Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Kentucky October 2020

I hope you enjoy this update. 

Twenty-Twenty has been an interesting year. My thoughts go to all those that have been negatively affected by COVID.

It has been over six months since I have been on a plane, the longest period of not flying in over 35 years. That streak is about to end. Tomorrow I will be heading out on the COVID extravaganza. Yes, I have my KN95 masks. Here in the U.S., it is near to impossible to get true N95 masks, so we settle for KN95 masks. I have my hand sanitizer, Clorox Wipes, and I have a 12-foot diameter Hula Hoop for social distancing. As long as I remain in the middle of the Hula Hoop, I know no-one can come within six feet of me.

Now that I have all my COVID travel equipment I need traveling companions to make this virgin voyage. This should be easy, one is more likely to get struck by lighting than catch COVID on an Airplane. I got two suckers, I mean travelers to join, Margarite and “The BIZ”. Of course, you know Margarite. You may remember “The BIZ” she joined me on my last trip to Namibia, Africa, in the summer of 2019, which seems light years ago. The big reason I could convince both ladies to join, I did not tell them where we were going.

Where are we going, you ask? We are going to Louisville, Kentucky with a side trip to Bloomington, Indiana. Why do you ask? Guess.

  • See where the Kentucky Derby is Run. 
  • Join the Breonna Taylor Protests. See our niece KAT. 
  • Visit a city with some of the best restaurants in the world. 
  • See where some of the best bourbons are made. 
  • Visit the University of Louisville and the University of Indiana, two COVID hot spots. 
  • See our niece Lizzy.

If you picked any of the above seven reasons, you would be wrong. While we hope to do all the above, the main reason for the trip is to try the ice cream at the Comfy Cow. Listed as the number two Ice cream parlor in the world to visit before you die.

While the trip is only two days (a quick trip to get my feet back into the game) the required quarantine once I return is fourteen days. I might opt for a COVID test on my return to get out of the quarantine.

Day 1 

Flying during COVID; first the bad news, my 12-foot Hula-Hoop did not fit in the car, which means I might not have been able to take it on the plane. Maybe I will find one in Louisville. 
 

The Airport; more crowded than expected for a Saturday morning during a pandemic. Everybody is being generous in their social distancing. The one observation that I found curious was the escalators. We are flying out of Dulles Airport, just outside Washington D.C. anytime you need to go up or down a floor, there are escalators with stairs next to them. Throughout the airport, people stayed at least six feet apart. On the escalators, it was different. People crammed up against each other. It seemed as if when they got on the escalator, the pandemic, ended and then when they got off, they spaced out again as if they realized the pandemic was still with us.

All this while the stairways remained empty. The reason I found this curious is we all know that obesity is a huge determinant as to how well you will deal with COVID. My thought process, I should take the stairs. I will be social distancing while burning a few extra calories. This will help reduce my chance of catching COVID, and if I do get COVID, burning the extra calories will help improve my outcome. Everybody else takes the escalator and stands within inches of complete strangers while insuring they burn the least amount of calories. This made no sense to me. 


Masks; Everybody had masks, I guess because they are required. Most airlines will ban passengers for life if they refuse to wear masks in the boarding area or on the plane. I guess if you plan to fly, that is enough reason to wear a mask. About 25% (informal survey) of the people did not have their masks covering their noses. Which from my understanding is like not wearing at all mask. One woman wore her mask on her chin, but she did have a face shield. I am not sure if that is equivalent, the ticket agent did speak to her.

There was a family of four that had a bag of peanuts. They also wore their masks on their chins. There is an exception, you do not need to wear a mask while eating. I watched them for about ten minutes. My guess they each had one peanut every few minutes. I am not trying to make a political statement, just an observation. All four, the two adults and two children had Trump 2020 shirts on.

 

The boarding process was extremely easy. They boarded from the back of the plane to the front to minimize crowding in the aisles and reduce the passing of other passengers. The plane is one hundred percent full, not one open seat. They actually sent out a notice about the full flight, forty-eight hours before departure. They offered alternative flights that were less crowded. Based on the full flight it appears no one opted to change. 

 

When boarding they gave everybody a Clorox Wipe to clean any high-touch surfaces in your seating area, seat belts, armrests, tray tables, etc... All reading material except for the safety card had been removed from the seat pouch.

Overall a very comfortable experience considering I am flying during a pandemic, in a country that has one of the highest infection rates and one of the highest death rates in the world. Nothing better than being number one!!!

Something to think about, if you think flying right now is not for you. There are 325,000,000 people in the United States. Right now, there are about 50,000 new COVID cases a day. The average illness or infection period is 14 days. What that means is there are 700,000 infectious people in the United States right now, which is .021% of the population of the United States. There are one hundred people on this flight counting passengers and crew. This means, two one-hundredths of a person has the virus on the plane. You would need 5,000 people on the plane to average one person with the virus being on the flight. I know I am making a lot of assumptions like the cases are evenly distributed, and people with COVID would fly, and all COVID cases are known. With that said I hope you see my point, flying is safe. Please check my math, I have been known to make mistakes. (updated 11/30 - The case count is much higher now but the rational is the same.)

Once we arrived, deplaning was very orderly. Starting from the front of the plane five rows at a time were allowed to deplane. This allowed for social distancing and very little close contact.

We rented a car, once in the car, we notice many notes stating how well they had decontaminated the car, though the car did not seem any cleaner than pre-COVID rentals. We drove with our masks on and windows down for about twenty minutes. I am not sure this did anything, but the notes made us feel better.

Our first stop, picking KAT up at the University of Louisville, KAT is a freshman there. 

 

Now on to Bloomington, Indiana, home of the University of Indiana, go Hoosier. We picked up Lizzy and headed to the Uptown Cafe for a late lunch. If you are on a COVID extravaganza, it is a must to visit two universities that are experiencing COVID outbreaks.

Bloomington has closed-off Kirkwood Avenue to all vehicle traffic. This way, all the bars, and restaurants can use the street for outside dining. The Uptown Cafe has excellent food, a mix of New Orleans southern and Midwest Hoosier. For example, I had the Chicken, Andouille & Tasso Gumbo, but instead of rice, it was served with Hoosier Mashed Potatoes, it was excellent. 

 

After lunch, Lizzy gave us a nickel tour of the campus, of course, we had to stop at Hartzell’s for ice cream.

After the ice cream, we said our good-byes before starting our hour and a half drive back to Louisville. We are staying at the Moxy in downtown Louisville not far from the riverfront. 

The Moxy sent us their COVID protocols prior to arriving. Only guests are allowed in the building. You ring the bell and give them a verbal password, they email you ahead of time. The check-in process is touchless except if you request a key. You can opt for an electronic key that allows you to use your phone to unlock your room. Masks must be worn at all times except in your room, there are signs posted everywhere about wearing masks.

There is no maid service during your stay to make sure no one enters your room. Upon checking out, your room is cleaned and then sealed for a minimum of seventy-two hours, before the next guest is allowed to use the room. We felt very safe, but wonder how they can make any money.

 

After checking in, we headed out to get some finger food and a drink. We also thought being Saturday night, we might see some peaceful protests/riots being it was Louisville and only two-weeks post-Breonna Taylor grand jury announcement. We had no luck. We did see a cool downtown with lots of restaurants and bars. We settled on Patrick O’Shea’s, yep you guessed it, an Irish Bar, excellent choice. It had been a long day, so we returned KAT back to her dorm before calling it a night. 

 

 

Day Two

Today we will explore the sights of Louisville, our initial stop, breakfast. Having a college student and high-school student we voted on an early start time, 9:30 am, yes that is early for “THE BIZ” and KAT, our first stop Wagner's Pharmacy for breakfast. Wagner’s is a mainstay for breakfast, located across the street from Churchill Downs race track. Unfortunately, their website hours were not up to date, if it was, we would have known they are closed on Sundays. No big deal, Louisville is known for its restaurant scene and has lots of choices for Sunday breakfast. We headed off to The Cafe, which is located in an old warehouse district.  Because of COVID, they expanded their indoor dining to a connected warehouse where they had tables placed at least fifteen feet apart. They also had about twenty tables set up in the green space across the street. We opted for the outside seating where a local jazz band was playing, great breakfast, and great atmosphere.  



 
 After breakfast, we headed to Central Park donated by the Duponts back in the eighteen hundreds. We will be taking a self-guided walking tour of the Victorian homes. We saw some of the original Victorian Mansions. We spent an hour walking the area seeing both homes and churches many built in the late eighteen hundreds, early nineteen hundred.
 




It was now time to eat again luckily we were not too far from The Comfy Cow. The Comfy Cow Ice Cream is rated number two in the world ofice cream you must have before you die. Visiting The Comfy Cow for some ice cream was the entire purpose of the trip. What a disappointment, sure the ice cream was good and scoops very large, but the flavor and texture were not extraordinary. Rated number two, my expectations were set high. If in Louisville, it is a must, but I would not travel here for the sole purpose of getting Ice Cream at The Comfy Cow. 


 

We lucked out with the weather. The forecast called for two rainy days, the remnants of Hurricane Delta. The storm must have stalled because we could not have asked for better weather. Being so nice we decided to spend some time on the riverfront. 


Louisville repurposed an old railroad bridge that connected Indiana to Kentucky into a pedestrian bridge with parks on both sides. The bridge is called the Big Four Bridge. I am not sure where the name came from, but on “THE BIZ”’s bucket list, was walk from Kentucky to Indiana, so we had to do it. 


After the walk, we rented a four-person bicycle and toured Riverside Park. What a beautiful park along the water a great way to enjoy a great day. It was getting late so we thought why not eat again. 

 

 

KAT was in the mood for Barbecue, if you are in Louisville and you are in the mood for barbecue,  Mommas Mustard, Pickles & BBQ is a must. Mommas has a great outside eating area in the back. The food and service were perfect.




Now for a very special event. We brought KAT’s absentee ballot. This will be the first election she will be voting in. I need to tell you they don’t make filling an absentee ballot easy. The directions were not very clear, and I think between the envelopes the ballot came in and the ones used to return it, there was a total of six envelopes each with a “Special Purpose” to make it confusing to vote. One of the envelopes even required a witness to sign it.

 
After voting, KAT gave us a tour of the University smaller than, the University of Indiana but still a very nice campus. We decided to get a drink at the Old Louisville Tavern, before saying our good-byes and heading back to the Moxy.

 

The experience flying back was similar to our flight out. We won’t know for fourteen days, but right now I would say traveling is as safe as it has ever been. The only caveat I would mention is the weather. We had nice weather, which allowed us to eat outside, far from other patrons. Eating and drinking are the only time it is very hard if not impossible to wear a mask. I am not sure how safe it would be to eat inside during a pandemic.

Conclusion - if you like to travel go for it. If you live in the United States, I think there are now roughly twenty Countries United States citizens can travel to. Remember almost all of those countries have fewer cases per capita than the United States so you actually reduce your chance of catching COVID by leaving the United States than staying.

Hope you are enjoying these updates. A few booking keeping items.

I am still collecting IPhone 5 or newer to give away on my travels to developing countries, let me know if you have one or two laying around. These phones can change a person's life.  Email me at Dug@lifeofdug.com

Cheers,

DUG


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