Good morning from Sisters, Oregon where Melanie and I have been for the past 9 days and counting. Like many, hopefully all, of you we continue to wash our hands, wear our masks and keep a safe distance from people when we must be in public venues for groceries and the like.
For those of you who celebrate the Christian tradition of Easter, I wish you a very happy Easter. I know you'd rather be in your favorite place of worship today. I hope you've found some solace with an online service and maybe being physically close with some portion of your family. Welcome to the new (hopefully temporary) normal.
While Melanie and I miss the road, we are most grateful for the hospitality of our hosts, Christy and Jack Erskine, two retired Episcopal priests, who had invited us to stay with them before the current stay in place orders were given. Christy is a great cook and has made sure we are eating well. Our surroundings are picturesque and we can't imagine a better place to be than with the Erskines here in Sisters.
Sisters is the kind of place that makes your nomads begin to commence to think about real estate again. But it's still way too early on in this pilgrimage for that sort of thing.
Jack has a part-time job as a Chaplain at a hospital in Bend, Oregon, just south of Sisters where he currently meets with and ministers to staff and family members of those in the hospital. I've subscribed to the Oregon Health Authority's "Coronavirus Update" which comes to me via email daily. As of today there have been 52 deaths due to the virus. Most every death caused by the virus has been accompanied by some underlying medical condition. Most of the deceased are elderly.
While Jack isn't close to anyone with COVID-19, he takes all the precautions necessary to stay safe, including removing his work clothes outside in a camp shower he's set up on their porch when he gets home, then showering immediately afterwards.
This past week found us making masks for a local organization to donate to health care workers. Between the four of us, I had the very minor role of ironing straps for the masks before they were sewed, 100 masks were made and donated yesterday.
I continue to be the "designated hitter" for essential errands. Jack, as mentioned, is working, but Christy and Melanie are mostly staying in. We have a complement of hand sanitizers and masks and gloves for protection. We're fortunate Oregon is, and continues to be, ahead of the curve.
When we arrived, we traveled from Burn, Oregon to Sisters through Bend, Oregon on a Friday afternoon and were very surprised at the number of cars on the road and people going about their usual business in the stores. Granted, they were doing the physical distancing thing, but few were masked or gloved.
The Whole Foods market was only allowing a certain number of people in the store which felt good and everyone was cognizant of keeping their distance. Whole Foods had an employee sanitizing all shopping carts after use. We found both toilet paper and hand sanitizer there. Score. We got take out at a local burger joint which was nice since all the restaurants we encountered in Nevada over ten days there were closed.
Nine days later in Sisters, many more people are wearing masks, at least in the grocery stores. Some of the local trails have been closed, but there are many people out cycling and walking the roadways which have nicely marked bicycle lanes.
We're located about 2 miles outside of town on a road that runs into the Deschuttes National Forest. I've been riding a 16 mile loop that runs through the National Forest and through downtown Sisters. The weather here, after a few days of snow/rain with lows in the low 20's has been clear and seasonally cool, sometimes dipping just below freezing. No precipitation is expected until next Saturday.
We've also been assisting Christy and Jack get ready for the upcoming fire season. They have a pile of dead tree limbs, pine cones and straw they are burning in preparation for dry weather. Out here the forest service suggests you keep a 100' defensible space around your home to protect it against potential wild fires, so burning is allowed to rid yourself of all dead and dry wood and debris.
Be well, stay safe.
Steven and Melanie