No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2020

New World Order

March 19, 2020

New World Order

It was just over a week ago when the world as we know it changed forever, at least as far as us personally. We had been paying attention to the ever increasing world crisis with the increasing spread of the worldwide pandemic of the COVID-19, coronavirus, but it really had not had much of a direct impact on us or Key West. I had already been practicing what has become known as social distancing and being very careful and cautious as far as interacting with others, especially when attending events with a lot of people in attendance such as last week when we were in Miami last week.

Wednesday we were attending a play at the Waterfront Playhouse, a wonderful production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” that we enjoyed immensely. It was a tremendously enjoyable, high energy and fun production and we were in a great mood upon walking out of the theater, but then we began to hear a low murmur about big news…an NBA player had tested positive for the virus and the entire NBA season had been canceled. This was a huge development and the first in a series of dominos that would see by the end of the week every major sports league canceling or postponing their seasons, followed in short order by the canceling of just about every gathering of more than a dozen or so people.


This impacted me immediately as I was scheduled to fly to St. Petersburg the very next day to attend the first Indy Car race of the season. Literally moments before I was to leave, word came that the race was going to be run without any fans in attendance, followed shortly by the announcement that the race was indeed canceled. I was able to cancel my flight and hunker down as each day brought more and more stunning and crazy news as the nation slowly came to grips with the severity of this new reality.

Each day brought more and more what once would have been shocking news, as more and more businesses and activities were closed or canceled. Each day brought more and more news and calls for citizens to self-isolate, social distance and basically avoid any gathering. Grocery stores have become a mad scene as people have begun panic buying and hoarding basic products such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and more.

This happening in the middle of a busy Spring break period while the town has been packed with college students and more has had a tremendous economic impact as each day brings more closings, more dire predictions and now just in the last 24 hours, the closure of the Keys to tourists all together as hotels have been ordered closed, this after the litany of popular tourist attractions including the Southernmost Point, Mallory Square, city beaches and more.

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The daily announced closings have not been without conflict for example the first night that restaurants and bars were ordered closed had a number of thoughtless or greedy restaurant owners basically ignoring the local order and remaining open, but by day 2, they had all fallen in line. Now only a couple of days later, the tourist have largely deserted the island and a surreal quiet and calm have taken over the island.

Calm on the outside, at least- though people are incredibly stressed and worried both about the scary health implications and the immediate and devastating economic impact as much of the island is suddenly out of work for the foreseeable future. It is the strangest time that I can remember ever in Key West, and this includes multiple experiences with hurricanes.


Each day becomes more and more surreal, as Kathy and I are spending most of our days at home, isolated like much of the nation, watching with growing horror the news each day. We try to manage to get out a little, taking walks or bike rides around town, checking out the surreal scenes of the empty island. It is a scary and unsettling time and like most people, we are doing the best we can. In addition to the trip to St. Pete, Kathy and I also sadly had to cancel a trip to Colorado and New Mexico and like everyone, travel anywhere in the next few months seems increasingly unlikely. Our thoughts are with all those impacted by this terrible scourge be it health related, economic or other. It has been and will increasingly be a difficult time for all of us but we will get through it.

In addition to the horrid news of the week, Key West sadly also lost two iconic figures and personal friends of ours this month with the passing of George Murphy and Seward Johnson. George and I worked together for years when he coordinated Reef Relief's annual Cayo Carnival fundraiser and he was as funny, kind and talented a bon vivant as I have ever encountered. Similarly I have gotten to know Seward Johnson, a talented and world renowned sculptor and philanthropist who along with his wife Cecelia has been a huge supporter of the arts in Key West. It has been a bad month all around.

George Murphy and friends

Seward Johnson