I feel like the world has completely changed since my last post. COVID-19 has drastically altered my life and my future, as well as the lives of billions of people worldwide. Two weeks ago, this was not even a possibility in my mind. One week ago, I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I would likely never walk the stage for my undergraduate graduation. And now, within the past few days, I’ve had to adjust to the idea that I will never go to an in-person undergraduate course again, never participate in my sorority’s senior ceremonies, and never get to feel recognized and appreciated at my marching band’s end-of-year banquet.
All that to say, my life and the foreseeable future has changed beyond comprehension in the past three days alone. Currently, my university is on spring break, meaning I have been experiencing the latest developments away from home (my friends and I planned a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.)
Disclaimer: The COVID-19 situation has been changing and developing so rapidly that by the time we left (traveling by car) many of the most recent restrictions and warnings had not yet surfaced. While it is not ideal to be traveling anywhere at this point in time, we have done our best to stay socially distant and take all necessary precautions to help preserve our health and the health of those around us. This post is meant to share how COVID-19 affected our trip and the adjustments we made to still have fun while remaining socially distant.
We left Norman and headed to Santa Fe at the very beginning of our spring break, feeling restless due to all the unknowns we knew were sure to come. Equipped with the disposable gloves Taylor’s dad gave us to protect us at gas pumps, we were on our way. The Norman to Santa Fe drive is about 8 hours long, so we stopped for a lunch break in Amarillo and made a side trip to Cadillac Ranch before heading back on our way.
After arriving at our Airbnb (although not planned, this option made us feel much more secure than if we had been staying in a traditional hotel) we needed food. Partially in anticipation of the possibility of more limitations to come, and partially because we were trying to play it frugal, we stopped by Trader Joe’s to grocery shop for the week. I had expected it to be a lot crazier than it was- maybe it’s because TJ’s customer service is immaculate or maybe it’s because Santa Fe wasn’t losing their minds yet, but we were able to find most of the food options we wanted to make. With both a lactose intolerant friend and a vegan friend (and me just being picky), it can make grocery shopping with limited options difficult. Luckily, we didn’t experience that here.
Day 2 was our first full day in Santa Fe. At this point, many places were still open, although it was clear that the town was a little less full of tourists than usual. Armed with hand sanitizer and a desire to keep 6 feet of space between us and those around us, we chose to visit some of the less interactive sites: Loretto Chapel and Cross of the Martyrs.
On our 3rd full day (and first weekday of the trip) we decided to head to Old Town Santa Fe and see what was open. We were able to go into some stores (staying cognizant of what we were touching and what other window shoppers may have touched) and even got to eat lunch at The Shed, a restaurant we had been eyeing. Under orders from the governor, all New Mexican restaurants were operating at half capacity starting that morning, but even reduced occupancy didn’t keep us waiting very long. After a successful afternoon of browsing, social distancing, and margarita drinking, we headed back to the Airbnb with full stomachs, slightly lighter wallets and some cute photos (shout-out to my phone tripod for allowing us to take some cute pictures on our own, without the assistance from strangers!)
By that evening, we were starting to realize that hiking was going to be our best bet in terms of socially-distant physical activity. We chose a hike on the edge of town and timed it so we would get a fantastic sunset view of the city- but still have enough time to get down before darkness fully came.
Remember when I said we were about to turn into big hiking girls? Our 4th day proved that. We made the hour drive to Bandelier National Monument and spent the afternoon hiking different trails. This was a really fun day because we packed lunch and got to spend a few hours on our own, surrounded by nature. We even saw deer on our last hike of the day, which was amazing. The views here simply cannot be contested.
By day 5, restrictions and regulations were really starting to hit Santa Fe and we knew most of our activities would be completely solo from now on. Our activities Wednesday mainly consisted of painting denim jackets (we had picked up paint earlier in the week) and completing a puzzle we bought at Goodwill. It was beginning to look like Airbnb activities or hiking would be our new go-to, although none of us were that upset. It was rainy and we didn’t really want to venture out, anyways, so we happily spent our 5th day peacefully self-isolating in our Airbnb.
After a whole day inside on Wednesday, we knew we had to get creative on Thursday. Given that we had nothing but time, we chose to make the 3-hour round-trip to the Rio Grande Gorge and drive through Taos on our way back. I wish there had been things open in Taos for us to see and do, as it looked like a really cute town, but due to recent developments most shops and restaurants were closed. (We settled for just driving through, instead.)
Thursday evening was bittersweet for us, as we had originally had tickets to a concert that night. Because of the new restrictions put in place, our concert was cancelled (not that we would have continued to go, even if Grouplove said “the show must go on!”) Luckily, we will be refunded what we paid for our tickets, so not all is lost.
Today is our last full day here. Although a lot of our plans had to be altered or cancelled (the concert, Meow Wolf, and visiting local museums, just to name a few,) we have still managed to keep a positive outlook and make the most of our trip while staying aware of the changing climate around us. Today we have planned to do a photoshoot in our Airbnb, learn some TikTok dances, and continue composing the musical we started planning- all fun things we can do from the comfort of our (temporary) home.
While this trip definitely threw some curveballs our way, we were able to make the most of it while keeping our health and the health of others a priority. Getting the email that you won’t be returning to campus for undergraduate courses is hard, but it’s much easier to cope with when you’re surrounded by friends. I’m looking forward to getting back to Norman on Saturday and beginning my self-quarantine: while we took every possible precaution on this trip, you can never be too careful, and I want to ensure I am not a carrier before spending time with my friends or going back home to my family.
If there’s anything you want me to discuss or make a post about during my self-quarantine period, please let me know. I’m sure I’ll have an abundance of time. Stay safe, everyone!