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Our family recently returned from our first corona-cation. Like I’m sure many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic has done quite a number on our lives in a variety of different ways. While our family has been relatively unscathed from the more serious impacts (economic or health-related), it sure has done a number on our travels! I don’t mean to downplay the very real impacts of many people by complaining about our lack of traveling but this IS a travel blog after all 🙂

We were supposed to be in Hawaii in the middle of March and that was the first casualty. Since then, we’ve had several trips in various stages of planning be canceled. We mostly haven’t left our house very much in the past 4 months. We were quarantined and not leaving except to get groceries for a while, and have gradually eased back into a semblance of normalcy. We wear masks and social distance while we’re out.

Everybody’s level of comfort of traveling is different, and we decided that we felt comfortable with renting an Airbnb and having a more outdoors-focused vacation. We ended up taking a 4 day trip to Northern Michigan.

a group of people on a hill

While I’ve already reported on some of the things that we did while we were out there, I thought I’d also share some of what I observed regarding mask usage and social distancing. I figure that there may be others who would be interested in some “on the ground” reports.

Masks and social distancing while on the road

Northern Michigan is about an 8-hour drive from our home, so we loaded up the minivan and headed out

a car with a trunk full of luggage

We stopped a few times to get gas and the results were definitely mixed. Most of the places that we stopped at were under mandatory mask orders, but compliance was iffy and enforcement was nil. At a Flying J Travel Plaza just north of Dayton where we stopped, there was a sign posted on the entrance that masks were required.

a sign on a window

But I’d estimate about 20% of people were wearing masks, and half the employees were either not wearing masks or wearing them as chinstraps. I called the Health Department, Karen-style, which was the first time I had ever reported a business for that.

Social distancing and masks on the beach

During our trip, we went to several different beaches in Northern Michigan. We did see a few people wearing masks while on the beach but most did not. The good news is that the beaches were not very crowded and there was plenty of room to spread out. We brought our masks with us but generally, I feel okay with not wearing a mask while outside where I’m 6+ feet away from anyone not in my household.

a man sitting on a bench in the sand

This beach could have maybe given a bit stronger foundation for their beach chairs though….

Grocery stores, activities and restaurants

I was quite impressed with the two different Meijers (yay, a grammatically correct time to say “Meijers”!) that we stopped at. They not only had mask policies, they had “bouncers” at the door ensuring that customers were wearing masks. Not surprisingly, compliance was significantly higher…. At the small country store near our Airbnb, the best you could say was that they were complying with the LETTER of the law….

a sign with black text on it

We didn’t eat in at any restaurants, but we did do a couple of drive-thrus and carryout. At each of the restaurants that we went to, employees and customers were following mask and social distancing protocols. None of the restaurants that we went to had any dine-in even open.

Another place that we went to was picking cherries on the Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City. The particular farm that we went to was pretty serious about health and safety. When we got there, they had a worker asking each car where they had come from, how many people were in the party, and making everyone sign an agreement that they would wear a mask and/or keep 6 feet apart from other groups. Thankfully the farm was not very crowded when we were there, though I asked and they said that COVID-19 had not impacted them too badly and that they had been just as busy as past years.

a group of people standing under a tree

Planning the next trip?

The success of this trip had us thinking about what the next trip might look like. My son and I tentatively planned a county trip for later this summer, but then put it on hold because of some of the high rates of COVID-positivity in some of the states that we were planning on visiting. Even though we were planning to mostly be driving and limiting our interaction with others, we felt like we should probably wait and schedule that for a little later on.

Still, our trip to Northern Michigan was a great road trip and definitely had us catching the travel bug again!

If you’ve ventured out this summer, what has your experience been with masks and social distancing protocols?

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