Wow, 2020 was a crazy year for our family (along with everyone else in the world). I have completely neglected my blog since March when life as we knew it drastically changed. Here is an update of what has been going on with our family over the crazy last year.
COVID-19 On Our Radar Early
In September we started planning our biggest family adventure yet. Six weeks traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia. After much research, we had the general layout of the trip completely figured out. Our plan was to leave mid-April after the ski resorts closed.
Our last step before booking flights, tours, hotels, and transportation was to talk to Eli’s teacher and principal. Because we never had a child in school or knew anyone who took their child out of school for weeks on end, we had no idea if taking him out of school for such an extended period of time was even feasible. We decided to wait until early January so Eli’s teacher would have a good idea of how he was doing in school.
We got the green light from Eli’s teacher and principal at the beginning of the year. Actually, more than a green light. They both thought it would be an incredible opportunity and encouraged us to go.
It was time to book. But, not really.
Right around that time we started to read about the novel coronavirus in China. Everything we read about the virus made us hesitant to book the trip.
We decided to watch and wait. By mid-February, it became clear to us that travel to Vietnam and Cambodia in April was not going to happen.
Travel Before the Pandemic
Thankfully, we were able to get in three awesome trips in 2020 before COVID-19 changed travel.
- The Big Island, Hawaii – we met my parents on the Big Island for 10 days in early January. It was fabulous to spend time with my parents and enjoy the warm weather.
- Salt Lake City, UT to see family – Perfect timing to visit with Chad’s entire family before the pandemic shut travel down.
- Road Trip from Las Vegas to Scottsdale Arizona for Rockies Spring Training with Chad’s parents- We LOVE going to Rockies games. Being Colorado Rockies season ticket holders for years, we’d had a Spring Training trip on our bucket list for a long time. When baseball shut down we felt so lucky to have been able to see three live games in the pre-season.
Although we had COVID-19 on our radar early and didn’t book our trip to Vietnam, we really had no idea how serious it would get in the United States. We were shocked when everything was completely shut down in March.
Chad was forced to lay off employees. Employees who were like family and had worked at The Restaurant for years. It was tough to say the least.
We went from being a one-income family to a no-income family.
Because the shut-down happened in the middle of the busiest weeks of spring break, the restaurant was well-stocked with food. We bought a new freezer to try to save as much food as possible and then gave boxes of food away to employees, friends, and neighbors.
With schools, restaurants, and ski resorts shut down, our lives suddenly changed drastically.
Living (and Owning a Restaurant) in a Ski Resort Town During a Pandemic
We live in a unique place. Locals only occupy one-third of all residential properties in our county. Two-thirds are second homes or vacation properties. When the pandemic hit, the county closed all of the hotels, banned vacation rentals, and strongly discouraged second home-owners from visiting. Overnight the county went from packed with tourists to a ghost-town.
It wasn’t worth it for us to keep The Restaurant open for take-out only. With no tourists and many locals suddenly without a job, no one was buying take-out.
Late spring into summer brought an easing of COVID-19 restrictions and a flood of tourists eager to get out of the city and into the mountains. Chad was able to set up a make-shift patio in the parking lot outside the restaurant, bring back employees, and open back up.
Our small county went from a ghost-town to a packed tourist destination overnight. I printed out a map of the United States and Eli and I would mark off the license plates we saw from the different states whenever we went out. Within a few weeks, we had the majority of states marked off and by the end of the summer, we had EVERY SINGLE ONE.
It was a little disconcerting to have so many out-of-state visitors here during a pandemic. On the other hand, it was such a relief to have the restaurant open and to be making money again.
Summer turned to fall and the throngs of tourists never let up. It was an unusually warm fall, and restaurants around here were able to stay open for outside dining into late September.
As soon as the weather turned cold, the virus numbers in Colorado started climbing again. The week of Thanksgiving the state again forced us to close the restaurant for dine-in. This time hotels, vacation rentals, and ski resorts were still open so Chad was able to keep some of his staff and stay open for take-out. It was great that we were able to keep some employees, but the restaurant ran at a huge loss until we were able to open up again at %25 capacity the week of Christmas.
Not All Doom and Gloom
The COVID-19 shutdown wasn’t all doom and gloom here. Being able to spend so much time together as a family has been priceless.
I’m incredibly grateful to have access to the mountains right out our back door. 2020 was a great snow year and with Chad out of work and Eli out of school, we had plenty of family time to spend outside. We did a lot of sledding, snowshoeing, and backcountry snowboarding. We’d also meet with the neighbors in the driveway for a socially distanced happy hour a few times a week.
Summer is my all-time favorite season. Most of the things we love to do in the summer were not affected by the pandemic at all. We spent a lot of time boating and paddle boarding on Lake Dillon, riding bikes, and going on long hikes.
This ski season we’ve been able to ski more than ever. Vail Resorts implemented a reservation system to control the number of skiers on the mountain during the pandemic. Employees and their families aren’t required to make ski reservations and I got my part-time job back this season so we’ve been able to ski whenever we want.
We have always loved to cook. Since the pandemic started we’ve taken our cooking to another level. Pre-pandemic we would go out to eat two to three times a week. Now we’ve been focusing on making amazing meals at home. It helps that Chad is an avid hunter and we have a freezer full of deer and elk meat.
I’m also incredibly thankful that all three of us have remained healthy through this pandemic. So far none of us have contracted COVID-19 (that we know of).
Limited Travel During the Pandemic
In past years, we would avoid road-trips in favor of airline travel, especially after Eli was born. We loved the convenience of jumping on a flight and arriving at our destination in a few hours as opposed to sitting in the car all day. That completely changed with COVID-19.
We haven’t been on an airplane in over a year now.
Road-trips are now our mode of travel. There is a lot to see and do within a day’s drive. The pandemic has made our 2020 travel list quite different from any other year. But, we’ve appreciated every chance to travel and explore, even if it is only for one night.
- Camping – One of my 2020 New Year’s resolutions was to camp more. We sure accomplished that! After buying a CO State Parks Pass in May, we camped at four different state parks over the summer and fall along with several campgrounds near our house. We also went on a few camping trips to Utah – Fish Lake in Central Utah to meet up with Chad’s family, and Moab to explore Arches and Canyonlands. Camping is the perfect way to recreate with family and friends while following COVID social distancing guidelines.
- Day trips to Copper Mountain to ride the mountain coaster, Rocky Mountain National Park, and taking advantage of the fun free things to do around here in the summer.
- Quick overnight trips to visit Glenwood Hot Springs, Glenwood Adventure Park, and Gaylord Rockies Resort. We avoided booking hotel stays over the weekend and generally didn’t have to deal with any crowds.
- Road trip to South Dakota to see Badlands National Park and Mt Rushmore. South Dakota has been on our bucket list for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. There is so much to see and do there, I wish we could have stayed a few more days.
Parenting During a Pandemic
Like all parents, we’ve had a lot of hard decisions to make over the last year. We want to take precautions to avoid catching or spreading the virus, but also want to make sure that Eli is able to socialize with his friends. Eli is an extremely social only child and needs opportunities to play with other kids his age.
We established some ground rules that we have been following since the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t allow anyone in our house and we don’t go into anyone else’s house. Eli can play with his friends as long as they stay outside. It has worked out great with his friends in the neighborhood. If he wants to play with friends who live farther away, we’ll meet up somewhere outside – a park, the lake, skiing, sledding, or ice skating.
Eli’s school district allowed in-person learning this fall but we opted to sign Eli up for the online learning option. We didn’t feel comfortable sending Eli to school during a pandemic.
Online learning didn’t work for Eli at all. It was a rigid schedule that consisted of hours in front of a computer screen. If one of us weren’t looking over Eli’s shoulder the entire time, he would be chatting with friends or watching youtube. After the first semester, I took him out of public school and have been homeschooling him ever since. Homeschooling gives us so much more flexibility and has been incredible so far. Eli does much better with one-on-one attention. The flexibility allows us to avoid the weekend ski crowds and ski during the week.
Good Bye 2020, Hello 2021
I’m sure the world won’t be back to normal in 2021 but hopefully, it will be headed that way. Fingers crossed that our restaurant doesn’t have to shut down again.
After neglecting this blog for about a year, my New Years’ resolution is to get back into writing. Although our family travels are different now, we’re still getting out and exploring, just closer to home.