Parker Heinlein

Parker Heinlein

Support Local Journalism


We left Montana the last day of February driving south in search of sun and surf. We returned two weeks later to a world much different than the one we’d left.

I hadn’t seen a palm tree in a couple of years, and had never been to the San Diego Zoo. Barb told me I was due.

On the way down we stayed in Las Vegas, at a hotel now closed, walked the strip, and ate at a breakfast buffet. We avoided the crowds at Hoover Dam, however, after a security officer saw our Montana license plates, took one look at me, and pulled us out of the line of traffic. A cadre of uniformed officers wearing rubber gloves surrounded our SUV and asked if I had any firearms. Answering in the affirmative, I was told to turn around.

I was a bit upset at the time, but it now seems so inconsequential.

We saw the London Bridge at Lake Havasu City, Ariz., where I was called out by a Grizzly fan for my ‘Cats hat, lounged around a pool a few days in Palm Springs, Calif., visited the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, and eventually ended up in San Diego.

We monitored the news during our trip, but once we reached the Pacific, we turned off the TV, opened the doors and listened to the crashing surf.

We left a day early hoping to get back to Montana before a forecast storm hit the state. That night in St. George, Utah, while trying to find the Jazz game on TV, we heard the news: A player had tested positive for coronavirus. It quickly went downhill from there.

Anxious to get home, we left St. George at 4 a.m., and reached Malta at 8 that night.

We’ve been keeping to ourselves since we got back, hoping we’re not infected. We both feel fine except for a hard-to-shake feeling of dread.

I’m not one who has a bucket list, but since I was a kid I’ve wanted to see the San Diego Zoo. I also got to see where Barb spent time as a kid, and eat a lot of what she calls “real” Mexican food.

It was a wonderful trip. We hiked in Joshua Tree National Park, walked the beach, and I dined on charred octopus tentacle. I don’t believe I’d ever seen a gerenuk before, but I have now.

A pandemic is also something I’d never see before. Can’t say I’m enjoying it, but I sure hope to see you all on the other side.

Parker Heinlein is at

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.