A Dystopian Road Trip

June 15, 2020

I can’t take it anymore. I have to get out of this apartment. 2020 sucks.

This year, so far, has yielded a mid-January hysterectomy, two weeks later I flew to Hong Kong (for an adult tour) and was trapped with my group for one month on the NCL Westerdam in the South China Sea, a week later was back to student tours in Washington D.C. and New York City with two fabulous schools before being pulled off the road and having my entire tour season (March – October) cancelled because of Covid-19. Unemployed and trapped in my apartment for three months. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

Dad with a gooey grilled cheese

I haven’t seen my 85 year old father, who is in a Maryland nursing facility, since March 18th, three months ago. I talk to him on the phone every two days, but he sits in his room alone, depressed, having all meals delivered, and no visitors (which I certainly agree with for fear of him catching this horrible virus). I quickly came to terms with the fact that if he were to catch Covid-19 he wouldn’t make it due to his already compromised body and I wouldn’t be able to see him again. I am certainly not the only person who has had to face this possibility, or this reality. But, for now, he his safe and I thank his nursing staff regularly for their incredible dedication. I try to keep dad entertained, but there aren’t very many more illustrated books I can possible send him to keep him busy. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to keep him sane. Me? Not so much.

I haven’t left the apartment for anything frivolous and my fabulous roommate and I take turns going shopping. I wear a mask at all times when inside my building and the grocery store. I wish others would take this as seriously as they should. We disinfect everything purchased, leave our possibly contaminated shoes by the front door, and immediately wash our hands until the skin nearly comes off the bone. We are very careful.

Every topic on the news is absolutely horrific, depressing, and I have lost faith in humanity and our government. Knowing that so many of my friends feel the same way is somehow comforting… in a disturbing Stephen King novel kind of way.

I’m not sure how I would have made it through this quarantine without our amazing view of northern Virginia.

Since I am unemployed, and don’t get me wrong, I am still actively looking for work, I am hitting the road. I have not had a summer off since high school, I won’t tell you how long ago that was, so I am taking advantage of it, but still making sure I have very little contact with any humans (I’m not a real fan of them right now anyway).

I am going to photograph every lighthouse along the eastern seaboard.

I will start in Key West, and make my way up to the Canadian border. I’ll live in my car #vanlife, because I’m flat broke and can’t afford hotels, nor do I want that exposure to people right now. I’m bringing all of my camping equipment, just in case some are open by the time I leave home in Virginia. I expect this should take about a month – month and a half, but who knows. I don’t have anything else to do. Luckily, looking for work can be done online and from anywhere.

I figure if I managed last November to drive all of the United Kingdom, from the southern Isle of Wight to the northern Scottish Highlands, in a gigantic BEAST of a converted van that was a manual transmission using my left hand, while driving on the opposite side of the road, and tour over 100 castles and palaces, I can easily do this.

The United Kingdom BEAST.
the UK Beast’s interior

Now, back to the United States, where we drive on the correct side of the road!

Preparing for a trip this long takes some planning and work. Luckily, I have a great car with only 50,000 miles on her and I’ve slept in her before, several times just in a Dave Matthews venue parking lot, so I know this is possible.

Here is my before and after with my Thule cargo box. This thing is amazing! It is easy to lift up by myself and attach to the crossbars with a twist-lock on the inside of the box. Its lid opens from both sides, with hinges, and has a great lock. Completely rain proof and surprisingly, doesn’t add too much drag on the car when driving on the highway. It has 16 cubic feet of space and holds all the camping gear, chairs, tarps, several duffel bags, water jugs, propane, cooking gear… everything! I’ve had it a few years now and don’t regret a penny I spent on it.

More to come…

6 thoughts on “A Dystopian Road Trip

Add yours

  1. Liz You are such an inspiration to me! We’re sitting here in beautiful Portugal feeling much the same. The world is just insane right now with no end in sight! Thankfully we can still get out and take long beautiful walks all around our small village. We’re thankful to be here, a little further away from the chaos in the US. But Europe is by no means immune to the wave of violence and injustice or the impact of Covid-19 as the news rarely has anything positive to say that isn’t over shadowed by the painful reality of turmoil and sickness. I hope you know you’ll be taking many of us with you on your adventure. It will be so nice to follow, even if vicariously, something with positive energy and adventure. Usually we hit the road during the summer too but haven’t quite figured out how we could do it safely(camping isn’t an option for my 74 year old blind hubby). So we’ll just follow your coastal lighthouse trek for now. Take many pictures, which I know you do so beautifully, and we’ll be going right along with you, Liz. Can’t wait to see the first stop!! Love and hugs, Your fellow travelers.

    Bonnie and Edd



  2. Liz, you are a talented writer! So Creative. Looking forward to following your journey. I too am anxious to get on the road. Love and Hugs to you!!


  3. I hope you have an amazing time! I completely feel you right now. It’s just as hard with jobs over here and things are starting to open up, so hopefully only a little longer now for both of us.

    Your road trip sounds amazing and I can’t wait to see the photos!!

    Enjoy and know you are loved, my friend.



  4. Hi Liz. Truly enjoyed reading your lighthouse tour adventure. You are one of our best tour guides and you are smart, funny and full of joy and positivity. Hope we can have you again as our tour director in our future trips. Josie


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