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Our Move Across Country During COVID-19

Lorelei often writes about her personal failings, and the things she, her friends, and family have learned or experienced through the years.


When my husband and I sold our home in Arizona and bought another in Missouri, we were excited. Our Arizona house closed on March 2nd, but the new home would not be closing until mid-April. A large crew helped us move our things into pods and we were not too worried about the time span; seven weeks was not that long to wait. Little did we know how quickly things would change and how it would affect us. The first few days after selling our home we stayed with family, but then we checked into a hotel. I did not like the cheap toilet paper in the hotel, so I started using the package I had brought with me instead, little did I know how important toilet paper was at that time. We had a small kitchen in our room so my husband occasionally went to the store to purchase a few items for me. He never noticed anything.

About 3 days later I decided I would go to the store myself and pick up some things to make spaghetti. When I entered, I noted a few things missing out front, but did not initially think much of it. As I walked the aisles I was shocked at what I was seeing. The shelves were emptying quickly. When I reached the pasta aisle I realized there was barely any left. I grabbed a couple of boxes of spaghetti noodles and went for a jarred sauce. It was cleaned out except for some jars of gross stuff. Thankfully, I am short so with a little bend of the knees I saw a couple of jars way in the back on a lower shelf and grabbed one. When I wandered over to the paper aisle it was empty. I thought, what is going on? No toilet paper, no paper towels, no wipes, no hand sanitizer! It was crazy. Thankfully, I also happened to already have a large bottle of hand sanitizer with me.


When I got back to the hotel I put away my package of toilet paper and started using the hotels again. They were only giving out one roll at a time and you had to ask for it. After a week or so we had finished our local business in Arizona and decided to get on the road. We were driving separate vehicles which was difficult enough. Long trips are not as fun when you are alone. We had planned to drive as far as we could the first day and then stop. Once outside of Phoenix the traffic lightened up some, but we only made it as far as Albuquerque when my husband’s car broke down. We called AAA and got it to a shop. They said they could get us in the following morning, so we got a hotel.

Hot Breakfast Out!

In the morning, I headed to the lobby for breakfast, but there were only wrapped products. No waffles or hot food, only boxed cereal, milk, donuts, and fruit. They also said we had to social distance. It was the first I had seen of that kind of thing and it seemed so odd. We could leave later that day as the car was done, so we headed out. The roads were barely being used and it felt weird but the trip was going faster. It was also scary using simple things like gas pumps. We washed or used hand sanitizer after each stop. Once in Texas there was a horrible slow-moving storm. You could not see in front of you and we had to pull over several times, so we decided to stop at another hotel once we got ahead of it.

The hotel room was nice, but I noticed there was only a bit left on the toilet paper roll and no extras in the room. I headed down to the front desk where they told me the manager had left for the day and had locked up all the rolls in his office. I was astounded that a hotel, which was not cheap, would not provide toilet paper. I decided we would have to use tissues and if all else failed use my few rolls I had saved back. However, later that evening a clerk brought up a roll for us that they had removed from another unused room. They were wandering the halls knocking on doors to hand out toilet paper, so I was not the only one complaining.

Cheaper Gas


As we headed out the next day we noted that there was even less traffic than before and gas prices were dropping all along the way. The roads were eerily quiet except for the truckers. We made it into Oklahoma and arrived at a friend’s empty home expecting to stay for a few weeks. I went to the grocery store to buy what we would need. I had very little food with me as we were on the road. When I finished shopping my cart was full. People started giving me dirty looks and I was confused until I realized that people thought I was hoarding. When I got to the cashier I explained I was not hoarding, but that I literally did not have anything. I thought how ridiculous it was that I had to explain why I was buying a cart full of groceries. It was not like I had a cart full of one item.

Less than a week later, we heard that the town next to where we were purchasing our home was shutting down. We had to be in or near that town to close on our home. I immediately got on the phone to find a hotel either in or near our new home. Most of the hotels were not even answering the phone or they had recordings saying they were closed. We started to panic a little but finally got a hold of a hotel near our new home. However, when I asked for a room I was told no, they were not renting rooms during the pandemic. I sighed deeply and the owner asked me what was going on. I explained our situation and that we were still two and a half weeks from closing. Since we were in a situation and staying for a long period they allowed us to come, but we were warned that social distancing was active and there was limited shopping and take out. This was important as the hotel only had a microwave and mini-refrigerator.


The next weeks were a challenge. The room was dark and gloomy and the TV had been set up in front of the window which did not help the situation. Food was a challenge, or should I say good food. Most microwave foods are frozen, so we could not get them unless we were going to eat them right away and we did not want to go shopping every day. We purchased some non-refrigerated dinners, but let’s just say they are not very tasty. We could occasionally order takeout pizza or something but that gets expensive and most restaurants were closed. Toilet paper was still an issue. The hotel would bring us one roll every other day…or sometimes every three to four days.

To get out of our bleak hotel we often got in the car and just drove. Sometimes to a scenic overlook or some other beautiful place so we could keep our sanity. Finally, we closed on our home and immediately moved in. Our furniture had not been delivered, but we had a blowup bed and were so relieved to have a place where we could use our own toilet paper and have the space to move around. 2020 will surely be a year we talk about in the future and while it’s not over yet, there is some toilet paper and I finally found a bottle of alcohol. As of this writing it does seem like we may be on our way out of it. But just in case, I think I’ll buy toilet paper every time I shop.

Travel Preparation

  • Expect the unexpected and do not get rattled.
  • Bring essentials like water, toilet paper, etc.
  • Cleaning products like wipes and hand sanitizer can come in handy.
  • Make sure you have enough, plus some, of anything you personally need you never know how long things may take.
  • Make sure to have enough money for unexpected purchases.
  • Be sure your vehicles are checked and road-ready.
  • Make sure you have a phone and a car charger for emergencies.

© 2020 Lorelei Nettles

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