At this very moment we should be traveling around Southeast Asia in between covering the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. That was our plan.
After a heavy travel schedule during the first half of 2020 we had planned to spend three months revisiting some of my favorite places in Asia from Bali and Hong Kong to Mainland China, South Korea, and Malaysia. Ian added South Korea to our itinerary, as he was eager to visit Kukkiwon. —the World Taekwondo Headquarters. (Ian is a two-time National Silver Medalist in Taekwondo so this stop was important to him.)
But COVID-19 threw a major wrench into our plans.
Our 2020 travel schedule was very ambitious and we thought we were off to a good start in January with a successful marathon run for Ian in Houston. (Little did we know that would be the last marathon scheduled for this year.) The earlier part of this year also saw me traveling every other week to lead smartphone video trainings and in mid-March we left for a cruise to celebrate our friends’ nuptials.
At the time we embarked on our cruise the coronavirus had just trickled into the west coast. But by the time we returned, unbeknownst to us, all COVID hell had broken out. (Which explains why my colleagues looked at me as though I had three heads when I returned to work the following day).
As COVID-19 continued to spread and America became engulfed in social unrest, we thought about other travel options that were available to us. The answer to our travel dilemma was found buried in one of our closets. It was a 2-room tent that we received as a wedding gift 15 years ago.
Ian searched for campsites that offered two of my favorite things—a beach and horses. He found two campsites on the island of Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore where wild ponies roam. He determined that the KOA campground would be most suitable because it offered raised platforms for tents and, unlike the other campground, Confederate flags were not allowed. As people of color we have to research these type of things.
It had been a while since we camped so we had forgotten how much work is involved. But we packed up all of our provisions and pitched our two-room tent with the help of our neighbors. We had a great cozy campsite so some thought we were glamping. Certainly from the looks of our dining options we were. We enjoyed a little fine dining with lobsters, stuffed peppers and turkey burgers that we cooked on an electric grill we had not used since receiving it as a wedding gift.
It’s been nice to enjoy some items that have taken up space. One of those items we’ve dusted off are the dozens of mini bottles and other libations we’ve collected around the world. During this mandatory COVID pause, Ian has developed a new skill as a mixologist so we’ve been able to travel internationally through our palettes.
In Chincoteague we enjoyed the beach—kind of. On one trip to the beach we saw that the parking lot was crowded, and we saw that people on the beach were not social distancing, and we were the only people wearing masks. So we left and returned very early the next day, with our masks on.
As people started coming onto the beach that second day, Ian drew a line in the sand around us and wrote “6 feet” on all sides. We were going to enjoy some quality beach time and force a social distancing rule. Some of our neighbors applauded us and others complained…but we were safe.
The camping bug has temporarily replaced our travel bug. This week we will take a camping trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Once again we’ll enjoy the beach and we’ll go horseback riding. For this camping trip we are adding an electric mini-fridge to keep our cocktails and wine cold. (Ian has developed a new skill as a mixologist. He has been using the dozens of mini bottles we’ve collected on our trips to make international cocktails and so we are also traveling through our palettes.)
Our travels this year have been very different from the jet setting we normally do, but in many ways the travel we’re enjoying is more special. We are traveling slower and enjoying every moment of our quality time together. We’re both outdoor people so being able to commune with nature and enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets every day is nourishment for our souls. We’ve needed these mini breaks from the urban concrete jungle we live in. I think we’ll try for one more camping trip before the weather turns.
These are unusual times and I’m really looking forward to traveling overseas soon. But this mandatory COVID pause has shown me that the memories I am collecting with my husband are priceless treasures and the most valuable silver linings I will take away from 2020.