We went on a ski trip on March 14th, 2020. It turns out, the timing of the trip left a little to be desired. Or maybe, everything happens for a reason. What do I know?
Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation related to the COVID global pandemic, we decided to go ahead and fly out to Utah to meet some friends for Spring Break in Park City. We took precautions. We wore masks and gloves, washed our hands, etc. People looked at us like we were aliens. N95 was not in the general lexicon yet.
We skied half a day at Park City Mountain Resort. Then the world shut down. In response, the Vail Company closed all their ski resorts.
In hindsight, I commend the Vail Company for making that decision in order to protect the ski towns in which they operate. At the time, I was pissed off. So we did what any conscientious citizens would do. We drove up to Snowbasin the next day – along with two thirds of Utah – and skied our last inbounds day of the year.
We returned to Park City that evening. Most folks – including our friends from Florida – fled back to their hometowns. The entire town emptied.
On the home front, work went remote. School went remote. Toilet paper became scarce.
Mrs. SFTE and I looked at each other. And collectively said, why go back to Ohio? We’re on vacation. Besides what are we going to do in Ohio anyway? The last question isn’t necessarily pandemic related.
At the end of the week, we called Delta and pushed our return flight back to Columbus out a bit. We called the vacation rental place. Yes, we could stay in our space. In fact, we could pick any place in the whole complex we wanted. We upsized.
Another week went by. I found a bigger place in lower Deer Valley with an office loft, hot tub, and refrigerator that cost more than my car. Yes, the owner would be glad to do a long term rental. She would send me an invoice through PayPal (sorry AirBnb, I still think you are beautiful unicorn).
We had Deer Valley to ourselves. We walked up Solamere Drive every night. Through neighborhoods of multi-million dollar houses – totally empty. We bought snowshoes. We demoed touring gear. The ski patrol shack at the top of PCMR was an eerie reminder – like an archaeological site where the inhabitants just disappeared without a trace – tools and belongings left perfectly undisturbed.
The snow started melting. We walked more. I broke down and ordered some running shoes. The trails dried. We became best friends with the folks at Park City Bike Demos. Turns out that board shorts over base layers is a perfectly good riding option.
We did laundry frequently. In May, I doubled my clothing options by ordering a pair of pants and a shirt from Stio.
Finally in June, we headed back to Ohio. We had to. Our lease was ending. And we thought it was a good idea to get my wife’s car out of airport parking. It actually started.
We had to get our stuff. Stuff that we had done without for three months. Stuff we had nearly forgotten about. It was sort of like a bizarre Christmas morning when we got home. We stepped back into the life we had left almost four months earlier, and sort of no longer existed.
Dress shirts sitting in a dry cleaning bag (they’re still in that bag – but moved to a new house). Dress shirts worn to an office that was no longer open for business. In a dry cleaning bag for a dry cleaner that I hope had long ago stopped coming by the house looking for a pickup.
We were almost overwhelmed by our own stuff. After three months of just a few pieces of clothing, we had closets full of stuff. I only had two t-shirts on my trip. Generally, one was clean, one was dirty. Easy choice. Now I had to choose between twenty. Socks. Oh my god. On my trip, I had three pairs of non ski socks. At home, three drawers full. Shoes. On my trip, one pair of snow boots and my newly acquired running shoes. At home, I could wear a different pair every day for weeks without repeating. Why? Why do we have all this stuff?
Packing for a week long ski trip, but staying for three months, really opened our eyes to how little of our stuff we really need or actually miss.