How far would you go for family?

August 2, 2020

How many miles would you travel to reach family?

The answer is 7,505 miles, if you are bold and determined like our neighbors Lois and Bob Schlowsky. My favorite summer pastime has been following their Facebook posts as they traveled from Delaware to Irvine, Calif.

They went missing for 33 days.

In early May, they ruled out airplane travel and decided their Hyundai Tucson SUV was the safest way to get across country and control their COVID-19 exposure. They hadn’t seen their 2 1/2-year-old grandson Aditya since November 2019.

In early June, they mapped out the best route to avoid COVID hot spots, allowing seven to 10 hours of driving per day. Their roadmap led them to Pittsburgh, then south of Chicago and later across Nebraska. Next they traveled southwest through Colorado and southern Utah, and on to southern California.

They booked six different Airbnb homes with keyless entrances to avoid contact with hosts. Full kitchens were a must. And they planned “interesting places to stop because we had something to look forward to,” Lois explained.

“We chose a variety of venues from farm stay to carriage house to antique apartment to creekside cabins with a romantic loft.”

What did you eat and drink? I asked.

“We took enough food and drink for the entire trip! Instead of trying to safely get food in areas we did not know, we froze water bottles every night and used them in a cooler which we plugged into the cigarette lighter. We found an air fryer which worked well.”

Lois shrugged like this was no big deal. I can’t seem to plan one meal ahead myself.

“Breakfast was either fried or scrambled egg on an English muffin, fruit, or oatmeal in the microwave with dried fruit and nuts. Lunch was either tuna sandwich or peanut butter and jelly or spinach, cheese and potato turta.” (Kind of like a calzone.)

They froze meals before they left wherever they stayed and would heat them in the air fryer each morning so they would be room temperature on the road. Dinners might include spaghetti and sausage; veggie burgers with roasted potatoes and salad; bratwurst, jarred sauerkraut, and fresh veggies; or fried rice, egg and tofu.

Once in California, the family rented a large condo for 15 nights so they could all be together. “We had two magical weeks getting to spend time with our grandson,” beams Lois. “He is now talking! He’s inquisitive and funny.”

Bob says their special moments included “helping to make his bedroom into a Mickey Mouse toddler room and playing soccer.” Lois was able to bring him Brio Trains which had been her daughter’s toy when she was a child.

The trip home took 11 days. Just as they had stayed two nights in Moab to see Arches National Park, they took one extra day in the Grand Tetons and two extra nights in West Yellowstone. National parks were not allowing tour buses, so low attendance was a bonus.

What were the highlights of the trip?

“Seeing those snow-capped mountains of the Grand Tetons, hiking the trails and witnessing the wildlife in Yellowstone, the sunrise in Arches National Park. But the best part were the hugs we got from our grandson.”

Bob felt that the only disappointment was seeing so many people who chose not to wear masks. “The best seemed to be 50 percent. In many places it was zero. When we drove into Delaware, we saw more masks!”

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