by Cecile Fortier
Coronavirus took hold of Florida while we were still doing our own activities and not being too concerned about this virus, until Monday March 16. After a round of golf with friends, early in the morning, we came back to our park in Largo, and were struck by its tranquility. People were packing-up and getting ready to leave for home.
Covid-19 had taken hold of Florida with cases doubling and tripling day by day. They were up to 149 cases and 4 deaths and more than 4,000 cases throughout the U.S. On the Canadian news, my husband, Paul heard the warning of the Prime Minister telling all Canadians to come home, and the borders would be closed at midnight on Friday, March 20. We decided to heed the order and leave 18 days ahead of our time in the US. I had never packed so quickly and organized the house for its 7 months closed-down.
On Wednesday, March 18, at 5:30 a.m., Paul and I left our Largo home, like ̈thieves in the night ̈, for a three day trek. The first day was almost a leisurely trip. The highways were not congested but easy flowing traffic. We decided to stop for the night at 4 pm, to make sure we would get a hotel room. We were fortunate to get a room, but all restaurants were closed, except for take-outs. The choice was not the best, either a McDonald or Burger King. We brought our burgers to the motel and ate them in their breakfast room. When coming into our room, we sprayed everything with Lysol disinfectant.
The next morning – day two of our escaping – breakfast was not laid out like usual, but a tray with granola bars ready for the taking. I had also made sandwiches for our lunches that we always eat at a Rest Area. Also close at hand was a bottle of sanitizer and a roll of paper towels. Around 4 pm, fog was coming in so we decided to stop at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the night. We toured the town looking for a decent motel that was open, even a Best Western was locked-down. After looking around for about half an hour, we found a motel near a truck-stop with a Subway deli and near the exit to the freeway. We just had to cross the parking lot to get to the Subway and brought our subs into the motel and ate in our room.
Breakfast the next morning was what I had packed to nibble on—cookies and pieces of apples cut up in chunks. It sustained us until lunch time. We left the motel an hour and a half later, waiting for the fog to lift. For two hours we were engulfed in a dense fog where you could barely see the car ahead. The two lanes of the highway were packed with heavy traffic, again bumper to bumper, all heading north-east into the Appalachian ranges and the Poconos into New York State. It was very stressful, and slow and dangerous. But I must say that Paul kept his cool and drove safely. After passing through Syracuse and Watertown, a weather front hit us with high winds and sheets of rain hitting us sideways. Luckily, it only lasted for about twenty minutes, but the winds kept on until we reached the border. The sun was out and the Canadian flag was in sight. Canada was just ahead…but not before waiting in line for one hour and ten minutes, to be asked questions: ̈Do you have a cough or a fever? ̈ He handed us our passports through a small opening of his kiosk window where just his arm could go through. He also told us we were quarantined for 14 days, and handed us a sheet with the instructions for quarantine. This had to be the worst ̈trip from Hell ̈.
At last, we were in Canada! ̈Home Sweet Home ̈. We stopped at our daughter and son-in-law’s in Algonquin to let them know that we were finally home. We stayed in our car and they came out to greet us, but stayed two metres away. Nicole also told us that she had filled our fridge and pantry of the most essential provisions for the time being, and that she would be doing our grocery shopping for us for the next fourteen days, as we could not go out of our house until our quarantine was over.
Arriving home, we backed the car and emptied it of all our luggage. QUARANTINE – that meant we could not go out anywhere, or visit anyone, or knock on our neighbour’s doors to say hello! We were in prison in our own house…
After a day or two, I decided to start a spring cleaning. Every morning, with a new goal in mind, I get to work. I first attacked the kitchen cupboards and kept on going through the whole house. Being a morning person, I do my work mostly in the morning and relax in the afternoon, watching television news- that is very depressing – or chatting on the phone with friends, or doing emails. In quarantine, you can ́t even think of inviting your children over whom you haven ́t seen in five months. Or, on the spur of the moment, go to the stores and do some shopping. It just hits you that all is banned for you. You are healthy, and want to do things, but you cannot. I read, do crossword puzzles, and count the days when this will be over.
In spite of this isolation, we have had some generous good heart neighbours that have left home made cookies, biscuits, muffins, jars of jam on our door steps, to cheer us up in our hardship. We thank them so very much. The loneliness can be difficult for some. Fortunately, we have each other and have not ̈yet ̈ been at each other ́s throats. He keeps busy at his computer and had a two-hour teleconference with the executive of the Rideau Gliding Club to decide what they will do this so very different season. Even Rideau Glen Golf Course is idle until further notice. If we have NO flying or golfing, our two most cherished activities curtailed, we are in limbo and cooped-in with absolutely nothing interesting to watch on television- -no golf or Blue Jays. Pray that this gets OVER sooner than later….