Adjusted Travel Schedules and In-Between
Often people ask what Eddie and I are doing these days, after our carefully arranged travel plans have unraveled.
This was to be the year that we would finally enjoy a travel rhythm. We had planned extended trips to beautiful destinations that we would enjoy together. I had planned solo trips that would inspire writing and photography. As with everyone’s travel schedules, these well-made plans collapsed like dominoes as COVID-19 spread.
The question of what to do between travel schedules became a question of what to do…period. We discovered that, with little adjustment, we can easily enjoy beautiful destinations and inspiring travel here at home. What we do in-between is the same. Hence, our travel rhythm is restored!
Here’s a list of what we’re doing with our adjusted travel schedules. It’s in no order of priority, except that the first one is always first one.
Give thanks and count our blessings.
Eddie and I are blessed to have each other, to be healthy and safe, and to have friends and family that we cherish. We’re also thankful for the people who put their lives on the line every day to insure our health, safety, freedom. We believe that there would be more chaos, fear, and uncertainty without first responders, health care workers, and men and women in uniform.
Spend time with family and friends.
We always love traveling and spending time at home with our family and friends. This year, just before our plans began unraveling, we were able to spend some time in Hawaii with my Sister, Elaine. It was the first chance we’d had to travel with her in a long time and we’ll always cherish that time together. Now, we continue to enjoy good times with family and friends at home, outdoors as much as possible.
Keep travel itineraries in order.
An excel spreadsheet works wonders for reducing stress. It’s where I keep locations, dates, contact information, payment schedules, transportation schedules, travel insurance, and other pertinent information. It was invaluable this year, as I tracked cancellations, postponements, and refunds. I see the status of our travel schedules at a glance!
Avoid stressing over cancelled and postponed travel plans.
It’s easy to see that cancelled travel plans are insignificant when put in perspective with larger issues. Consider the large number of people fleeing from their beloved homelands, not for rest and relaxation, but to avoid certain starvation or death. Consider the number of people who’ve lost loved ones, and the staggering number of people who’ve lost or at risk of loosing their livelihoods because of COVID-19.
Enjoy the outdoors.
Certain activities are readily available and relatively safe in the COVID-19 environment. Go outside as much as possible, in the yard or to the porch or balcony. Overwhelming evidence shows that being in nature improves a person’s well being. The September 2020 issue of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, describes this as the “The Power of Awe“. Here, they explain that being in nature, even watching the sunset, has amazing healing powers.
The most wondrous unplanned events occur outdoors. In July of this year, Eddie and I happened to witness an astonishing natural event. Thousands of starfish turned loose of the ocean floor and washed ashore at the beach. We stood at the edge of the surf as they were tossed about, tickling our feet and ankles. Left alone, they burrowed back into the sand to await the next high tide for a chance to return to the sea. It’s an experience we’ll always remember and we didn’t have to pay anything to enjoy it.
Plan bike rides, walks, hikes, and drives.
Every state has scenic trails. In South Carolina, we have the Palmetto Trail, “500 hundred miles of cross-state hiking and biking” that stretches from the mountains to the sea. Eddie and I are periodically hiking or biking with friends along portions of the trail. So far, we’ve covered Lake Moultrie Passage; Peak to Prosperity Passage; and Awendaw Passage. We also take leisurely walks and drives along some of the most scenic mountain and beach areas, a drive not too far from home. There’s so much to do right outside in our own backyards that we’ll never get to it all in one lifetime!
Enjoy travel books, magazines and TV shows.
There is so much learning and information surrounding travel, writing, and photography that I’ve found that it’s useful to have a routine. I read my favorite travel magazines at breakfast, National Geographic, National Geographic History and Smithsonian. There’s so much information and inspiring ideas in these magazines! I’ve gotten into the habit of tearing out and filing pages that inspire me the most. At night, Eddie and I often watch travel shows and documentaries. Is it possible that this activity could encourage dreams of the places we’ll visit? Wait! Don’t laugh yet! Look it up in this special TIME edition, The Science of Creativity, “The Power of Sleep”, by Jeffery Kluger. Scientist have mapped the process of how we “sleep on a problem” and have it worked out by morning and how we can encourage good dreams instead of bad ones.
On a plane for long hours, I watch the documentaries, especially history/events about places of interest. In my car and on the walking trail, I listen to audio books on just about every subject, from travel to self improvement, finances, politics, health, history, and historical novels set in my travel schedule destinations. I like to get a feel for the past of a place in addition to the need to know information in travel guides. Until the iPhone, I downloaded books on my iPod, purchased and rented audio books from bookstores, libraries, and even Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Now I purchase them on my Books app, easier than ever!
I’ve always loved reading books too, only recently letting go of most of my library to lighten my living space. I love the feel and smell of books and always enjoyed holding them in my hands, anticipating the magic of reading. My favorite book is always the one I’m reading, but right now the one I’m reading is truly a favorite, one I’ll purchase and keep in my library. My friend Laurie loaned me Wilderness, The Gateway to the Soul: Spiritual Enlightenment Through Wilderness, by Scott Stillman. It’s an inspiring book about being in nature and especially nourishing during these stressful times of isolation and fear. Stillman describes being in the wilderness so effectively, it’s like being along on the journey. I’ve slowed my reading to savor every word!
Scenic YouTube videos on television offer stunning landscapes and wildlife from all over the world and in the ocean, even virtual hikes in rain forests, jungles, mountains, and along shorelines. It’s the best ever changing wall art. I often turn down the volume and simply give it a glance from time to time or sit and watch for a minute when I need to take a break, refreshing my thoughts. Check out this video, playing while I work on this story, Coastlines: 10 Hours of Relaxing Oceanscapes/BBC Earth. Find this and other amazing nature videos at #ourblueplanet.
Sometimes I use the same YouTube nature videos for meditation, an activity that enhances relaxation, creativity, and energy. My favorite book on meditation is Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book by Dan Harris, journalist for ABC news.
Learn, always and forever.
Recently and not for the first time, I heard a person say that they were “done with learning.” I’m very puzzled by that comment. During difficult times, I’ve always responded by going back to school, learning. Taking a course always lifted my spirits and inspired me to move forward. I was always learning even when I was working. How can we ever be ‘”done with learning”? Like exercise, learning was always and is part of who I am, something I never thought of not doing.
Learning is easier now than ever!
With little input, I can pull up the online handbook for my camera, view free tutorials, purchase online photography and writing courses, and Google anything. There’s just no end to learning, ever!
Plan health maintenance, with routine exercise and healthy food.
I’ve had an exercise routine for strength and cardiovascular training since I was fifteen years old. Back then, I sold returnable soft drink bottles to get enough money to join the only exercise center near Ninety Six, S.C. Yes, I know. That was a long, long time ago but exercise = health is a universal and enduring truth, and it requires both strength and cardiovascular training. One of my favorite books explains why this is true and it’s an entertaining book too, Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge.
For non cooks, believe me, there is joy in cooking! It’s rewarding and healthier than eating out, depending. Even if you don’t think you”ll enjoy it, start practicing and don’t give up, and you’ll soon enjoy it. I never cooked while I was growing up. I learned under fire when I got married, the worst possible time. Fortunately my Grandmother and her husband were tenant farmers during that time. I had plenty of food resources: beef, poultry, and fresh vegetables. I wore out a copy of Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, an incredible book that continues to teach everything about cooking. I sometimes cooked three different versions of a dish in the same day! Later, I started practicing gourmet cooking for friends and relatives, rarely ever preparing the same dish twice. I remember driving 80 miles to purchase pine nuts for stuffed grape leaves. Nope! We wouldn’t have found pine nuts in any grocery store near Ninety Six, S.C. back then.
Don’t get me wrong, cooking is intimidating. Cooking fish is especially challenging for me, well, except fried catfish, a staple in the south. Cooking is a lifelong learning process, easier and more fun when everyone participates. Eddie and I enjoy cooking at home together when we’re not traveling and even then we try to include a cooking class or see a demonstration. Cooking is one of the best ways to get to know a different culture and share your own. Mom’s and Dad’s, please teach all of your kids and Grand-kids to cook! We especially love fresh vegetables and enjoy a long season of them in South Carolina. Here’s our favorite recipe for fresh pink-eyed peas.
Pink-eyed peas, vegan style, with collards and cornbread.
Recipe for pick-eyed peas
- 16 ounces fresh pink-eyed peas
- 4-6 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- Tabasco sauce
Rinse peas and discard bad ones. Cover with a combination of water and stock and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic a cook, stirring on low for about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add peas and enough stock or water to cover by two inches. Add pepper flakes, black pepper, thyme, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for one hour covered. Remove cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes longer or less. (Taste along the way to see if done.) When peas are tender, they are ready. Add more water, a little at a time, as needed ,if they begin to dry in the pot.
Serve with Tobasco, cornbread, and collards.
I don’t know how I’ll possibly narrow it down but very soon I’ll be publishing “my favorite books” reading list. Stay safe and stay tuned!
Refresh While You Wait
Look for a spa treatment and give it a try next time you find yourself with enough time between flights or waiting to depart.
I was sipping hot tea and waiting for a manicure. My location was the Madrid-Barajas Airport. I had arrived at the airport a little early just to get pampered before my flight. After traveling through Spain, Morocco, and Portugal for a couple of weeks, I was ready for it. At Esenza by Sha, they offer every type of pampering, hair styling, manicure/pedicure, massage, and waxing for both men and women. In the meantime, they provide a complimentary beverage of your choice. In addition, their food bar offers a wide variety of healthy salads, sandwiches, and drinks.
Not all airports offer an elaborate spa but I’ve found that most offer some kind of pampering. In addition to manicures, I’ve stopped to get massages as I wait. It works wonders for jet lag and stiffness from sitting in cramped quarters. In some cases, when the salons are not busy, they’ve invited me to keep resting until my boarding time.