The Coronavirus Diary: Fighting the Travel Bug

travel bug, travelingOkay, I admit it: I’m getting antsy. The cold, rainy New England spring helped to keep me inside for the most part and not eager to get out anywhere. Now that the days are warm and sunny, however, spring fever has set in and my mindset has changed. With the trees and shrubs blooming, the mild days beckon and the travel bug is buzzing. Boy, do I want to get away.

I have no trouble keeping busy, mind you. Most of that involves sitting in my home office, typing on a computer, though. Things I have done there include:

  • Writing, editing and publishing multiple blog posts on a variety of topics.
  • Finishing edits on a novel and sending the compiled manuscript to my writing group, Spacecrafts, for their comments and critiques in June.
  • Sending a finished short story off to an anthology on New England crime stories. (All thoughts and prayers for acceptance welcome.)
  • Written 21 chapters of a new, possibly young adult, novel.

Travel Lust

But I love to travel and I miss it. Our Big Trip of the year—a Viking River Cruise down the Rhine from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam—was, of course, canceled. I am not whining. In the greater scheme of things, this is a First World problem, not even in the same league with the financial difficulties that keep many Americans awake at night.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, Mauritshuis Museum, Viking River CruiseKnowing that doesn’t stop me from missing the trip, however. By now we would have visited Basel and Strasbourg, gone to the Mauritshuis Museum to see Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” eaten wonderful food, seen the castles on the Rhine again, and made new friends. Sigh.

Had I not gotten married right out of college (it was a thing back then), I would have been a stewardess (now called a flight attendant.) I was thin and pretty and would have put up with a lot of crap from male passengers, but I would have been able to travel.

Making Up for the Loss

To console myself for being stuck at home, I have been organizing all my vacation photos on a Photo Stick thumb drive that pulled all the pictures off my iPhone and saved them.

NOTE: If you’re considering buying one of these devices, you should know a few things. (1) All the photos come identified by just the IMG file label and the same date. That is the date the photos were downloaded to the Photo Stick. If you want to make sense of this flood of meaningless information, you have to set up folders, categorize the photos and rename the files — one by one — so you can find what you want. (2) The IMG numbers are not chronological but all mixed up. This organizational process takes time and lots of it. (3) Also, the Photo Stick doesn’t look anything like what they do in their ads—much less substantial.

I have been doing all the categorizing and renaming and that has provided me with a kind of virtual travel. It allows me to revisit the places I so enjoyed seeing on our previous VRC cruises. I also:

  • Communicate with fellow VRC Explorers on a Facebook page, share photos, and participate in challenges.
  • Watch Rick Steves when I can—although I end up Jonesing to go to the Loire Valley or the Cinque Terre.
  • Am watching Versaiilles, a Netflix historical series on how Louis XIV expanded his father’s old hunting lodge (like nothing you would find in the Maine woods) to create the fantastic palace of Versailles. It was filmed at the Château Vaux le Vicomte, a palace just a half hour southeast of Paris. It’s on my Bucket List. For an hour, I can feel like I’m exploring yet another beautiful castle. The series has three seasons so I have a lot of episodes to look forward to.
  • Am rescheduling our Rhine Getaway cruise for next year.

Gardening Outside

flowering shrub, First Parish of Sudbury, garden

Spring in the garden

To get outdoors without risking Covid-19 contamination, I drive to the memorial garden at the First Parish of Sudbury several times a week and do what I can. It’s a big garden and really could use an army of those Versailles gardeners. Unfortunately, it normally gets attention from the six or seven members of the Landscape Committee and, recently, just me.

Still, I’m out in the fresh air with only the plants and the birds for company. There’s a huge crowd on the other side of the stone wall but they are very quiet and have been social distancing six feet vertically for decades.

I clean up the fall leaves and branches; move plants to where they will get more sun or shade, depending; plant new things; and move rocks around. I don’t have to wear a mask and the birds make wonderful spring music. It’s great—but it’s not like traveling.

Fighting The Travel Bug

One of these days, we will get a workable vaccine for Covid-29. When that happens, the world will open up again and all those people who, like me, were bitten by the travel bug will rush to book flights, cruises, hotel rooms and tours.

Experts are predicting that won’t happen for 18 to 24 months but I think that a safe, workable vaccine will change that timeframe. The World Health Organization reports that 108 potential Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world and eight of the potential vaccines are approved for clinical trials. Given some guarantee of safety, people will get a shot in the arm and break out of home confinement like the running of the bulls.

I have no problem taking a vaccine. I’m of the generation for whom the Salk vaccine spelled freedom from the fear of polio. I also would wear a mask on a plane, train or bus. No problem.

Just get me out of here.

Phasing in Travel

Lobster Rolls, Red's Eats, Wiscasset, Maine, travel bugRight now, I would be happy to start traveling in phases, the way states are opening up. I would take day trips to see the ocean and get a lobster roll. Later we could add in a long weekend to Maine or Vermont. Oh, and I would love to see my grandchildren face to face again. Zoom is great but it doesn’t replace a big hug.

So, there you have it. While I’m productive at home, there’s just no vaccine for when the travel bug bites. You just have to buy your tickets and go. I’m counting the days.