On The Road During The Pandemic
By Lynda Rozell
(Washington, D.C.) -- Journeys with a Tin Can Pilgrim author, Lynda Rozell, travels with faith in her Airstream during the pandemic. She found her choice to give up her comfortable lifestyle as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. was something many American families have chosen since the pandemic. Rozell, like many American families, decided to make the RV lifestyle their full-time lifestyle. The proof is in the numbers reported August 2021, stated by RV Industry Association... "Happy Campers are also open to traveling no matter the season, with 76% hitting the road in the spring and 83% in the summer. Likewise, 74% travel in the fall and 67% in the winter."
Lynda Rozell’s newly released book, Journeys with a Tin Can Pilgrim, has topped the best-selling ratings on Amazon in #4 Business Travel Reference, #6 Travel Tips, and #9 Solo Travel.
Rozell will begin her book tour road adventures starting September 7, 2021, in Jackson Center, Ohio. She outlines her featured opinion article and blog post On the Road During the Pandemic. Her observations back in 2020 echo the situation we now find ourselves in again with the resurgence of the pandemic.
I didn’t plan to be on the road during the pandemic, but this adventure developed unexpectedly. Since I live full-time in my Airstream travel trailer, I drive with my own home and facilities and can easily distance myself. After arriving and completing a travel self-quarantine in Montana in May, I hoped to stay there. But, a leak in my Airstream meant a trip back to the factory in Ohio, as dealer appointments were not happening near me. As part of my pandemic road trip, I was able to visit some friends and family in Virginia with appropriate safeguards.
Now that Alvie the Airstream is fixed, I am back on my way back to Montana for the rest of the summer. Along the way, I had the chance to visit the only Marian apparition site in the United States formally approved by the Catholic Church. You can read about that here. What I’d like to share in this post is the variety of approaches in different areas to the pandemic.
First, I noticed many different highway signs during my original trip West, mainly in Kansas and Colorado. Near Salinas, Kansas, in mid-May, a highway sign cautioned “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Later, near Hayes, Kansas a sign informed me “It Is Your Job To Keep Others Safe.” Before exit 128 on Rt 70 West, the highway sign advised: “Social Distancing Saves Lives.” A short while later, the road sign warned “If Fever Strikes Stay Home.” The admonition “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” followed. While leaving Douglas, Wyoming, I saw a highway sign advising “Coronavirus – Get the Real Facts” with a website address for the state health department. On my way back, I did not notice road signs with such messages as I traversed South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Second, on my first trip on the road during the pandemic, in most states, everyone had a mask and gloves on at gas pumps. On my return trip to Montana, I rarely encountered people wearing masks outside at gas stations. Third, places of worship varied widely. Most scrupulously required masks, provided hand sanitizer, taped off pews and places to stand for social distancing purposes and explained the safety measures taken. Some, despite having posted instructions to wear masks and stay six feet apart, did not enforce that at all. Several of the Catholic churches I visited strongly encouraged people to receive Communion in the hand, to lower one’s mask only when receiving Communion, then reposition it before heading back to the pew. Others encouraged kneeling for Communion so that one’s face was not near that of the priest. All had hand sanitizer immediately available to the priest to clean his hands if he accidentally touched the hand or tongue of a communicant. Ushers directed people unless part of the same family group to sit or stand six feet apart.
In some churches, Confession was outdoors in a garden or drive-thru style in a parking lot. Others still used closed booths inside.
Fourth, rural and urban areas differed greatly. In one city in northern Virginia, robots were delivering food and groceries to people. Mask wearing was common in stores and even on the street. An hour’s drive west in a more rural area few people wore masks or kept their distance from others. All stores, however, had tape marking directions and spaces on the floor to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer and wipes were widely available for use by customers. Fifth, businesses also varied greatly. Some had signs but pretty much ignored it if customers were not wearing masks. Others, like the Airstream Factory, were meticulous in their communication and enforcement. At Airstream, customers could not enter the service waiting area without a temp check, a mask, and completing a form.
When I purchased food at restaurant (or a wine slushie at Tippy Creek Winery in Indiana!), I usually ordered take-out and ate outside. Once, I met a friend at a spacious restaurant where inside dining had just re-opened. Tape cordoned off tables and plexiglass-divided booths. Servers wore masks. Overhead fans circulated air.
The variety of approaches may reflect contradictory advice about protective measures and diverse opinions about how contagious the virus is when one is outside or is not close to others. Some people are extremely careful; others feel it is a useless or even nefarious imposition on their individual freedom. Governments that limited religious services and imposed strict masking and distance requirements completely lost credibility when they excused protests from such compliance. Also, high numbers or low number of cases in an area seemed to correlate to being more or less likely to take more precautions. There was less mask-wearing in rural areas and more in urban areas.
Mass with Masks in Owensville Missouri
Since I travel and live full-time in my RV, I wear a mask in public places, keep my distance, and wash my hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. As a matter of charity, I am glad to take on some inconvenience to mitigate risk to others (and myself), but not to isolate myself completely. I avoid crowds, but not all people. There are some risks in life worth taking while using reasonable precautions. For me, these include being present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and seeing friends whom I may not see again for quite a while.
What has your experience been? Is there “covid fatigue” or resistance to government mandates where you live? Or, are people still trying to maintain distance and wear masks? Is it as a matter of charity towards the vulnerable or out of personal fear?
About: Lynda Rozell was born and spent her childhood in New York. She has lived most of her life in Virginia, where she earned Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Foreign Affairs and a J.D. at the University of Virginia. After law school, she joined the firm Hunton & Williams as an associate on the Antitrust and Trade Regulation team in Washington, D.C. After several years, she accepted a position with the Federal Trade Commission as a staff attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. She subsequently worked as an Attorney Advisor on the personal staff of two presidential appointees to the Federal Trade Commission: Commissioner Roscoe B. Starek, III, then Commissioner Orson G. Swindle.
In 2018, Lynda retired, moved to Florida, and embarked on her marvelous adventure as a full-time nomad, living in an Airstream travel trailer. She started a travel blog in 2019, www.tincanpilgrim.com. This book chronicles her transformation from her previous life to that of a Tin Can Pilgrim, including her ongoing growth in her faith and in the practical skills needed to live in and tow her Airstream trailer. Lynda seeks to live out her Catholic Christian faith in her ordinary, everyday life as she travels around the country visiting and writing about shrines, religious sites, and the beauty of Creation. She invites others into the community of nomads and wanderers that she has found on the road and shares the signposts that continue to lead her to radical trust in God.
Writing and editing have been key parts of Lynda’s personal and professional life. Her publications range from law review articles to an article in the Catholic Missourian. Last year she appeared on Catholic Faith Network and in 2019 was interviewed in print and on a podcast for the Arlington Catholic Herald. She enjoys volunteering, lecturing, photography, reading, and art, as well as spending time with her children and the many friends she has made in her travels across the country.