I took a couple of days off last week, making a normal weekend into a long, five day weekend. It's been over a year since I took any real days off and have been busting my butt as "essential" when the lockdown started. Like many essential employees, I was more than ready for some R&R.

Credit: Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media

My wife and I had booked a VRBO in Red Lodge a month or so ago and had invited a friend of ours and their child to come join our crew. Our out-of-state friend had assured us they had been social distancing, as had our family. We weren't planning of doing anything in crowds and figured hanging out at "the cabin" and enjoying the outdoors were pretty safe. We did wear masks into the limited stores we visited (the candy shop, grocery store and gas station) and I noticed about 1/2 of the people around Red Lodge were also masked while in stores and shops.

The weekend started off great. We checked in to the vacation home rental Thursday night. The super-cute, 1900's era house was located an easy walking distance to downtown Red Lodge and literally 50 feet from Rock Creek - it was awesome. We cranked open the windows and sat on the patio to enjoy the sounds of the creek and the general ambiance of a mini-vacation. We made dinner and drinks and everyone was having a good time. We got up Friday morning and headed up Beartooth Pass. No matter how many times I've made that drive/ride, I'm always impressed with the sheer beauty.

Credit: Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media

Of course, we stopped to feed the chipmunks. A must-do. This was the first time (out of dozens of visits) that they actually ate sunflower seeds right out of our hands. Maybe they're a little hungrier this year with less tourists? Regardless, it was fun. The kids loved it and eventually we made it to Cooke City for a late lunch. We skipped the road construction (between Top of the World and Cooke City - a 20 minute delay waiting for the pilot car) on the way back to Red Lodge by taking the Chief Joseph Highway/Bear Creek cutover. All around a great day.

Credit: Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media

The next day we had fun taking some of the kids fishing at Wild Bill Lake. Caught a bunch of tiny trout and one decent sized fish. Saturday night is when things took a turn for the worse. Our friend announced that her best friend and co-worker - whom she had last seen on Wednesday - had tested positive for COVID-19. ARRRGH!! Things quickly became uncomfortable and our friend decided to pack up and leave that evening. I wouldn't say we panicked... but none of us felt very good about the situation. My teenage kid (who is in the higher risk category and is terrified of getting coronavirus) cried, then puked. My wife didn't sleep at all that night. I did, only because I drank enough to fall asleep.

I realize that coronavirus is likely not deadly for most people, but I still don't want to get it. No one really seems to know the possible long-term complications, even if you catch it and don't end up on a ventilator.  I don't want to spread it to my co-workers or pass it on to my extremely high risk in-laws. I don't need my 4-year-old to catch it either. She is considered high risk and we've made way too many trips for medical care in her life already. I really don't want to make another if she were to catch a bad case of COVID-19.

We called our primary care physician first thing Monday morning and she said it was too soon to get tested and that we should self-quarantine and to immediately call if any of us have any symptoms. As of today (7/14), we don't. My employer (who is awesome) said today, "out of an overabundance of self-caution" that I should work from home for 14 days. So, here we go.

I've tried to stay away from talking about masks, pro or con, on my radio show and on these stories I write everyday, because I realize it's become very polarizing for a lot of people. I have many friends, family members and co-workers that think wearing a mask is somehow "taking away their rights, is unfounded science, they cause more harm than they prevent, that masks are a political ploy to unseat the President, Bill Gates wants to microchip us", etc., etc. etc. I've generally tried to avoid political talk because: 1) there's about a 50/50 chance we'll disagree and 2) it's just not my schtick. While I certainly DO have opinions on political issues, I figure you listen to my show because you like rock and roll. If you want to hear talking heads yap about whatever hot-button-of-the-moment, you have plenty of choices.

That said, let me ask you this... knowing that there is a very real chance that I may have "the VID", would you prefer I wander around in a grocery store and accidentally cough/talk/breath near you without a mask? Not being snarky, just curious. Considering I could be asymptomatic it just seems like the right thing for me to do. Out of respect to my fellow man, I will be wearing a mask anytime I cannot socially distance outside of my household. I feel like you should too.

Here is an article from April 7th where I naively thought we'd be back to "normal" by now:

11 Things We Can't Wait to Do In Red Loge