Commentary: Was The Mid-Continent Road Trip Really Worth It?
Just as we thought we were slowing down the pandemic, it started to kick back up. As my trip progressed, masks were required to be worn inside any business within the state of Kansas by governor’s orders. They also have been mandated in Kansas City, Missouri. While most people complied, I found others who were brazen enough to enter stores without one.
This road trip took seven days. In the process, I have crossed several state lines, visited new cities, and driven on new sections of road I'd never experienced before.
I've done a lot. It was done with a purpose. This was to demonstrate that at my age, and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, that this is still doable.
Just as we thought we were slowing down the pandemic, it started to kick back up. The response was certainly swift. As my trip progressed, masks were required to be worn inside any business within the state of Kansas by their governor’s orders. They also have been mandated in Kansas City, Missouri. While most people complied, I found others who were brazen enough to enter stores without one. Luckily, the security officer at the Target near my hotel in Wichita had been stopping people from entering their store without wearing a mask – and, politely, may I add.
This trip is not about mask wearing or how well I can practice social distancing in a few new cities. It is how one can do a trip like this understanding the risks of doing so.
As I was going from state to state, I can feel how you have been thinking about my doing this road trip. I know that there are people who believe that I was indeed risking my life and health as some of the places I traversed saw a new rise in COVID-19 cases in their communities. I know that people were probably praying for me to hopefully not catch this virus with or without symptoms.
Rest assured, I am OK. I will get tested soon. I am self-quarantining and back working at my home office. There are no vehicles scheduled to work with until the end of this month. I should be fine by then.
Let me get back to the original idea of this Mid-Continent Road Trip. This had been on my plans for years. The main driver of this trip was to gain new experiences. New experiences born in new cities, such as Omaha and Wichita. Experiences that were expanded from previous visits to Kansas City. All of which was to be able to see what I want to see, and experience new things that were never on my so-called bucket list.
All of this was achieved by putting on miles in a rented 2020 Toyota Camry SE. Giving myself permission to see whether I will traverse these roads again.
However, I do want to return to Omaha and Wichita in the future. In their own ways, I found both of those cities very vibrant and charming. It helped to absorb these cities’ vibes to come home with positive thoughts of returning to Omaha and Wichita someday.
In fact, I have been invited back to Wichita by my friend there. I found a warm and positive reception in that city by some of his cohorts at his company. Perhaps I shall return, someday…
While I was visiting these places, I observed some interesting trends that were concerning. Since things have opened up in our lull in-between pandemic spikes, the level of service at restaurants, hotels, and retailers have kind of dipped. I can understand why, with fewer staff working at each establishment and the frustration with some patrons and customers in dealing with this pandemic.
This is probably not the best time to reopen. Yet, I would have to think being back at work does help these folks in the hospitality and retail sectors of our economy.
There have been some positive points coming out of this experience in terms of service levels. At the Rally House sports apparel shop in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, I was grateful for the young gentleman who was very helpful when I was looking for a particular Royals t-shirt. I also had great service at Spencer's in Omaha for my steak dinner. It befitted the level of class one expects from a fine restaurant serving the local specialty.
I've experienced some good service at hotels…and some "meh" level of service at hotels, restaurants, and other places I've been. I take all of these experiences as lessons learned.
We know that the pandemic is not going away anytime soon. It continues to put a damper on things we are already missing in our lives. As we've been seeing in the news lately, some more events have already been canceled into the fall.
Meanwhile, motorsports are coming back with some restrictions on social distancing and health guidelines. While I was in Kansas City, I caught the IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona on television. It truly was a sign that there is some hope through these fragile times.
Let’s face it, traveling in a pandemic is tough. It can be difficult, if you know where you’re going and whether that place has greater restrictions in terms of face protection and public engagement at places to eat or shop. If you're able to deal with all the precautions and local mandates, doing your travels by automobile may end up being beneficial in the end. As long as you can create your own time for self-quarantine, then you can manage these journeys the best you can.
In the end, I wanted to take the opportunity to do a road trip like this to see how I fare. Time will tell whether this journey was really worth it.