Day 2: Road Trip in the Time of Covid
Routing: Edgewood, NM > Petrified Forest National Park > Meteor Crater Natural Landmark > Covid-19 Test in Flagstaff, AZ > Sedona, AZ
Today’s itinerary was pretty lax. The plan was to get up early and drive to Petrified Forest National Park, then head to Carol’s vacation home. Unfortunately, I hit my first road trip snag - I’ve developed a cold. Nothing major - just a cough and sore throat. Normally, I wouldn’t be fussed about it...but we do not live in normal times. I’m not worried about getting Covid-19 personally, I assume I have a common cold which will go away in a few days, but I want to respect the people I come in contact with.
When I reached Petrified Forest NP, I made the decision to call Carol and give her the option of not hosting me. I told her I wasn’t worried, but didn’t feel right showing up with symptoms. We decided she was going to think about it and discuss it with her husband and I’d give her a call after I left the park.
Before going in, I sat in my car and thought about it some more. A friend of mine had just gotten tested when he donated blood, so I knew what the process entailed. I am not a worrier by nature, if I was back in Austin, I would have skipped happy hours and just spent a little more time in my comfy condo until it was over. However, I’m on the move and scheduled to meet up with other friends along the way besides Carol. For my peace of mind about their peace of mind, I decided to detour and get tested in Flagstaff. I called Carol back and let her know I’d be needing a rain check.
Fortunately, there was an emergency clinic open on a Sunday and I was able to get the only appointment they had left for the day. If I timed it right, I could manage to visit Petrified Forest NP and Meteor Crater enroute to Flagstaff (which happened to be 100 miles off my original route).
Petrified Forest National Park was awesome. Truth be told, one of the main reasons I wanted to go there was because when I was growing up, my sister had a large piece of petrified wood. I remember loving all the different colors and was looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of them in their natural setting. I was not disappointed - it was a photographer’s playground. Lots of easy hiking trails to get up close and personal with trees that had died and been infused with minerals to turn them into stone. The various minerals is what causes the fun colors.
Meteor Crater Natural Landmark was a sight I was planning on seeing in a few day's time, but it was on the way to Flagstaff, so I made a brief stop. I would have liked to explore their museum, but I was on a deadline to get to my appointment.
The visitor center had an overlook which brought you above the crater for a birds-eye view. The hole was a sharp contrast to the perfectly flat surrounding area. I am a total space geek, so it was fascinating to think about an object coming from space and touching down right on that very spot.
I made it to the clinic in Flagstaff with about two minutes to spare. The testing process was unique. They had me pull my car around to the back alley and someone opened a back door and wheeled a cart to my driver side window. The fully covered nurse then proceeded to violate my sinuses with a foot long pipe cleaner. Dang. It made me cough and my eyes water.
The clinic said I’d get the results in 7-10 days. Apparently, Arizona cases are spiking right now, so the wait times are excessive. This presented me with a conundrum. I don’t think I have Covid-19, I have not been around anyone who I know has it, so what do I do while I wait for the results? Do I scrap my trip, turn around, and drive 1000 miles back to Austin? Do I quarantine in place where I’m at? What would that look like? I can’t really afford to get a hotel for two weeks. And even if I did, would I be exposing people at the hotel? During this whole trip (and in Austin), I’ve been very diligent about wearing a mask, washing my hands frequently, and not touching things unnecessarily. On the road, I’ve spent most of my time by myself in my car and I don’t eat out at restaurants...
I’ve decided to keep moving forward with my road trip. If my results come back positive, I’ll reassess (probably return to Austin). While I wait, I am altering my plans a bit so I don’t spend face-to-face time with people. I called the next couple I was going to meet up with in Sedona and cancelled. Fortunately, I’ll be seeing them in Colorado in July (assuming I test negative).
Waiting plan in place, I decided to go ahead and drive down to Sedona. I love the little town’s high-end hippie vibe and the red rock scenery is to die for. I was able to back my car up to a great parking spot and I reclined in the back with the hatch up. I spent the rest of the afternoon replanning the next few days of my itinerary and soaking up the view.
I tried my first time lapse video. It was a bit of a trial and error process, so it didn’t come out as well as I’d planned. Fortunately, I have many more sunrises and sunsets to practice.
Where I was parked was a bit too conspicuous to stealth camp, so I drove a couple blocks over to a hotel parking lot. I then climbed in the back and went to bed. No problems during the night, except for the annoying cough.