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How to Travel Overseas With COVID (Hint: You don’t.)

Never thought I would see the day when my travel overseas was limited as much as a person living in the former Soviet Union. Heck, I know guys who helped smuggle folks out of the Iron Curtain, literally under the Berlin wall. And they can’t help me. For someone who travels several times a year, this “new normal” has put a hitch in my giddy-up.

I regularly go to Victoria, BC, which is only a 90-minute ferry ride from country to country. I can see Canada on a clear day and can almost taste the gelato at the Butchart Gardens Café. Almost. I am going so stir-crazy I am considering getting in my kayak and paddling over just to say hi. All that is stopping me are the freighters, submarines, the coast guard and, oh yeah, my puny arms. I thought maybe I would carry binoculars and a bird book and say I was following the migration of the West Coast Bufflehead and the Double-crested Cormorant.

migrating birds

Of course I’d have to carry a huge picnic basket, a change of clothes, and wet weather gear. And yeah, it might take me to the end of the Social Distancing to even pack for that kind of trip. And just how do you charge your phone out at sea? Solar chargers only work in the daytime (duh) assuming there is no fog. Or I would have to do this under the cover of night. And then there are sharks, orcas (AKA killer whales) and giant octopi if I fall in.

Needless to say, I have restricted my foreign travel to the local Taco Stand and our Teriyaki Outlet. Our local gas station is offering sushi, but sushi at a convenience store is, well, a bit too convenient and adventurous for me. I prefer wilderness experiences that don’t end up with my stomach being pumped.

My husband and I have watched every travelogue Rick Steves has ever produced. Ditto with old movies based in Capri, Rome, and Paris.

Still bored, I dissected what it is that makes travel so enthralling for me, while others never leave home and are happy campers for it. Here’s what I came up with. I love stories. Every place we visit we hole up in a local coffee shop and meet strangers. We ask about their village, what they are proud of. Where their children went to school. All about their foods, theater, and always about their pets.

I also love seeing things I’ve only read about AKA the bucket list. I’ve checked off the Pyramids (both Egypt and Mexico), Easter Island (Rappa Nui), Machu Picchu, Beijing, Hanoi City, Ireland, Wales, and much much more. I love learning new things and seeing how the world works other places.

Therefore, my challenge was to find strangers, new places and new ideas in my home town. That’s when I decided to become a social distancing archeologist. I started going into shops I had never cared about before: hat shops, shoe stores, head shops, and car supply warehouses. I tried new take out restaurants for food including Thai, biscuits and gravy, and five different pizza shops. Okay, I know the pizza does not come close to what they call pizza in Italy, but building a brick oven in the backyard is a road too far.

The other thing that is thrilling to watch is the wildlife around the world. So, we have decided to keep track of all the wonderful wildlife we have close to home. Cats and dogs count, so do deer, seagulls, and pigeons. This week we saw salmon spawning and geese migrating. Wherever you live, someone thinks it’s interesting enough to take photos. Look around there may be an adventure out your back door.

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause

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