A problem occurs whenever Zach Edler sets off on a raft-staying on the water for several days, away from the phone, internet connection and the rest of the world.

"Someone always jokes, 'What if we go back to a world where there is nothing in common?'" Mr. Adler told me recently. "Of course, it will never happen. Except this time. This time it was done."

On February 19th, 27-year-old Mr. Edler and a dozen others began a 25-day adventure: Rafting the Colorado River across the Grand Canyon-such a coveted journey requires a lottery license . When they left, President Trump recently tolerated former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, while Bernie Sanders gave it in double digits. The polls lead the way into the Democratic debate that night in Las Vegas. Coronavirus cases are declining in mainland China, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first Level 1 travel notice-"General Preventive Measures for Travelers to Hong Kong and Japan."

By the last Saturday of March 14, in the last few steps of the trip, Mr. Adler and his friends were the last people on the planet. They did not know that the new coronavirus had an outbreak and caused a pandemic The global health and economic crisis has closed most of American lives. In a flash, the person beckoning them from the river bank would tell them that the world they returned looked very different.

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