I haven’t written a monthly update for a few months, but I feel like March deserves one. The world as we know it turned upside down, and everyone has their own story of how current events have affected their lives. Now is the perfect time to record what’s going on, to write about how you’re feeling, ways you’ve been affected, and what you’ve been learning through all this. Here’s my story:
I’d been following COVID-19 ever since I heard about it coming to the states. Knowing that we’d be moving this year, the thought of how it might impact our move or the possibility of being stationed in an affected area crossed my mind. We had already turned in our list of preferences for where we wanted to be stationed before the virus came to the US, and I was starting to regret the order of our preferences. Places like Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, Australia, and Seattle filled out our top 10. All of a sudden, living in those areas (or even just outside the US) became much less appealing.
At the beginning of March, I was becoming more stressed as I read headline after headline of virus-related news. Curtis said to me, “Stop reading about it, it’s only stressing you out. We’ll be fine.”
Then he left for an underway for the rest of March.
2 days later, this became a global pandemic.
When I think back to the beginning of March, the memories we made together are even more precious to me now as they could possibly be some of the last times we’ll ever visit those locations. When we hiked the Nakoa Trail on March 8, the thought crossed my mind that this could be the last time we would drive up the Windward coast, but that wasn’t because of the virus. I was just thinking about all we had to do in our limited time left here, and how going for scenic drives might not fit into our schedule.
Besides that, we also visited the beach a couple times and did one other hike, Makapu’u Lighthouse hike, one that’s been a favorite since the first time we hiked it in October of 2017. It was a Sunday evening, we had already hiked the Nakoa Trail that morning and weren’t planning on going out again. But Charlotte seemed kind of restless, so we decided to take her on an easy sunset hike. We drove to Makapu’u, but found that the trail was much busier than usual. We almost turned around and left, but then a parking spot opened up and we decided to just stay and hike anyway. Now, I’m so glad we did. There wasn’t anything notable about that hike, we just hiked up, took some pictures, and then hiked back. But now that we might not ever have the chance to enjoy those views or the easy walk again, I’m going to hold onto those pictures and memories.
I remember going to get groceries on the morning of March 10. Grocery shopping after Curtis leaves has become my favorite underway tradition. I go out and shop with 3 different objectives: to experiment with new healthy meatless meals, make my favorite comfort foods, and buy overly processed things as a special treat (Little Debbie’s Zebra Cakes are my go-to). At this point, things seemed to be escalating, but it was definitely downplayed in the US. There wasn’t a reason for me to think this would be my last outing, but as I was making my list I thought to myself, “Is it possible to make this my only grocery run for the month? It’d be nice to not have to think about going out again for a while.” And so I went about my shopping in that manner, buying more frozen veggies than fresh, and items that have longer shelf life. The store was well-stocked…except for my Zebra Cakes. How could they be out of Zebra Cakes?! I had to settle for Swiss Cake Rolls. I wasn’t happy about it.
That evening, I went to a meeting at Pearl Harbor and met up with some of the other wives from the boat. The meeting was held by the detailers who are in charge of assigning shore tours and giving out orders. My main purpose for going was to meet the officer in charge of Curtis’ orders so that he would know that Curtis was gone and I needed him to send me information directly so I could start handling our move. He assured me that night that we would find out later that week. Oh, how I miss those days when all I was worried about was not knowing where we’d be moving in 3 months! Curtis and I were so impatient, yet excited, so ready to start planning out our new life.
Again, there wasn’t a lot of concern in the US at that point, and no one addressed the virus at the meeting. However, the thought that these guys had flown across the country did cross my mind, and I made sure to wash my hands when I got home after shaking hands with them.
I’ve been keeping a journal throughout all this, writing down headlines that I’m reading, all the new laws the states are making, how people are responding, how I’m feeling about all this. And I’ll be honest, I don’t want to write down every detail here. It’s too much. Rereading my journal right now is mentally exhausting. I’d rather keep things positive. But I can’t just let myself write random blog posts and pretend that it’s not happening — that doesn’t feel genuine at all.
So a brief recap on the situation in Hawaii, for any mainland friends who are interested: Our stay at home order on Oahu was officially issued by the Mayor on March 23, and by the Governor for the state on the 25th. Overall my life doesn’t look a whole lot different as I already work from home and don’t go shopping or to restaurants often. The hardest part for me is that they closed all city and state parks and beaches. This includes my neighborhood park and walking trail, which I would visit multiple times every day, both with Charlotte and by myself. I can still go for walks around the neighborhood, but nothing compares to the peace that park gives me, and the views I would enjoy on that trail every day. However, I recognize it’s a very small sacrifice in comparison to what healthcare workers around the country are having to go through.
Currently, if you were to fly to Hawaii from the mainland or any other country, you would have to go through a 14 day mandatory quarantine. After that, I’m not sure why anyone would want to visit now anyway as all the beaches are closed. Flights are very limited now, and the mayor is calling for all non-essential travel to the islands to be put to a stop. The main source of revenue on the islands is all tourism related, so as you can imagine, this is going to hurt a lot of businesses on the island. If you have plans to travel in the next few months, I’d advise you to postpone them as much as possible, but when you’re able to return, come and support local businesses here.
Some hikes are still open, but quite frankly, I don’t plan on hiking during this. It doesn’t feel responsible. Many of the trails here are very narrow and don’t allow for safe social distancing. And anytime anyone goes out, there’s always the chance that something unfortunate could happen on the trail that would lead to calling Search and Rescue. I know that thinking might be extreme, but I go by the thought process that any time I leave my house, I am sending the message that I value whatever I’m doing over the essential workers who are out there working hard to save lives or keep the world moving.
I now use pepperoni to bribe Charlotte to come back home instead of going to her favorite park that’s closed
And as for our orders: A few days after meeting the detailer, instead of finding out Curtis’ next assignment, the military announced the travel ban. So far, this only affects people moving between March and May, so we haven’t been impacted, but I’m sure we will be either directly or indirectly. I thought our PCS to Hawaii was stressful, but this one is already shaping up to be even more complicated. However, we still don’t have actual orders, so I guess I’ll save that stress for when that actually happens.
The most eventful night of this underway happened on March 24th. I took Charlie for a walk around the block between 4:30-5. As I was walking back inside the house, my phone buzzed with an emergency alert: Tsunami watch in effect following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Kuril Islands. At first I ignored it, but then I overheard my neighbors talking about it and started to grow concerned. What’s the protocol for a tsunami during a pandemic?! The next hour that followed consisted of constant refreshing of news pages online and messaging other wives from the boat trying to figure out a plan. Thankfully the watch was cancelled after an hour, but the general consensus between the wives was that this was officially too much for one underway and we were ready to have our husbands back!
Besides that night, we had several days with heavy rain and flash flood warnings around the island. Another day, we had power outages across town — I quickly realized that no power while being homebound is not a good combination! I’ll never take wifi for granted again.
Finally, Curtis returned just over 3 weeks after leaving, coming back to a whole new reality. While we’re very thankful to ride out this storm together now, we also realize that we were both safer and much less exposed while he was out at sea. Being underway is the best form of social distancing right now! If you think of us, say a prayer for the health of everyone on his boat. They’re all considered essential, and as you can imagine germs spread around easily in that confined space.
I hope and pray that all of you reading stay safe and healthy through all this. Thank you for reading my story, and if you have your own you’d like to share, I’d love to listen. God bless you all!