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Saturday, April 18, 2020

"Don't Stand So Close To Me" and A "New Dots" Tortolita Mountain Hike With Hans and Lisa

I went to Lovely Ouray's lone liquor store yesterday, only to find an eight-ish year old kid on a bike parked square in the middle of the store's entry alcove and effectively blocking my urgent mission to resupply the empty beer section in our fridge. I noted a lady inside at the checkout counter, purchasing a 12 pack of Coors Light. I asked the kid if he was waiting on her or someone in the store...

"No," he said, "Just trying to find some shade to cool off." 

Now I could have broken the 6 foot rule, squeezed by or just shooed him away, for that matter. But instead, I just waited for the kid to cool off and resume zooming Ouray's empty streets and sidewalks. 

The lady at the counter inside was apparently in dire need of some face to face interaction...and taking it out on the cashier/owner. So I bided time, puzzled by the eerie sleep of our nearly vacant tourist town. It was almost spooky, reminiscent of the old Sci-Fi flick, "The Day the Earth Stood Still." 

Still stoned on exercise endorphins after the fulfillment of my daily exercise regimen, I took a deep breath...held it...and slowly exhaled. The thought, "What else have I got to do?" popped into my head and I immediately relaxed. Most already know that exercise and even thoughts control chemical releases into our bloodstreams. Good thoughts and peaceful, conscious-breathing can bathe us in peace, where as Worry releases adrenaline into the bloodstream that can cause "fight or flight" anxiety responses. I learned this the hard way... 

Anyway, The Kid finally recovered enough to resume zooming Ouray's empty streets. I slowly paced back and forth, hands behind back while studing the situation inside through storefront windows. That's when I noticed how close they were. The counter is at best 24 to 28 inches wide, which renders the clerk and customer less than 30 face to face inches apart. I pictured invisible virus molecules floating between them. Neither were wearing masks or gloves. It seemed risky...but not as risky as the alternative, which is to go home without beer.  

I remained outside, patiently waiting thinking of how,just a couple doors down the street, Duckett's Market customers are not allowed inside. Shoppers must knock to place their order with a well-distance employee, who then collects the goods while the customer waits outside. Payment is done the same way. It's a good idea, so I thought the liquor store would be the same way.

I looked for a sign in the entry area that might explain the liquor store's policy, but found nothing. Finally the lady exited with her Coors Light. I gave her a wide berth, thinking that anyone who drinks that piss-water must have piss-poor judgement. The owner follows close behind her and I ask what the procedure is:

"Do you not want to come in?"
"Well," I fumbled, reluctantly stepping through the door, "I thought maybe you might be doing what Ducketts is doing so I wasn't sure what to do." 

I shoved hands in pockets so I wouldn't touch anything and wandered over to the beer cooler. I felt naked without a mask. I guess I thought I wouldn't be going inside so I left it at home. So it felt weird...risky, even. Like, it would be my luck to pick up the virus while picking up the very "medicine" I need to help me cope with the virus.  

I bought two six-packs of Uinta Hop Notch IPA, and two six-packs of Lagunitas "Super Cluster," a "Citrus Hopped Mega IPA of Intergalactic Proportions." I kept my distance at the checkout counter during ring-up, trying to hold my breath while talking pleasantries. I handed over a freshly sterilized credit card, wondering if the shower I was going take the second I got home would be timely enough to afford a smattering of protection. Damn it. We really should keep a mask in the glove compartment of the car for such occasions. 

Fortunately, I found "wipes" in the car and proceeded to wash down face, hands, and credit card before touching the door, steering wheel, or shift knob. Man, how the entire world can change in just a couple/three months...even way out in the middle of nowhere Colorado, where Ouray County corona viruses now total 5!

Look. We are semi-retired and certainly not on the "Front Lines" like some brave people are. Still, the part-time summer jobs we (mostly Bobbie) have had in recent years helps stem the horrific hemorrhage of retirement savings. But what about now, since the virus is out there? I'm worried about Bobbie going back to work too soon. Her job as a cashier/attendant at Mountain Fever Gift Shop would give her risky exposure to the general public from who knows where. Though now closed due to Colorado's response mandate, the talking heads are itching to get businesses back in business as soon as possible. 

I understand this. If I was a business owner I would want/need to be open too, for obvious reasons. We also understand that when that opening day comes...and it appears that it might be as soon as May 1st... the virus will still be around, and, in all probability, said openings will cause a spike in the curve and a resurgence in contaminations.

I fear that it is probable that we will be living with this virus for a long, long time...at least a year in a best-case scenario, to 2 or more years in a more realistic scenario. We are fortunate that we have a choice as to whether to work or not. Yes, we need the money, but what good is money if we're dead? 

Should we (or you or anyone with marginal retirement/savings funds) risk being exposed by handling money and credit cards, endure coughs and sneezes from strangers, and handle merchandise that has been fondled or tried on by shoppers...all inside a confined space store? It keeps some of us up nights...wondering whether to take the hit on income, tighten the budget, and (gulp) maybe even forego traveling in the Rv for a while...or forever. Is it time to sell the Rv? A crystal ball would help.  

And finally, even though this might not be a scientific analogy.  It's not much of stretch to believe that a new Corona vaccine, whenever it gets developed and approved, will have some (no pun intended) bugs to work out. Even if it's as good as our annual flu vaccine/shots, it's not a cure. In fact, every year we are told, due to mutation and other factors, not to expect but a 20 to 40 percent immunity effect from flu shots. Better than nothing, but not very reassuring.              

So for now and for the foreseeable future, the world is paying a high price for becoming an over populated petri dish. We now have some 7.5 billion potential biological weapons (people) running amuck. Soon they will return to flying here, driving there, cruising main, working/vacationing/shopping whatever. While most of those potential weapons are harmless, "unarmed." But a few will be "armed," and dangerous. A few is all it takes, as we've just seen and continue to see. Perhaps the most insidious thing about this pandemic is that it takes several days for symptoms to show up, to know who is "armed" and potentially dangerous. 

On a similar note, a faithful reader of the BCB sent me this interesting, not to mention, uncannily accurate prediction of the current pandemic...right down to the year 2020. The book was printed in 1981 and named, "The Eyes Of Darkness," by famed author, Dean Koontz.  For what it's worth...

Insert conspiracy theories here:

It's not hard to believe that a rogue hardline secretive nation like China could have been working on developing the perfect biological weapon to unleash if attacked or threatened during the 1980s or even before or after, or NOW, for that matter. The uncanny part is that the novel describes the virus being developed outside of Wuhan...the very city that happened to be the epicenter and source of the current pandemic. Oh well, it is indeed interesting. Thoughts? 

Now on to more pleasant memories and simpler times...

Peace out and Peace be with you. Whether big or small, worry only exacerbates problems. We must be thankful that we live in an wondrous age of technology, put our trust in and support all the keen scientific minds that are attempting to vanquish this virus pandemic from the face of the earth. I honestly believe they will succeed, but it will take time. Until then, we must behave accordingly...minimize risk, and get outdoors to places we can have all to ourselves.
What Say YOU?


  1. Photos of you hiking with my friends Hans and Lisa make me smile. Here in Oregon people have been pretty good about staying home, and we don't have the high number of cases as compared to our next door neighbor states to the north and south. My hubby and I are able to do our jobs from home, so we are employed and healthy. Right now you can't ask for anything more. Take care!

  2. I think this is the first time I ever commented but I hope Bobbie does NOT go back to work. Way to soon... Find another way to save money.

  3. Until we get a vaccine or a therapeutic treatment it's difficult to imagine a pre-pandemic way of life. I hope we live long enough to see what it looks like. Jim

  4. Good job Mark....and the hike was very relaxing to view while sitting here by the fire, another typical April in Sonoma Co, cool, breezy some sun but more clouds that just keep the temps down and this has always been head cold season for me. Otherwise we are weathering this Pandemic in good order, only bummer is our Federal Park at Lake Sonoma is closed so we have no where to run Rocky, but we due have the golf course to get our walks in and while golfing is out they have let us dog walkers walk the service road around the course and it's like being in a Nat'l Park to us, I will send you a couple shots of what that looks like.
    We certainly hope none of our good friends in Ouray come in contact with the virus. We have reservations for Sept as usual, just hope it will be safe to travel by then.
    Wow , blue skies have suddenly appeared out the window, better get out there before I miss the chance to get a walk in today.
    Oh by the way Switzerland is going to lite up the Matterhorn with flags of the world TONIGHT, googled it, it will be Spectacular!
    Stay Safe my friend.
    D & A

  5. Love hiking in the Tortolita's. That was an interesting part on the Dean Koontz book. Of course, I had to go do some research and here is the first article that came up...https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/13/us/dean-koontz-novel-coronavirus-debunk-trnd/index.html It seems there have been a lot of people reading things into various books with all that is going on. Interesting!

  6. Ahhh the good ole days, when the virus was but a blip on the horizon. Things change quickly...stay safe out there.

  7. Good post! So many businesses at risk right now. Including ours. So many people at risk as well. All we can do is “watch the weather change” and stay in the fight.

    1. You are so right..."stay in the fight." You've had a lot on your "plate," lately. Love you guys!!!

  8. Glad to know I’m not the only one wrestling with so many unanswered questions. The concern in the US is 740,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases had 38000 deaths or 5%.
    So for every one million new confirmed cases could result in additional 50,000 deaths.
    There are over 300 million untested in the US. Lets hope and pray we stop this virus.

  9. So many unknowns still. Like most humans I fear unknowns more than anything else, so I've spent way too much time in the past month reading news articles, analysis, scientific study synopses, etc. The only takeaway I've gained, besides undue stress, is that no one knows what things will look like in a month or three, let alone a year. I think you have the right idea, to behave accordingly based on the best current knowledge, and then ride the wave.

    1. "Normal" seems to be getting revised a lot lately. Not sure I like where it's headed...

  10. Always a pleasure to read stories of your adventures and I appreciate your sense of humor. Take care.

  11. It's interesting that Koontz chose to place the virus in Wuhan. One does wonder where it originated. Non crack pots have been floating the idea of an escaped virus from a lab, but then the virologists counter no, we can sequence the genomes and tell when it was able to jump from the bats to the people. We may never know. We're resigned to at least a year of restricted living. This is not how I envisioned my golden years!

  12. A good post and an interesting theory from the book and the fact that Wuhan was mentioned. It certainly makes you think as there would have been research done in writing of the book and a coincidence that it centred on Wuhan. I've just heard that in the UK people over 70 may have to be in lock down for a year, thats hard.
    Stay safe.

  13. Love your header photo Mark, lookin' like a true mountain bike stud!


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