Coronavirus, SLC Earthquakes, Canceled Flights and Long, Therapeutic Hikes

Somewhere west of Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand

Hey there world. I hope you are all hanging in there. We know this is a lot. We hope you are staying healthy. We hope you are finding a way to enjoy social distancing. We hope you have enough to eat. Here is a little, rambly update. Since my post, a lot more has happened. Obviously, you know a lot more has happened, because you are living all of this craziness.

SO, yesterday I awoke to the following text. (It was from my mom):

“I’m sure you heard about the earthquake here in Utah. We are good. It was in Magna. We felt it, but that is all. Just talked with Dominique. Ted is in Macedonia.”

I will be honest. Until I cut and pasted my mom’s text into this post, I missed the part about my stepdad, her ex-husband, being in Macedonia. WHAT? I hope he is ok. I imagine he will be there for a while. Knowing him, maybe he bought one of those 1€ European village houses for sale, and moved there. I’ll have to find out.

West of Glenorchy, South Island, New Zealand

As I was writing this update, I was also texting my girlfriend. She is a single mother of three. Two of her kids still live at home. She also has custody of her oldest son’s child. She is a hairdresser. As a result of Coronavirus self isolation and social distancing requirements, her livelihood vanished overnight. We were chatting about stimulus packages. Sure, they will help, but only so much. I am very worried about her. Beyond stimulus packages, I keep wondering how we can rally together to make sure people stay afloat.

Now back to the Salt Lake City earthquake of 2020. Again, WHAT? It was a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. HOLY WOW! I started texting my Utah friends to make sure they were ok. My mom was so shaken that she did not connect the dots when I asked her if she was shook. Eli said he slept through it. My neighbor-friend’s text sums it up well:

“Everything is ok. The earthquake was nuts!! But Eli apparently slept through it😂😂 teenagers😂😂. SLC airport is closed, soooo…..Also, the trumpet fell out of Moroni’s hands at the SLC temple. Seriously. 😂😂.”

A few hours later the Salt Lake City, Utah, airport reopened. The rest of yesterday was filled with way too many memes regarding the earthquake knocking down the Trumpet from the statue of Angel Moroni atop the spire of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City.

Here is how I responded to the news of the trumpet’s fall: I suggested that Angel Moroni’s trumpet fell to punish all the Utah toilet paper hoarders. Alas, I could tell my mom was sad about Angel Moroni and his trumpet so I let it be. There are much more important things going on, yet I must admit the Angel Moroni gave me a moment of levity.

Us, Bob’s Cove, West of Queenstown, New Zealand

OK, now back to us here in New Zealand:

I think it was two days ago that we were booked on flights that flew direct from Queenstown, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia. Then one night in Sydney, Australia. Then we would fly from Sydney to San Francisco and San Francisco to Salt Lake City.

Then Salt Lake City had an earthquake and shut its airport (only for a few hours). New Zealand moved from requiring incoming foreigners to self isolate for 14 days to shutting its borders to all foreigners completely. (*By the way, we arrived in New Zealand before the 14 day self quarantine requirement went into effect.) Nevertheless, like the rest of the world, we are actively social distancing. Australia followed suit and closed its borders to all foreigners.

Us, Bob’s Cove, Queenstown, South Island, New Zeland

While these new regulations went into effect, our flights were CANCELED. Somehow the airlines managed to book me on a flight that went from Queenstown to Auckland, Auckland to Sydney. The airlines managed to get Dave on a flight from Queenstown to Auckland and then they said there was no space on the plane for Dave. So we suggested Dave swim the rest of the way. Kyle’s ticket was canceled and supposedly they were working on new flights. During that time we bought and canceled various airline tickets. After a trip to the airport, where we received no help, because everyone is in the same situation, and after hours on the phone and several calls with the airlines, we have booked tickets to leave this Sunday, March 22. Of course we had to buy Kyle an overpriced replacement ticket, since his flight from Sydney isn’t actually cancelled. We just can’t get him to where he needs to be to be on it. The worst thing is that the day before, the ticket was 1/2 the price. This is all so chaotic, right? The plane we are flying on is booked. We are not sitting near each other. I am totally freaked out and have considered traveling in a plastic bubble. (Oh, did I mention I have asthma and its allergy season? Probably not. I did not want to hear any wrath.) We fly from Queenstown to Auckland, Auckland to San Francisco, and San Francisco to Salt Lake City.

Us, Bob’s Cove, Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

My hope is that because this flight is leaving New Zealand that no one will have Coronavirus. My other prayer is that we can find a way to sit by each other. (We are currently on two different itineraries, which is better than the original three.)

While all of this flight stuff was going on, the people at NYU Sydney and Kyle continued to work out a plan to get Kyle his things. At one point they were like,

“Um, you’ve got to figure out how to find someone who lives near you to bring your stuff to you.” Kyle was like, “They are all flying home. No one else lives in Utah.”

Kyle, Wye Creek Hike, Queenstown, South Island, New Zeland

Oddly, (or is it SHOCK), Dave and I still feel like we needed to be here. I cannot explain it. I will not try. I am sure you all would have done things differently. We are grateful we are able to help Kyle during this time. Last night my heart grew 17 sizes (and not because I was having a heart attack), but because Dave stayed up last night supporting Kyle as Kyle pushed through his stress, worked on and finished his last midterm assignment: a giant anthropology paper. Now that Kyle is done with all of his midterm coursework, he says his mind is full of other stress. Yes. We are worried about our boy. That’s what parents do. In spite of this crazy moment, we have also found ways to connect and heal. Each day we have found a very isolated area to go hiking. Yesterday we found the steepest of the steep hikes. We forgot to bring water. I almost passed out and it felt so good. You know when you are climbing how all your focus is on the route, that is how this hike was. I was mad at times. Then I had to explain to Dave and Kyle that I was not mad at them. The hike was hard and it was therapeutic. For a couple of hours I was able to set aside my worry — which was a gift. Then the day before we drove and drove west. We hiked to a point. We took a million jumping pictures. We met and fed more horses and I found two bathrooms full of toilet paper (in the backcountry). Through it all, I still feel calm.

Kyle, Wye Creek Hike, Queenstown, South Island, New Zeland

Anyway, I am sure there will be more before our journey ends. In the meantime, our heart goes out to Kyle and Eli and all of you. I hope NYU Sydney will safely deliver Kyle his things. It is sort of nuts. He barely has anything here. I hope Eli will feel less isolated and find interesting things to fill his time. I hope my girlfriend’s financial burden will be lifted. I hope all of you will get exactly what you need. I know this experience is different for everyone. Please know we are thinking of you.