The Pandemic Dilemma: Traveling across America during COVID-19

Daniel and I awoke on Friday to blue clouds and sunshine. After our long moody travel day across Michigan, we looked forward to a sunny day. We also looked forward entering a new state – Ohio!

We initially planned to enter Ohio a couple of weeks ago but changed our plans due to local travel regulations. This blog post goes into more detail about those regulations and the challenge of traveling between states during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, we re-weighed Appa and dealt with a new car problem.

Lake Erie as viewed from our campground near Sandusky, Ohio

The New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-State Travel Advisory

As Daniel and I travel around the country, we try to adhere to state and local guidelines concerning travel during the pandemic.  We are ultimately heading to New Jersey to visit Katjia, but there is a travel advisory in effect for the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This advisory requires travelers coming from states with “a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19” to quarantine for 14 days.

A lot of states have travel advisories like this in effect, especially in the northeast. These guidelines vary by state. For some states, the threshold for “community-wide spread of COVID-19” is much higher than others.

The threshold for the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-State area 10%. This is based upon a seven day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents. Over half of the states in America are on the restricted list (although the list changes weekly as rates go up and down).

Daniel and I don’t really relish the idea of quarantining for 14 days, so we looked for another solution. That’s when we decided to head to Ohio. Why? Because it is not on the New Jersey travel advisory list. We could chill there for 14 days and then enter Tri-State area. Easy peasy.

The Ohio Travel Advisory and the Unexpected Michigan Vacation

Unfortunately, while we were in Wisconsin getting Appa fixed, the cases of COVID-19 skyrocketed across the state.  This meant that we now had to worry about the Ohio COVID-19 Travel Advisory. The positive testing rate for Ohio is 15% so that meant Wisconsin was now on the list of restricted states for entering Ohio.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have spent the better part of the past two weeks in Michigan. The state has a very lax travel policy and also a very low COVID-19 positivity testing rate. Michigan is also an incredibly beautiful state, especially at this time of year with all the leaves changing colors. We hadn’t planned to visit the state at all, let alone stay for two weeks. It gave us the opportunity to explore lovely Lake Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Most people that I’ve talked to don’t care about these travel policies. They aren’t really enforced – especially for folks like us who are traveling by car (although some states can slap you with a hefty fine if you get caught) . But I care. I’m a rule follower – always have been and always will be. I don’t want to travel someplace where I’m not wanted.

So I try to follow these rules as as much as possible. The rules change all the time so it’s a bit of a challenge. But we are doing our best.

*Update* Hours after I published this blog post, the Tri-State Travel Advisory was updated to add Ohio and Michigan to the restricted list. By this time, however, we’d already been in the state of New York for a week. Stay tuned to see how this impacted our travels.

Reweighing Appa

Rialtas have an exceptionally low weight capacity. They are incredibly easy to overload, which puts pressure on the axels and can cause other problems. As I discussed in this blog post, our Rialta only has a 500 lb capacity (after taking our weight into account). This includes water, gas, propane and food.

Daniel and I weighed Appa before starting on this road trip and made several adjustments – including removing the barrel chair and the arm rests. But that was several months ago. We had accumulated some things along the way and those little things can add up fast.

Today we stopped off at a truck stop and paid a visit to the CAT Scale. There, we were relieved to find that we were still 20 pounds under the maximum weight limit. That’s good news but still cutting it a little close. So we’ll have to take care not to go over the limit.

Weighing Appa at a truck stop

The Case of the Broken Door Handle

As Daniel and I pulled into our campsite at the end of the day, I hopped out of the car to check our levels. Or, I tried to anyway. Unfortunately, the passenger’s side door handle came right off in my hand leaving me stuck in the car. Ruh roh!

So, that’s not awesome. Daniel and I were tired and didn’t feel like dealing with this latest issue. So we are putting it off until another day. In the meantime, the person riding shotgun has to roll down the window and open the door from the outside to exit the car. Either that or they have to crawl into the back and go out the back door.

Ah, well. We knew what we were signing up for when we bought Appa. This kind of thing is to be expected.

The broken door handle
Door handles are for sissies. Also, those new Smartwater flavored waters are delicious. Have you tried Watermelon-Mint? My personal favorite is Strawberry-Blackberry.

KOA Campgrounds  – The Denny’s of Camping

Daniel and I ended the day at the Sandusky/Bayshore KOA Campground just outside of Sandusky. We have been staying at KOA Campgrounds more often than I anticipated on this trip. I’ve never really been a big fan of KOAs because they are often rather crowded and geared toward families with children. But they sure are convenient. And, after a long day of traveling, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour researching a perfect remote camping site in the woods…especially one that has a paved road with no gaping potholes to potentially destroy our RV.

KOA Campgrounds are like the Denny’s of Camping. It is a mediocre experience but consistent. You know what you are going to get. And sometimes that is good enough for me.

Although to be honest, some of the KOAs we’ve visited have actually been kind of nice. Some of them even have reasonable space between campsites. And customer service at each KOA as been consistently excellent.

That being said, the Sandusky KOA is my least favorite one so far. This KOA is a huge parking lot with the sites jammed so close to eachother that it feels like a RV park. Thank goodness it wasn’t very crowded during our visit.

Can you spot Appa hiding among the big rigs at the Sandusky KOA?
We paid extra for the “deluxe” site which came with this patio (which we didn’t even use).
We arrived at the KOA on a Friday night during a Halloween celebration…which we avoided.
The Sandusky KOA is located along a marshy area adjacent to Lake Erie. This was the best part of the campground.

Where are we now?

We are at the Sandusky/Bayshore KOA Campground in Sandusky, Ohio!

Date: October 2, 2020
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 89
Starting Location: Bay City, Michigan
Ending Location: Sandusky/Bayshore KOA

Miles Traveled: 206.7
Total Trip Mileage: 5974.3

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

Leave a Reply