Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Coronavirus Can't Stop Nature

We are in Week 7 in sweltering Southeast Texas, trying to maintain sanity in these surreal times.  Even for this stuffed rat, it is no easy feat amidst times of lockdown, shutdown, and social distancing. 

In fairness, my parents have tried desperately to keep me busy.  They have challenged me to games of Ms. Pac-man and encouraged me to read (1984 and Animal Farm were the books I completed most recently.)    They bought me some tomato and lettuce plants to tend and harvest.  Mom let me assist in her kitchen when testing out new plant-based recipes.  Dad convinced our tabbycat to play ring toss with me.  Hey, they even indulged me with lots of cheese snacks!

My garden is finally producing....

But it is getting like Groundhog Day, especially with the warmer weather here and absolutely NOWHERE to go.  To make matters worse, we have had little over-the-air TV to watch.  There is no rhyme or reason for it either.  Clear skies, zippo channels.  Torrential rain, 40 stations!   It is a most annoying phenomenon.  With so many people utilizing it, unencumbered Wi-FI streaming doesn’t happen often either.  Thankfully, my parents have bestowed me with several DVD series collections.  It is uncanny how the world of television fiction parallels real life. A Seinfeld episode has a character named Poppy using the toilet and immediately returning to the kitchen of his restaurant to knead pizza dough.  Poppy could be a poster child for today’s Coronavirus mantra “wash your hands”.  Season 3 of the series 24 centers on a deadly virus set loose on the citizens of the United States.

In the midst of all this pandemic, Dad has submerged himself in “projects”.  He cleaned out the shed, caulked the sinks, countertops, and exterior of the RV and truck, installed turn signals on Rat Patrol II (our Polaris RZR), and replaced more LED lights that blew out in Suite Retreat.  (This last chore has been a real sore point, particularly since the lights must be hard-wired.  The rig is only 7 months old, and DRV already has furnished us a half dozen replacement LEDs.  I don’t know what light brand DRV used in the manufacture of our rig, but we never replaced any LED bulbs in either of our two Montanas.)  After me dropping him several hints for several months, he built me a bird feeder that shares my likeness!  He is now in the process of repainting the RV bird feeder to match Suite Retreat. 

Mom insists that she get her fresh air and natural dose of Vitamin D, pandemic be damned.  Since our County and State stay at home orders do not prohibit outdoor exercise and her reclusive disposition makes social distancing easy to achieve, she goes daily for a 5-mile walk, dragging yours truly with her.  To attain this type of mileage is difficult in this neck of the woods, and quite honestly, makes me crazy.  The available routes are comprised of a 70-mile-per-hour highway, countless dead-ends, rural roads with blind spots and no shoulders, encounters with vicious, unleashed dogs, and multiple loops along the same RV Park roads day in and day out.  (I think this is the true reason for Dad’s dedication to his projects—he doesn’t want to do the walk of insanity with Mom).

Although Mom normally dislikes food shopping, going out for our produce/essential groceries is now the highlight of our week! 

The silver lining for me in this COVID-19 madness is that while human life may be “on hold”, nature is still busy at work, unaffected by the death and destruction of this virus.  I enjoy watching the flowers grow and bloom, offering nutrition and stamina to fluttering butterflies.   I exchange pleasantries with horses, frogs, snails, and rabbits. The squirrels provide me countless hours of entertainment as they scurry from tree to fence, foraging for food.  I watch blue jays, cardinals, and woodpeckers as they search for mates.  And I have become acquainted with a donkey who brays hello whenever he sees me.

He looks guilty of something, doesn't he?

Mom almost sat on this little guy!

The wings of this butterfly look like a couple of eyeballs staring at me!

A snail taking its sweet time crossing the road.

My newest buddy!

We celebrated Easter with our traditional viewing of The Ten Commandments and King of Kings and one of Mom’s home-cooked meals.  We also celebrated my “birthday”—the day Dad rescued me from the dusty toy store shelf.  I must say, my gifts this year were a bit unusual.

Thank goodness I got my wish for a look-like-me bird feeder, 'cause the rest of my birthday gifts were less than stellar!

Our County stay at home orders expired on April 3 since our County has had few cases.   The State of Texas stay at home orders expired on April 20, at which time Governor Abbott reopened the Texas State Parks to day-use reservations/ limited capacity and began Phase 1 for restarting Texas’s economy.  We were so psyched!  Immediately after the reservation system opened, we booked ourselves for Livingston State Park.  Opening day provided glorious weather, so we hopped on the motorcycles to get some fresh air.  We, along with all the other Park guests, were respectful of and compliant with virus protocols, including wearing masks.  My tummy grew hungry, so we stopped for our picnic lunch.  We removed our masks and hung them from our necks as we partook of our sandwiches and snacks.  Lo and behold, along comes a ranger to instruct us we must wear masks.   If someone out there knows a way to eat without removing a mask, please enlighten us!  Anyway, it was a bit silly, but I guess he felt he was just doing his job.  By our second visit to Livingston State Park, mandatory masks were no longer required, though we brought them with us should we come in close contact with anyone.  That day we did some hiking and fishing--Dad caught two logs (his fishing success stories are quite limited!)  We were so grateful to view some new scenery and get a change of pace.  

We also booked an outing at Martin Dies State Park.  Located in Jasper, TX, this Park offers hiking and great fishing/boating/canoeing opportunities on the Neches River.  Another opportunity to motorcycle and enjoy our natural resources certainly buoyed our spirits.

All the doom and gloom of Coronavirus was making me batty.  So, what better way to solve the problem then visiting the Waugh Bat Colony in Houston.  300,000 Mexican long-tailed bats make their home within the crevices of the underbelly of the Waugh Bridge in Buffalo Bayou Park.  Each night in warm weather, they emerge for a bite to eat and a night on the town, covering about 100 miles of territory.  As you can see from my video, they were super cool to see!

Though bats and rats have similar facial features, our skeletons are not alike.  In fact, you humans have more in common with bats than my species does.

Again, we followed the rules of social distancing and Harris County’s mandatory mask usage, as did the majority of the folks viewing the bats from the grassy knoll.  I can’t say the same for all the runners and cyclists using the pathways, though!

On May 1, Texas restaurants were authorized to reopen for dine in at 25% capacity.  None of our restaurants in Livingston transitioned from take-out mode yet.  So we took a scenic drive to Huntsville. Combining our chore of weekly food shopping (Huntsville has a nice Kroeger’s), we stopped at 7 Legunas Mexican Grill and enjoyed a sit-down dinner.  Again, all mandatory protocols were followed by staff and guests alike.  A few days later, our favorite eatery in Livingston, Joe’s Italian Grill, opened its dining room.  Joe is one generous, good-hearted man.  He provides complimentary holiday meals for those in need.  And he provided free dinners for first responders/those who sustained damages/those displaced from their homes during the recent tornado that struck nearby Onalaska.  (Sadly, a total of 7 people, presumably sheltering at home to "be safe" from coronavirus, perished from this destructive twister.)    I am happy to say that like us, fellow Texans are showing support for their small businesses.   May God Bless Texas!

We would like to thank the following organizations for all the great service and support they offer to the RVing community:

Escapees RV Club


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RV Dreams

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1 comment:

  1. Amidst the Angry Karens and mandatory nonsense glad to see The Lone Star State has some rational thinking Individuals! Dare I suggest most of these "mandates" are surreal ? Haha -- Be Well and safe travels!