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  • Ngoc X Doan

The Pros and Cons of traveling during the pandemic

Updated: Jun 17

The second week on the road was much easier, at least mentally. On average, we drove about 4-6 hours every day in order to make it back to the east coast as soon as possible.

Map of Week 19

What are the pros and cons driving across the country during the pandemic?


Pros:

  1. Reduced traffic congestion: It was nice driving through major cities with very little to no traffic. It was fairly relatively quick to get to places without having to sit in traffic especially in San Jose and San Francisco.

  2. Major attractions with very few visitors: We visited Redwood, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Most of the parking lots were empty. We were able to drive around all the parks with no traffic. Trails were almost empty. Sometimes, we felt we had the whole nature to ourselves.

  3. Cheap gas: Since coronavirus affected the petrol industry, gas prices have been affordable. We also save a few cents by getting gas at Costco.

  4. Disinfectants availability: We were able to find hand sanitizers and wipes especially in rural states.

Cons:

  1. Limited food and dine-in options: A lot of local restaurants were closed and/or had unpredictable hours. Food just do not taste the same in a take-out container. It is also risky to order takeouts.

  2. Limited access to public bathrooms, wi-fi, and indoor spaces: Most places do not allow gathering, thus we no longer can spend time at Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Coffee shops to work. We take walks in Target, Walmart, and Costco whenever it was too hot to sit in our trailer. It is also not safe to be in public spaces too long. We have to plan bathroom trips ahead. On the first day on the road, we had to wait about 45 minutes to use the bathroom at Target in SF!

  3. Unexpected closed roads and parking lots: We rely on Google Maps to take us to places but touristy locations such as beaches were closed to visitors. Local roads were also blocked near the Golden Gate Bridge to prevent tourists from overcrowding the area. Making U-turns with our trailer isn't easy, but we are getting better at it!

  4. Most national parks were closed: A number of national parks that we planned to visit were closed. We were waiting for Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks to open but we knew it was a long shot.

Beautiful Landscape of Week 19


1. Arches National Park

The Arches National Park is loved by many. The first time I heard about this national park was from a friend and former co-worker, Julia F, in 2014. Six years later, I finally made it to see this absolutely beautiful and out of the world landscape. Similar to our previous national park experiences, the park was nearly empty. It was nice not having to worry about finding parking at scenic spots. Before the pandemic, we had to spend extra time to find a parking spot for our truck and trailer.


The only crowded spot was at the famous delicate arch - the iconic image of the Arches National Park. We only spent about 8 hours at the Arches, but it was an unforgettable experience. We had to drink a lot of water to combat the heat. Most bathrooms at the Arches were closed and some did not provide hand sanitizers. We carried our own disinfectants. A number of people still offered to take photos for us - surprisingly. We shared our hand sanitizers to keep all parties safe after taking photos for each other.


In order to get the shot of the North Window, Mark showed off his rock climbing skills.


Mark's favorite activity at national parks (and probably our cross country trip) is napping.


First image: the beautiful view we show you

vs

Second image: the actual view we saw


2. Rocky Mountain National Park

We visited Rocky Mountain National Park only 2 days after it re-opened. We were blown away by the beautiful and massive mountain ranges! Especially we got to experience the park with Kelly and John! We hiked over 8 miles to see as many lakes as possible. We were a little ambitious. At first the trails were full of people but we decided to hike on snowy trails to avoid the crowd.

I got Kelly to dip her feet in the water at the end of our hikes. She said, "I could hike another 8 miles."


Adorable and...chubby chipmunks of Rocky Mountains



3. Capitol Reef National Park in UT

We did not know about Capitol Reef National Park until we did our research on the Arches and Canyonlands National Park. It was definitely worth the detour trip to Capitol Reef. We did a short hike to see the largest arch in the park. Did you know that Capitol Reef is the second largest national park in UT?


Plants and wildlife at Capitol Reef


4. Canyonlands National Park

We stopped by Canyonlands National Park because it was right next to the Arches. If you do not like to hike but you still get to see panorama views, you will enjoy this national park. The 34-mile scenic drive took about 1 hour to multiple viewing points. It was not as crowded as the Arches, but it had limited parking spaces.


Week 19 Memorable Restaurants


1. Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Denver, CO

Juicy and tasty burgers in Denver!


2. Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant outside of Denver, CO

Our first dine in meal with friends! Masks were required to enter the restaurant.


3. Hires Big H in Salt Lake City, UT

Strawberry milkshake was good. We ordered pastrami big H. We also go to try UT's famous fry sauce with fries.


4. Pretty Bird in Salt Lake City, UT

Fried chicken sandwich was decent. Their fries were crispy.


5. Quesadilla Mobilla in Moab, UT

Their Krazy Kimchi Quesadilla was delicious! Even their truck is wearing a mask.


6. El Taco Gordo in Moab, UT

This was another good and quick bite stop before we visited the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.


7. Trigo Food Co in Gypsum, CO

A hole in the wall restaurant. The fried ice cream looked better than it tasted. Tacos tasted authentic. Friendly service.



Week 19 Random Tidbits


1. Stray cat in the middle of the road on our way to Capitol Reef National Park.


2. We passed by Salt Lake City and saw #BLM protesters. There were a lot of serious security guards near the State House.


3. It was always exciting to pump gas and clean our windshield full of dead bugs.


4. More dogs of RV's this week. Owners left them behind in the parking lot, with AC on, and went hiking or sightseeing.


5. While I was driving, Mark was working. Do you like our quick shade solution? It was hot driving in direct sunlight. We kept our fleece blanket in the car for this purpose.


6. Mark joined a group of locals who were playing spikeball in Moab, UT.


7. We took a break from driving and parked in front of a house in Gypsum, CO. A small mixed dog came up to our trailer and played with Mark. It was on a very hot and sunny day. The kind owner offered us water.


8. Mark found a 6-week old pug at a park in Moab, UT.


9. An insect flew into our car at Capitol Reef national park while we were driving and landed on our dash. It was still alive so we released it back into the wild.


10. It was so great to be grounded. We slept in a home for the first time in 3 months!


We almost made it halfway across the country. We drove 3,000 miles in two weeks. We tried to see as many national parks as possible.


Next stops: Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore Monument



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