By Gabe Smith
Many months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak my family and I decided to take a vacation together to the Florida Keys. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and even some family friends all decided to rent out a couple houses next door to each other in Marathon, Florida. We booked the flights, and rented the homes. Our family vacation was set for Spring Break, 2020. The last thing on our minds was the possibility of a new virus would soon sweep the world and cause the massive panic that it has now brought on.
Before beginning the vacation, I was knowledgeable about the new Coronavirus. Though at the time it was considerably small in infected cases, especially when comparing the US to many of the other countries affected by the virus. This wasn’t going to stop my Spring Break! My flight down was Friday the 13th, giving an eerie feeling to the beginning of the trip. However, after arriving in Florida, things went as perfect as anyone could hope. The weather was wonderful, and traffic was scarce. I even went shopping for food and snacks for the next couple days, though I would be staying in the Florida Keys for a week. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Other grocery shoppers seemed to be going about things as normal, and nobody was hoarding any toilet paper. The only section of the stores that seemed to have been hit hard was the Alcohol and Liquor aisle, which was expected because it was Spring Break week. The first couple days were great, with all attractions and restaurants open and roaring with visitors. I kept myself and family updated with everything going on with COVID-19, and watched the news throughout the day when I wasn’t fishing or swimming. After a few days we went grocery shopping once again, and the experience was entirely different. Every store we went to was packed full of people, each with a cart overflowing with toilet paper and food. I was very thankful that the rental homes we were in had been stocked up with toilet paper, because we had zero luck finding any. And thankfully the fishing was great, because just like the toilet paper, we could hardly find any meat in the food section of the store. And just as quickly as shopping became a hassle, attractions closed, and all the nearby beaches closed as well. This left us to our own devices. We were either sitting around talking at the rental homes or fishing, there wasn’t much else to do at this point because of the Coronavirus. There was definitely tension among my family now, with all of us concerned as to whether our flights would be cancelled and or we would be quarantined away from homes.
Despite all the odds for a fun spring break now being against us, we made the best of it, and caught most of our food for the rest of the week. And might I say that fresh fish was incredible and worth every minute spent on the water. We made the most of not being able to see the beaches or attractions and just enjoyed ourselves, and the company of each other. Overall it was still an incredible vacation. The trip back was great and went smooth, with no hiccups. The airport was very empty, and my flight had so few people I even got to move to a bigger seat, which was great considering before I had very little legroom as I’m 6’3”.
I guess the basic lesson of the vacation was that you can never be prepared for everything, and almost nothing goes according to plan. Even though I still had a great vacation, it came with it’s risks, and I would strongly recommend canceling any vacation plans you had for the next couple months. Save it for a better and safer time. Thanks for your time, and try to stay safe during this time of crisis, and don’t forget to have fun!