Trains, Journals, and COVID

Once again, we are home here at Chez Slater. The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, let me tell you!

What I’ve been doing:

Traveling! Back at the end of June, Andy and I packed up Thing 1 and Thing 2 and boarded The Lakeshore Limited train from Boston to Chicago, and from there, took the Texas Eagle down to Taylor, TX. We spent two nights on the train in roomettes, and it was AWESOME. (Yes, we are aware of the awful derailment that happened the day after we were on the train, but that was a different line and a different train, and still luckily a fairly rare event compared to car crashes.) The boys slept incredibly well, and I slept well on the Lakeshore and not quite so well on the Eagle, primarily because the Eagle is a smaller train and therefore the sleeper car is closer to the engine horn. There are apparently a LOT of train-road crossings in Arkansas. Nothing a pair of earplugs wouldn’t fix. Otherwise, it was surprisingly comfortable.

The food also was pretty good! I don’t want to oversell it, but it was solid. Think old-school airliner food in heatable tin containers. I had a lot of the Baked Ziti with Meatballs, because that’s what the boys would eat, but the Salmon and the Roast were good, too. Andy was not as impressed with the Thai Curry, which he said was spicy but not flavorful otherwise. The snack car on the LSL was actually astoundingly good for a snack cart/quick reheat meals. I actually really enjoyed the grilled cheese and Andy got the Chicken Street Tacos which were delightful. The breakfast omelet was also solid, as was the apparently well-lauded French Toast.

We arrived in Taylor, TX, and went with my MiL to a local McDonald’s Play Place, and three days later, we (me and the boys) all had COVID.

Yay. So needless to say, we spent the majority of the vacation isolating and feeling like crap. The boys both had high fevers (103-104–Thing 1 is vaccinated, Thing 2 was too young until just recently and hasn’t gotten his yet). Thing 2 also had stomach symptoms, though no congestion and no cough, and threw up regularly. Thing 1 had the fever, some congestion, and a cough. I had what I’m calling the “buffet of symptoms” in that I had a different symptom every day, and never the same one twice. I started off with a low grade fever, then the next day had mild body aches (kind of like pregnancy ligament pain–annoying, but tolerable with Tylenol), then congestion and sneezing and a gnarly, gunky cough that reminded me of when I used to have asthma as a kid, then sinus pain (manageable with Tylenol), and then extreme exhaustion (an all-day long sensation of having just climbed out of a pool). No symptom lasted longer than a day, and by a week out, I was feeling 95% myself. Even at my worst, I was still able to get up and move around and sit upright, so the congestion wasn’t horrific like the two colds I had in March. All in all, I felt crummy for a few days, and then it resolved, right about the time I tested negative.

Of course, because of this, we had to cancel the second leg of our train trip, since we wouldn’t be out of the travel 10-day restricted period by the time the train left Austin. So we flew back on Saturday, instead. Not as relaxing, but we were just glad to get home!

What’s inspiring me lately:

In other news and back home once again (thank goodness), I’m still on my summer writing hiatus, which is only driving me a *little* nuts. But I’ve been channeling that itch into journaling, which has been a nice change of pace. I’ve also been reading quite a bit, having just finished The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, and having picked up Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. I really enjoyed TOGI and so far am crazy about CSW, so we’ll see how it goes.

I just finished playing through I am Dead on the Nintendo Switch, which was charming and relaxing, with cute art and startlingly delightful world-building. We are also digging into Brooklyn 99 which we’ve been meaning to check out (as we’re always on the hunt for humorous 30 minute shows to watch after long days), and Only Murders in the Building is back for Season 2, as is What We Do in the Shadows for Season 4! We went from having absolutely nothing left to watch after finishing Stranger Things 4 and The Great, to having ALL THE THINGS. So we’re having a fine time in the evenings.

We just tried out the card game/dodgeball game THROW THROW BURRITO, which is a sweaty bundle of fun for the whole family. We were quite entertained, so now it remains to be seen if it’s a game we want to play regularly or only on occasion. Other games we discovered during the train trip: COUCH SKELETONS (good fun, very fast) and TRASH PANDAS (a little trickier, but quite funny). Someday Thing 2 will be old enough not to just grab cards off the table and run, which will make card games infinitely more enjoyable.

What I’m Working on Next Week:

Still on hiatus until mid-August, but I’m currently trying to build some housekeeping habits during my downtime that will hopefully help me keep the place a bit more reasonable, especially with both boys home. We’re also prepping for an upcoming camping trip, which will hopefully make up for our semi-dismal Texas trip and give us some much needed time in nature.

I also haven’t been posting much on Instagram lately, so I’m going to be picking that back up again. Otherwise, I’ll be reading, supervising the Things, refereeing the Things, and enjoying craft beer and journaling.

Hope your summer is going well and you’re being kind to yourself!

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