We are currently at Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico:
So, how is everybody doing out there? All stocked up with non-perishable food and toilet paper? Remembering to wash your hands several times a day and not to touch your face? Binge watching Netflix and Hulu? Learning the special skills it takes to be a successful telecommuter?
Yeah, these are strange times indeed.
In our last update, I told you how we had been kicked out of Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico when all the state parks were closed to camping due to the COVID-19 virus. We were extremely fortunate that we had already made a backup reservation for a monthly site at the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming, where we are currently located.
Well, we’ve been here a week now, and things have just gotten more and more surreal and serious. For those in the RV community, especially full-timers like us, the options for places to park our rigs have become fewer and fewer. New Mexico was soon followed by Florida and then California in closing their state parks to overnight camping. There were reports of some municipalities even closing private RV parks.
A petition has been circulating online to urge lawmakers at the state and federal level to leave campgrounds open for RV camping, even if the bathrooms and other facilities are closed. We have our own bathrooms and showers with us, and as long as we have electricity, water and a dump station, we can self-isolate easily in our own rigs. It’s no different than people living in an apartment complex or a trailer park.
In fact, that’s what’s going on here at Dreamcatcher RV Park. The place has definitely started to fill up since we got here last Friday (usually at this time of the year they are emptying out for the summer). Many of the people who have come here to hunker down are like us–they have a summer workcamping job lined up somewhere that’s scheduled to start in late April/early May, and they have no idea whether or not it’s going to happen. A lot of them were supposed to be camp hosts in the New Mexico State Park system for the summer.
Like I said, we are lucky to be here. We have a full-hookup site with 50-amp service, water and sewer for $225/month + electricity. The park has a nice laundry room as well as showers (which we’re avoiding, using our own). They also have a nice clubhouse with a small library, pool table, and a large kitchen for social events. However, the clubhouse has been locked since Wednesday under the new orders from the state government outlawing any social gatherings of more than 10 people. Fortunately, the laundry room is still accessible, and they have someone wiping down all the machines and countertops with bleach water every hour during the day.
The State of New Mexico has been at the forefront of mandating and enforcing social distancing in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. The governor has been very aggressive in, first, limiting the number of people that could be in, for instance, a restaurant at one time, and then days later, closing the restaurants to inside dining altogether. All restaurants are now limited to only take-out or delivery service. We’ve already ordered one take-out meal from Irma’s Mexican Restaurant to show our support, and they reported on Facebook that they’ve had very positive response from the community to the new business model.
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Trying to walk that fine line between social distancing and supporting struggling local businesses. This morning we ordered takeout from our favorite breakfast spot in Deming. Please try to be supportive of these small businesses in your community! #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #covid_19 #eatlocal
When it comes to getting food and supplies, the stores here are facing the same challenges as others around the country, although I’ve seen reports of other Walmarts that might be in worse shape than the one in Deming. Our local store, of course, ran completely out of toilet paper, hand soap and sanitizer, paper towels, laundry detergent, rice and dried beans. However, since they implemented the reduced hours where they have time to restock the shelves overnight, I’ve seem some improvement. It also helped that they blocked off the aisles to the paper products and made customers stand in line, tell the associate what they needed (limit of two), and then the associate would walk down the aisle and retrieve the product from the shelf.
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Got up early to be at Walmart when they opened at 6AM. There was a small line waiting to get in. Most everybody headed toward the toilet paper, but I went for the hand sanitizer (no luck). They did have paper products, but they had the aisles blocked off to where you had to tell the associate what you wanted and they would get it for you, limit of two. Glad to see them doing that. I didn’t need TP, but I did pick up one pack of paper towels. Found most everything I needed, grocery-wise, although I had to be flexible on brands and varieties (I.e. Prego pasta sauce instead of Classico). They didn’t have fresh kale, but they were just starting to restock produce. I was able to get toothpaste (selection was slim), but no laundry detergent. But overall, I did OK. More importantly, everyone was courteous, polite, and patient with each other—kind of like we should be every day anyway. . . . #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #covid_19 #hunkerdown
Of course, you had to arrive at the store when they opened at 6:00 AM because the short supply would be gone fairly soon, but at least there was product available and it was handled fairly. When we went by Walmart today, we saw that they are cutting back even further on their hours starting yesterday, now open from 7:00 AM til 8:30 PM. On Tuesday mornings, the first hour is for seniors 60+ only. They finally had some hand soap and laundry detergent today, and they were limiting a lot of things to one per person. It was the right thing to do!
We are trying to abide by the governor’s orders and stay away from everyone as much as possible–not eating out, keeping our 6-foot distance when meeting anyone at the laundry room or in the store. We just haven’t felt like doing any sight-seeing right now, but maybe we can do some next week. We had some rain this week that got things pretty muddy and cool, but it’s supposed to warm up and get windy.
Our intention was to stay here for a month (through April 12) and then move to the state parks again, assuming the camping ban is lifted on April 9 as was originally announced. However, as we’ve watched how this pandemic has progressed, now with California, New York and Illinois all issuing stay-at-home orders, we’re anticipating that the parks will remain closed even longer and there might even eventually be travel restrictions here in New Mexico.
So what does that mean for our summer workcamping gig in Colorado? We don’t really know at this point. The park owner called me on Tuesday to let us know that he still planned to open the park on May 1, and wanted to make sure we were still coming. I told him we still intended to be there, assuming nothing changed that prevented us from traveling.
But a lot has changed out here since Tuesday, with all the states issuing more restrictions and more cases of the virus being identified through tests that are now being administered. We have verified with the park here that we can continue to occupy this spot as long as we pay the monthly $225 fee and the electric bill, so we’re guaranteed a spot here. But we’re a little concerned that if we leave this spot when our month is up on April 12 and then somehow make our way up to Cañon City, Colorado (we’ll need to find a place to stay for at least two nights on the trip), what might happen if the virus gets bad in Colorado and they decide to shut down the parks? At that point, we wouldn’t have a place to go, and even if the park owner let the workers hang out on his property, it gets cold up there in the fall! Who knows how long this thing will last and what the fallout is going to be?
And then there’s the economic impact to the country–a lot of businesses are going to go under before this is over, and we want to be as close as possible to an area that we’re familiar with so we know where to get supplies and other things we need. We pretty much know our way around this part of New Mexico, but we’ve never been to Colorado for any length of time. If that RV park goes out of business or shuts down, we’d be kind of stranded up there.
So at this point, we’re going to wait a week or so to see how things shake out, and then decide whether or not to pull the plug on the summer job. We don’t want to wait too long so that the owner has a chance to find someone to take our place, but the reality of what we’re seeing out here makes us pretty sure we’re going to be spending at least the next few months here in Deming, which isn’t a bad a place to be. So far there haven’t been any cases of COVID-19 reported in this area.
On top of all the indecision at the moment, I’m also dealing with feelings of regret that I’m so far away from my family right now. They’re in Mississippi, a state that was among the last to announce any kind of state-wide, coordinated social distancing response to the pandemic. And now, we’re hearing of new COVID-19 cases in the counties where they live, work and shop. My parents are 83 and 79, with the types of underlying health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the threat posed by the virus. I’m staying in touch with them and trying not to be the fussy daughter hounding them to stay inside. I even ordered some toilet paper online and had it shipped to them when they were having trouble finding any in the stores. But there’s only so much I can do from 1300 miles away–I’m sure many other RVers can relate to the dilemma. I’m just hoping this is all a bad memory by the time fall rolls around so we can have our Thanksgiving celebration together. Please, please!
And then there’s the practical aspects of all this. I’m the one that handles all the finances in our family. I wanted to make sure that, if I should wind up sick or incapacitated (or worse), Andy would know how to get to all our accounts so he could at least know where the money is and get the bills paid. Some months ago I wrote up some instructions for him and put them in an envelope in our fire-proof safe box. This past Monday we had a “fire drill” of sorts, where he had to use those instructions to get on my laptop and figure out where everything was. It was a good exercise as I found a password that needed updating on the instructions, and he got a little practice on using my laptop. We’ll do this drill more often, just to keep things fresh.
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In Case Of Emergency… Since we’re practicing social distancing and staying in the rig today, we took the opportunity to conduct a fire drill. I’m the one who handles all the finances in the family, but I want Andy to at least have some idea of how to access all our various accounts in case I become incapacitated. I have a list of instructions for him that is stored in our fire-proof safe box. Today I had him use the instructions to get into our records and accounts. It was a good exercise because we found one password in the instructions that needed to be updated. Plus he got a little practice using the laptop. Just another fun activity to pass the time. . . . #rvlife #fulltimerv #lifeisgood #covid_19 #beprepared
So for now, we’re just trying to keep ourselves entertained. We go for walks around the RV park. I cleaned out and reorganized our pantry with some of the non-perishable staples that we’ve added to our store. I do laundry, one load a day instead of using multiple machines at once, just so I’ll have something different to do each day. We played a couple games of pool before they locked up the clubhouse. I ordered some hand soap from Bath & Body Works because Walmart had been out–and of course Walmart gets a shipment in the very next day. I’m still binge-watching The Golden Girls, listening to the audiobook “The Last Trial” while I’m walking, and we read a lot. We try to stick to healthy meals to boost our immune systems, although we did splurge on some Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream tonight. And of course the kitties keep us entertained.
So, in some ways, it’s a very boring life; but at the same time, this is the most insane, uncertain and stressful time I could have ever imagined. It’s like being in a Michael Crichton novel that just keeps getting scarier and scarier. I can only hope that, deep down, we all have what it takes to keep it together until things improve. But somehow I know that, just like after 9/11, things are never, ever going to be the same again.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Protect the vulnerable. Check on your loved ones. Stop hoarding. Share a square.
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