What an experience this past weekend was. I took my first two days off from work since early February, and took my first flight in more than 4 months.
I’ll try and recap the weekend, the travel, and anything else that was eventful.
The flying experience was incredible and extremely safe. Much like the outdoor-friendly drinks in NYC, there are several elements of the Covid travel protocols that I hope remain in a post-pandemic world.
Most notably, the airports were deserted. I flew from LaGuardia to Minneapolis , two of the busiest airports in the US, and there were 3 and 6 customers in the entire security area during my respective check-ins. Absolutely wild - needless to say, keeping 6 feet apart was no issue.
Because Delta is only really selling 60% of their seats during this time, it was easy to get upgraded to first class both ways (I know, I know). There was nobody sitting even close to me, so overall the flight experience was probably safer than going to the grocery store. We wore masks the entire time, there was no food or beverage service on the way there, and they provided purel wipes to everyone. On the way home, they served beer and wine in first class and pre-prepared meal “boxes” but that was it. No drinks cart.
So - why was I traveling? I was invited to the bachelor party of a good buddy, Jake, who I met through work. He’s also an actuary and he and I were the only health actuaries on the first major consulting engagement I was on at the firm. We had bonded over a few high-pressure analyses, and many airport and hotel beers while traveling throughout the country. He is from the Twin Cities but now lives in North Carolina.
I felt honoured to get the invite after only knowing him for about a year, and really wanted to attend as the plan was a golf trip with a few folks in northern Minnesota. As of Monday last week, I had my flight booked, and then New York State put Minnesota on their list of states requiring you to quarantine upon arrival back in New York. The thought of 14 days in my apartment with zero human interaction and zero running seemed terrifying so I sadly canceled my flight. Then, during Tuesday’s press conference, NY’s governor Cuomo added even more states to the list (31 in total) but dropped Minnesota! I rebooked my flight late Tuesday night and flew out on Thursday morning.
I arrived in MSP about the same time as Jake who flew up from Charlotte and his mum picked us up from the airport.
Shortly after, we met up with Jake’s brother who drove us - after a Costco run - 3 hours North to Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN. I actually remember Giants Ridge as a solid ski destination from Winnipeg, but didn’t realize they also had two fantastic golf courses.
Giants Ridge is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and about 3 hours from the Twin Cities. Our villa sat in the middle of the two golf courses (about a mile away from each) and about 100 yards from a beautiful and warm man made lake. Again, being immersed in nature made for a weekend that I was likely in close contact with far fewer people than I would have been living normal life in NYC. Therefore, not only was it incredibly fun, but it was safe!
The golf was a huge bonus. Not only were both courses (The Legends and The Quarry) beautiful, challenging and in great shape, but they seemed to be pretty empty around our groups. I was hesitant to re-join the trip because I was the fifth guy which is an awkward number for golf. But because it was so dead, we joined our twosome and threesome for most holes which resulted in tons of laughs and fun competition.
For accommodations, we had five guys staying in the four bedroom house where we recovered from golf, had friendly beers, swam in the lake, watched baseball, played cards, and just generally relaxed. It was great getting to know Jakes brothers and long-time friends and it’s sure to make the Labor Day Weekend wedding even more epic.
Three nights and sixty-three holes of golf later, I was back in the Twin Cities, but before heading to MSP airport I was able to meet up with another friend. My buddy Joe from work is really responsible for me being anywhere near the bachelor party. I replaced him on my first project because he was taking some time off to get married and wanted to cut down on travel. He essentially recruited me to be his replacement and now my closest friends at the firm can be traced back to my experience on that project.
Joe invited us for a quick beer at his house, coincidentally on his birthday, before I flew out, and it was great to catch up.
It made for a tiring week as I didn’t arrive back in LaGuardia til after 11pm on Sunday, but it was so worth it. I’ve just wrapped up my latest project and will be starting on a new team on Monday so I’m hoping to relax this weekend, get some exercise in, enjoy NYC, play some golf, and get ready to dive into the new project!
I’m not going to be jumping on a plane for random trips anytime soon, but the fact it was so smooth was very encouraging and gives me hope that travel may once again be a thing. If you are thinking about traveling somewhere or have questions about the experience, leave a comment and let me know!
Thanks for reading!