American road travel in the late/post Covid-19 era

One of the things I’ve missed doing since the pandemic began was the freedom to take a road trip somewhere for a few days. Fortunately, now that I’m vaccinated, that option is available to me again. The problem is many of the places I would like to go are either in or involve going through areas where both vaccinations and the wearing of masks seem to be viewed unfavorably. I think doing the latter activity while dining in a restaurant, getting a beer, or shopping in a local business might automatically mark me as an outsider expressing an unpopular political opinion and invite responses that include giving the stink eye, the addition of bodily fluids to my food, and unprovoked assault. Of course, this is probably an exaggeration on my part caused by 15 months of semi-reclusive living and a politically charged climate where anything can be controversial but I can’t avoid making any travel plans without trepidation. Do any of you feel like you’re in the same boat? Are you finally able to take that road trip but now find the harsh realities of 2021 are affecting your plans?

I wouldn’t worry about it.

I’m fully vaccinated and I just finished a 7-week road trip from San Jose to Key West and back. All the hotels I stayed at and most of the indoor places I visited had “mask required” signs that were pretty much observed. I didn’t get a negative vibe from anyone when I was wearing a mask. In fact I was surprised to see how many people were masked up in Florida–mostly tourists, I suppose. I say go for it, bring a mask, use it when required and have a good time.

If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re the only one that has to know. And if you’re fully vaccinated, you really don’t need to worry if other people are not because 1) you’re not going to spread it and 2) even if you catch it the chance of you even noticing symptoms is low.

That said, you might feel better if you mask up in public except when doing so might really bend someone out of shape.

I like to think we’re kinda with the program in the Seattle 'burbs. In public, practically everyone is still masking (at least outside for restaurants and bars). My fortune 100 company no longer decrees masks inside of buildings for those vaccinated, but I have yet to see someone sans mask. I like to think we all understand the public good, and that there are still plenty of folks out there that haven’t been able to get vaccinated for one reason or the other, so give 'em a grace period. I do expect come July or August or September, then the vaccinated wearing masks in public is going to drop off.

Already taking the road trips. I’ve been cooped up for too long. About a month ago I wandered through west Texas (Abilene, Midland, Odessa, Monahans, Fort Davis, Alpine, Marfa, etc.). With the exception of workers at the Abilene Walmart, I saw absolutely no one wearing masks. I wore mine everywhere and encountered nothing. No comments, no stares, nobody cared. If there’s a center-of-the-universe for belligerent and defiant rednecks, it’s the west Texas oil patch, and I got no reaction at all, even in the truck stops.

I’ve also worn mine into my local watering hole (Fort Worth) amidst the construction and Harley* crowd with no problems. I would guess (or at least hope) if I’m not running into problems here, you’re unlikely to encounter them anywhere else. FTR: I’m not a tough guy or badass, just an average out of shape dude wandering in for a beer/burger.

I should mention that I’ve only wandered around Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma since I decided I was getting out again. ymmv, etc. etc.

*Not a biker bar, but it attracts a fair number of them.

Yeah, we’ve gone to Houston and Austin from Dallas, and while we saw a fair amount of masks in the big cities, the hinterlands were almost completely maskless. Which makes sense when you consider the ridiculous amount of religious glurge billboards and stuff on private property, and the fact that once you get out of the major metro areas, the only radio stations seem to be country or religious. Texas is pretty red once you get out of the major metro areas.

That said, nobody seemed to bat an eye or care in the least that we wore masks. Certainly there was no confrontation or grumbling or anything like that.

While it’s a very baffling and weird feeling to see people just blithely doing their thing without masks, and around other maskless people, there doesn’t seem to be any hostility about it.

I took a road trip over Memorial Day weekend about 500 miles east, from Chicago to where Ohio, Pennsylvania & West Virginia converge, close to Steubenville. It was interesting seeing the masks fall away as we approached our destination during stops at travel plazas along the interstate in IN & OH and, later, in smaller convenience store type places where there were none at all. I ditched the mask once we we off the interstate and into the smaller roads. It felt good.

I would be shocked if you were given any trouble. Around here, “urban” West Virginia, I would say about 20% still wear masks and in the rural areas, near 0%. I’ve never seen anyone harassed and nobody really cares. I’ve never even heard of anecdotal evidence of what you fear.

If that was a reply to me, I wasn’t in fear. Like I said, I didn’t wear it and it felt good. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just etiquette at his point here back home and I’m ready for the custom to drop.

Yeah, pretty much the same here. Just completed a two week road trip from central Indiana to and back from Santa Fe. Out west, pretty much everyone was masked up and/or required to wear them indoors. Hotels and restaurants included. McD’s were all drive-through only.

Until I got to Eastern Kansas and Missouri. There, they seem to have relaxed their mask mandates and nobody was wearing a mask but me. No hostility or strange glances though.

Thanks for the input. I live in the Pacific Northwest which, despite its liberal reputation, has a lot of deep red pockets where resentment of “leftwingers” from Seattle, Portland, and even certain parts of Spokane(!) occasionally bubbles to the surface. However, I don’t fear traveling into the hinterlands and I do think the vast majority of people living there are friendly. I was curious about whether anyone thought the pandemic and the political climate over the last few years may have made the hinterlands a less friendly place. So far, I see no signs of this.

I road-tripped earlier this year. I drove a campervan, brought groceries with me, slept inside the van, etc. During the days I was either driving or outdoors. I was not 100% isolated, but my exposure was very limited. And I was able to get the feeling of a road-trip even though I was driving through areas that - according to the news at the time - were heavily unmasked (I only really saw people at gas stations. And not that many. And I was masked.).

Now that I’m vaccinated (yay!) I’d feel even safer. Probably go for hotels (with minimal contact). I’d still avoid crowded restaurants in low vaccine areas and I’d be looking more for outdoor activities than for window shopping in little towns. I’d still wear a mask.

If the border re-opens, it would be lovely to just go across into BC/Alberta later this summer.

Apparently the area hit 70% vaccinated today (again, yay!). But inside, everyone is still masked and well over a majority of people still wear masks outside as well.

As a black woman, there are a lot of signs and news stories that the PNW hinterlands are a less friendly place than they were . YMMV, of course, but there are reason I’d prefer Canada to the Olympic Peninsula or large swaths of Oregon, despite how lovely those areas are and the border crossing hassle.

Amarinth, unfortunately the Canada border is still closed, but I can’t wait to get to Vancouver for some decent chinese food.

I’d like to say that PNW hinterlands are full of good country folk, but I’d be lying.

Just so those playing at home can get a taste. I’m sure you saw the news of the Antifa group “invading” Forks WA. TL:DR a black family commited the crime of going camping. Were accosted by carloads of white assholes accusing them of being Antifa agitators (thanks Trumpy) out to destroy the town (population 3500, whose claim to fame is that the Twilight Chronicles author is from there). Then later when camping, the family heard chainsaws and gunshots, decided to leave, and found the road to be blocked off by chain sawed trees. A cursory search did not turn up charges filed against anyone.

BTW, I’ve driven though Forks. It is a dreary ass place in bumfuck nowhere with a buncha inbread crackers.

In case the embedded link didn’t embed: A family suspected of being Antifa protesters was trapped on a road near their campsite, police say - CNN

I apologize if my earlier “see no signs of this” comment gave the wrong impression. I was only referring to the posts that had been left in this thread before amarinth’s and China_Guy’s. That said, those paranoid thoughts I expressed in the OP have re-entered my head. I’m 99.99% sure that if I decided to travel out into the hinterlands, I wouldn’t encounter any problems with any of the local denizens but it takes only one asshole to ruin your whole trip and the likelihood of encountering such an asshole (e.g., someone who’s consumed too much beer and Trumpian bile and wants to take out his frustrations on the first city-slicker with a mask he sees) seems to have increased. Such are the hazards of travel of 2021.