Starting to write a travel blog during a pandemic has been…strange. The first year I just shelved it, focusing the majority of my time on a creative writing project. I took only three trips in 2020-with Classic Journeys to New Zealand the last week of February (before Covid-19 hit in earnest), a camping trip at my beloved Cape Cod for my birthday in September, and a very anxious series of flights to spend Christmas with my youngest son and his girlfriend, who I hadn’t seen in over a year, in Salt Lake City. Each of these was a unique experience; nothing like the way I’d been used to navigating before 2020.
Not-so-suddenly it was a new year and the vaccines had arrived. Come April, I cautiously ventured out of my comfort zone this time to Red Hook, NY to spend Easter with a small group of family. This was followed by camping, first in Myrtle Beach with my husband, next in Naples, NY with a good friend, then back to Nickerson State Park at the end of the summer. It felt unbelievably freeing to be hitting the road again!
I took more day trips than I’d planned or expected to this year, initially to generate blog content but soon discovering how much I enjoyed revisiting favorite local haunts or checking out new locations. If it wasn’t for Covid I wouldn’t have learned the history of my small neighboring town, Clyde. Or finally toured the Mt. Hope Cemetery or an organic cranberry bog.
There were other things I did in 2021 that I never expected to be writing about in my new travel blog. I flew first class on an airplane for the first time. I tried snorkeling and moonshine again (not at the same time) and found both delightful! I attended church services in parking lots and open fields. All while continuing to meet a multitude of fascinating people, seeing spectacular scenery, trying new foods, and experiencing different cultures.
But then came the biggest test of my commitment to making this travel writing thing work for me. Would I have the nerve to journey to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in October? The trip I’d already had to postpone once because of the Delta variant? The excursion that everyone on the tour but my sister and I had backed out of? The dream vacation where I’d have to wear a mask, sanitize til my hands cracked, and socially distance whenever possible. Turns out I did. And it really was a “once in a lifetime trip”!
Now it’s 2022 and I’m about to embark on my first trip of the year. Something I’d always suspected, but now know for sure is true, is that exploring my world is not the part of my psyche/essence that I’m willing to give up. Ever. In fact, it’s not something I could give up, even if I wanted to. If nothing else, Covid has taught me what I need in my life to make it complete.
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman recently tweeted, “Let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next.” That’s going to be my mantra for the coming year.
What will yours be?