Hi ho, westward!

My husband and I are caving. We are driving more than 2,000 miles to see the grandkids.

We have protected ourselves against this lousy pandemic from the start. Our son and daughter-in-law have done the same. But we haven’t seen them since last winter, and the kids are growing and changing every day, especially Sebastian who has just turned one.

The adults all decided it would be okay for us to travel from Ohio to Washington state and form a “double bubble” with them, with all of us adhering to best practices.

For us, driving is the safest way to travel. Airline travel just doesn’t have our confidence so we’re hitting the road. We’re only staying at well-respected hotels which offer no-human-contact check-in. We will park the car, enter the hotel, go to our room, and open the door with an app on one of our phones. I will wipe down all surfaces of the room with a disinfectant cleaner upon arrival. We won’t leave our room until the next morning. We’ll do this for six nights.

We will eat drive-through food only, as well as food we’re packing.

I’m eager to see new parts of the country, but this isn’t the driving trip to see the grands that we always wanted to take. We’ll stop only at rest areas for bathroom breaks. No sight seeing, no stores, no attractions, no great local restaurants. I suspect it will be a fairly boring trip so we loaded our devices with audio books and podcasts.

We’re going into this confidently — but know there are no guarantees.

While I share this news with you, I know there are thousands of you who do not have this driving option. I know you want to see your grandkids are much as we want to see ours. I truly am sorry if my telling you about our trip has caused any pain.

This whole pandemic mess is so unfair … including for us long distance grandparents who were already forced to adjust to living far away and now must deal with severe travel restrictions. I wish happier days ahead for all of us.

COMMENTS. Any advice for me? Please use the Comments section below.

22 thoughts on “Hi ho, westward!”

  1. Have a safe and wonderful trip.

    You’re making me re-think this whole thing. I thought the pandemic was going to be gone by summer and it’s almost Halloween. We are around 1,300 miles from our grandson. We’ve never driven it but maybe we will.

    • Who on EARTH gave you information that Covid would be gone by summer ’20…..hmmm? Happy grand parenting !!!!
      Hope we too will be using FaceTime with grandkids…..whom live only 5 miles away.

      • Nice to hear from you, Bruce.

        Did I say Covid would be gone by summer 2020?!? I probably hoped so, way back when!

        Happy grandparenting, to you, too, Bruce! Sure hope it’s soon that all of us can be hugging our grandkids — the ones who are 5 miles away or 5,000 miles away!


  2. We traveled in almost the same way in June from Arizona to Washington. We enjoyed a wonderful first birthday celebration so the extra precautions were well worth the effort. Hope you have a wonderful time.
    PS. Don’t forget to stop for gas!😊

  3. This is wonderful news.

    We drove to see our dear ones in August – Kansas to California. We quarantined at home for two weeks before leaving home, so we had 19 days of no contact with anyone. Our son & daughter-in-law did the same. We bought a little travel camper and took all our food with us, so we were even more isolated than you will be. I think you will be fine! Consider getting a cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and then you won’t even need to stop for ice. It is weird to take a trip like that, only stopping for scenic overlooks, no touristy stuff, just head down till we saw their faces. It was SO WORTH IT!

    We stayed for two weeks. My daily reading to Harriet (age 3) meant she felt very comfortable with me. Louise (4 months) was a little afraid at first. She had never been held by anyone but her parents! But she warmed up quickly.

    About three days in, I just got overwhelmed with emotion. After months of seeing and touching no one but each other (even though my brother and sister both live nearby), it was the most amazing gift to be awash in physical contact with the people we love the most.

    You are so lucky to be able to go! Have a wonderful trip. I look forward to reading about it.

    • Oh, Mary, you make my heart soar.

      Thanks for your encouragement and sharing the joy of being with Harriet and Louise. For 6 months, Sebastian hasn’t been with us – or other people like clerks, librarians, people at church, so we expect him to take a while to warm up to us. But sounds like it will happen.

      Thanks for the tip of the plug in cooler!


  4. Jane: we are snowbirds escaping Colorado winters for the past 5 years, and thus away from the majority our grandkids…8 total, 6 in CO. We also have a “fishing cabin” in eastern TN for fall and spring, so we’re kinda road warriors. We’re also over 65, and have underlying health conditions that put us at slightly higher risk.

    We hunkered down in TN, March to mid June. Went home to CO and just did the reverse trip.

    Tip #1, whether or not masks are mandated, we wear them in public.

    Tip #2, we carry hand sanitizer, but I had no problems with rest stop or gas station restrooms on my trips. Soap and water, 20 seconds of hand-washing is preferred….I spent a career in infectious disease research so….

    Tip #3, we have a dog so we have ready access to dog poop bags, and in lieu of gloves, they work fine for using the push buttons on the gas pumps, as another layer of protection. And then, wash hands with soap and water….

    We did take-out, drive through or made sandwiches in June. This trip in September, we did eat out at a Cracker Barrel one night and a Mexican restaurant the second night. They were physically distanced tables, masked until seated,asked on the way out. All the staff were masked as well.

    We have averaged 450 miles each day because we’re not sight-seeing on these trips. I also checked various sources on how the various communities were impacted.

    The months we were home the grandkids had been “safer at home” since March and one son and DIL worked solely from home, but youngest son is a front line grocery worker. So we were pretty cautious around the beginning of the visit because we didn’t want to be a source of Covid exposure. Our first few visits were outside-oriented.

    They started back to school Aug 17th, so we knew a risk of increased exposure was part of the equation, but (knock wood) all remain healthy and in person school has been ok. We’ve been teaching cover your cough/sneeze and hand-washing since they were old enough to follow our lead.

    I hope this helps.

  5. Enjoy the trip – you will be creating memories for the future. Let’s hope that this won’t become the norm for seeing your grandchildren.

  6. Have a wonderful trip. Our family made same decision to drive to finally see the kids and we even rented an RV to make the trip 1000 mile trip without having to use hotels, public bathrooms or drive through food. We were to head out this morning. Haven’t seen our 2 and 4 year olds since Christmas. Missed their birthdays. So much growing and living without us. However the Covid tests that the family took to prepare for our arrival came back positive for the 2 year old! The rest of the family hasn’t gotten their results back yet. Of course we had to cancel the trip and now just worry from miles away.

    • Oh, Dale, that’s awful. I can’t believe you had the trip taken away from you at the last minute. All the planning you did – and the eagerness to be with your family! I am so very sorry.

      I hope you can reschedule soon. This lousy virus.


  7. We just drove 2000 mi from Milwaukee to Seattle. Haven’t seen our one and only grandson since he was born last xmas! It has been so difficult. We did it in 3 days! ( so you know we did NO adventures or sightseeing). Brought food in a cooler, for lunches and first nite dinner in our room. Stayed at Hampton Inn….they have a fridge with freezer in their rooms. So we could refreeze our “ice”. Hampton was meticulous. Gave you a takeaway bag for breakfast. 2nd nite we stayed at Holiday Inn Express. Also very clean. And they gave you a take away breakfast with a hot breakfast sandwich! Did take out for dinner. Minimal contact at both hotels. But Holiday Inn only had a fridge in the rooms. Bring smaller freezer bags for ice..and put them in a larger freezer bag to keep your cooler dryer. Also you can bring a plastic bag for remote,( like the kind that a newspaper comes in). Altho Hampton already had it in a bag! I did clean the rooms first, just to be doubley sure! Had a tote bag with cleaning supplies, wipes, spray, masks, paper towels, gloves hand sanitizer etc. easy to transport. Gas stations were fine…always wore a mask, as did everyone else, ALL the places took precautions. Contact everywhere was limited. We felt perfectly safe at our very brief stops And our kids knew how safe we were being , before we left and while on our trip. And always used hand sanitizer when we got back Into car as an extra precaution, no matter how many times we washed our hands!
    The kids have been great videoing a couple of times a week. And sending daily pictures! Our grandson actually recognized us, at 8 1/2 mo old, he hasn’t seen anyone but his Parents this entire time, it only took a couple of hours for him to feel comfortable with us, to crawl into our laps! I think it was strange for him to only know our faces and in one dimension! That immediate recognition made the trip worth it. We are staying for 2 weeks. The days are flying by😥

  8. Have a safe and wonderful trip. Be grateful that you are able to travel somewhat safely. Our grandson lives in London, and we haven’t seen him since Christmas. Just missed his second birthday. Our DIL is pregnant. Too many variables, which are constantly changing, to plan a trip now. Enjoy your visit on behalf of those like us who don’t have the option.

    • Thank you for your well wishes.

      When our first grandchild was born in San Francisco in 2012 and we were in Ohio, I felt pretty darn sorry for myself. Until a co-worker’s son and his wife moved to Africa with their toddler who my co-worker was madly in love with. I know I have it better than many, including people like you. I pray that this pandemic ends soon so you can start planning a trip to London!

      Congrats on the new grandchild coming!


  9. I just received morning snuggles from our 16 month old love because we made the same decision (though our one way trip is just about 900 miles). We chose to take at home COVID tests, and hit the road just as we received results, took our own pillows and a light blanket into our hotel rooms, and relied.heavily on the Panera Bread app for in-car dining. Also, tried to choose hotel rooms with individual heat/air units for ventilation. The results are entirely and absolutely worth it!


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