Arizona to Colorado: COVID-19 family travel update

An update related to our COVID-19-caused road trip to join AK Dad in Golden Colorado in light of school closures and a rush on flights. Erin is sharing this experience nightly on Family Travel Radio, with video and everything, so take a look and listen, and follow along. 

Meteor Crater, Arizona. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

It’s 9:30 p.m. in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I’m finally winding down after an eight-hour drive from Flagstaff, Arizona; not our original plan. Shortly before we departed Tucson, a friend in Moab, Utah informed me that the community was shutting down hotels in an effort to prevent any spread of the COVID-19 virus. <——> Pivot. 

Santa Fe is one of America’s oldest cities, and crossing the high desert of New Mexico was nothing short of spectacular, with red rock cliffs, range cattle, and an array of public lands to explore. It is also a community that still has hotels open for weary travelers like us, so even though the parking lot at the Santa Fe Fairfield Inn and Suites is nearly empty, its pool closed, and breakfast cancelled, staff welcomed us with open-but-distant arms. 

With no school and no concrete plan for online learning in place from our Anchorage School District, I figured I could at least use our long drive as an opportunity to discover some interesting sights most Alaska kids wouldn’t have experienced before. So we diverted from Interstate 40 to Meteor Crater near the historic town of Winslow, Arizona. This one-mile-wide crater is the most perfectly preserved meteorite site on Earth, and it provided the boys a chance to talk science for a while, and do some hypothesizing about just what a crash like that would have looked like (the visitor center was open and did provide some excellent interpretive information as well). 

Image courtesy Alaska Health and Social Services.

But today was full of perspectives and feelings, as we read about Alaska’s new mandate on travelers returning to the state from Outside (anywhere not Alaska); what our self-imposed quarantine will look like; and how we’ll stay busy in Golden for the time we’ll be there. 

Tomorrow night I’ll provide another post for parents of kids looking to get outside for a while (and indeed, you should absolutely do that); with some excellent resources from my fellow outdoor and media partners. But tonight we’re just trying to take in an echoing hotel, the screaming headlines, and the fact that we’re almost to our destination. 

An empty parking lot at Santa Fe Fairfield Inn and Suites. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

~EK 

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