A second pandemic trip to see Mom

I spent an amazing month with my mom in Virginia in the US, but learned some hard lessons on the trip.

Surprised to leave Australia

Last year, I traveled to the US to move my mom into a new living situation after a bad fall. In April of this year, Mom fell again, but luckily the staff at her residence found her quickly and she escaped with minimal long-term damage. We made changes to her care schedule and felt the situation was safer, but my sister was bearing 99% of the load for her care beyond what the care givers could provide.

Mom

Seeing Mom was amazing. Last year when I arrived, Mom was shaken from her accident, confused from her move into the new apartment building, and even after a month, didn’t always know how to get from the elevator back to her apartment.

Hanging out with Mom during my first week in Virginia.

Virginia

The area where my mom lives is beautiful — green forests and small country roads. The density of Sydney has really gotten to me through lockdown; leaving the front door the weight of the masses of people feels like swimming upstream no matter what direction I turn. The time in Virginia was a blissful escape: riding small country roads on the bike I keep in the US, running through wooded pathways where everyone smiles and says, “Good morning” (if it’s morning that is), kayaking on calm lakes with herons in the distance.

My specialised back was in great shape! After six weeks of not walking, I was not! This kit fit a little but differently about two months ago…
The most expensive (and comfortable) fold out king-sized mattress I have ever spent intimate, quality time with.
The mini-SUV that became a full sized SUV that became a Chevy Spark, which was actually fun to drive. (I should have know better than to from Dollar).

Will I get back?

Prior to COVID, just under 25,000 people per day came into Sydney from international destinations. At the end of August, a new weekly cap of 750 people in NSW was announced, meaning less than 110 people could fly into Sydney International airport each day. We have ~250 times less people coming into Australia now.

Letting my guard down and getting jabbed

The US is such a mixed bag of inconsistent COVID policy and even more inconsistent behaviour of the people who live there. People are overly apologetic about asking for mask wearing and social distancing, fearing retribution from the masses who have been manipulated by falsehoods spread by facebook groups and amplified by Russian bots.

Post-third-jab

The tragedy of the US

From talking with my friends in the US, the clear and present damage of misinformation is shocking. Teachers in Austin having masks ripped off by the parents of students. Cardiology patients having to delay important heart surgery because 95% of their case loads are COVID complications of the unvaccinated. Scheduled surgeries are risky because ICUs are full — full of the unvaccinated, who are discovering that they have bought into lies and more lies and now demand to be saved.

Last day with Mom

My time in the US had come to an end. There were the necessities of preparation for travel — laundry and packing, getting a final haircut given that barber shops back home were still closed.

Mom
Mom, in Mississippi in the 1950s. I had all of my dad’s slides digitised, and every one is amazing, like a time capsule into the life of my family.

Will I make it home?

72 hours before your flight back to Australia, you need to fill out an Australian Travel Declaration. The final question of the Declaration loomed large in my mind:

Days? Could you please clarify if you’re talking about days on Earth or days on Uranus?
Hmm. This is not encouraging. Generally I prefer the 🙈 emoji to the ❌

Enough carbon for life

I boarded the flight from LAX back to Sydney and was appalled. The total number of passengers on a 14 hour flight back to Sydney was… 14. While these airlines do carry freight, that meant that the total carbon footprint for my travels to and from the US totalled just under 40 tonnes of CO2. I had assumed that there would be fewer flights with more people, but it was not the case.

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