Jessica and I went over a mental checklist as we stared at the packed 8×5 tow behind trailer. I had a flight to Holland in only a few hours, but traveling to Europe was out of the question. COVID-19, dubbed the coronavirus, was all the rage – literally. Schools in Washington state were shut down indefinitely and parents across the state were suddenly thrust into the position of at home teacher. My gut was telling me we didn’t want to stay in town, and we had spent the last few hours prepping and packing the small trailer and the Tahoe that would tow it.
The trailer itself had been converted into a clandestine camper with full amenities, complete with a 55-inch TV screen that matched the curve of the rear wall. Well-insulated and fitted with both propane and electric heat, she was able to suffice as a basecamp for extended trips and we often used her around harvest time – deploying a canvas cabin with portable bunkbeds for trips with the kids.
I had always considered myself something of a prepper, not for anything specific, but for the eventual calamity that might befall humanity as nature tried to correct herself. Dehydrated food stacked in large buckets and sealed in nitrogen had been moving with me from house to house for the last decade or so. I had suffered plenty of jeers from friends who wondered at my 500-roll industrial box of toilet paper or the gallons of hand sanitiser on standby. As both of these things had been quickly wiped out by the first flood of worried consumers, I was glad to have sustained the ridicule.
We had ceremoniously purchased the last can of soup at the local Walmart an hour earlier. The shelves were beginning to look barren and the things that most Americans took for granted were now in short supply. Milk, eggs, bread – the staples seemed to be the first to go. Washington itself seemed to be a bit of an epicenter and people were already on edge.
We loaded the family into what little space remained in the now overpacked Tahoe, which bristled with all manor of survival gear and armaments acquired over the years. Traffic was light as we pulled onto I-5 South bound for Capital Forest, the largest chunk of green on the Washington map.
Growing up, camping was a way of life and I always tried to instill that in my kids, often by regaling them with stories about how much harder it was when I was a kid. My dad was a purist and often camped without the benefit of a tent, in spite of the Colorado mountain weather which could be frigid almost any time of year.
My own outlook towards the virus was somewhat dubious. The threat was real but the public’s reaction, or overreaction, seemed to be largely fueled by sensational news coverage and distorted social media messages. Either way, now was as good a time as any to get the family out of dodge. And we were doing just that.
Whatever the course of this now famous pandemic, one thing was certain: For most of us this was a once in a lifetime event. Years from now, when people asked what you did during the coronavirus, at least my kids would have a good story…
“I had always considered myself something of a prepper, not for anything specific, but for the eventual calamity that might befall humanity as nature tried to correct herself.”
story by jonah tacoma @dabstars2.0 for leaf nation | photos by jess larue @jessicalarue_420