So much has happened in the last 48hrs. This may be a long post.
First, Tuesday evening ended with some really great news. As some of you know, the Ferry from Dover to Calais no longer allows passengers on foot. After investigating several other options for getting to France (all more expensive and awkwardly long) we started looking an option of buying a bike in Dover and then just donating it to a charity in Calais. It seemed like such a nutty idea to buy a bike just to ride it on the ferry, but such is the tale of two pilgrims during Covid.
Well, it seems there is some major biking event the week we are to be in Dover and no one had a bike. But Tuesday evening I was able to purchase not one, but two used bikes from a chap in Dover via Facebook marketplace. Even better…he lives right on the High Street on our way into town.
It may sound odd, but just that one thing opened up so many doors for this trip. Almost more importantly, it closed several others.
Wednesday was a day of crossing off to-do items from our to-do lists. Covid day 2 and day 8 swabs were preordered (proof of purchase required before boarding the flight to the UK); Covid day 5 (early release scheme) booked; Pre-France Covid Swab kits purchased; Bus and Train tickets purchased – Heathrow to Christchurch – our location for the quarantine period; and emails sent to both St. Paul’s and Southwark Cathedral to ask for details about Evensong, Eucharist, and Pilgrim blessing opportunities. I felt very productive.
Wednesday was also the day of our pre-flight Covid Swab tests. This is the first in a series of 5 that we have to have. I’d preordered these through a link at the United Airlines site. It was run by Quest diagnostics via a Walmart drive through pharmacy window. Now to appreciate this next bit you need to know a detail.
The regulations for this pre-flight swab are that it be a PCR test and that it be taken no more than. 72 hours from when you land. However you must have your results in-hand before your board about 8hrs beforehand. So…follow this… we land in London at 6:30am Saturday. That’s 1:30am on the East Coast. Back off 72hrs from that and you get Wednesday at 1:30am as the earliest we could get the swab done. Well clearly no one is open then so let’s say you get the first available appointment on Wednesday (9:30am). Well that’s 8hrs subtracted from the 72 leaving 64hrs. Well, every place we could find would only guarantee 2-3 day turnaround for results starting from when the sample arrived at the lab. Ok so best case the sample taken on Wednesday morning gets to the lab Thursday morning.
Are you starting to see the problem inherent in the system?
Well we arrived at Walmart and the kind attendant leads us through taking the swabs and as we are depositing them into the box she says….Thank you…we will email your results to you in 3-5 days! “WHAT!!”- I replied. “Oh yes, she replied …it often takes that long.”
So in my reeling mind I’m unwinding three years of preparation and gobs of reservations and prepaid plans.
But then she kindly whispers….” You didn’t hear me say this, but CVS will get you much quicker results”.
So we zoom home and immediately book two additional swab tests at CVS. There we repeat the routine with a statement …” you should have your results in 24-48hrs”. Doing some quick mental math that means we will get our results after our first leg to Dulles and before our check in for London……IF something doesn’t go wrong and of course assuming the results are Negative.
Story ends here….. Woke this morning to two texts from CVS with negative Covid results (less than 20hrs after the swabs were taken). What a great start to the day.
Folks….It looks like this is really happening!