Vail Valley couple back home with tales to tell after long encounter with California quarantine
Bonnie and Buddy Sims' Big Adventure comes full circle to Singletree
After eight days quarantined aboard their cruise ship and another eight days at a San Diego military base, Bonnie and Buddy Sims’ charter flight was stuck on the tarmac for one last delay before they flew home. Like the 16 days they had already spent in quarantine, no one told them much about why their plane wasn’t in the air.
Soon it became apparent.
From their window seat, they saw a guy resplendent in a hazmat suit cantering across the tarmac with a case of antiseptic wipes. He climbed the stairs and handed the case of Clorox wipes to a flight attendant.
Think of it: An 80,000-pound plane that generates 14,000 foot-pounds of thrust was grounded for the lack of a box of antiseptic wipes.
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Bonnie and Buddy smiled at the irony — first because it’s funny and second because there’s nothing else to do.
When the door closed the captain announced, “We’re headed for Denver!” A huge cheer went up. When they landed in Denver a couple hours later, the captain said, “Welcome home!” Another huge cheer went up.
“We enjoyed our extended vacation. Thank you to the U.S. taxpayers,” Buddy said.
Snug in Singletree
They’re back in their Singletree home, where they’ll stay until Thursday when they’re 14-day quarantine is up.
“Thanks for all the support. We’re glad to be home,” Bonnie said.
Hundreds of friends called, texted and emailed, most asking if there was anything they could do.
“It says a lot about our community when people are going through all this here and still reach out to help,” Buddy said.
New friends, new faces
Bonnie and Buddy were among 39 Coloradans and thousands of passengers aboard the Grand Princess, that cruise ship moored off the San Francisco coast that was hit by COVID-19. They were quarantined for eight days aboard the ship and another eight at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
“Can you imagine being stuck in a small bedroom for eight days with one person?” Bonnie asked.
They left their rooms one time for 15 minutes during those eight days aboard the Grand Princess to walk around the ship. A security guard kept an eye on them.
“I guess they thought we were going to jump off the ship and swim to shore. A couple Coast Guard vessels patrolled around the ship, apparently to keep us from jumping off the ship and to keep the reporters from climbing on,” Buddy said laughing.
They met lots of new friends. Dr. Kim Look, for example, lives down in Colorado Springs. As of Monday, he was still at Miramar.
Life at Miramar continues to entertain, Look said in an email. One of the cleaning crew set off a fire alarm. Usually, that would generate a huge response, but only one firefighter was sent inside. He just reset the alarm, Look said.
And then there’s the beehive that busy bees are building near the main entrance of their building.
“We are leaving it alone,” Look said.
Another Colorado couple, Brad and Becky Grant celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary in quarantine. They ended up with a couple bottles of wine, but don’t drink. They called Bonnie and Buddy, who were happy to take them.
“On our way home we ate Doritos and drank their wine, toasting our homecoming,” Buddy said.
Their daily conference calls could be amusing. The CDC dispensed information and fielded complaints. Some complained they didn’t have bottled water. They had tap water but apparently wanted that single-use plastic bottle. They’d complain when they were served soft drinks for breakfast, or that their morning croissants were cold and they didn’t get any jelly.
The first couple of days the quarantined passengers stood in a cafeteria line to get their food, spreading both gossip and germs.
Price gouging was not as rampant as you might think. Their baggage loaders wore hazmat suits and gloves.
“Many of them volunteered to help us,” Buddy said.
Students at neighboring Thurgood Marshall Middle School sent the quarantined people hundreds of greeting cards and St. Patrick’s Day cards. “That just made my day,” Bonnie said.
High praise for Princess Cruises
They left Feb. 21 for a 15-day cruise to Hawaii, one day on each island, then to Mexico. The CDC took over the cruise ship on its way to Mexico and headed north to San Francisco.
“The cruise line and crew were good to everyone,” Buddy said.
In fact, during a conference call the feds told 300 Grand Princess passengers that while the government forced them into Miramar, the feds were not responsible for getting them home. A collective gasp ensued.
A Princess Cruise Lines executive interrupted and volunteered to pay for their travel home. They even made the reservations to get their passengers home and offered everyone a free cruise, Buddy said.
“That’s a really good company,” Buddy said.
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