This is the story of a different kind of trip. This trip involves a huge movement into a totally different lifestyle and continues into completely unexpected circumstances.
We had a very good February. Even before we moved into our apartment in The Chalet in Panorama, the continuing care retirement community in Lacey where we have settled, we joined the Panorama Chorus and returned to the church choir where we have been members for over 50 years. We got to sing with them twice a week each for the whole month. Sharon was in “hog heaven”!
We also spent a whole lot of money on furniture and other accoutrements for our apartment; that was fun and just a little stressful. We began with a good bed, two recliners, and a 58” TV, the biggest we have ever had. Then we acquired drawers and shelves because this apartment isn’t nearly as efficient in storage as our motorhome was. This involved building a bunch of IKEA furniture; some was easy, some wasn’t.
By February 6, we had a bed to sleep in and chests of drawers in which to put our clothes, so we parked our motorhome in one of the “moving van” parking areas behind The Chalet and spent the whole day making trips from the motorhome to the apartment with hand truck and grocery cart to move in dishes, kitchenware, clothes, and much miscellaneous stuff. It was easier than packing everything in boxes and then having to unpack it. We stopped running back and forth at 3 p.m. because we knew we needed to get the motorhome parked in its storage space before dark.
We had learned early on that the RV parking area at Panorama was full; we were fifth on the waiting list with no immediate prospect for anyone’s moving out. Our pastor, Tammy, and her husband, Tim, had graciously offered a spot to park it on their property, which is only about a mile and a half from our apartment, so we confidently drove over there and began to back it into its assigned spot.
And got royally stuck! We neglected to consider the fact that it had been raining hard all day long, and although a friend of ours had been using that space to park her RV for months before, our RV is considerably heavier than hers. Oops! After several hours of digging up Tammy and Tim’s yard and packing wood blocks, gravel, and bark chips under the wheels, Jon, Tammy, and Tim managed to get the rig back on solid gravel. Meanwhile, Sharon had signed up for a commercial storage spot across town – not nearly as handy and a whole lot pricier but safer. We ended up parking there in the dark after all.
That night, we were able to spend our first night in our new home – and slept very well after having survived that very stressful day.
We had found a little used dining table, and we added chairs from Panorama’s thrift store. We purchased a little loveseat for our guests to sit on. (It’s mostly for “Fuzzy Wuzzy”, our teddy bear that has traveled the world with us.) New window coverings, a living room rug, and more of our personal mementos that have been in storage all these years made the living room feel homey.
We got to see first run movies at the Panorama Auditorium, free; these included “Predator” (well-done but horribly violent and depressing) and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (as uplifting as “Predator” was depressing). We went with Panorama friends to a “Dancing with the Panorama Stars” competition, a play, two silent films with piano or organ accompaniment, a comedy night, and numerous informal gatherings. We were just about to get oriented to the Aquatic & Fitness Center here and to the full-service library. We really felt as if we were settling in to enjoy life at Panorama.
Then, in early March, everything shut down! No more Pan Chorus; no more church choir; concerts we had been looking forward to, all cancelled. Dentist appointments we had set up a year ago – cancelled. Jon got a cold, which had all the COVID-19 symptoms we were being warned about: upper respiratory congestion, cough, low-grade fever. Suddenly, a cold was very scary. He called our Kaiser clinic, and because of his age, his symptoms, and his proximity to high-risk people, they sent him to a drive-through testing center in Puyallup some 20 miles northeast of here. While we waited for the results of his test (which took six days to arrive), he was instructed to self-isolate as if he were positive. Much to our relief, the COVID-19 test was negative! And his cold went away in 14 days, just as colds are supposed to do.
We’re still enjoying life here, though, and we’re glad we got moved in before the world went crazy. We would be hard-pressed to find a place to live in the motorhome if we were on the road now. Campgrounds are shutting down everywhere, even though that seems like a pretty safe spot to “shelter in place” to us. Be that as it may, here at Panorama there have been NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 because the leaders here (and our state’s governor) have been quick to take the painful but necessary steps to protect all of us, with no gatherings and no visitors. However, we can still take walks around the neighborhoods, staying six feet away from everyone we meet on the way. We can get to grocery stores easily when necessary; and we are very close to doctors’ and chiropractors’ offices to deal with Jon’s ongoing back problems. Our church is offering various kinds of online support and having services via Facebook or Zoom each Sunday. And we have virtual church choir practice on Zoom each Wednesday evening; it isn’t quite the same as being there, but it gives us a chance to see each other and sing a bit.
We are confident that eventually our country will get back to normal, and when it does, we’ll be right where we need to be. Meanwhile, we pray all of you, dear readers, are staying safely at home and washing your hands frequently. Let us know how you are coping.