It's increasingly difficult for me to garner the patience necessary to navigate all the misinformation promulgated by people who are suffering from various quarantine maladies, some without a whiff of self-reflection or meta-cognition.
It's increasingly clear to me that we are not all in this together though we're all certainly in the same boat. People still largely don't understand why wearing masks in public are as important as maintaining social distance. Information coming out of the White House, where Trump and Pence, among others, don't wear masks and where wearing masks is now, only yesterday, deemed mandatory, is largely to blame for much of the confusion. For months they have attempted to flattened the truth on the virus.
Mercury Must Be In Retrograde Again, but at least it's not just hanging around pretending to be my friend. Jus' saying
A friend messaged me yesterday that she was a little tired of her house and her children and her husband and pets, but otherwise, she was okay.
Over the past several weeks as I've spoken up on Facebook when I see misinformation or self-serving, largely thoughtless, economic arguments about opening up the economy and getting "back to normal," as if things were really ever normal before the virus, strange things have been coming my way. Some might argue I deserve what I get for even responding or thinking for half a minute a rational discussion might be had amidst all the chaos.
A few weeks ago, for example, someone on Facebook told me he was envisioning breaking my jaw if I had been fortunate enough to be standing in front of him. I'd simply asked him why an article he'd posted was not simply a selfish, self-serving economic argument leaving out any potential major detrimental consequences of opening the economy without a plan. To his credit, he did suggest he was sorry about the threat and offered he'd pray for me. Thoughts and then prayers.
How much is a life worth?
Another told me, indirectly, in a post different from the one in which I'd left a responsive comment to an article she posted, I could disagree with her, but I didn't need to be a dick about it. An ad hominem attack as response. My favorite. If that's all you got, then nothing is all you got.
Forty percent of our fellow citizens couldn't come up with $400.00 for an emergency before the virus hit. And we're going to open up and go right back to normal? As is usual in the U.S., the poor will continue to take it on the chin and the rich among us continue on at a safe distance.
See Also, Poor People's Campaign Virtual March on Washington, June 20,2020.
Meanwhile, a member of a Facebook group of owners of the RV Melanie and I live in posted RVing After COVID-19 from a publication put out by Camping World. Not a mention of physical distancing, wearing a mask, being mindful of traveling into a town where you're a stranger and maybe carrying the virus with you as you travel. No, life will once again be beautiful. Like you, you intrepid traveler.
If your intention is to travel, you should at least know the risks and how to avoid them.
How Freedom Turned Sociopathic in America.
Physical distance. Be considerate, wear a mask. Stay safe.
And so it was, in the second month of quarantine, I shot video (and a few stills).
Before we began our travels 16 months ago, I invested in video editing software and a few other items I thought might assist us in making videos of our travels on occasion. I'd followed couples who traveled and had YouTube channels and what they were producing seemed like a fun exercise.
When life on the road began, shooting and editing videos suddenly seemed too much like work. The software was complicated and I knew from prior experience producing a video that met minimal standards was, well, time consuming. There was simply too much to see and do to warrant hours sitting editing video.
Then quarantine, right? So, after a very rudimentary start at learning my editing software (you'll note a few glitches I didn't feel like removing) and without giving content too much consideration, here's my first attempt at some video of a part of what I've been fortunate enough to be doing regularly. I've added music you may not like, but for me, this is a marker of sorts. It represents part of what's happening right now in Sisters, Oregon as we quarantine.
Timelapse in Deschutes National Forest
Steven and Melanie