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After making our way across the US one month at a time, we’ve decided to settle for a while, waiting until it’s safer to travel. We’ve rented a furnished house in Pacific Grove, CA for six months. Thus far, we’re enjoying pushing around the furniture to our liking and being able to put things away. For our usual one-month stay, it’s really a toss-up whether putting things in drawers and closets is worth the effort. I am delighted to not be living out of my travel bag in the bathroom, for example. Our stay here will be the longest we’ve been in one place since 2014.

Why here? Why now? The second question is easier to answer than the first. In a normal year, we spend November through March in Peru. In this year of Covid, we can’t go to Peru safely, and we are ready for a break. Even staying a month at a time at each stop requires constant planning. Now we can forget about that for a while. Our plan is to stay in Pacific Grove until a) we get vaccinated against Covid (we already have our flu shots); b) it is safe to travel in the US and internationally; or 3) it is safe to travel to Peru. Though we’d like to be on our way again in six months, we may renew our lease if the pace of improvement continues to be very slow. Right now, we read that vaccination across the US is starting, but may not get to us until mid-year. Our Peruvian friends may be waiting until 2022 to get their vaccinations.

We moved across the US in the months before the fall wave of Covid infection began. When we were in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, the virus was not infecting people at the rate it is now. Pacific Grove is our third stop in California. Our first was Eureka, way up north. At first, we thought we might stay there. Our daughter Amanda and her husband are located in Eureka, and it would be lovely to be near them for a change. There are miles of coastline and even more miles of trails through huge redwoods in Humboldt County. We began taking advantage of the truly great outdoors. We decided not to stay at the end of the month because of the difficulty in getting medical care. The longer we have stayed on the west coast, the worse the epidemic has gotten. Moving every month seems like a bad idea, we decided to hunt for a longer-term rental. We settled down in early December, in time to plan a relaxing Christmas and New Years. We are withing driving distance of our daughter Lyra, and have had a chance to see her and her puppy Pandora. We don’t have to worry about the spike in Airbnb prices over the holidays, we don’t have to plan where to go next. All we have to do now it keep our heads down until we can get vaccinated.

Staying home doesn’t mean staying indoors. We limit shopping to groceries and the occasional stop elsewhere, and we shop outdoors at the weekly farmers markets in Carmel Valley and Monterey.

The Monterey Peninsula during high seas

There are miles of rocky coast around the Monterey Peninsula, and even more miles of beach around Monterey Bay. Point Lobos, Big Sur, and the list goes on. We are outdoors every day, wearing masks when people are near, and unmasked when we are alone.

Monterey Bay

I did pay the price for having nature at our doorstep. On our first visit to the grocery store, we bought two big poinsettia to plant in the bright yellow pots by the front door. They were glorious. Not too many days later, I went outside to find one of the plants completely decapitated, every lush red flower gone and only clipped green stems left. One late afternoon a day or two later we were charmed by the pair of mule deer who stopped to browse on the open space adjacent to us. Then the penny dropped, and I realized that my deer were the culprits. Chagrined, I moved the surviving poinsettia to the top of our outdoor table, off the route the deer follow every day or two when they stop by. Now closer to our back door and walled off from the adjacent open plot, it might grow back (?). Maybe that’s why people use plastic holiday ornaments outdoors.

For now, this is a lovely place to call home.