21st Birthday Trip, Post-Pandemic

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21st Birthday Trip, Post-Pandemic

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My twin sister and I turned 20 right after the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. That birthday was a gigantic bummer, because all my friends had left my college campus and I was still there but couldn't visit home either due to Covid concerns (my parents are in their 60's and my sister has asthma). So, after a year of not traveling or doing very much else, my first post-covid trip was for my 21st birthday. Not yet ready to get back on airplanes but wanting to do something exciting, my mom, dad, sister, and I packed into the van for an 8-hour drive across Colorado to an Airbnb in Durango, near the southwest corner of the state. Durango is a cute little tourist town that's still sleepy from winter in April, and definitely non-traditional for a 21st birthday bash. We had two objectives for the trip: Mom and Dad were going to buy us our first (legal) alcoholic beverages, and we were going to take a ride on the narrow-gauge railroad that ran from Durango to the nearby tourist/old mining town of Silverton. The first goal was accomplished quickly upon our arrival; we located the old Strater hotel, built in 1887, complete with a bar where we immediately situated ourselves. The servers were dressed like flappers, all wearing masks, many matching the colorful fringes of their dresses. I ordered an old fashioned, was tipsy after half, and handed it off to my mom to finish. My dad had a great time shepherding us back to the van. The train ride the next day was the highlight of the trip. We bought tickets in advance, since only a limited number of seats could be filled in each car due to lingering covid precautions. Masks were also still required, except when eating and drinking (a full bar was available, as well as coffee and pastries). The train crept up into the mountains alongside a river, sometimes crossing over very tall trestle bridges, prompting my mom, who's afraid of heights, to pull her mask up over her eyes. Lunch, which was previously served on the train, was instead provided to us in pre-packaged boxes, to be eaten outside at picnic tables along the river where we were free to spread out and remove our masks. On the ride back to Durango, the full bar on the train was open, and most masks came off. My parents bought my sister and I our second drinks of being 21 (mimosas at 3:30pm, woo!) and we headed back to the Airbnb, stopping to pick up some Serious Texas Barbecue. While Covid ruined my plans for the 21st birthday party I thought I would have, it gave me a few years to slow down and to appreciate my family and small, meaningful, gatherings together, which I wouldn't trade for the wildest party in the world.

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This item was submitted on January 31, 2023 by Allison Drummond using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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