Part 1: The News
I was studying, as usual, for whatever my next assignment was at school. Dragging myself through school week by week trying to avoid the virus. The goal was to make it one more week without getting sick. At the end of this week, my girlfriend, Emma, and I will be flying to the British Virgin Islands for Spring Break. On this particular night, I was zoned into my work in my girlfriend’s kitchen when the house erupted with excitement. In a matter of seconds, her siblings were shouting with joy and my girlfriend, Emma, came running down the stairs and jumped on me with excitement.
Confused, I said, “Would someone please tell me what is going on?”
“We’re out of school until after spring break at least!” Emma responded.
“Wow, that’s amazing! What do you wanna do?” I exclaimed.
“I hope we can still go to the BVI’s, but, if not, we should go on a road trip,” she said with hope.
We had been planning for months to go to the British Virgin Islands (BVI’s) to go sailing and get our sailing license. This would be a stretch as more and more countries are closing more borders for the virus. We had to come up with a backup plan, and a road trip was a perfect idea. We relaxed for a few days, and soon the borders to the BVI’s closed. We decided to prepare for a road trip. My dad owns a small teardrop trailer with an outdoor kitchen and an indoor sleeping area. Over the next few days, we packed up all of our stuff and got the food that we needed for our trip. After three full days of preparation, we set off on our journey.
Part 2: Sunsets
We drove out of Boulder, Colorado, in a massive snowstorm and drove five hours down to New Mexico. An hour after leaving, we had emerged from the blizzard and were on our way to warm weather. We were gleaming with excitement and anticipation as we continued our drive towards New Mexico. So much so that we drove nine hours the following day to get to White Sands National Monument in Southern New Mexico. We arrived around eight that night and drove into White Sands as the sun was setting. The sunlight blasted over the mountains ahead and bounced off the white sand before reaching our eyes. It was incredible. We felt like we were on another planet. There was not a single person and car in sight and we were surrounded in snow-like dust after driving through barren desert all day! “Emma! Can you believe this?” I said with amazement.
“No, I feel like we just got abducted! This is the coolest thing I have ever seen!”
“Me too! I can’t believe this is real! I’m so curious about how this happened! I’m gonna look it up online!”
“Not now, Will! The sun is setting! Run around with me instead!”
“Ok, that’s definitely a better idea!”
With that, we ran out into the dunes hoping we would remember how to get back to the car. After about 20 minutes, we turned around and began to run back to the car. The sun was down, and the sand started to get cooler below our feet. We continued to run and finally found the car. We drove out of the dunes and parked in a campsite a mile down the road. We made hot water for tea, and Emma made us pasta with a baguette.
“Thank you so much, Em! This is delicious!”
“My pleasure–thanks for the tea! Love you!”
“Love you too! This is so much fun! I can’t believe we’re out here alone exploring together! This is so amazing!”
“I know right! I’m so happy we’re not back home; I would have the worst cabin fever!”
“Ya, same! I’m so tired–let’s head to bed!”
We changed into our pajamas and brushed our teeth before watching a movie and heading to bed.
We woke up and quickly got ready for the day ahead of us. We went back into White Sands National Monument and enjoyed running and rolling around in the sand. After an hour or so, we left and drove west through southern New Mexico towards Arizona. We ended our day in Tucson, Arizona, at Saguaro National Park. We watched the sunset from the park surrounded by 30-40 foot tall cacti. We camped near the park and continued north toward the Grand Canyon in the following days. When we arrived at the Grand Canyon two days later, we were mesmerized. We had yet again timed our drive perfectly and had parked at a South Rim overlook right as the sun was setting. We hopped out of the car and stood a few feet from the canyon’s walls. I had seen the canyon a few years back on a different road trip, but Emma had never even seen pictures of it. Her hand was covering her mouth, and her eyes looked shocked. I could tell she was mind blown.
“What do you think?”
“Was this worth the road trip?”
Her hand began to fall, and behind it was the biggest smile I had ever seen. She was speechless. Somehow her smile grew even bigger, and her eyes sparkled as the sunlight faded into the night. I also smiled from ear to ear as I watched her infatuation with this place grow.
After a few minutes, she responded, “Yes! Yes, this was definitely worth every hour of driving!”
“This is unbelievable!”
“Can you imagine riding a horse through the forest a few hundred years ago and finding this in your way?”
“Somehow, you just made it more unbelievable! I want to stay here forever! This place is just so beautiful!”
“I’m game, we don’t have school for a week so we can stay here for a couple of days!”
“Yay! Let’s go on a hike into it tomorrow and lounge around here!”
“Sounds good to me!”
Now that the sun had fully set and the temperature was rapidly decreasing, I said, “Let’s head to our campsite and make dinner!”
“Sounds like a plan! We should also make a fire!”
We then headed to our campsite, made a fire, and cooked dinner. After we had eaten, we made tea and went to bed. We slept well that night but woke up to many unfortunate events.
Part 3: Trouble
I rolled over to this sound and jumped when I saw a large figure standing outside my door. The man, a park ranger, waved as I cracked open the door and said, “Goodmorning Ranger, is everything ok?”
“You left your trash out, and the birds spread it all over,” he said.
“Oh, shit–I will pick it all up right now. I’m so sorry,” I responded.
“Do it quickly and head out of the park. The federal government issued a stay at home order and decided to close all National and State parks.”
“Wow! Will do.”
“Stay safe guys,” he said before walking back to his car.
I rolled over and noticed that Emma had woken up and seemed very confused.
“What just happened?” She said.
“We need to leave the park because the whole country is now under a stay at home order. Oh, and our trash is all over the campsite.”
“Shit, we should go straight home. This is getting really scary!”
“Ok, we’re both gonna have to drive seven or eight hours.”
“We can do that.”
With that, we got dressed, made tea, and picked up all the trash around our campsite. We then loaded up all of our stuff and began our 13-hour drive home.
Part 4: Home Stretch
We drove along the rim of the Grand Canyon and enjoyed the final breathtaking views of our trip. I drove for about nine hours before I began to fall asleep at the wheel. To my surprise, Emma was also exhausted, but she took over the drive as the sun began to set. We continued for three more hours, but we were too tired to continue. We had no real place to stay, so we parked and fell asleep in a grocery store parking lot. We woke up around two in the morning and finished our drive home. Finally, we had arrived back at Emma’s house and were able to sleep in a real bed. We drove 2,500 miles and had spent over 50 hours driving in the last seven days. We had completed a road trip during a global pandemic and lived to tell the tale.