It’s been a year, well actually more than that, and we now find ourselves venturing out once again. There is an awful lot of confusion about how safe everything is but, since both Grandpa and I have been fully vaccinated, we are a lot more confident than before, with some precautionary measures. We will continue to adhere to the restrictions and make sure others are safe as they can be when we are around.

So many things are different and one of those things is traveling. As we plan our trip to Kauai that we missed out on last year, my extra detailed to-do list has a whole new additional column. The first column is usually what I’m going to bring as far as clothing is concerned. My organized plan always begins with a list of tops and Capri pants, keeping in mind the 50-pound limit of my suitcase. Methodically, I match each pair of pants with a coordinated top, then add the shoes and purses that complete each ensemble. Our essential masks are also part of the outfits, so in go a bunch of those. After I have combed through my closet for each article of clothing, adding bathing suits, cover ups, sleeping attire and a jacket or two, I end up throwing out the whole plan and just dump my wardrobe into my suitcase until the 50-pound meter hits tilt— at least I tried.

With careful consideration of what is really needed, I do the toiletries and accessories. I scratch off each thing as it goes into the suitcase as if I achieved a major victory. Paperwork for every part of the trip is neatly folded and ready for my carry on and this time I will not forget my passport like I did once before. That is a whole other story that Grandpa refuses to let me live down. Another column is my pre-trip things to do a few days early including setting up my vitamins and medications, stopping the mail, take out all garbage, empty the refrigerator of perishables, avoiding ugly furry fruit upon our return, unplugging our scented plug-ins and washing all clothes. Scrolling through a week of shows coming up to record is a must so I don’t miss the season finale of anything or heaven forbid the series finale of something I have watched for years. I must know what happens to Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy. A quick trip to the bank for some cash and getting my natural color put back in my hair before we leave are some of the final things to get done. I brought a nice Mimi’s muffin to the two neighbors bribing them with sugar to watch my house for anything unusual while I am gone. Twenty-four hours before, I make sure the boarding passes are printed and then at that point, we would ordinarily be good to go.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect, although it has eased up a bit, there were some medical hoops to jump through before we could fly the friendly skies and keep them friendly. These are on the last of my to-do columns. There are mandates to get a negative COVID, test which you register for online. You must have a test within 72 hours of the last leg of your flight and receive confirmation of a negative result. It must be no more than 72 hours prior to the trip and it’s a bit tricky since it all depends on when they guarantee your results. We went to Livermore and it was very organized and easy. Signs directed you and you stayed in your car while the first person came to check your identification, which we showed our passports, and our medical card for possible insurance coverage. He was extremely pleasant and after verifying our information, guided us to the next stop, where a young lady reaffirmed some information and had us pull up to lovely person number three who handed us a swab and counted with us to 15 as we swirled our nostrils in unison. We handed back the vile, she wished us a great trip and a lovely day and by 4 p.m., we received a text that we had tested negative. There was a bunch of other paperwork online for Hawaii travel and thank goodness Grandpa took that job on as I am too busy with my darn list to take on any additional pressure. I’ve always been grateful to go on a vacation and I don’t mind jumping through a few hoops. I would tell you more but, I think I packed my list!

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at marla2054@aol.com.

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