When you live in North Texas, getting to a body of water other than man-made lakes means a six-hour car trip, as least. But seeing that our daughter Hannah invited us to share a beautiful beach house in the coastal town of Port Aransas, near Corpus Christi, off we went. Their vehicle was loaded with Hannah and Reagan, Lena, Noah, Booker and Lena's friend Olivia. Ours held all the luggage and other items.
Some adjustments had to be made to accommodate the spike in COVID-19 infections in the Lone Star State. We packed a lunch so we wouldn't have to stop for food on the way down. However, we did need to make a gas and potty stop at that Texas institution, Buc-ees, recognizable by its toothy beaver logo. (The English teacher in me cringes at the name.) This gigantic travel store touts its very clean bathrooms, so I felt fairly safe, although I masked up and took along an antibacterial wipe to swab down any surfaces I might touch. I got in and out quickly, steering clear of those folks who were not wearing masks.
When we finally arrived, Hannah went out to get groceries to cover breakfast, lunch and snacks. Although part of the fun of travel is restaurant dining, but that was not in the cards this time around, so we got take-out to feed ourselves and the four kids. It was a great break from the quarantine routine at home, with lots of beach and pool time for the kids and plenty of time enjoying the view of the Gulf of Mexico from the deck, listening to the waves crash on the shore. The house was new and beautifully decorated, with comfortable beds, gourmet kitchen, a huge TV, books to read and lots of space. But soon it was time to return home to Dallas. The final morning brought heavy humidity and killer mosquitos, so we were glad to load up quickly and get in the nice cool car for the trip home.
Andy and I decided to take a different route home to break things up, but when it came time to gas up and get some food, we stopped at another Buc-ees. Sandwiches and a fruit cup were grabbed and we got the heck out of there as quickly as possible, arriving home just before dinnertime,
We had begun to relax a bit recently, getting badly needed haircuts and pedicures, and going out to eat a couple times, carefully distancing from others. But now there's been a tremendous surge in new cases in Texas, so we've again battened down the hatches and going out only when absolutely necessary. We'll enjoy our beach memories for some time to come. Stay well, my friends.
After staying put for more than three months, Andy and I have ventured out only a few times. I have not been in the grocery once, preferring to order and pick up. Rather than visiting retail stores, I've gone online. We've been careful to wear face masks, avoid close contact with anyone and wash our hands upon returning home.
Our first meal out was at a Mexican-Salvadoran place we like on Lake Ray Hubbard. There was a short line to get in and people were distancing, but often not wearing masks. It's a big restaurant and we were seated far away from others. You read the menu by scanning a QR code provided by the server, who was masked and gloved. We ate quickly and got the heck out of there. Sorta took the fun out of a restaurant meal. A week later, we visited our favorite little Greek place. Family-run, it's very small. We sat far apart from other tables and enjoyed our meals of kebabs and moussaka. Same for a new burger place we wanted to try. Because we are both in our mid-seventies, I'm still feeling a little anxious about all of this
A few days ago, I had to shop at Walgreens to purchase a replacement for my broken clip-on sunglasses. There was a big sign at the entry asking customers to wear masks. About a third of the customers (all men) I saw entering did not comply. I quickly made a couple purchases and headed for the door. Then I saw a nice lady entering without a mask and pointed to mine. She smiled and dug into her purse.
Because my toenails were verging into Howard Hughes territory and catching against the sheets when I turned over in bed, I decided to throw a bit of caution to the wind and get a pedicure. Fortunately, my favorite nail place was taking all the right steps. Customers were spread out with a chair between and all the technicians were masked and gloved. An acrylic screen separated you from the cashier at check-out. I can't tell you how relieved I felt to have my toenails clipped, cleaned up and finished with a coat of bright polish. After deciding that getting his toes taken care of was not a threat to his manhood, my husband started had getting regular pedicures, so off he went to get one right after me.
When numbers in Texas have gone down for two weeks straight, I'll be more comfortable going out into the world. In the meantime, I'll work on my 1,000 piece Monet Bridge over Waterlilies puzzle, watch movies, bake and walk Toby after the sun goes down. This, too, shall pass. Stay well, my friends.
Hot weather has already arrived in Texas and our pool is full of grandchildren and sometimes their closest friends, on an almost daily basis. While Hannah continues to work from home full-time and spends her days on endless conference calls, she is glad to have her offspring out of the house and expending energy for a little while each day. This is especially good since their community pool is closed for the time being. To help keep the kids occupied and on track with their online education, she hired a nanny who comes three days a week. Kim usually brings the kids over to swim at the end of her "shift" and then we take them home later. We have them all day on Thursday and Reagan on Friday, since he is working an 80% schedule these days.
Noah has turned into a little fish and swims without a vest this year. He dives underneath the water to retrieve toys and loves to get in water fights with his sister, using a foam shooter. Noah is absolutely fearless and like to do cannonballs, belly flops and somersaults off the edge. Lena can swim the entire length of our small pool underwater and makes up competitions and games. Booker loves to turn the spa jets on turbo and enjoy the bubbles, then jumps in to join whatever games are going on.
Lunchtime means a tray of sandwiches, fruit, chips and beverages on the covered patio, with a break from swimming later for Italian ices or root beer floats. This makes me think of all the times we packed such a repast at the cottage and then headed out to the island on the float boat. We'd anchor and everyone cooled off in the lake before lunch. Good times!
To me, although the pool is sparkling thanks to Andy's attention, the surrounding deck looks quite drab without the tubs of flowers I always planted. Because of COVID-19, I was not able to visit the garden center to get everything I needed. Sigh - maybe next summer. I can't tolerate the hot sun, so I sit under the big umbrella and watch the kids swim or sit on the patio where I can still see everything. My time in the pool is after the sun goes down.
My dad always used to say that his beloved cottage was a catalyst for family interaction. I feel much the same way about our pool. From May to October, it's a magnet for the kids and their families. Bring on the fun!
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.