My sister and both of our dogs woke up very early, donned our masks and ventured forth. Our goal for the day was San Diego to Berkeley without rush hour traffic and only a rest stop or two for gas and a dog-walk. We made it, only to choke on the air from the fires and the 98 degree heat. As we arrived ahead of schedule we were able to visit with another sister’s grandsons and daughter. A delightful end to a long drive.
The next morning we made room for our sister from Berkeley and headed North, this time to Fort Bragg and Mendocino. Unfortunately our route went through Santa Rosa and all the fumes from the Glass Fire which was devastating wine country. We were prepared to deal with the Corona Virus but not this. Our throats, eyes and chest were sore but only until we got to the coast. I can’t imagine the weeks of suffering all those in the area are experiencing.
We stopped at a winery that was only open for sales but also had a dog run and bathrooms. It was certainly worth the price of a bottle. We enjoyed the towering Redwoods but found the road to be quite twisty and a bit stressful for the driver.
Coming from southern California we were most impressed with all the mask wearers. Everyone had them on: at the gas stations, on sidewalks, on bikes, in all stores and even while walking outside on hiking trails!
The hotel was surprisingly antiseptic. The check in was through a glass window with sanitizer everywhere. We were told that there would be no maid service during our stay but we could arrange to get towels, sheets or whatever at the front desk if needed. We had a view of the somewhat wild coast with big waves, rocks and trails leading to the beach. Refreshing. Recovering. Thankful.
During our mini-vacation we walked the beaches including the famous glass beach (only saw small green pieces and a few amber), we took the Skunk Train (with the dogs) on a trip through the Redwoods and we explored both small towns. Most stores were open as were dining venues that could serve outdoors. We ate some great pizzas and drank some good beer and wine.
On our return we were able to hike trails in the Hendy Woods State Park although this was the first place where dogs were not welcomed. Luckily the trails was short so we took turns watching them.
While this was a great break from our limited daily routine back home I miss the faraway adventures…like most of you I’m still dreaming!
This summer road trips were popular due to Covid-19 and the need to get away. When I saw all the promotions for RV’s, SUV’s and other conveyances for family travel I fondly recalled the many family trips I took over 60 years ago. However, I did have to confirm some of the memories with my siblings since we’re talking about the 50’s!
I remember the first trips in a station wagon with mom and dad up front and then depending on typical kid arguments I ended up in the middle, the window or way in back. When Dad drove he was all about amassing as many miles as possible with few stops. We loved our first interstates with exits featuring gas stations and a restaurant with shops. We played multiple games like “out-of-state license, no taps back.” And the one where we bet each other we’d remember that license plate from Illinois, Land of Lincoln, red on white : 1585964. We all are still in that game!
One such summer 6 of us kids were loaded into the family wagon in a quest to put our toes in each of the Great Lakes. This trip was a forerunner to the various and incredible adventures that would befall our family. Most of us recall the ferry on this journey from Muskegon to Milwaukee: my brother, because my mother volunteered him to be the alter boy for the Catholic service on board and the youngest because at 4 years old she got lost. The good news though was that the priest offered to help us get off the boat early in order to get to the baseball game that afternoon.
The family trip was a yearly affair, usually in June, but sometimes more often if a special occasion called for it. Our first trip with the orange school bus that my dad had remodeled into a RV long before those were invented, was to Alaska. We had a double bed bunk bed in the back and another single bed that was used as a sofa with a folding table across from the ice box, cook -top and cupboards. In the luggage space underneath was the big tent and sleeping bags for the older kids. He saved enough seats up front for this ever growing family. Nine of his children were on board for that excursion. We drove as far as Prince Rupert, Canada and then took a flight to Ketchikan….seems to me that there were two planes involved as we didn’t all fit in one. The local Chamber of Commerce heard we were coming and had a school bus waiting for us at the small airport!
My Dad hated driving in cities and sometimes on interstates when he missed an exit. One time he hired a taxi, put my mom in it and we followed as the driver took the best route to get us out of town.
Another memorable trip was Washington, D.C. where we left the bus at the campsite and taxied into the city. We were all standing on a street corner trying to figure out what monument to see first when a big black limousine pulled over and the guy in the back inquired about our intentions. Obviously impressed with the size of our family he offered to take us all on a private tour of the city. What a day!
There were only a few States I had not visited in my childhood so one of my first tasks when I retired was to fill in the map. With such a fortuitous upbringing it’s no wonder that I still dream of the next destination. And lucky me, other than the last six months, I am now pursuing countries with a goal of seeing every one!
Dusty, unused, at first I couldn’t remember where it was. My carry-on bag is now full of toilet paper, hidden under the bed. Those cute hotel shampoo bottles are filled with hand sanitizer and are ubiquitous: in my car, in my purse, in my pockets.
I can’t recall the Capitals of various European Countries…it’s been way too long. I miss my travel escapades. Where is the adventure, the excitement, the awe of a new place; somewhere with a language I don’t understand, a food foreign to my palate, people who stare at me as the stranger?
My airline miles have increased somewhat with card purchases. I am buying crazy clothes and exercise equipment that are advertised on Facebook and never arrive but give me cause to write many emails to foreign lands demanding service.
I watch films and TV shows where others are on the move, making me even more anxious. I read everyone’s opinion on when and where Americans might be allowed and that list is not very encouraging.
I’m hoping I don’t get scammed once travel opens. The thought of having to pay for 14 nights in a hotel under quarantine before venturing forth is not enticing to me. Will I have to get a Covid-19 test before leaving and another upon entering? How much will that cost? What vaccines will countries allow as effective and safe? If I get the disease will a Dr.’s note allow me to travel more freely? Hoping, however, that is not my last resort;-)
Researching the culture and norms of a country before visiting is one of the items I check off before leaving home. Often times it helps with packing and sometimes it sets you back just a little. For instance, when I was planning my Romania trip, I discovered that I had better bring the top to my bathing suit! Actually I was headed there in the Spring so no suit was needed, however, there was a report that older or unattractive women were not allowed to go topless at the beach resorts because the sight apparently drove down sales of ice cream!
Another trip had me meeting my daughter in Singapore (she lived in Hong Kong at the time) and she wanted me to bring her some of her favorite things she missed from the USA. Bubble Gum was on the list but there was no way I would pack that in my suitcase! I’m not sure what they do to you when you disobey the multitude of “don’ts” there, but I did not want to find out.
There are a few more rules, some that make sense and others that are quite baffling. You can’t hike naked in Switzerland or wear high heels in the acropolis. Leave your camouflage at home when touring the Caribbean. And don’t take any selfies with Buddha in Sri Lanka. And heed the following: you are not supposed to wear lacy underwear in Russia or pee in the ocean off Portugal. Just saying………
Last week I agreed to bring my sister’s dog to her in Minnesota from San Diego. She was helping another sister recover from Covid-19 and had left her dog, Yogi, behind for a month. As things were improving all around I weighed the risks and decided that if I remained vigilant and practiced all advice about social distancing and mask wearing I should be okay. Granted, I was a bit nervous especially when my daughters voiced their disapproval.
I kept myself informed on all the airport, airline and TSA policy changes for my journey. Once at the airport there were numerous announcements to remind people of the new rules. Coming from San Diego where masks are mandatory if you come within 6 feet of someone you don’t live with I knew there would be potential problems. At best I would guess that only 1 out of 20 wear them here!
Traffic has been increasing at most airports lately but the numbers are still way down from normal. Only a few shops, lounges and food-to-go places are open and it is possible to keep a relatively safe distance from other travelers at the gate. The agents routinely announced that passengers should be wearing masks, keeping space between anyone in line and boarding from the rear of the plane. My first leg went smoothly even though I had to change seats after wiping it down because the dog carrier would not fit under the seat. Delta did a good job of separating passengers and flew with many empty seats.
My second flight left me feeling less protected as there were a few travelers who did not wear masks even though the agents were offering free ones to anyone who did not have one. I read later that the employees were asked not to be confrontational or expected to enforce the new policies. I, too, decided not to start any fights! BTW, there is no service on board such as drinks or snacks other than the little bag pictured above.
What a treat! I would usually go for a month at a time pretending that I too lived in Hong Kong. Her apartment was half way up Victoria Peak with giant picture windows overlooking the harbor. My favorite night-time activity was simply sitting there looking at the light show. I could not believe my luck.
She had a gym in the building which kept me busy and I was great friends with the staff. When done with my workout I would find a new way to hike down to town, exploring each block and trying not to get lost…which is more difficult when you have the harbor and peak as landmarks.
My only job was to prepare dinner and that task also became fun as I tried out different grocery stores with different foods. When loaded up with bundles I would take the apartment bus back up…
I chuckle when I see the meme of someone’s floor plan and they joke that they are traveling today to this particular room…all in honor of staying at home, sheltering in place. It’s a crazy time and I do dream about traveling soon, just not sure it’ll happen. (pics of shower curtain and suitcases hiding under my bed/sofa)
I live in a studio apartment, or what I fondly call “my shed with a bed”. I sold my home years ago in order to have travel money to fulfill my dreams. I’m usually not sad about that except for now. I miss it. (not sure if it’s my home I miss or the travel). Yes, I’m sure….it’s the “road not taken”.
So far, I’ve had to cancel three trips. I’ve two more on the schedule, one for August and one for September, trying to hit those times between outbreaks of Covid-19. I am too up to date on every country and every problem, causing many sleepless nights. I get upset with the numbers of people in my neighborhood who ignore social-distancing and refuse to wear masks. I truly don’t want to go through this again (day 40 for me).
My airline of choice, Delta, is being great with their loyalty program. Apparently I would not have to travel 125,000 miles this year and could retain my status with my miles rolling over. While I enjoy the game of meeting their requirements I enjoy the travel more.
My retirement was supposedly all about travel. My destiny was to see the World before I died. Covid-19 put a dent into those hopes. Considering the damage it has done to many people’s lives and many countries’ economies, my pending future is minute in comparison.
However, I miss packing my suitcase, I miss the anxiety of new adventures, and I miss watching all those movies in a cramped space with mediocre food. Travel has been my freedom from life’s crazy disturbances: the sustenance for my soul.
I finally cancelled my trip to Malawi even though I was unable to get most of the money back. Contacting the hotels and airlines has been very difficult. They asked that I not call until 72 hours before the trip even though that meant I missed the deadlines for any refunds. I have two more trips coming up….Peru in May and Minnesota in June. Fingers crossed.
I am trying to be a responsible citizen, respecting both the lives of those I would visit as well as those I see upon a return. It stinks though.
To experience a new country, a new language, a new cuisine, or a new garb is beyond exciting. It is first hand education using all of your senses at once. And when given an opportunity to take part in a local custom, one can only enhance one’s understanding. Trying something different allows one to appreciate the extraordinary. The following photos bring back such joy and amazement for me and remind me that all is not wrong with the world.
I realize how fortunate I’ve been to have seen so much and I am richer for having done so. I admire and respect those of you who have made a difference to these same places by doing humanitarian work while I have been the one benefiting. Maybe one of these years I will join you in your compassionate endeavors! Meanwhile, thank you.