Because we weren’t comfortable having a cat sitter coming into the house to take care of our fur babies 😻 while we’re gone on a trip like we usually do because of the pandemic, we decided to instead drive back home half way through to check up on them ourselves. It was not that bad, only a couple of hours each way. Totally worth the extra peace of mind if you ask me! 😆
After making sure our kitties were okay, we went back to the beach house and set out on another cool hike the next day. This time, a beach hike at Pine Cliffs Recreation Area, which is the beginning of the 20-mile long Neusiok Trail. It is also part of the infamous Mountains-to-Sea Trail, whose many sections we have hiked numerous times before!
หลังจากกลับมาที่บ้านน้อยริมแม่น้ำ วันรุ่งขึ้นเรากลับไปเดินป่ากันต่อที่ Pine Cliffs Recreation Area จะเรียกว่าเดินป่าอาจจะไม่ถูก เพราะดูแล้วจะใกล้เคียงกับการเดินชายทะเลซะมากกว่า 😆 ที่นี่เป็นเส้นทางเดินป่าที่มีชื่อว่า Neusiok Trail ซึ่งมีระยะทางกว่า 20 ไมล์ และเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของเส้นทางเดินป่าสายหลัก Mountains-to-Sea ของรัฐนี้ที่เราไปเดินกันมาหลายช่วงแล้ว แต่นี่เป็นครั้งแรกที่จะได้มาเดินช่วงใกล้ปลายทางติดทะเล
We drove to the trailhead at Pine Cliffs Recreation Area in Havelock. The area felt deserted. There was only one other car parked there when we got there. It was a little hard to figure out where the actual trail was. All we saw was debris everywhere, perhaps remnant from a recent storm? 🤔
เราไปจอดรถไว้ที่ Pine Cliffs Recreation Area ในเมือง Havelock ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ติดริมแม่น้ำ ไปถึงมีรถจอดอยู่แค่คันเดียว เดินวนอยู่นานหาทางไปไม่เจอ แถวนี้ดูแล้วรกร้างมาก มีเศษซากปรักหักพังระเนระนาดอยู่ทั่วบริเวณ ไม่แน่ใจว่าโดนหางพายุพัดกระจัดกระจายไว้ตั้งแต่เมื่อไหร่ 🤔
We finally decided to just descended down to the beach and started walking. It was amazing how the terrain here was so very different from what we had ever encountered before. This trail borders the Croatan National Forest right along the sandy beach of the Neuse River. Hiking in, we have forest to our left, and water to our right. It was such a stark contrast of landscapes, creating a very interesting ground for us to explore. 😍
สุดท้ายตัดสินใจปีนลงเนินไปที่ริมน้ำแล้วเดินเลียบชายฝั่งไปเรื่อยๆ ภูมิประเทศที่นี่เป็นอะไรที่เราไม่เคยสัมผัสมาก่อน ฝั่งซ้ายเป็นป่าทึบ Croatan National Forest ส่วนทางขวาเป็นแม่น้ำ Neuse River ที่กว้างขวางจนให้ความรู้สึกไม่ต่างไปจากทะเล เดินแล้วเหมือนกับได้ประสบการณ์แบบทูอินวันในทีเดียว 😍
Some of the tree stumps were polished by years of wind and salt water exposure.
There weren’t many blazes along the path. We managed to spot a few, but they weren’t very easy to locate!
We walked about a mile or so, before turning around and went back to the car. Even though there was a nice constant flow of sea breeze throughout the hike, the temperature was high in the 80s, and we were getting overheated. 🥵 All in all, we clocked in at almost exactly 2 miles, which took us just a little over an hour to finish. We met one family in the beginning, just done with the hike and heading back to their car. About half way through, we ran into another group of people setting up a tent and chilling on the beach, with their boat parked at the shore nearby. All in all, a very lightly-trafficked trail, perfect spot if you want to avoid the crowd, especially during pandemic time!
This is another series I am introducing as the new-normal alternative travel format we had adopted during this ongoing pandemic. Since we cannot travel freely and safely like we usually do during this time of the year, I forced myself to tap into my creative outlets 🧐 to try to come up with trip ideas that would allow us to leave the house and unwind for a few days while exploring interesting spots closer to home. To minimize our risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus, I have established a few rules…
Destination must be within no more than 4 hour drive from home.
Overnight stay must be in a non-hotel venue, where we do not have to share the ventilation system with other people.
Activities must be limited to outdoors only.
If eating out, it must be at a restaurant with outdoor seating.
For our first trip, I chose a much quieter counterpart of the otherwise well-known Outer Banks area of North Carolina, a.k.a. the Inner Banks. This is where the Neuse River meets the Pamlico River at Pamlico Sound, which is the largest lagoon along the US east coast, and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the infamous Outer Banks.
I found a really cool airbnb property in Arapahoe, which sits right at the bank of the Neuse River. It was such a perfect location, quiet and away from the crowds, yet equipped with its own private little beach and a small pier that gave us the illusion of being on a beachfront property without the usual exorbitant price tag! 😉 Despite being one of the eight identically looking houses on the same property front, we barely saw anybody during the entire time we were there. The house itself was clean and cozy, apparently with a lot more room that we needed, not that we are complaining! 🙄
Apart from sunrises and one sunset we were able to catch on the way home one day, night time there provided an (almost 😝) equally pleasant view of the moon reflecting on the water by the pier. There were a few nights when it was windy enough that we didn’t have to worry about getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes 😓 so we could sit out sipping on glasses of wine, listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and pretending that there wasn’t a worldwide pandemic going on… 🥺
Besides a few evening walks along the private beach, we were able to fit in a couple of unique hikes and a few excursions during the trip, each of which I will cover in its own separate post. With the location of the house being in Arapahoe, most of our ventures involved taking a ferry across the river to get to the other side. We could have driven around the sound but that would mean covering twice the distance in approximately the same amount of time which seemed like a total waste of gas. 😣
The Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch Ferry was nothing like what we had imagined… 😆 First of all, it was completely free, which is almost unheard of during this age and time! Second of all, it was teeny tiny! We were picturing a large ferry like the ones we use to take to visit the Outer Hebrides in Scotland… But when we got there, the only thing we saw was this tiny little thing that didn’t look like it could hold anything other than just a few cars, despite the long lines of cars waiting to board. We could barely see it from our vantage point at the front of the very last line. We first thought the actual ferry hadn’t arrived… But before we knew it, the cars ahead of us started to move, onto the very tiny platform! 😱 They just kept cramming us on, until everybody, all the waiting cars and trucks, at least 30 or even more, are packed tightly on both sides!
In the picture you see above, we were at the very back of the line, at the edge of the ferry on one side, so you can see there wasn’t much in terms of room in front of us… 😅 Each trip took approximately 20 minutes. The whole process was very efficiently run by just a few crew men directing traffic on and off the ferry. We were very impressed and grateful! One tip we can share is to make sure you check the ferry schedule before departure, otherwise you can be stuck there waiting for the next one for up to more than an hour! We did learn the hard way. 😆
Since our choice destination wasn’t located near any big tourist attractions, our options in the food consumption department was pretty dire… 😓 Fortunately, we found The Friendly Market! This chic venue in Morehead City was responsible for more than 75% of our meals while we were there. We visited twice to stock up and came back very happy with pretty much everything we got. The staff were super nice and ‘friendly’ as the moniker proudly attested! 😍
The few superstar dishes worth mentioning include their tomato pie (which we got both times!), blue cheese collard dip, and shrimp & grits. Make sure to try at least some of these if you get a chance to visit in person! 😉
This section is a little embarrassing to share but I’ll go ahead with it any way. 😆 So, I’ve seen plenty of photos of pretty blogger ladies posing in beautiful dresses by the beach on their vacations (pre COVID-19) and I’ve always wanted to recreate something like that… I’ve packed my prettiest beachy dress for this very purpose! 😊 I don’t know how they all got their dresses and their hair to blow so perfectly in the wind like that! 😅 After several dozen different takes, I have come to a conclusion we either need a better model, or a better photographer in order to make this happen properly! 🤣
We are back again with another Pandemic Pit Stop installment. 😊 I wasn’t really planning on having another one this soon… But then I accidentally came across an article about this rather famous sculpture currently on display not too far from us. When I learned that it would be leaving town at the end of August, I decided that we should go check it out while we still could! 🤔
This tour took us about an hour west to Burlington, and other small towns surrounding it. First stop is a 50-year-old barn located in a quiet little windy road in a little town called Whitsett, brightly painted with a larger-than-life Mickey Mouse. It was in such great condition we could tell that it had been maintained with tender loving care 😍 throughout the years. According to the page I found it from, the barn was built in 1971 by a gentleman by the name of Tom Kleeburg. I couldn’t find any other information about it online, unfortunately. 😔
Next stop was the tiniest church I have ever seen in my life! This miniature Friedens Lutheran Church in Gibsonville was constructed with the logs from the original church, which was built in 1745, after it burned down in 1939. There was an old well right next to it, and a set of benches surrounding some cross-shaped stone plaques with beautiful religious quotes.
I happened to notice that there was no lock on the door…so I nudged Joel to go and try see if it would open. 🤔 Two unhinging maneuvers later and voila, the doors did indeed open to reveal a fully functional church, with a carpeted aisle flanked by two rows of tiny little pews, leading to the front podium with a small wooden cross, two candle holders (one with a candle still in it), and an opened book of bible. Needless to say, our minds were completely blown! 😳
Glencoe Mill Village is located in the town of Burlington, North Carolina. It gave us a glimpse into the time when textile production was booming here in the late 1880s. The Glencoe Mill textile factory stood right next to the bank of Haw River and was operational until the 1950s. A little village sits nearby to provide housing for all the workers. The beautifully preserved homes, 38 of them restored by the National Register of Historic Places, sit on a neat little street, in a row of pastel-colored lineups. We spotted a few folks lounging on their front porches, just like in the old days.
This little lady appeared to be the town ambassador of some sort. 😻 She promptly came to greet us as soon as we stepped out of the car, and proceeded to give us a private tour of the village for a bit. That is, until some creature came scurrying by and captured her attention, so she had to excuse herself to go tend to the more urgent business at paws! 🤣 We spotted her again on our way back, chilling on a porch of one of the houses with whom we think was her mama (since they looked like carbon-copies of each other, except for the sizes!). As soon as she saw us, she came running right back over, followed closely by her mama. Turned out, the uber-friendliness does run in the family!
We walked over to check out the remnant of the textile factory complex, just across the street from the village. The beautiful brick structures featured several buildings, all shut down but look to be in great shape. According to their web site, some of these are available for lease as art studios at pretty reasonable prices. There was a sculpture with a label calling it “Weaver’s Tools” which is meant to commemorate Glencoe Mill’s history. At the far end, we also found 2 rusted pieces of large propellers that likely were used to power the mill.
เราเดินแวะไปดูตึกโรงงานทอผ้าที่อยู่เยื้องๆกันกับตัวหมู่บ้าน ส่วนใหญ่ตัวตึกทำด้วยอิฐและปิดตายไว้หมดแต่ยังเดินดูรอบๆได้ web site ของที่นี่บอกว่าตึกบางหลังเปิดให้เช่าเป็นสตูดิโอสำหรับศิลปินในราคาค่อนข้างย่อมเยา ที่หน้าตึกมีรูปปั้นกระสวยทอผ้าขนาดยักษ์ที่สร้างขึ้นเพื่อเป็นอนุสรณ์แด่สถานที่ประวัติศาสตร์แห่งนี้ นอกจากนี้ยังมีใบพัดอันโตจากกังหันที่เคยนำพลังงานน้ำจากเขื่อนมาสู่โรงงาน
A few steps away, at Great Bend County Park, we took a short walk along the Haw River Trail to check out the old dam that used to run the mill. A few people were chilling on the grass, and some fishing in the river.
หลังจากนั้นเราไปเดินตามทางเลียบแม่น้ำ Haw River ที่ Great Bend County Park ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ถัดไปไม่ไกลเพื่อไปชมตัวเขื่อนที่เค้าสร้างไว้เพื่อให้พลังงานแก่โรงงานทอผ้า
We finally made our way to our final stop of the day at Alamance Arts in Graham, where Seward Johnson’s infamous Embracing Peace sculpture sits at its front lawn. The sculpture was inspired by a photo of a US Navy sailor kissing a nurse at Times Square in New York City on August 14, 1945, when the end of World War II was announced. It has traveled all over the world before finally ending up here in NC last year. The installment was originally scheduled to be there from October 2019 until April 2020. When I checked the ‘Current Exhibits‘ page at Alamance Arts before we went, it listed the end date as August 2020. However, when I checked again just now, it appears they have extended it until Spring 2021. I guess that’s one of the rare perks, courtesy of the pandemic! 🙄
Besides the towering sculpture, Alamance Arts has a collection of cool art pieces scattered all over the path way that leads to the Children’s Museum, which is right in the back of it. I guess most of these colorful pieces probably belong to the museum. My favorite was this Alice in Wonderland bench cleverly designed in the shape of an opened book!
พิพิธภัณฑ์แห่งนี้นอกจากจะมีรูปปั้นให้ดูฟรีแล้ว ตามทางเดินด้านข้างยังเต็มไปด้วยงานแสดงศิลปะสีสวยหลายชิ้น แต่ดูอีกทีส่วนใหญ่น่าจะเป็นของพิพิธภัณฑ์เด็กที่ตั้งอยู่ด้านหลังมากกว่า งานชิ้นโปรดของเราคือม้านั่งรูปหนังสือจากนิทานเรื่อง Alice in Wonderland
We stopped by the cute little town square, where we spotted an ongoing protest with folks holding a confederate flag pitching their stance against a group of Black Lives Matter supporters. Quite an interesting sight to behold!
ก่อนกลับบ้านเราไปแวะเดินเล่นที่ใจกลางเมือง Graham ปรากฎว่าไปเจอกลุ่มผู้ประท้วงถือธงสมาพันธรัฐอเมริกา (ซึ่งมีที่มาจากสงครามกลางเมืองของที่นี่ และถือกันว่าเป็นสัญลักษณ์ของฝ่ายที่ให้การสนับสนุนสถาบันทาสและเหยียดผิวคนดำ) กำลังยืนประจันหน้ากับอีกกลุ่มที่ถือป้ายเรียกร้องสิทธิความเท่าเทียมให้คนผิวดำ
We ended the day picking up food from this Barbecue joint called Smokehouse at Steve’s. We didn’t have high hopes despite the rave reviews, but it actually turned out to be one of the best BBQ we’ve ever had! They had a market section in the same building and we were glad we grabbed a few extra goodies from there before we left. We were so hungry when we got home that I completely forgot to take a shot of those yummies before they disappeared! 😊
ท้ายที่สุดเราแวะไปเติมพลังกันที่ร้าน Smokehouse at Steve’s ระหว่างที่รอสั่งอาหารกลับบ้านเดินข้ามไปแอบดูอีกส่วนที่เป็นซุปเปอร์มาร์เกตเลยได้ของว่างติดไม้ติดมือมาอีกหลายอย่าง 😊 กลับถึงบ้านด้วยความหิวจัดเลยลืมถ่ายรูปบาร์บีคิวมาให้ดูกัน แต่ขอบอกว่าอาหารของเค้าอร่อยทุกอย่างสมคำร่ำลือจริงๆ
We have been getting into the habit of going out for a walk at odd times, to try to reduce the chance of running into other people. Lately, with the temperature well into the 90s, it stays hot and humid even into the evening, so we haven’t been out as much as we’d like to. The other day, there was a big storm that brought so much rain it was soaking wet everywhere. I happened to go out on the balcony right after the rain stopped and felt the rare chill which totally took me by surprise! I hurried in and asked Joel if he wanted to go out for a walk. We checked the radar to confirm no more rain was coming our way before heading out into the dark for a night walk.
As soon as we stepped foot on the trail nearby that is part of a larger system called the Cary Greenway, I started noticing all these…frogs 🐸 everywhere. With it being pitch black in some spots, we had to be really careful not to squish them! 😳 We had seen some before on prior walks, but never this many. There was one every 5-10 feet or so. I think they came out in droves because of the rain. So, I decided to turn our good old walk into a frog walk! 🤣 And hence this unplanned frog collection being presented to you here. 😊 These pictures you’re seeing above are just those that turned out decent enough to be included here, but trust me, there were many many more! 😆 Also, just for the record, I do realize that not all of them are frogs… I think some were toads…but I’m not a frog/toad expert so I couldn’t really tell which was which, but for the sake of the post, I’ll just call them all frogs. 🙄
After getting cooped up at home for months with no end in sight, I was starting to get a little stir crazy. 🤪 We usually have a weeklong trip in May for our anniversary, but obviously that didn’t happen this year… 😔 And it’s been too hot to go on our weekly hikes these past couple of months… 🥵I finally put my foot down and decided to do something about it, for my own mental stability’s sake! So here we are with the first in a hopefully-many-more-to-come weekend outing series that I’ve aptly named ‘Pandemic Pit Stops’. My only 2 criteria includes that the destination be outdoors and that it locates within a 2 hour drive from home, to hopefully eliminate the need for bathroom stops. 😝
This weekend, we drove out to Prospect Hill, a little town about half an hour south of the NC-Virginia border. In the front yard of this little house on Highway NC 86 sits the elaborate labor of love known as the Shangri-La Stone Village.
สุดสัปดาห์นี้เราขับรถไปที่เมือง Prospect Hill ซึ่งเป็นเมืองเล็กๆที่ตั้งอยู่ประมาณครึ่งชั่วโมงก่อนถึงเส้นแบ่งพรมแดนระหว่างรัฐนอร์ทแคโรไลน่าและรัฐเวอร์จิเนียบนถนนไฮเวย์สาย NC 86 ที่สนามหน้าบ้านหลังนี้มีของดีมาไว้ให้แวะดูกันที่เค้าตั้งชื่ออย่างหรูไว้ว่า หมู่บ้านหินแชงกรีล่า
Built during the years 1968-1977 by a retired tobacco farmer named Henry L. Warren, this roadside wonder consists of 27 different structures, including a church, a library, a school, a theatre, a hotel, a bank, a gas station, a water tower, and even a gym. The last of the bunch was a hospital that his family finished up for him after he passed away with cancer.
หมู่บ้านเล็กๆริมถนนแห่งนี้สร้างขึ้นโดยฝีมือของคุณ Henry L. Warren ชาวนาไร่ยาสูบที่มาริเริ่มงานอดิเรกชิ้นนี้หลังจากที่เกษียณอายุจากการทำงานเมื่อปีค.ศ. 1968 คุณ Henry ลงมือลงแรงค่อยๆสร้างเมืองเล็กๆของแกทีละหลังๆ มีทั้งโบสถ์ ห้องสมุด โรงเรียน โรงหนัง ธนาคาร แท้งค์เก็บน้ำ โรงยิม แกใช้เวลาทั้งหมด 9 ปี สร้างอาคารต่างๆทั้งหมดรวมแล้ว 27 หลัง จนกระทั่งมาเสียชีวิตด้วยโรคมะเร็งเมื่อปีค.ศ. 1977 หลังจากนั้นบรรดาลูกหลานจึงได้ช่วยกันสร้างผลงานชิ้นสุดท้ายที่แกทิ้งไว้คือโรงพยาบาลให้จนเสร็จสมบูรณ์
My most favorite part of it all were these strange whimsical pieces that can be found hiding all over the place. A stone cat, a french bulldog statue, a headless rooster, a paper windmill, a tiny action figure, a lego piece, colorful toy cars, just to name a few. Some seem original, others I believe were added by visitors over the years. At first glance, they don’t look like they should be there… But when you look at them again, you realize that they are perfectly where they belong, all bits and pieces stand together with the sole purpose to bring smiles and joy to the rogue passers-by like us!
Our next stop is just a few miles south, on the same road, at Botanist & Barrel Cidery and Winery. We sampled a delicious flight of ciders and a glass of rosé wine. They have outdoor seating in the back with plenty of picnic tables, dotted with cool decorating items made from old barrels and ancient-looking pieces of equipments. This nice gentleman introduced himself to us as the brewmaster and thanked us for visiting. He even pointed me to the pig roaster that was sitting by the trunk of a tree when he saw me checking out the yard decor. Their ciders and wine were tasty. The fruity note was pleasant, and none of them too overly sweet. We picked our two favorites to bring back home with us for later enjoyment. 😊
ส่วนตัวเราไปแวะซื้อไอศครีมเสาวรสเชอร์เบทจากร้าน The Parlour มานั่งกินเป็นเพื่อน
Last but not least, nigiri omakase sets togo from M Sushi – one of our favorite sushi spot in town that just opened back up this month, after they had to shut down since mid March due to the pandemic! The nigiris hit the perfect spot, even though they were not at the same caliber as those served fresh at the counter when we used to dine in, understandably since they had to sit in the car for half an hour on our way home. Nevertheless we were thankful. And we will definitely be going back to help support the business. Until we can safely go in for freshly made sushi again, this will have to do for now… 😛
It felt so good to finally be out hiking again this weekend! Our Spring Hiking Series is back on the calendar after a long hiatus due to COVID-19. The state of North Carolina started relaxing its stay-at-home mandate earlier this month, and our group decided it was time to resume our beloved activity. Precautions are still in place, nonetheless. We all showed up with our masks 😷 on while greeting each other at the beginning of the hike. The masks came off once we started the hike, each family unit separated by decent distance as recommended by the CDC.
We met up at Butner Game Lands in north Durham, a destination carefully chosen by our group leader, Joe Miller, to minimize the chance of us running into a crowd. It was the perfect location! The temperature was on the high side in the 80s, but it was cloudy most of the time so it did not feel that hot even though the trail was mostly unshaded. As promised, we did not run in to anybody the entire hike!
อาทิตย์นี้เรานัดเจอกันที่ Butner Game Lands ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ทางตอนเหนือของเมือง Durham คุณ Joe Miller ผู้นำกลุ่มของเราแกอุตส่าห์ไปสรรหาทำเลนี้มาเพื่อการหลบเลี่ยงผู้คนโดยเฉพาะ แล้วก็เป็นไปตามที่แกสัญญาไว้จริงๆ เดินตลอดทางไม่เจอคนอื่นซักคน อากาศค่อนข้างร้อนเล็กน้อยอยู่ที่ประมาณยี่สิบกว่าองศาปลายๆ เกือบๆสามสิบ แต่ท้องฟ้ามีเมฆปกคลุมเลยไม่ร้อนจัด ทั้งๆที่ตลอดทางไม่มีร่มไม้ไว้ให้บังแดดเลย
This was our first time here. It was an interesting location, with an equally intriguing history behind it, all of which we learned, again, courtesy of Joe. While building Falls Lake in the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replaced the rich wildlife habitat wetlands they took away with this new home for the animals. This large gamelands include a series of waterfowl impoundments, as well as meadows and forest habitat areas for various types of games.
The path we took was a wide double-track gravel road that went through a lush meadow, passing by a swampy area, then ran alongside a river. All were nice and flat, mostly exposed to the bright afternoon sun, but we all came prepared with wide-brimmed hats for this very purpose! 😆
We ended up having to cut our intended 5-mile hike a little short due to the looming rain clouds! 😓 This was not in the original forecast when we checked. It just popped up on us, out of nowhere! An article I happened upon recently explained that meteorologists usually rely on a lot of satellite data via the numerous commercial flights that crowded our air space any given time of the day. Now that many of those flights were canceled due to the pandemic, they are operating with a lot more limited information, which could help explain the lower level of forecast accuracy these days! 🙄
Drove past this cute little horse farm and couldn’t help stopping by to snap a picture of this little guy, who continued to graze happily, oblivious to the drizzles of rain, thunders and lightnings in the background, when all his buddies already retreated to safety at the nearby stable. 😆
Our Spring Hiking Series continued on despite the dire situation of the ongoing global pandemic. This week, we were given a new set of rules in order to comply with the government’s and CDC’s recommendations on social distancing.
Grimly, but still gratefully, we met up at the end of Bayleaf Church Road to start off our hike on this familiar section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Since there were 12 of us, which is more than the mandated number for social gatherings, we were divided up into 2 groups. Each family was sent out a few minutes apart, so that we could a keep proper distance between each other. Otherwise, it was just business as usual! 😅
We were glad to get out of the house. It was yet again another day with perfect hiking weather. Even though the pollen situation has been getting really bad these past few days, we were lucky to get a nice burst of rain just the night before, which helped clear up the air quite a bit. You can see from the pictures above how much pollen accumulation there was in the lake.
The forest was still beautiful. Nature is still doing its job of keeping everything going as usual. There maybe adjustments we need to make in our current day-to-day, but life does go on. We just need to live with these so-called ‘new normals’ at least for a while.