For many, the coronavirus pandemic has been a time rife with anxiety and uncertainty as families struggle to adjust to the new normal. But for Tanya McDowell of Cutchogue, NY, the last months have been a pivotal turning point — and have meant a life shift that sent her packing up an RV and hitting the road with her two daughters on the adventure of a lifetime.
McDowell left this week with her two girls to explore the United States. In the past few days, she’s posted photos on social media of meals cooked outdoors at campsites, of wide open vistas and of her daughters, grinning happily with their mom in a series of joyful selfies.
For McDowell, the coronavirus crisis meant a new beginning. “I’ve been a bartender and restaurant manager for years on the North Fork,” she said. “I also have been a hair stylist for over 25 years. So when COVID started, all my jobs closed.”
Looking for a way to make ends meet “during this crazy pandemic,” McDowell began working with Nu Skin Enterprises, selling skin care and other products. Being able to work from home, she said, was a win-win, she said, because she has a compromised immune system.
“As work started reopening I only went back to my hair business and decided to not return to the brewery and restaurant I was working for pre-COVID,” McDowell said. “I spent more time with my online business and it’s really been the biggest blessing for my family and myself.”
Her my oldest daughter, Madison, found that her dorms were not reopening this semester so she decided to part from Johnson & Wales University in Providence this year and attend Suffolk County Community College remotely online, McDowell said.
Her son George Ethan also decided not to leave for his first year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is attending SCCC remotely, as well, she said.
“We have always talked about traveling around in a van but between my jobs being busiest during summer and fall and the kids’ schools, we never had this opportunity,” McDowell said.
With her youngest daughter, Ava, a seventh grader at the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District, where a new learning model was also unveiled, McDowell said: “We decided that it was finally our time to take advantage of traveling this gorgeous country. We pulled my youngest out of school and have started home schooling. That’s probably my biggest fear of being on the road, how I’m going to do as a teacher for her —but so far, we are doing pretty well,” McDowell said.
Mom and daughters make sure to include time for work and school assignments, sitting at a table outside the RV.
‘The time we get to spend together is priceless,” McDowell said. “Being on the road with no plan except where the wind blows us. Playing cards by the picnic table or cooking over an open flame without any distractions, all while seeing this beautiful countryside, is what life is all about. Quality time.”