February 2, 2023

I’m not sure if it is the intersection of Covid-19, technology, and travel or if I’m just older and grumpier but the only conclusion I can reach is that travel is awful and if you don’t need to do it to see friends or family or escape death squads – you should probably avoid it.

That all being said – this trip to the Pacific Northwest has been a wonderful chance to catch up with some old friends and see some family that have been absent from my life for far too long. My thought was that while we were here, we could do some tourism things and enjoy a little of the wonders of the Northwest. That’s where the awful part comes in.

Case in point: The Tillamook Cheese Factory which used to be a favorite stop on the Oregon Coast but which could now accurately be described as the Tillamook Covid Incubator. I’m not saying that people have Covid there or have caught or spread Covid there – but God Lord Almighty – no masks, no restrictions, and no social distancing. If there were cheese samples out, I wasn’t going to touch them. We went in, panicked, bought ice cream so as not to disappoint our kiddo and split. In the parking lot were waddling people by the score and one bizarre dude who tried to pick a fight with me when I paused to let him cross in front of me as we were driving by. As usual, I ignored him and just moved on. Can you imagine? Trying to pick a fight with someone at 11am at the Cheese Factory? Someone who stopped their car so you could cross? Someone with their wife and kid in the car? WTF is wrong with America?

The bottom line – it’s just not a good time to be doing anything ‘tourist’ but there are thousands and thousands of people doing so. Hawaii is overrun with tourists who feel entitled to be on vacation after a year in Covid mode – they seem to forget that everyone else was in Covid mode too. My Dad and his wife were explaining a trip to me and justified it saying ‘We’ve been locked up for more than a year in our golf community’. I nodded my head to it and bit my tongue. There is no other way to communicate with that generation. If I would have said “So was everyone else, they would have had a new reason – they are of the generation that tells every other generation not to act entitled.”

My other big carps are technology and restrictions. Insanity. To go home to Hawaii we had to prove our vaccinations and we jumped through the hoops but they didn’t recognize the vaccination cards in their database so it has to be verified again at the airport – that was a solid hour of doing something that was required only to find out it was meaningless.

We were going to get the free covid test for our daughter but Walgreens only allows you to book it online and you have to book it at least 24 hours in advance so we were left with no option but using Hawaiian Airlines trusted partner which only offered tests at mid-day – which caused us to have to cut our time with family that lives to the south short so we could make it to the test on time. Also, it wasn’t free and the cheap version wasn’t available so there was another $150. To be honest, $150 starts to feel like not very much money – every hotel in Astoria was $300 or above with taxes – per night. More than most Hawaii resorts charge in peak season. Or at least more than they used to charge when USD money had value.

My $1600 Apple phone in my $1000 rental car was connected to Blue Tooth but the navigation app didn’t tell me that we would be delayed on the road from the coast for over an hour by road construction and when we hit it, we were in a cellular dead zone so couldn’t tell our family we were delayed. Every time I enter the car, the car bluetooth audio starts to play music on the car stereo and if I use the navigation app, the stereo drowns out the navigation voice causing me to miss important turns..

I asked the desk clerk at the hotel if she could recommend a good pizza place that would deliver since they no longer put the binder with local information in the room. She told me “Dominos” to which I responded “That’s not good pizza” and she said “I’m not from the area.” Really? Does she helicopter in each day from Alberta? The desk has never been asked about local pizza before? I tried to find something or use an app – but it was about 50% above menu prices for everything – so I called Dominos and it was an hour late – Remember it used to be 30 minutes or free? This time it was ‘Sorry we were late, here are some Dominos points -enough to buy a personal pan pizza’. Gee thanks.

Yeah, I admit it. I’m older and grumpier – but the other side of the equation is also true. Travel has absolutely been ruined by technology, capitalism, Covid-19, and inflation. When I get home from this trip, I won’t be planning any others unless it is to escape from America forever (again – but this time for real).

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