Since we bought our RV, we’ve been going to Florida in the spring and fall. Way back in June of 2019, we found out that Gladys Knight would be playing at the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach on March 8th, 2020. Now, it’s still fairly cold in Myrtle Beach at that time, so we wouldn’t want to stay there long. However, we usually head down to Florida near the end of March. If we left early in March, we could make it to Myrtle Beach in time for the show and then head on down to Florida afterwards. Tickets were purchased and a plan was set in motion. Little did we know the role that COVID-19 would play in our trip.
Around January of 2020, of course, news from China of what became know as the SSRS-CoV-2 virus and its associated disease, COVID-19, became known to the world. We watched it develop but it seemed far away at the time. Well, February arrived and it started to become worrisome. As we approached our March 5th departure date, we started becoming nervous. Should we go? Should we stay home?
As of March 3rd, which was the latest date for which we had data, there were 85 cases in the United States of America and 9 deaths. In a country with 330 million people, these seemed like very small numbers. Granted, we knew that it was about ten times the fatality rate of the common flu, but so far the cases were all being traced to ensure all contacts were quarantined. The disease seemed to be contained, and thus relatively low risk.
We figured that the health insurance industry might have an idea about any additional risk. We have a credit card with a health insurance plan that covers us for two weeks of travel in the USA. Since we often go there for longer periods, we need additional insurance. We have found it cheapest to merely get an extension to the credit card policy rather than get an entirely separate policy for the entire duration of the trip. So, we called to get our extension this time.
The insurance rates were basically the same as always on a per-day basis. Asked about COVID-19, the agent told us that we needed to check the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories page on the morning of our departure. If it recommended against travel to the United States, then we would not be covered. instead, we should call to get a full refund of the insurance premium. Otherwise, if everything was normal, we could go and we would be covered. Thus reassured, and despite a shortage of toilet paper throughout town, we decided to should proceed with our trip.
We had a few things to do to get ready for the trip. First, we had some work to be done on the trailer: some minor repairs and, more notably, an expensive repair to the hydraulic system that operates the leveling jacks and two of the slideouts in the trailer. Also, because of the broken leaf spring bracket, our tires on the trailer had worn out prematurely. So, we had new tires put on the trailer before departure.
As departure day approached, we had to pack the trailer, of course. Usually, we just bring it to our house and load it up there. That’s quite convenient, but in the middle of winter in Ottawa that doesn’t work. The snowbanks on our street make it too narrow to have our trailer on the street. Even if we could put it there, we can’t put the slideouts out. We need to put the slideouts out so that we can access all the cupboards where stuff gets stored. Instead, we made several trips to the trailer in the storage yard. There, we were able to load the trailer in the days leading up to departure.
We couldn’t finish the loading because the overnight temperatures were below the freezing point, meaning that anything in the trailer could freeze. That meant that most of the food would have to wait for departure day, but tools, summer clothing and shoes, linen, and the like were all put aboard in advance.
Lastly, we thought about topping up our propane tanks. The forecasts were calling for overnight lows just above freezing in our first two destinations and we go through about half a 30-lb propane tank each night under those conditions. However, we had one full tank and one half-full tank. Since we could top-up at the first campground, we decided against rushing out to fill up the half-empty tank.
Departure Day and COVID-19
Departure day is always met with eager anticipation, even with the ominous COVID-19 never far from our minds. The first thing we did was check the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories page. There were no recommendations against travel, so we were good to go from that perspective.
After the usual morning care and breakfast, we grabbed our personal things and food and loaded up the truck. With that out of the way, we took a picture of the snowbanks, glad to leave them behind. Then, we headed for the trailer in the storage yard.
At the storage yard, the water had once again encased our trailer’s landing gear. An hatchet made short work of that and were were able to retract the landing gear after coupling to the truck.
After loading up the trailer with our food and last-minute items, we coupled to the trailer and were able to raise the landing gear without any problems.
With the landing gear up, we were finally ready to leave for our first campground of the trip, the Jonestown / Hershey NE KOA. We’re glad to be leaving this snow-bound land for a refreshing change of scenery–and warmer temperatures!
Follow us to the next step of our journey, and find out how COVID-19 affected us, starting in Part 2!
This posting was made public on March 16, 2020.
- 2020-03-22: Added a paragraph about COVID-19 in the USA and added captions to the photos.