Tennille suggested I share what this experience has been like for us the past few weeks. It is a strange time to be stuck in an unfamiliar location a few thousand miles away from home. The past two weeks have challenged our ability to be flexible and stay positive, but we are doing our best. It is shocking to think that it was only two weeks ago that we were in New Orleans picking up Caroline’s sister from the airport and planning for my trip out to San Diego the following week. That Wednesday afternoon, almost as an afterthought, I had asked the management team if they had any concerns about my trip to San Diego. We all agreed that there was no reason to cancel it. My wife, a physician, shared that opinion. That night, however, everything changed. The NBA shut down, the WHO declared the pandemic and the US announced that no Europeans could come to the USA. The next morning, we woke up to the new normal and I canceled my trip out to San Diego.
Rather than extend our stay in New Orleans, we decided to move on to Montgomery, Alabama. On Sunday morning we packed up our car and were about to head out to Montgomery when we realized that it was possible that the museums we really wanted to see in Montgomery would be closed for the foreseeable future. That morning, Alabama had reported its first cases and the mayor of Montgomery declared a state of emergency for the city.
As we sat in our car with the engine running, we checked the news and were inundated with articles about school closures and the spread of the disease across the country. We both realized in the same moment that our trip as we knew it was over. We were not going to get to experience the south like we were hoping to. Our initial instinct was to start driving back to San Diego right then so we could arrive Monday night. Then we caught our breath and realized that since California was pretty much locked down so being there wouldn’t change anything. We decided it didn’t make much sense to drive the 26 hours home.
Our guts told us to head west, but we really wanted to see Montgomery and Birmingham and Tennessee. We didn’t know what to do. I looked on my phone and saw the route home went just south of Austin, Texas. We had heard great things about Austin and it was the perfect distance – a 7.5 hour drive due west. It was almost noon at this point so we needed to decide. Go to Montgomery to keep the trip alive and experience the south or head west to Austin, which meant accepting the end of our trip.
We both were sad, but admitted that going to Austin was the right call under the circumstances. I put the car in drive and we headed west. We had done zero research on Austin and had no idea of the layout or neighborhoods. Caroline found a place for a month long rental as we sped along the highway. She finalized everything only a few hours before we arrived.
We didn’t know what to expect when we got here. In short, Austin is great. Like most places, almost everything is closed, so it is disappointing not to get to really experience the city; but the people have been fantastic. We’ve been walking Gidget at least once each day and have met almost all of our neighbors already. Everyone keeps their distance when they stop to say hello and ask how we are doing. We were able to stock up on groceries Monday morning and took a few drives around town to see the sights this weekend. I have been able to ride every day since we arrived and have seen two other ElliptiGOers out on the road. I always love seeing other ElliptiGO riders. Austin’s biking trails are excellent and the hills remind me of San Diego. Steep and plentiful.
Like everyone, we are managing day by day. Even with our friendly neighbors and getting out periodically to ride or walk the dog, I find it’s a hard time psychologically. One thing I’ve started to do to help with my own self-care is to meditate for 10 minutes every day. For most of my life I wasn’t really sure what meditation was. Candidly, it had always seemed a little intimidating. Sort of like yoga did until I realized it’s mostly just stretching like we used to do before football practice. Meditation is just sitting still with your eyes closed while you focus on thinking about nothing. There isn’t anything weird or intimidating about it. It’s simply one proven way to calm your nerves and put you in a better mental space.
The other thing I’ve done is begun my journey back to enjoying a healthy lifestyle. After more than 10 months of non-stop indulgences, which was the intent of this trip, it’s now time to shift my habits so I can get fit again. Caroline and I start our at-home workouts this week and with no restaurants to go to, we’re eating a lot better. I think self-care is important always, but especially right now.
We’re going to get through this. The world has faced many tougher challenges and humans have always persevered. Lately, I have been trying to keep in mind Viktor Frankel, who said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” I’m doing my best to choose the right attitude every day.
Thank you for being a part of the ElliptiGO family and I am looking forward to April and getting through this experience soon. I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are doing well. If you have any tips for me or the team on how to thrive right now, we’d love to hear them.