I was almost finished folding the last of the weekly laundry when Herb called out from his office, “Grab your laptop and meet me in the living room!”

At another time and place, my mind would have been confused by his urgent words, but in this predictable loop of daily life in pandemic land, I knew it could only mean one thing: Possibly, maybe, hopefully…vaccine appointments.

Herb had learned from a friend that Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play baseball, had just opened a window of appointments between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Sitting side-by-side on the sofa, dueling laptops firing at full speed, we filled out our information and pressed “send.” For a moment, it felt as if we were trying to score tickets to the hottest concert in town.

The results came in quickly: I secured a 1:30 slot; Herb secured a message saying all appointments were full.

Disappointed but determined to find a way through this game of vaccine lottery, Herb went back to the county’s website and pressed “refresh.” Over and over and over and over again. I’m not sure how long it took, but somewhere between all the refreshes, a new group of time slots magically appeared.

“I got 3:15!” Herb practically shouted. A year ago, I couldn’t possibly have imagined such euphoria over getting a vaccination appointment. Now, of course, it made perfect sense.

We headed to Petco Park with extra time to spare, not knowing how long the process would take or how backed-up it would be. Ironically, it proved to be wonderfully organized and efficient – a sharp contrast to our online experience. The Petco parking lot had been transformed, with rows of ocean blue street cones creating makeshift lanes and crisp white tents serving as medical stations.

Waiting our turn for the Covid-19 vaccine.
A moment to remember.

A friendly attendant checked our driver’s licenses, verified our appointments and directed us to station #1, staffed by a group of firefighters. One quick poke and a Band-aid later, we were officially vaccinated and instructed to wait fifteen minutes before leaving to make sure any reactions or complications didn’t appear.

We were given vaccination cards with our dates and doses – golden tickets for future travel needs. Our remaining task would be booking a four-week-later second dose through an emailed link. There would be no scrambling for slots the second time around.

The stunning dome of the San Diego Central Library comes into view as we wind our way through Petco Park’s vaccination stations.

Now What?

In six days, we will be returning to Petco Park for our second vaccine dose. Immunity against Covid-19 is projected to take hold about 14 days after that.

I’m not sure what this new-found protection will mean for our travel lives, especially in the near future and even later this year. There are still so many unanswerable questions, so many imaginings about what travel will look like and how we will navigate whatever this new normal will be.

But for now, it’s a start. A little glimmer of hope.

And that’s a very good feeling.


  • Congratulations to you and Herb! In Sacramento I did the same thing to hang on the phone with Kaiser for over an hour. 2nd vaccines in 2 weeks. Worse than waiting for Christmas as a child…the looongest 4 weeks until total immunity.

    • Robin, Congratulations to you as well! Persistence does pay off in this most unusual process. I love your analogy of a child waiting for Christmas. And what a gift of immunity we will have!

  • Happy New Year Mary,
    Yes, the wife and I did Petco Park on Feb. 7 and return for #2 on March 7. Very organized and efficient. A lot of people were volunteers and the young lady who checked us in at 5pm had been there going on 12 hours already. Heroes in my book.

    We are hoping this opens some doors to travel as…..we are ready to go!

    • Happy New Year, Jason! I’m delighted to hear that you and your wife had a similarly positive experience at Petco Park. “Heroes” is truly the perfect word to describe the people who are volunteering there. Best of luck with dose #2, and fingers crossed that this is a major step on the pathway to traveling again!

  • Leave it to you to write such an engaging post on getting your vaccines. This one is one we can all personally relate to Well done once again.

    • Gill, I literally laughed out loud when I saw your blog post this morning! What are the chances? And yes, how fortunate to be able to share the same great news. I love your thought of regaining our lives. Onward to traveling!

  • Early in the morning of my 67th birthday my son-in-law’s sister got appointments for Charlie and me—in Florida! We were in the car within 24 hours and after a 20 hour ride we were delighted to get that magical first dose. We will get our second (Moderna) doses next week—and we don’t mind all the freezing weather we have missed in the meantime!

  • Great to hear from you, Debbie! What a terrific story and a wonderful birthday present. Your 20-hour car trip is quite a testament to how precious these vaccines are to all of us. Thanks so much for sharing here! 🙂

  • Terrible Texas weather nearly derailed our second shot. However, our NRG drive through site was open on our appointment day. 3 of the 5 days are being rescheduled. We arrived early in anticipation of worsening weather. Despite a steady drizzle and 34 degree temps, we were greeted at every checkpoint with smiles which only increased as we passed out Starbucks gift cards to everyone we encountered start to finish! Like you and Herb, we felt very blessed.

    • Ann, I love your thoughtful gesture of passing out Starbucks gift cards. What a lovely idea! It’s interesting how we all have stories to share surrounding our vaccine adventures. It has truly been a unifying moment that binds us with an enormous sense of relief and gratitude as well as the feeling that we are taking action to regain control of our lives. So glad you were able to brave the storm and get your second dose!

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