Vacationing in the Time of COVID

One should still be hesitant about traveling these days, for obvious reasons. But I had plenty of vacation days at work that I needed to use, I didn’t want to sit around my home all day (one can only do so much housework), and I also felt I needed a “practice trip” to see if I could mentally handle going outside my local area for a few days.

Was there a place that I could easily drive to in one day, one that I was reasonably familiar with so I wouldn’t feel too weird, and one that was also far enough away so I’d feel like I was actually going somewhere?

Atlantic City NJ fit the bill.

It was indeed weird strolling the Boardwalk.

Quite a lot of places were not open. It wasn’t that there were “For Rent” signs everywhere; the stores were there, but shuttered. Even a few of the more upscale food shops built into the casinos. The most stunning one was the big upscale mall – the Playground Pier – across from Caesars. The mall itself was open, so you could go in and stroll around in air conditioned comfort – but nothing was open. I mean NOTHING. Most places were actually boarded over, and the few that weren’t didn’t seem to have anyone – staff included – inside. The restaurants looked like they were waiting for supplies to be delivered. No lights on or anything.

The places that were open were all the usual souvenir shops and pizza / snack places. Since the state has made marijuana OK, there were a lot of, er, “smoke/vape” shops, too. If you need to get CBD oils or edibles, you have plenty of choices. You also have plenty of choices for henna tattoos or psychic “readings”. I seriously wonder how the Boardwalk can support so many of those places in so small an area. It’s not like people were lining up to get their palms examined….

I won’t mention the hotel I stayed at. The room was big, clean, and comfortable (I wanted to take a pillow home with me), but it was missing some of the basic amenities I’ve come to expect when I travel. When I’ve stayed at a lower-budget hotel, there’s always been a rack near the check-in desk filled with brochures for all the tourist attractions a day trip away. At the upper end hotels, the rooms have always had one of those monthly tourist magazines describing which entertainers are in town that month, what festivals and expos are around, and what movies are available on the in-house TV. My hotel had neither. Didn’t even have a pen and notepad by the room phone….

I did take in a few shows that I can recommend. Cirque Risque is an “adults only” show at The Showboat. Imagine a few entertainers from Cirque du Soleil putting on a burlesque show….

I got to see Anthony Cools at Caesars while he was in town. He does a comedy/”hypnosis” show for adults – in the same manner that Cirque Risque is for adults.

No, I did not get up on stage. Had a blast nonetheless. If this show is anything like a standard “hypnosis” show, the host isn’t really hypnotizing anyone. It’s all a matter of finding enough people in the audience whose trust can be earned to the point where they will go along with whatever you want them to do. Cools was pretty clear with this at the end; he insisted that the people who had the guts enough to come up on stage and do all the silly stuff were the real stars and deserved all the applause we could give.

It was a good three days. I managed to avoid Hurricane Henri – all AC had was scattered rain and rough surf – by getting out of my home town. I’m not sure when I’ll be traveling again. I surely will at some point, but when? Things will have to be completely open, and after so many months of COVID restrictions, it’s going to be a while before I feel comfortable enough to go away for a full week.

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