Vacationing During the Pandemic

July is traditionally when we take our annual “fly-and-flop” vacation. We usually go somewhere south of the equator (usually an all-inclusive) and lounge around a pool or beach with lots of books and sweet, frozen drinks in hand. We eat lots of salty, buttery seafood with our fingers and wash it down with crisp, cold beers. We sleep late, get massages, wear the same bathing suits, t-shirts and shorts every day, and are just generally lazy and totally checked out.

This year’s July vacation was, understandably, different. But also, in many of the most fundamental and meaningful ways, the same.

We were supposed to be at this place in Antigua. But then…well, we all know what happened.

So we had to switch gears.

Luckily, we had some experience on vacationing during a pandemic. Earlier this year we had reserved a cabin with a hot tub in North Carolina, near Asheville for late March. We had paid a lot of money and the agent/owner seemed reluctant to refund it, so we went (this was pre-state-stay-at-home order days).

Isn’t it gorgeous. The owner sold it right after our stay. Listed for $423,000 and it got SNATCHED up.

We had made a couple of dinner reservations in Asheville, so we cancelled those. Then we loaded up the car with all our own food, drinks, and cleaning supplies, and drove all day to the cabin. When we got there, and before we brought anything in, we opened up all the doors and windows to air the place out and cleaned everything with bleach.

The views were pretty great.

We spent the next week going on long hikes in the state and national forests, reading books and cooking fantastic meals. It was a great break from the craziness and a chance to reconnect and recharge. We came home literally the day after Virginia’s governor announced the stay-at-home order for the state.

When deciding what we wanted to do for our July vacation, we knew two things for sure: we wanted to have a private pool and it needed to be within close driving distance. That’s when my personal travel agent and life partner, XFE found this place in Charlottesville.

Photo courtesy of Stay Charlottesville

I’m not going to lie: it was weird to drive to Charlottesville and not stop at any wineries. We love the wineries on the way down there and I did get a little pang in my heart when we saw the signs for some of them.

But, it is a gorgeous home and we were there the hottest week of the year, so we were very grateful for that pool. We also sat up on the rooftop deck watching the fireflies in the evenings, which was wonderful.

We did the same cleaning protocol as before. And it’s a good thing we did bring all our own cleaning supplies, because while the place is beautifully decorated, it was not the cleanest place we had ever been in. Just one example, we had to throw out the sponge in the sink because it had become a breeding ground for nasty little fruit flies. Luckily, we had a new sponge in our supplies. Also: yes, we did complain to the management company, and yes, we got the cleaning fee refunded.

Always, always, always bring your own bleach wipes (and masks)

Also, the owner did make his presence known: He was there cleaning the pool when we showed up 20 minutes before our check-in time of 4 p.m. And, he dropped by a couple of days later unannounced to skim the pool and top it off. All of which was a little disconcerting and a little less private/hands-off than we would have liked, especially during a pandemic. I get the impression he’s a reluctant renter.

I wouldn’t want to rent out this place either: it’s gorgeous!

We kept the vacation menu very easy: lots of dips, meats, cheeses, crackers and chips, plus hot dogs and sausages on rolls. We also had our traditional seafood, but this time in the form of XFE’s famous shrimp rolls. We brought our own beer and rose, as well as a bunch of fun, canned mixed drinks to drink in the pool, like sangria and Italian margaritas featuring lemoncello.

Our last day of vacation, XFE turned to me and said he thought this vacation was as good as any of our trips to Mexico or other fly-and-flop destinations and I have to agree. We had everything we needed and it served the same purpose – relax, recharge and reconnect with one another. Plus, we didn’t have to fly anywhere, there was no monster seaweed, and nobody had any stomach issues whatsoever. So I guess it’s Corona-Vacations for the win.

Welcome to the Annex

In the summertime, when we were kids, our mom would kick us out of the trailer and lock the door. She’d leave a big red Igloo water cooler of Kool Aid and a sleeve of saltines on the porch and would tell us to basically entertain ourselves all day – “you kids go play.”

I’ve now experienced the adult version now during this quarantine-work-from-home situation. But first, let me provide some background….

When my loving life partner XFE was told by his employer to work from home in mid-March, it became very clear right away that he would set up camp in the home office (formerly, “my office”).

Former headquarters of Poe Communications

There are a couple of very good reasons for this. First off, he has a very important, high-stress job which requires a non-stop day of conference calls and Zoom meetings with high-powered, demanding clients and his various teams and bosses.

This is quite different from how I run Poe Communications in which I have almost zero vocalic or auditory contact with anyone all day long, and the most stressful situation on any given day is that the cats are fighting right outside the office door while I’m trying to write.

The bosses

Here’s how business goes at Poe Communications:

Email comes in: Hey, can you write/copy edit this 400/800/1200-word article/blog post/white paper? We need it by Friday. The creative brief may/or may not be attached. Let me know if you have any questions. – Signed, Beloved Client

Response via email from me: Sure thing. Sounds great. I’ll get started right away. Thanks. – Signed, Thankful Freelancer

OR

Email goes out: Hi there, I’m a freelance writer and I’m checking in to see if you need any content help. Here’s my experience/a couple of recent links/my short pitch.

Response from potential/current/past client: Sounds great. We’ll be in touch. – Client (Maybe)????

This is apparently NOT how business is conducted in the corporate world. So, XFE definitely needs a dedicated office space with a desk and a door.

Also, he is the undisputed head of our household who is single-handedly keeping us fed and hydrated during quarantine, has steady employment (ie: not the jerky career rollercoaster of freelancing) and makes a hell of a lot more money than me. It was really a no-brainer.

So, I’ve been working downstairs at the dining room table/on the couch, which is honestly fine because it is closer to my beloved Bravo and the kitchen where the snacks and wine reside. But sometimes I really do miss my pretty, little home office. It made me feel so professional and proud. And I loved my chandelier.

This week, we came up with another work from home option for Poe Communications and, thankfully, it does not involve a red water cooler Igloo. Far from it.

Behold: The Poe Communications Annex.

Seen from upstairs window (hence, the screen)

Isn’t it pretty?

We’ve lived in this house for eight years and are just finally buying proper patio furniture. We ordered the set from Overstock last week and it was here by Tuesday. The umbrella stand showed up on Wednesday and we were in business.

We figure we’re going to be spending a lot of time out here in the coming months (we already had to cancel a July trip to Antigua that we had put a deposit down on), so we might as well make it a bit more comfortable.

Plus, I can send and receive all my super-important writing and editing assignments without being interrupted by cat fights. Now if we can just get a TV out here so I can watch Bravo…..