Searching for Normal

Well, to say that 2020 has been disappointing would be a gross understatement. We missed a lot because of “the Virus”. Like many people, our plans were drastically changed, causing us to put almost a year of our lives on hold, but it looks like we are finally starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

We made the trip from west Texas, up through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Our original plan was to spend some time in the Houston area visiting kids and grands, check out a 2nd RV, then proceed to the Dallas area to visit relatives. Our trip was to take 4-5 weeks and include leisurely travel along the way to our summer stop in Minnesota. Since those areas were so “hot” from COVID, we were forced to change everything. We made the trip north in less than 2 weeks and that includes a week in Summit, South Dakota.

It can be noted that even though most everything was shut down, with the exception of gas stations and RV parks, the state of South Dakota did have places open. The governor refused to shut down the state’s economy, allowing people to make their own decisions about their safety, treating them like adults. This has turned out to be a much more reasonable approach than some of the states, in my opinion.

Arriving at Woodland Trails in Minnesota was a lot like “coming home” since we have chosen to summer there 4 of the 5 years we have been traveling. Minnesota, in May, was pretty much closed for business but the county we were in had zero cases of COVID so we felt pretty safe. Plus we were happy to see Dawn & Dan Sullivan, the owners or Woodland Trails, and the many friends that we have made there over the years. It’s really a lovely place to spend the summer months.

When we first started this journey, our #1 rule was “no snow” and we were able to keep that until this May. We got to Woodland Trails earlier than normal and Dawn let us set up on May 7th. The park water wasn’t turned on yet, fearing a late freeze but we had on-board fresh water so we were okay, The morning of the 9th we awoke to white stuff all over the ground. SNOW!

Strawberry Lake – May 9, 2020

Fortunately it didn’t last long and our RV is set up for colder weather so we were snug and warm. We ran out of fresh water and since the park wasn’t going to open for a few days, we decided to spend a night in Detroit Lakes at the Holiday Inn. Curiously, it was open for lodging and room service but the restaurant and lounge were closed. It would seem to be easier to “sanitize” a restaurant than a hotel room, but that was just another of the incongruities in the COVID rules.

Once we got back to Woodland Trails we were able to fall back into familiar routines almost as though we had never left. I would mow every Thursday, Mary would watch the lodge on weekends, and we would fish as much as possible. Our extra-curricular travel was pretty much curtailed except for the occasional trip to Fargo since most everything was closed. Toward the end of the season we made a trip to Grand Rapids (Minnesota) and stopped by the childhood home of Judy Garland and adjacent museum. Restaurants were starting to open, with masks and every-other-table seating, but at least it was a change of scenery.

All in all it was good to be at Woodland Trails for the summer. We resumed our friendships with several couples who live there in the summer, and the Sullivans are good people to work for. We probably won’t go back in the future because there is still a lot of this country we haven’t seen yet, but our memories of Woodland Trails will always be good ones.

We stayed on longer than usual while Dawn addressed some health issues, leaving Woodland Trails on the 28th of September, headed for South Dakota and ultimately the Florida panhandle for the winter. Things are gradually returning to “normal”, whatever that might look like from now on. We are more fortunate than many in that we are healthy and able to safely travel. Sure, things are different, but we feel that at some point most of this will be behind us and we can maybe find the old normal.

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