Prologue: the ethics of traveling during a pandemic - Should I Stay or Should I Go? - CycleBlaze

Prologue: the ethics of traveling during a pandemic

We had done all the planning and preparation for a six-week bike tour of Japan and Korea in April-May 2020, when everything went sideways. It felt like it all happened at once, but there were warning signs. First, our friend Mei, who was going to join us in Korea, was unable to obtain a visa. Then an outbreak hit Sunyoung's hometown of Daegu, throwing the latter part of our tour into doubt. Then it hit Kirkland, only a few miles from our home. At that point, the focus was less on the risk we would be taking, but more about whether we could become carriers ourselves. I called the airline we had booked. They offered a full refund, and upon accepting it, the trip was officially canceled.

The situation improved here in Washington, enough so that we started thinking about a short vacation in the summer. Over the years, we had talked about doing tours within the state, but whenever we had saved up a certain amount of vacation time, we felt a desire to do something more ambitious with it.

We were good about staying home, keeping our distance from others, and minimizing trips to the store. As the restrictions lifted, we kept these habits in place. We are conscientious and want to do our part, and we want to protect ourselves as well.

How could we venture out, yet still stay relatively safe? First, we would have to camp every night. That shouldn't be too difficult. We had come very close to pulling it off on our last tour in California. Second, we would have to stay outdoors and away from crowds as much as possible. This also seemed to be very manageable, although we would have to make brief visits to restrooms, grocery stores, and park offices. Additionally, we would likely have to handle cash at some point, something we hadn't done in months.

The more difficult part: staying within areas that are in the same phase of reopening as King County. At the time I write this, the idea of "reopening" feels like a tightrope act, trying to control the spread of the virus while at the same time attempting to lead as normal a life as possible. I wouldn't feel right visiting places that are relatively better off, such as the San Juan Islands, nor would I want us to risk catching the virus in a hot spot and spreading it elsewhere. With ten days off, the most appealing tour would take us through Chelan and Douglas Counties, which aren't in terrible shape, but are currently in "Modified Phase 1" of reopening. Again, visions of that tightrope act come to mind.

Then there's the question of amenities. Will it be more difficult to find open public restrooms (usually not much of an issue outside of cities)? What about water fountains?

We hemmed, we hawed, but utimately, hesitantly, we packed our bags and set off on this uncertain little adventure.

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