Just How Far From Home Can I Go?
The sun is out; the weather is getting warmer. It’s springtime in Michigan and even under normal circumstances, we’d be antsy to get outside and get moving.
But, heading out to the lake for a walk on the beach isn’t an easy call anymore, in this world of coronavirus.
Governor Whitmer’s Stay at Home Order suspended activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, and for those that do leave home under the exception:
a. Individuals may leave their home or place of residence, and travel as necessary:
1. To engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.
…but we’re to do it responsibly.
Plus, the Michigan State Police have said it’s not okay to just take a drive.
We Want to Walk the Beach. Is that Okay?
Last night, on a Zoom call with friends, we talked about which close-to-home hiking trails our family had visited during the shutdown – how crowded were they? Were people on the trails staying apart from each other?
Someone mentioned wanting to go to a beach about an hour or two away and it started a great discussion. What would be the harm in driving a couple of hours away? We’re in our own car, we’re going to hike along when we get there, we won’t touch anything and then we’ll drive right home – so it’s covered under the exception, right? Plus, this is for mental health.
That’s where the pee test came into the convo.
The whole point of the stay at home order is to stop the spread of COVID-19. The virus is invisible and you can’t tell who’s infected because many people are asymptomatic even when positive. It’s been suggested that we all assume we’re positive — even if we feel fine — and we don’t want to spread the infection any further.
What does that have to do with driving two hours to a beach?
Well, even if you pack a lunch, fuel up at home and don’t stop anywhere other than your destination, you’re still human and your transportation is still fallible.
What happens when someone in your car has to use the restroom?
Many of the rest stops are closed. Fastfood restaurants, if open at all, are drive-through only. The restrooms at parks and beaches are closed. That leaves the restrooms at gas stations and supermarkets as your option and those are places we’re all trying to limit our trips to and minimize the transmission of germs to other communities.
And what happens if you have car trouble, get in a car accident, or otherwise have a motoring emergency?
That incident will require help from emergency personnel that could otherwise be dispatched to help someone else. Additionally, that’s another human-to-human interaction that we were trying to avoid.
Let the Bladders in Your Family Make the Call
Decide how far you can drive based on how long your family can go without needing a public restroom. For us, that means our whole trip needs to last, at most, a few hours. I’m not comfortable driving two hours away for recreation right now.
Keeping our outdoor recreation within a loose 15-minute radius of our house seems to be where we’ve personally drawn the line.
As much as I want to see Lake Michigan right now, it’s a good 50 minutes from my house. I think I could pull it off alone, but I don’t trust the bladders of my kids to make it there and back with time to spend on the beach without needing to pee.
This is one way our family is doing our part to flatten the curve. How about you?