top of page
  • Writer's pictureRachel McCarty

All The Things - 2020 Events & Trips

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

I’m Back! Nothing about this year has gone according to plan, including my career and blog.

Grab a snack and settle in; this’ll be a long one…

I had planned on posting a new blog every week, even while finishing out my day job, but I ended up being just as busy through the last few months of my job as I was prior to the company being bought. Others had lots of free time, but my position just didn’t work out that way. So now it’s September and, boy-oh-boy, what a world we live in right now!

Iowa Trip

The last day of my job was March 11th. At this point, the novel coronavirus was a popular topic in the news, but the concern had only just begun in the United States. Two days later I headed to Iowa with my dad and my friend, Phlynn*, to visit my sister and her family.

Our few days in Iowa were basically coronavirus-concerns free. We took a dinner train and visited one section of the Amana Colonies (maybe Homestead, maybe not even one of the seven villages). The Amana Colonies are villages filled with food, drink, art and other items from German origins. The area we went to was cute and nice to walk through, but honestly the Dutch bakery in Boone was 100 times better than the German baked goods we got in Amana. I did, however, get one of my favorite pieces of art from one of the shops. It’s a black wire tree on a rock base by Doug Adams. Doug also has a huge wall tree designed in the same method that I would like to get someday.

Doug Adam’s wire trees.
Doug Adam’s wire trees. The tree on the left is the one I purchased. Phlynn bought the same tree, but with silver wire instead of black. The tree on the right is a large wall hanging that I hope to buy in the future.
Reuben & Orange Chicken Pizza from Fong's in Des Moines
Our first meal – Fong’s Pizza in Des Moines. These are two of the pizzas we tried: Reuben and Orange Chicken. Seriously, make your way to Iowa for this pizza. Unique toppings and insanely good pizza!
Moss, chipping paint, details
Moss and chipping paint from random spots during my trip to Iowa. I love the details!
Train bridge, Boone, Iowa
The bridge that was our ‘turning around’ point on the dinner train. This view definitely sent my fear of heights into high gear.

Besides low flight passenger numbers that I haven’t seen in YEARS, it wasn’t until our last day in Iowa that we began seeing coronavirus changes. Phlynn and I had been to a restaurant called Provisions the last time we were in Iowa, and we wanted to go there for our last lunch before we flew back home that afternoon. However, all restaurants were ordered to close at noon that day. Only take-out was available. So instead of an amazing lunch at a fantastic restaurant, we had Subway at my sister’s house. (Insert shrug emoji here)

Before we went to the airport, my dad, Phlynn and I took a short walk down a shop and restaurant-filled street to kill time. It was eerie being in a large town and seeing only a handful of people. And this was really only the beginning of the changes we would see from COVID-19.

Empty Des Moines street, coronavirus, COVID-19 shut-down
A street in Des Moines on Tuesday March 17th. One shop was open, while a café owner tearfully shut her place down. The beginning to a time of fear, confusion and sadness for so many business owners.


Meanwhile in the new coronavirus era, the world was going up in flames. Toilet paper was being hoarded, non-perishables were disappearing from the grocery store shelves, and we were just three weeks out from a state issued Stay-at-Home order.

I had spent hours planning a Spring Break trip with my friend Graegory* and her family. CANCELLED. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on activities for the kids on that road trip. WASTED. I planned to spend time in Starbucks or Barnes and Noble typing my little fingers away as I built a new freelance writing career. NOPE. And so many other plans and ideas suddenly were no longer feasible options.

At least the end of my previous company came before ‘the Corona.’ Because we were bought by another company, we all received very healthy severance packages. This turned out to be even more important and fortunate than we could have known at the close of my company’s sale. Due to the shut-down from the coronavirus, many industries took a hit, including oil and gas. Colorado was already having a hard time thanks to anti-oil and gas activities in our state. But after the shut-down, hundreds of people lost their jobs. Not just in Colorado either; the industry as a whole is really struggling right now. As are so many others.

Basically, COVID-19 is the worst. As you’re all aware.

Moving on.

Winter Park Trip

Graegory’s mother died 11 or 12 years ago (I’m SO bad at remembering dates) in May. Every year on the day that she died we do something fun to: a.) distract Graegory so she doesn’t dive too deeply into sadness, and b.) remember her mother. By May of this year we had been isolating for over a month and decided that if we didn’t get out of our houses we would go insane. So we rented a fancy townhome in Winter Park to get away for the weekend.

There was a hot tub on the roof of the home and the weather was quite nice for May in Winter Park. The weekend was a fun and relaxing time where we could (mostly) pretend that darn coronavirus didn’t exist. It was a much needed break from reality.

Burned apartments, fire, destroyed
Apartments destroyed by a fire just down the street from the townhome we rented.
Fog & trees, Winter Park, Colorado
The view on our drive home from Winter Park. There was some light snow on the drive, but the best part was all the fog. Very moody!

Arizona Trip

Another month passed in our new (and terrible) COVID world, and Graegory’s kids were getting rather restless. They had missed out on their first road trip in March and were tired of spending all day every day in the same place. As we all were/are. So Graegory and I decided to take them on a mini road trip. We rented a house that had a pool in Arizona. That way, once we made a trip to the grocery store, we wouldn’t have to leave the house (except for In-N-Out, obviously).We stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque one night each way, and we took all precautions to avoid sharing germs, ours or others’.

Art mural in Albuquerque, New Mexico
A beautiful mural in Albuquerque.

Having a pool at the house was amazing. I don’t know how I’ve done without one all these years. I LOVE water. (Except the ocean, the ocean terrifies me. I like the beach, but the ocean is horrifying.)Being able to walk out the back door to a private pool was a dream come true. Unfortunately, it only enhanced my desire to have a swimming pool in my own backyard, but do you know how expensive those things are to build and maintain?!?!Someday…

Hatch, New Mexico memorabilia
A fun collection of characters and memorabilia in Hatch, NM. Worth a quick stop to peruse if you’re in the area.
Scorpion in Tucson, Arizona
I found this nasty little scorpion on the wall of the bedroom I was staying in. Ew. After some debate about how to deal with it, Graegory held a fly swatter over it and I hit it with a shoe, then stabbed it multiple times with a butcher knife. Then we checked all our bags and had a difficult night’s sleep. The children must never know…
The Thing roadside attraction in Arizona
Advertisements for “The Thing” are displayed throughout southwestern New Mexico and Arizona. It was a fun little roadside attraction that was well put together and entertaining.

Almost Job & Mental Health

In early July a recruiter contacted me about an available position at a small oil and gas company in Denver. You may recall that I was not planning on continuing my career in the oil and gas industry, but rather, starting a freelance writing career. Welp. As it turns out, I have a lot of anxiety about…well, about most things. But in this case, I have anxiety about having a stable income, keeping the house I bought two years ago that I love, having health insurance, being able to pay my bills, not having too much stress in my life (see the anxiety comment in the last sentence), and a plethora of other things.

So when the recruiter contacted me, I could feel a weight lifting from me and my breaths came a little easier. I could finally see some light, and I liked it. I hadn’t planned on going back to a corporate job, but there are definitely perks to not being a freelancer. And I realized that, to me, the perks outweigh the negative aspects of a corporate job.

After nearly a month, several phone interviews with multiple people, and a lunch meeting, the decision was down to me and one other candidate. When I got the call that let me know I wasn’t chosen, I was devastated. So much anxiety I’d been carrying all summer had been slowly fading as I had gotten further along in the interview process. I was trying not to get my hopes up, but I felt like my chances of getting an offer were pretty good.

And then all that anxiety came rushing back in an instant. I felt like I was drowning, pulled deeper and deeper into darkness by all the things I thought I was going to be able to let go of when I got the job. It was a really difficult few days for me, especially the day I got the call. Thankfully I have a good support system these days, but my depression was suffocating me, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have suicidal thoughts. Lots of them.

I made it through, but depression and anxiety are no joke. September is National Suicide Prevention Month. As someone who has lived with depression for most, if not all, of my life, and someone who has been in the dark place of planning my suicide, mental health and the awareness and prevention of suicide is something very dear to my heart. Later this week I will be posting a blog about my own experience with depression and anxiety.

Blogging Goals

Speaking of posting blogs, my goal is to post a blog once or twice a week. Shorter blogs will be posted on Mondays or Wednesdays, and longer blogs will be posted on Fridays, for the most part. Depending on what else is happening that week or posting plans for the surrounding weeks, however, I may only post one blog on a given week. But there will be at least one blog post a week, starting this week.

Is that enough? Are you still awake? I thought about breaking this blog up into smaller posts, but I really just wanted to get all this out and done. And now it is!

Thanks for reading my first novella (haha, but, seriously, I’m sorry this was so long)!

*My nickname for her, not her real name

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page