Monday, June 29, 2020

Vacation in the Time of Pandemic

A view of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colo.
The coronavirus pandemic upended plans for elementary school, summer camp and karate lessons in our household. We decided to take a break and go the the mountains for three nights to preserve some sort of summer for our children. After all, living in Denver without being able to go to the mountains in like living in Kansas City -- without the good barbecue.

However, vacationing in the time of a pandemic brings its own challenges. How many masks do you pack per person? I've never had to think about that before, but settled on two. Is it safe to go out to eat? Should we stay in a hotel?

We ending up renting a cabin in Estes Park, Colo., to maximize social distancing while still being able to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park and other attractions in the popular tourist town. The national parks are open, but require reserving a time slot in advance. We packed up the car with a cooler full of food and fond memories of past vacations.

When we arrived at our destination, the check-in desk was a ghost town and all the outdoor seating on the porch had been removed. I worried briefly that it was a bad omen, but our five-year-old daughter immediately fell in love with the cabin.

"This is the nicest place I've every stayed," she said when she saw the bunk beds. The first night passed peacefully, although my seven-year-old son thought the quiet of the woods seemed spooky. He crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night.

So far, the rest of the vacation has been smooth, with some minor hiccups not related to the pandemic. Despite a car full of Colorado natives, no one remembered to pack a water bottle, which is essential for hiking at high altitude. The line of cars snaking into Rocky Mountain National Park also stretched just as far down the road as last year, even with the timed-entry system.

However, the majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park proved as majestic as ever -- even with our masks on. We even managed to eat out for buffalo burgers on a shaded patio.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

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