After my very busy travel year in 2019—a total of 22 separate trips—I was eager to once again hit the road early in 2020. But unlike the previous two years, my travels did not start out in January in spite of a particularly mild winter and an early prediction of spring by Punxsutawney Phil on the palindrome date of 02/02/2020. So, to try to kick start my travel year, leading up to Ground Hog Day, I planned five separate trips that would begin in the middle of March.
But we all know what happened then and soon afterwards, trip after trip of mine was canceled. In the early days of the crisis, before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, I still held out hope that I would be able to take some of these trips. But not long after, shelter-in-place orders were being instituted in some of the hardest hit areas and many businesses were forced to close. Suddenly, taking a virtual trip was the only way we could realistically travel.
So, in this spirit, I thought I would take you on a virtual tour of my canceled trips.
My first scheduled trip was to fly out to Seattle to help my daughter with her two young sons while our son-in-law was out of town for a conference. Although we had no specific plans, I knew we would likely pursue many of the fun activities we had done together on previous trips.
Taking in the local craft beer scene was obviously high on the list…
…and visiting our favorite museum, the Museum of Flight would be a must.
Depending on the weather, we might even have gone to one of the many fun parks Seattle has to offer.
But at that time, Seattle was one of the “hotbeds” of the Coronavirus as it made its way across the US. Days before my scheduled flight, my son-in-law’s conference was switched to a virtual conference and so would not be travelling. My need to come no longer existed and so I was on the phone with my airline canceling that trip.
Two days after my planned return from Seattle, I was scheduled to fly to New Jersey to teach both my professional level classes. Often times, whenever I go there, I have enough free time to visit New York.
But as many businesses restricted their employees to only essential travel or instituted work-from-home policies, none of the registered participants could travel to the planned course venue. Fortunately, it was possible to switch our courses to virtual even for us faculty and so the courses went ahead with me teaching from my oldest son’s bedroom. I got my first taste of using Zoom, software that probably almost everyone is now familiar with.
The week before Easter, my wife and I were scheduled to fly to New York to spend a few days in New York, a trip I gave her for Christmas. We had purchased tickets to see Hamilton and planned to take in another show while there. I also was looking forward to visiting the 9/11 Memorial and seeing the “survivor tree” that I had just read about in one of my books.
The day March Madness and all college basketball tournaments were canceled, I heard that Broadway was closing as well and soon had an e-mail message that the performance of our play had been canceled. This being the main purpose of our trip, I had to once again call the airline to cancel this trip.
Two days after our scheduled return from New York, I had planned to hit the road again to drive to Key West, Florida. This was going to be one of our “Bro Go” trips with my brother. I had become interested in visiting Key West after reading a book, Last Train to Paradise, by Les Standiford about Henry Flagler, the man who built the railroad that connected Key West and all of the Keys with Miami.
Our plans included taking in a Marlins baseball game, spending two nights in Key West, two nights in Key Largo and two more nights in Miami. We planned to visit the Earnest Hemmingway home, the Flagler museum, snorkeling, and riding on an airboat through the Everglades. But also, checking out as many local craft breweries as we could squeeze in as well.
When my brother sent me this text from the Keys Weekly, I knew this trip was a bust as well.
A couple of days after returning from this trip, I was scheduled to accompany my wife on a weekend retreat with some of her knitting friends (I don’t knit but have gotten to know her friends well). This trip was also canceled.
And soon afterwards, I got word that our annual trip to teach our course in Amsterdam, one of my favorite places in the world to visit, would be canceled. So, no trip in 2020 to see tulips…
…or sitting by a canal watching the boats go by…
…or taking in one their fabulous art museums.
But I write this not to complain about what has happened but rather to offer a suggestion on what you might do yourself as you are sitting home. I have received numerous e-mail messages highlighting virtual tours that you can take from visiting car museums to national parks and I just learned that you can take a virtual tour at Keukenhof, the beautiful garden outside Amsterdam, seen on one my visits there in my photo above.
We are obviously living in unprecedented times. Judiciously following the recommended or mandated actions to prevent the spread of this horrific virus will hopefully soon bring an end to the pandemic. But as we are sequestered in our homes, consider taking a virtual tour of one of your favorite places in the world or one you hope to visit one day in the future. It just might brighten your day.