<span class="image-caption">"​Quarantine Car Club" (San Diego Miata&nbsp;Club)</span>
"​Quarantine Car Club" (San Diego Miata Club)


Socializing in a COVID-19 world – NEW PHOTOS ADDED!

Since becoming aware of the seriousness of the Coronavirus Pandemic in March, I have been trying to follow the advice of medical experts. They advise us to stay home if we do not need to go out and, if we must, to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and frequently wash our hands.

W​hat I wear when I go out these days (but I now wear a non-vented face mask)

For the first few months, the only times I went out were for infrequent, major grocery shopping trips and to run important errands – each time wearing a protective face mask, face shield, and nitrile gloves.

Stocking up on food for several weeks

Prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I used to keep quite busy driving all over the place to cover events for this column, but one-by-one the events were all canceled this year – not that I would have gone to them anyway, since covering them was a risk that I would not have been willing to take.

The final race weekend that I covered, before everything shut down for the Coronavirus Pandemic (NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California)
Jimmie Johnson in his final NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway
I​ so want to shoot races again…

At first, I mostly occupied myself by catching up on projects that, in some cases, had been on the back burner for years. I am still doing that. To be honest, I am grateful for being motivated to do that.

Increasingly, however, I’d felt the need to get out and actually interact with other people again. Doing so is important for my emotional well-being. Also, I’d been noticing that my self-confidence while driving had begun to slip a little. I needed to socialize and do more driving. The way to do both was provided by car clubs that I belong to.

One of these clubs is the San Diego Miata Club. It is an active, social club, with an emphasis on driving.

T​he start to another SDMC run

One of our main club activities has always been club runs, where we get together to drive, one car after another, to interesting destinations. Getting there is often more than half the fun. Since ours is a sports car club, we tend to avoid major roadways in favor of two-lane, windy roads — ideally with elevation changes. Our club runs last anywhere from a few hours to many days.

S​an Diego Miata Club run

During our runs, we communicate with each other via two-way radios. We use those to chat, discuss the drive, share route directions, and generally have a fun, social experience.

Run communication is via 2-way radios

As a backup, one car is designated the “sweep” car, driven by someone who is familiar with the route and who can shepherd stragglers back up to the rest of the group, should they fall behind. For additional backup, we also carry a route map but using that alternative works best when there is another person in the car to navigate.

Cars on these club runs are socially distanced, and since driving is an outdoor activity, potentially dangerous concentrations of viral particles in the air are likely to be safely dispersed. Even during the Coronavirus Pandemic, going on club runs provides a reasonably safe way to get out of the house, have some fun and socialize with other people. That is what allowed me to resume my participation in club runs.

Since making that decision, I have been on two such runs with the San Diego Miata Club. I am enjoying socializing again with my fellow club members — albeit from a safe distance and still not eating at restaurants.

It is fun to shift up and down through the gears again, carving tight turns and accelerating down the straight stretches. My confidence while driving has returned. Also, spirited driving is much better for the longevity of my Miata, as opposed to letting sit in my garage, where it had been since March except for obligatory, short drives every two weeks. To keep cars in good operating condition, they need to be driven regularly to keep the fluids circulating, the parts lubricated and the battery charged.

I also have been on a short, leisurely run with the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego, since my other vehicle is a Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid. Coincidentally, my two most recent club runs have ended at wineries.

Starting location for the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego’s CLEAN AIR DAY run

While socializing before and after the runs, I social distance and wear a face mask, face shield, and nitrile gloves. My confidence behind the wheel has returned, and I have enjoyed the in-person interactions with other people. Hopefully, the threat from the Coronavirus Pandemic will be over sooner rather than later, so that we can all return to enjoying life as we once knew it.

Jan’s 2019 30th. Anniversary Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata at Orfila Vineyards & Winery


Jan Wagner

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