Minneapolis in winter is cold and snowy and so very, very dark. As it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to leave the U.S. due to covid anytime soon, it also became clear we were going to have to find a place to spend the winter and that most definitely wasn’t in Minneapolis.
I know, I know, some of you are asking yourselves why we felt we couldn’t leave the U.S. when Mexico and a handful of other places are allowing in Americans. Hello? Remember the worldwide pandemic? Anyone? We recognize that we are on the extreme end of the spectrum, but we don’t feel like anyone should be traveling around the world (or even around the country) for fun during a pandemic (or eating indoors or visiting museums or going to bars or going to the movies or having family reunions, etc., etc.). Is that bad for the travel and hospitality industries? Yes, of course. You know what is even worse? Prolonging this virus because people won’t do what it takes to get the virus under control. And, when we read posts from stupid Americans specifically looking for places outside the U.S. where mask rules are not being enforced so they could vacation without being “inconvenienced” and posts from stupid Americans that refused to follow quarantine rules in places like the U.K., that pretty much sealed the deal for us. We had to find a place in the U.S.
Anyways . . . we put on our thinking caps and tried to figure out where in the U.S. we would be happy to spend the winter. First, it had to be a blue city because we have absolutely no interest in being surrounded by Trumpsters who refuse to wear masks during a pandemic because it “violates their freedoms,” think the virus is fake, and are convinced the virus will miraculously disappear the day after the election. (For any readers outside the U.S., that is exactly what some people think. I know, we have a hard time believing people like that exist too, but they most certainly do.) Second, it had to be a place that seemed (at least from what we could read on the internet) to be taking covid seriously. Third, it had to be warmer than Minneapolis (honestly, not that high of a bar). And, fourth, it had to be a place where we could have some outside space, preferably with room for a grill. Bonus points for a place with good Thai or pizza or Indian or Vietnamese delivery. We considered a whole host of locations, including Key West (too expensive), Dunedin (very few rentals available by the time we started looking), Vegas (not taking covid seriously enough), Asheville (too cold), Denver (too cold and shockingly expensive), Portland and Seattle (too expensive), and Lexington (hard to move to a place we’ve never even visited). Ultimately, New Orleans won out. It is one of our favorite places in the United States and, importantly, the city seemed to be fairly cautious about covid (bars still can’t have indoor seating).
We contacted a realtor in New Orleans, gave her our wish list, looked at photos, and ultimately rented an apartment pretty much sight unseen. Scary!
But, moving to New Orleans created a problem. We had to get there. And, Minneapolis and New Orleans are too far apart to drive in one day. And, we had too much junk to fly (and, honestly, I’m not sure how comfortable we would have been flying anyway). So, we decided we were going to spend a couple of days in Chicago to eat as much Vietnamese and Thai and Indian as we possibly could (all delivered to our hotel, of course), see some doctors for routine care, pull some stuff out of storage, and then hightail it to New Orleans. Except two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, Chicago put Minnesota on a quarantine list. That meant, if we followed the rules (and, of course, we would have followed the rules), we wouldn’t have been allowed out of our hotel room even for a walk. That so wasn’t going to work.
So, we had to go back to the drawing board. We had to work around the fact that we had an entire week between apartments. And, the fact that a hurricane was headed for Louisianna didn’t help matters.
Ultimately, we decided to spend a few nights in the suburbs of Chicago (where we weren’t subject to the Chicago quarantine rules), a few nights in Memphis (where we planned to fill our bellies with BBQ and fried chicken), and then one night in a New Orleans hotel so we could get into our apartment first thing the next morning. And, I have to say, we hated almost every minute of our trip. We just didn’t feel safe except for when we were in our car or hotel room (after we had sanitized it, of course — we are probably going to die from breathing in so many Lysol fumes). At all three hotels, both guests and housekeepers failed to wear masks. At two hotels, front desk staff failed to wear masks. At two hotels, the hand sanitizer stations were repeatedly empty. And, at the one rest stop I went in, some woman saw me in my mask and immediately started ranting about how stupid it was that masks were required in the bathroom (of course, she wasn’t wearing one) and guns were not allowed. Um, sure, right crazy lady.
Anyway, three weeks ago we made it to New Orleans (just in time too, as it has already snowed in Minneapolis). Our apartment was just as pictured in the photos (whew, that was a relief), and we have a great patio where Robert can grill to his heart’s content. Nearly everyone in stores wears a mask. Many people wear a mask even when walking outside. We think it is going to be a good winter. But, we can safely (and sadly) say we won’t be doing any more traveling anytime soon.