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March 22, 2020
Glencoe, California: Sheltering in Place

Russell writes…

Our three-hour drive from the California Bay Area (which is on lockdown) up to the mountains of Gold Country (which is not) was quiet and uneventful. We listened to the news on the radio for the first time in months. We filled up with gas, wiping down the pump and nozzle before and after. We stopped at another grocery store for Chinese heat-lamp food.

We saw many big rigs parked along the side of the road. Economic supply lines have been severely disrupted.

We still haven’t found any tissues or toilet paper. But we figure we have enough provisions to last two to four weeks, depending on how conservative we are. We hear estimates that austerity programs may last anywhere from three weeks to 18 months. Rough times are ahead.

Our home in Gold Country is almost perfect for sheltering in place. It is literally on top of a mountain, with no one else around us. The nearest town, Glencoe, has a population of 100 people. We have water, electricity and Internet. We don’t have air conditioning or central heating, but we have space heaters. We don’t own any firearms, but our nearest neighbor has both guns and dogs, and he always keeps a lookout for us.

The gorgeous Altamont Pass, halfway between the Bay Area and Gold Country

That mountain in the left background is where we are sheltering in place

Our original intention was for this to be a vacation home. Then it was going to be a retirement home. Then our retirement plans were completely upended when we started lecturing on cruises.

For now, we are still planning on our next lecture cruise in September 2020. Fingers crossed that cruise lines are operating again by summer. If so, our upcoming contracts include a return to Australia next year (but sadly only the east coast of Australia, not the west coast). If not, then we’ll take things as they come.

We hear from many of our fellow cruise passengers that they made it home successfully and safely. Others have decided to shelter in place in Western Australia. Some of our best friends had a tour in New Zealand cancelled; they are going to continue their adventure on their own. To everyone out there still traveling: we enviously wish you the best.

Here at home we are surrounded by family and friends, and we will continue to support each other through the chaos that is sure to be here for a while. (Coronavirus is not a plague-level event, and the breakdowns of civility, economy and society are already bad enough. Imagine if it were a major contagion!)

This is likely to be our final blog post for this adventure, unless Gail has any additional thoughts. We started with a world cruise, and we ended up with a major world event. Either way, we have had quite an adventure.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy navigation through this shared journey. As Gail said: if another major world crisis occurs, check to see if it was caused by the Lees traveling again!

The sunset that greeted our arrival – the world is still a beautiful place!

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