Stay at Home: A month back in the US

Corona Virus Drinks

Corona Virus has taught us new terms like, self-distance, stay at home, Pluto Living, and bored fat. Or maybe that last one is just me, Noelle.

At first, when we got back from Vietnam, I made great plans for each day. Well, the first week we slept a lot to be honest. Turns out the stress of worrying about being exposed to the virus while traveling was exhausting. So we simply caught up again.

It’s weird because the first couple weeks in Bangkok were all about decompression, maybe the first month in Thailand was just settling down after moving Steve’s parents and my Dad’s passing. So you’d think we were just chill by the time we got to Vietnam, and actually we kind of were. But that last week of uncertainty as the country closed its doors around us and then the travel back here to the States jacked the stress levels right back up.

I set some stay at home goals…

Anyway, here’s a gander at how I’m doing on my well-being and website goals, after almost a month back in the US.

  • Practice yoga daily: Check, practiced one day
  • Meditate daily: Check, was really good for a week
  • Get outside: Check, this is an easy one as the sunshine beckons us
  • Finish up the remaining Thailand and Vietnam posts we planned: Um, no progress, well except for the cute dogs
  • Create a hiker gear list: Check, came up with the title of the post
  • Create multiple individual hiking gear reviews: Check, the four posts I began last summer weren’t lost when we migrated our website to a new server, so they count!
  • Update old posts to better reflect trail locations: Um, no progress
  • Learn to use Pinterest to increase website traffic: Very little progress
  • Learn to cook new meals: Check, I’ve made a few new dishes.


We do walk a lot around the neighborhood during this Corona virus stay at home order. There’s a huge empty lot next to the subdivision and if you only look in certain directions it’s almost as if we’re in the wilderness. We usually see one or two other people out and about, which is nice even though we can only say a quick hello but can’t stop to chat.

We did get out and go for one hike/walk at a park about ten miles away. It technically broke the stay at home rule, but it wasn’t intentional. We went to a trail about a mile away, but turns out it either was no longer a trail or we couldn’t find it. Anyway, then dear Google led us to Fountain Creek Park, which turned out to be wonderful. We walked for a couple hours and successfully self-distanced from the handful of people we passed.

Emotional well-being during stay at home

The stay at home order hasn’t been terrible, as we both spent some time being sick. So it was nice to have ample recovery time. I’ve also spent more than my fair share of time feeling sorry for myself and experiencing the anxiety that so many of us are feeling right now. During this time of uncertainty, we stay up late and sleep late. Is everyone doing that? I’m generally an early to bed, early to rise kind of person, but as the weeks drag on, I’m staying up later and later. Usually not a good sign, so today we got up early, well, early-ish. 9:00 AM, which is normally sleeping in super late for me.

After completing our full self-imposed quarantine period, we’ve made a couple trips over to Steve’s dad’s apartment. We can look at each other through the window while talking on the phone. While it’s not the same as giving him a hug, it’s still great to be able to see him. Definitely a boost to our emotional well-being.

Visiting thru the Window

Learning new skills

A couple days ago, I attempted to make some mozzarella cheese. It took a really long time, which served one purpose when there’s nothing to do but stay at home. However, it didn’t actually turn out to be mozzarella. Instead it’s like ricotta. I read a troubleshooting guide that said it’s likely because the milk was processed at too high a temperature during packaging. Oh well, it was kind of fun and fell into my goal of learning something new.

Tonight I’ll use it in sweet potato/ricotta manicotti with homemade marinara sauce. The box of noodles say they expired in 2014, but it seems like dry pasta shouldn’t really have a shelf-life! We’re taking turns cooking and trying new dishes. Steve made turkey and dumplings, which was to die for.

I’m also trying to learn to use Pinterest better. I’m an excellent pinner and can spend hours browsing hiking posts or travel destinations. However, I’m trying to learn how to use it from a website promotion point of view. It’s challenging, but super fun.

Entertaining ourselves

We watch The Office during lunch, because you know it’s the 15 year anniversary, and we love it. But this week we started watching Nurse Jackie again, so sorry Jim and Pam. One evening we even watched Trumpy give his daily propaganda update, but that just pissed me off too much to repeat. I don’t have extra room in my head for the stress of politics right now. It just won’t fit.

Currently, our second puzzle is in full swing. We finished the first in a couple weeks, only to discover that we lost three pieces at some point. Probably stuck to an elbow while leaning over the table. Upending an ottoman and shaking out couch cushions did nothing to turn up the wayward pieces, so we just took the puzzle apart and moved on…sigh. I did learn how to make wild animals appear in the living room, so that was fun!

I washed my sleeping bag in the bathtub with down wash. Then hung it across the deck railing to dry in the sunshine. Now that was one exciting afternoon of entertainment, let me tell you. Sunshine and snow, we’ve had them both here. I prefer the sun!

Looking beyond Stay At Home

We don’t yet have a good idea of what the future holds for us. We don’t actually have any idea, much less a good one.

My sisters and I cancelled our Dad’s celebration of life, which was to be held in early July in Louisiana. It was a hard decision to come to, but we think it’s the right one for now.

Van life?

Steve and I think we may like to travel by camper van for a bit once the stay at home is lifted. We’ve started doing some upgrades, like adding shelving in the clothes “closet”. We saw rearview mirror cameras in Vietnam and I’ve looked into getting one for the van. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not, so if you have any experience, shoot me a comment.

We’re planning to add USB ports to the sleeping area of the van that will connect to our house battery for easy cell phone/Kindle recharge. We’re also thinking of adding two USB fans to combat the heat when boondocking.

Hike some more…

We still have permits to finish the portion of the Pacific Crest Trail we missed last year. Who knows right now if that will happen or not. California, Washington and Oregon have created an interstate pact for re-opening, but it’s a big unknown what that’s going to mean for the PCT.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association announced this week that they’re extending their own shutdown to June 1st, in conjunction with California’s stay at home order. They’ve asked people to cancel their hikes thus far, because hikers going through small, mostly isolated, elderly populated towns could spread the virus.

Stay at Home:  A month back in the US

Overall, we’re not entirely sure what the future holds. It’s looking like we either have to figure out how to make a small income from this blog or one of us needs to do some freelancing or something. Not quite yet but soon, we’ll have to start thinking about generating income again. Us and everybody else in the world right now, I guess.

For today, we’re well, warm and happy. That’s a pretty decent life, I’d say.

Stay at Home:  A month back in the US
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  1. Angus McCamant

    I started making mozzarella several years ago and had a lot of the ricotta style. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it didn’t. I got much more repeatable results when I got more careful with heating the curds.
    The recipe I used was the 30 minute mozzarella on the critical step is number 6 in the recipe. After sitting for five minutes to let the curds form and cutting the curds you need to be very careful heating them to 105. With the curds present the thermal conductivity is much lower (yes, I am an engineer) and it is difficult to provide even heat. You need to keep the stove burner low and stir and be patient. If it heats too fast or too high it never gets the smooth curds.
    I’m pleased to see how upbeat you are after coming home to the country that has done, in my opinion, worse than any other advanced nation managing the pandemic. You should have gone to South Korea, Japan or Australia. Those countries have controlled the virus with fewer than 11,000 fatalities and are in the cleanup phase. Oh well, we do have to be near family, I understand that.

    Thanks for keeping up the blog, I look forward to hearing about your new adventures.

  2. Heidi Halverson

    Oh, but do I think you are both very good engaging writers.

  3. Heidi Halverson

    Good luck with blog. Only thing people want to hear about now is Corona virus so unless you can tell us how to cure it, prevent it, or save ourselves from our ineptitude in dealing with it… I don’t know.

    For some reason ? your blog made me more aware of PCT and hiking trails in general. Anyhow, I have a book recommendation: “Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home” – Heather Anderson. She’s a bit crazy, but it’s a crazy cool that I find interesting. I think work those legs because maybe by July 1 PCT will reopen. It’s so hard to tell, but we’ve flattened the curve.

    • SteveandNoelle

      Hi Heidi. Thanks for continuing to read our dribble! I do enjoy reading your comments and looking at things from your perspective. It’s straight forward and I definitely appreciate it. I’ll check out the book by Heather Anderson. I also like crazy! :) Hope you and yours are staying well and finding ways to enjoy this downtime. N

  4. Marian Duff

    Hello Noelle and Steve, Glad you are back safe and sound in USA and catching up with yourselves. Sorry, but I dont know anything about making Mozzarella or rear view mirrors cameras. Steve the shelves look great. I suggest that instead of being anxious about these times of isolation and uncertainty, welcome it and appreciate the quietness and what this isolation affords you, you more than likely will never have it again. As soon as “Stay at home” is lifted we will work ourselves back to “normal” . We are human, we forget. This crises has stopped us in our tracks and its hard being with ourselves 24/7. This poem from Derek Walcott is a reminder…

    Love after Love

    The time will come
    when with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    And each will smile at the others welcome

    and say, sit here, Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    • SteveandNoelle

      Hi Marion. Good to hear from you. We sure hope you and Patrick are staying healthy! Thanks for the poem. I’ve read it a few times now and will continue keeping it in mind. It does get difficult to just sit with ourselves, but there is certainly beauty in it. And you’re right, this kind of time may never come again. Love to you!

  5. Anonymous

    There is no such thing as dry hot salted
    Disregard the word dry😉😄

    • SteveandNoelle

      hahaha. That’s awesome, I was wondering what that meant! N

  6. Christine Armstrong

    Hi there
    Been following your blog for quite some time now. Really enjoyed your pct hike.
    I used to work in a cheese shop … made fresh mozzarella almost daily. Get the cheese kurds crumbled up. Add dry hot salted water to it. Let it stand for 30 sec to a min. Meanwhile double glove your hands because you need as much heat protection as possible. Use a strainer to get the heated Kurds out. Immediately start kneading the Kurds in your hands ( that’s why double gloves) it’s super hot. The mozzarella should look smooth and shiny. Put in some salted water to cool down
    When storing, I used the same salted
    Water. It should stay fresh that way for few days. The key is to work fast with the melted Kurds. I kinda kneaded stretch the dough

    I also got a rear view mirror camera for Xmas. And a back window camera. My husband installed them himself. It was time consuming but cheaper then professionals installing it. I really love them. I can re watch my trips on my iPhone and computer which makes it nice. Also adds extra security when I travel alone I can upload my trip for my husband to watch
    Hope that helps.

    • SteveandNoelle

      Hi Christine. Thanks for following us, even beyond the PCT! I did try to knead the cheese, but it just crumbled. I may have given up too soon, or maybe didn’t keep it hot enough. I still have rennet and citric acid, so I’ll try again! I’m also glad to hear you like your rear view mirror camera. Seems like it would make the big van easier to navigate. Also glad to hear that it’s a project we can probably do ourselves too. That would be a big savings! Hope you’re staying well.


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