~ I have decided to question everything, and believe nothing during this time of uncertainty, for everyone seems to have a different opinion or personal agenda. I have accepted this Novel Coronavirus for what it is, an intricate part of nature, a virus with a job (Read more at the end of this post). ~
State by State, County after County, stores and businesses, then whole trail systems and then individual trails, in rapid succession, closed down around me.
BLM land closed down in some places, even to boondocking.
A domino effect that has never been seen before. Extraordinary, unparelled, bizarre, remarkable, unusual, singular.
I hesitate to use the word unprecedented, for I am already tired of hearing that word, it has surely become one of the most over-used words in the American language is the past two months.
When the alarms went off for this virus, I listened. I heard the immediate fear and the scrambling discussions of world leaders about the best way to handle this. The lack of knowledge regarding this virus, the lack of preparedness for such an event in this land I chose to make my home. America. I knew that the best way to handle this on a personal level was to remain as far away from it as I could. Not only the virus’s host, aka humans, but the towns, the cities, the fear-driven hatred and racism, anger, and greed.
Oh how that fear-driven greed took over the stores so quickly. I was just leaving Tecopa CA. when the first travel restrictions were ordered by President Trump, and the first death in the US was recorded. I was far removed from cities, and there was no cell service or internet, and by the time I arrived in Pahrump, Nevada on February 29, to buy a few fresh groceries and some toilet paper, the shelves were empty. I only wanted four toilet rolls, and yet, here was a woman with 120 rolls in her cart(s). She stripped the store clean in one fell swoop. Sheer selfish, fear-driven greed.
I took note of what we were being told to do, and adopted the sensible advice immediately, though I wasn’t sure if I agreed with it or not at that time. It was simply to soon to know anything for sure, so I just went with the flow, figuring it wasn’t that hard to do given my situation, so why not show some respect and concern for others and take the precautions for them and myself, and see how this whole thing unfolded. I kept my distance from other people, washed my hands when I could, and stayed away from crowds, and attempted to keep at least 25 feet between myself and anyone coughing or sneezing, because distancing from sneezers and coughers simply makes sense at any time. Since I generally only carry five gallons of water with me at a time, I couldn’t wash my hands as often as they suggested and certainly couldn’t let the precious life-giving liquid wash into the dirt, so I did my best.
Stocked up with gas, water, and enough food for a couple of weeks, I headed out of town.
Then I sat back and continued to proceed with my life as normal.
Not much changed for me. I travel alone and I camp alone. I prefer to be in nature, as far removed from cities, towns, and people as possible. The only time I really mix with other people during the winter months is in January when the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous happens. For a period of three or four weeks, I will socialize on and off with various groups of other nomads. Some groups are tiny, and some are huge gatherings. Even then, I tend to drift away from the groups at night, for some quieter spot on the outskirts of the main event.
I spent several days in Death Valley, and watched huge groups of school kids on a school outing, all interacting as normal, along with other hikers on the trail, while I sat at a distance and watched the custodian clean the outhouse with extra care, taking thirty-minutes instead of the usual five, a mask covering his face, rubber gloves on his hands. I decided to find a less-visited trail, and that was how my visit went. Physically distanced, but still full of wonder and beauty.
After that, I took a couple of days to get to Mohave Lake, in the Glen Canyon NRA and spent a few days on the beach there. I spoke with a gentleman that was out of touch with the news, for there was no cell phone reception, and he was surprised to learn that he may not be able to get the supplies he needed as he headed into town to restock on necessities. Severe storms and flash flooding happened here, it was very exciting.
My next destination was the Grand Canyon. I spent a night in a grocery store parking lot on my way there, because of a snowstorm and strong winds, then headed into the national forest to camp for a couple of nights. I watched wild horses run freely, with their foals kicking up their heels in abandon. Oblivious to the human drama going on in the valleys and plains beyond their range. When I did finally drive into Grand Canyon National Park, the woman at the booth didn’t handle my pass, and the shuttles had stopped running, but even with the warning signs posted everywhere, people gathered in droves at the overlooks, bumping each other. Some children were coughing and running around people and not covering their mouths (which would be polite to do in the best of times), their parents or guardians were drinking Budweiser at 10:00 am, oblivious, young, seemingly immune, or perhaps not concerned about getting it themselves. I removed myself from all busy overlooks, studying people from afar, a hobby of mine, for we can learn a lot about what is going on by watching from a distance.
I arrived in Page, AZ on March 16. It’s now April 24, and I’ve been camping and exploring various areas west of Page, AZ, in Utah. There are so many dirt roads here to camp along, with so many places to explore, far removed from the madding crowd even at the busiest of times. Folks who have never been here cannot possibly comprehend how remote Page is, and how remote the areas around it are. I returned to Page to have some work done on my van (my wheel hub was so bad that my wheel almost fell off) I stayed inside my van while the work was done. When I got supplies, I shopped efficiently, taking all precautions. I was perhaps in one of the best situations imaginable during this period of physical separation, I was not only physically separated but 99% of the time I was completely isolated.
I then learned that Kane County, Utah, had created an ordinance against recreational travel. I actually learned about this from the Sheriff directly. He told me he was merely making me aware of it, and I didn’t feel threatened. In fact, we had a nice long chat. His concerns were valid because many other counties in Utah had made recreational travel, camping, and some other activities illegal, he had to do the same. Their main concern was that the OHV’s, unable to recreate on Easter weekend in their own county, would come to his. He explained that during the weekends when OHV visitations were up, they always had a lot of accidents and he didn’t have the resources to deal with it, so the domino effect was forcing him to close his county to certain activities also.
I was now getting the squeeze. What to do? I looked at the weather in the Colorado mountains. My town of residence was still getting temperatures of zero degrees, and snowfalls of 20” to 30” inches. Staying warm in a van in those temperatures was not easy, and not affordable cost-wise. I also thought about how it would be to actually be IN the van for long periods. What if they told me to quarantine for 14-days, could I sit in a van for fourteen-days straight in freezing temperatures? Doubtful.
In my mind, I replayed the conversations with the BLM and the Sheriff and felt that if I was respectful of the land, and stayed away from any popular trail of any kind, even if they weren’t closed under the ordinance, I would be okay. Keep my head down, explore off-trail or less popular trails, take extra care not to trip, fall or step on a rattlesnake, and most of all, be super respectful of townfolks when I had to get food supplies (gas and water can be acquired without having to get near a person), then perhaps, just perhaps, I would be okay in Utah until it was warm enough for me to return to the Colorado mountains again. I simply could not go back yet. My only choice was to stay home in Studley Van, with my closest neighbor anything from one to ten or even fifty miles away. Physical distancing at its finest.
So here I am. On a road in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by stunning geology created by huge inland seas, geological uplifts of the earth’s crust, thousands of years of sands turned to stone and rock, and more erosion than a human can imagine. My neighbors are the cows, the lizards, the scorpions, the wrens, and I’m sure somewhere hidden under a rock, there is a rattlesnake. The wind hums to me, and the lizards and cows lend an ear when I need to talk, just to hear my own voice. The coyotes call as they make a kill, the canyon wren sings with a waterfall-like song and the crows and vultures circle overhead. I have never spent so much time in such a small geographical area before (except during the RTR), unheard of for me since I usually move about every two days, moving along at a crawl, five miles camp, hike, two miles, camp, hike, ten miles and so on.
I will move tomorrow, maybe only a couple of miles, but I will leave behind the cell signal I have here, and camp in a spot where the world of Trump news, and pandemic news, will be totally unavailable. It will be a time to breathe, to focus on the budding trees, the sprouting flowers, the way the wind makes a blade of grass sweep a circle in the sand. I will read a book with paper pages, or listen to a book while I cook, I will hike, do my jump rope, my squats, my Pilates, and my stretching. I will work on more videos and perhaps another blog post. I will focus more on the sunrise, the sunset, and the stars. I will ground in nature.
The world that closed around me will cease to exist for a while, and my mind and body will be able to breathe again, as I repeat my favorite quotes “All is well in my world,” and, “This too shall pass.”
~ Namaste ~
Roxy Whalley ~ A Nomad for Nature
~ I have decided to question everything, and believe nothing during this time of uncertainty, for everyone seems to have a different opinion or personal agenda. I have accepted this Novel Coronavirus for what it is, an intricate part of nature, a virus with a job. Perhaps it is here to balance the human population, to seek out the weak and let the strong survive, that is how nature works after all. Harsh, but true. Or perhaps there is another reason it is here, one that we may learn about in time. I am open-minded to other possibilities. I do not fear this virus, but I have a great deal of respect for it, and even admire it. A sense of peace came over me once I accepted that it is here to stay, that it is now a part of our world. We must adapt, and learn to live with it and keep on adapting because adaptation is the key to survival. I will not fear it, but I am up for the challenge of learning to live with it and accepting it, for it is most likely, here to stay ~ Roxy Whalley
AS A YOUTUBE VIDEO CREATOR, I SHARE ALL OF MY TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES ON YOUTUBE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN ME ON SOME HIKES AND EXPERIENCE THE WONDER OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS FROM YOUR ARMCHAIR, LISTEN TO THE BIRDS SING, HEAR THE WIND, HIKE IN THE MOUNTAINS OR A SLOT CANYON, OR HEAR MY FOOTSTEPS ECHO IN A LAVA TUBE, OR EVEN LISTEN TO A DIDGERIDOO, AND MUCH MORE, PLEASE VISIT MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL ~ A NOMAD FOR NATURE
Ko-Fi and Buy Me a Coffee help creators get support from their fans:
THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
4/24/2020 ~ About a week after President Trump announced that it was time to start opening up the country again while passing the baton on to the governor of each State to do as they saw fit.