The Unexpected Vacation
April 15, 2022
by Dr. Plastic Picker
We are back after one of the most unexpected vacations we’ve ever had. We were supposed to be in Hawaii staying at a family home, but ended up in San Francisco because of a once in a lifetime Oregon snowstorm that closed the I-5 up to our farm.
Let me explain. Our daughter was in Alaska on a once-in-a-lifetime school trip and she was exposed to COVID-19 by very close contacts. Even though we technically could have traveled and she had tested negative on day 3 after exposure and not ill and Hawaii stopped checking, we did not travel to Hawaii. The decision to not fly to Hawaii is because it was the right thing to do. We worried about being stuck in Hawaii if someone in the family became sick. We worried about having to take care of her, being an ex-preemie and formerly more sick when she was younger, out of state. We worried even just having to miss work, even though we both haven’t used any of our COVID time alloted by the state and the HMO, because we are health professionals who if we get sick – have large ripple effects on our patients. We try to avoid having to do that for our fellow physicians. If everyone did this, the whole system would run better – but that’s a discussion for later. We called a close friend for advice, and appreciated her listening to us. In the end, we made the decision that was right for our family which was to take a road trip. In the end our daughter did not end up getting COVID, and no matter what we are grateful for at least that.
Mr. Plastic Picker often reminds our children that vacation is a state of mind. My dear husband reminds me that we are so fortunate to have the concept of vacation, which he never had growing up. He used to work during the school breaks from Crimson Univeristy at his parent’s little store in Manhattan, selling sundries to tourists. So with that mindest but needing to disconnet digitally, we hopped in our trusty red Prius happy that our vacation would have a smaller carbon footprint since we weren’t flying – and headed to the Oregon farm we own. We already pay a small mortgage on the property and thought, it was a good opportunity to visit.
But dear readers! Almost 13 hour drive up the I-5 and we were hit with a historic April snowstorm. Literally the I-5 was closed from Ashland the whole few miles up to our farm that was going to last a few days. We did not have 4-wheel drive nor snow chains, and even if we did – it would not have been safe to go up there.
And Mr. Plastic Picker is an east-coaster, having grown up driving in Boston and Tri-state weather. He knows how to drive in snow. And the head of our family, very smoothly walked out and talked to the officer and determined it was best to turn back. And this was the sign that we saw as we headed back down the Cascade range.
We were sad not to see our farm, and had been planning on quiet evenings star gazing and filled with board games. We had planned on walking around the farm and visiting with our neighbors. But we were so grateful to be alive, and most importantly narrowly missed having to spend four hours in our car waiting to turn around. Thank goodness for our head of family, Mr. Plastic Picker. He is really the best.
So where did we end up? We ended up on Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco and we had a great time! We stayed right on the water, and walked around the wharf. We ate at fancy seafood restaurants and bought fancy chocolate. We went to a San Francisco Giants game and splurged on expensive seats. We sadly saw our hometeam lose badly. But they won last night, which made up for the loss. We had fun on our personal Facebook as I documented our harrowing journey! And most importantly we went to Alcatraz and had one of the most unexpected experiences thinking about prison reform.
And indeed Dear Readers, the vacation also changed the way I see my children. They are activists. They are writers. And they are thinkers. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are so grateful to be their parents. How lucky are we. And they always remind me that they are proud of their litter picking pediatrician mother. I’m just trying to help the world a bit until they are ready to take charge. Truly #WeBorrowTheEarthFromOurChildren – this is a fundamental truth in our family. The vacation was memorable because of our harrowing adventures but mostly because our two teenagers were forced to spend the entire week with us, and we loved hearing them talk and hearing how they see the world.