By 7 am on March 17, 2020 we were on the road back home. For the next 4 days we drove almost non-stop during the daylight hours. The first 3 days we drove about 11 hours a day and with timezone changes it made for brief evenings.
As mentioned in my previous post, we had our meals in tow, so we would have dinner and breakfast in the hotel room then stop en route to eat our lunch and stretch our legs without venturing into any restaurants. We did have to stop for gas obviously, and the mandatory bathroom pit stops of course. But they were kept to a minimum.
The drive home was surreal (although made for easy driving!). The roads were almost bare apart from a few trucks. The hotels and gas stations were empty apart from truckers. Hotels that pride themselves on their breakfast spreads were not allowed to put out food. You could perhaps pour yourself a disposable cup full and grab a piece of fruit if you were lucky. The first day we stopped by a McDonalds for a bathroom break to find the place closed for deep cleaning. We were fortunate that they had not yet reached the section by the washrooms and we were kindly allowed to use the facilities but only while being escorted to the washroom and back out. From then on we were limited to service stations during the daytime stops.
While the roads in the US were eerily empty, crossing the border to Canada was a shocking change. On March 18 Canada and the US mutually closed their borders to each other in an attempt to stop the spread and flatten the curve. As Canadians returning home we had no problem getting back. This was before covid testing was common, but I expected to be told to go straight home and quarantine as per the news reports – especially as I had been ill with covid like symptoms until recently. But no such warnings, just a wave through with almost no questions and not a mention of covid. Regardless of the lack of border diligence, we had done our own due diligence. Kyle was living at our house and he had been laid off work since the restaurants shut down. So he stocked us up for a joint 2 week isolation which in the end we weathered quite well.
And to our surprise, the Canadian highways were BUSY! We hit Toronto around 1pm on Friday, March 20, 2020 and were shocked to find ourselves in the traditional traffic jam. Even the near city expressways in the States had been desolate, but here there was no indication that people were staying home. Over the coming days, weeks, and months I feel that the tables turned substantially and Canadians did a much better job on isolating than the Americans, but at the time it was disappointing.
And by late afternoon on March 20 we were home; something we would get more than accustomed to over the next year.
And so ended our California Dreaming…. at least until we can return and finish checking out all the unseen places on our wish list!