This past month I have been busy brainstorming, researching, and planning new places to visit that meet my pandemic criteria. The pandemic changed everything, traveling stopped completely when the pandemic hit. Most recently it is starting to pick up however it is unknown if the traveling industry will recover. The original list of places I was planning to visit had to be revised. I spend the first months of the pandemic waiting for it to be over. As time passed by, I realized that this pandemic is not going anywhere anytime soon, and we all had to adapt to the “new normal.” Most of the places on my original list were urban which meant I had to interact with people. For the sake of my family and my health, I decided to create a new list that meets my pandemic travel criteria.
What is my pandemic travel criteria? It is a checklist that each location must meet for me to visit it during the pandemic. The criteria are based on health orders given by my local government and my personal reasons. Please make sure you follow your state and local government health orders and do not take my pandemic travel criteria as an official guide for your travel. Without further delay here are my pandemic travel criteria.
LOCATION MUST BE DRIVING DISTANCE
The last thing I want to do is to breathe the same air that other people are breathing in a steel tube.
I do not wish to fly or take any form of public transportation. If I can drive to the location within a few hours (6 hours max) then it meets the criteria. For this reason, I am including scenic drives as a destination.
MINIMAL TO NO PEOPLE
I live in a city/town, it is hard to avoid people. If I want to avoid people I would need to drive as far away as possible from the city. This means going up to the mountains and deserts.
Notice that I don’t mention the beaches. Beaches are magnets to city people, they flock to the water when it gets above 80 degrees.
The location must be or have areas with open spaces. If I am going to the desert or mountain I don’t have to worry because they are open spaces. If my destination is inside a building, I only choose those that have open space in which I can escape should a crowd starts gathering.
My new destinations meet some or all three criteria listed above. During this pandemic, I want to share with my followers, places that can be enjoyed without worrying so much about the virus. Please use your best judgment when visiting these places and follow state and local health orders to help prevent the spread. In my next post, I will share my pandemic car kit. Stay safe and healthy.
For the past few years, I was blessed with traveling with an amazing man, I called him my "mountain man." He was not just my love but a true explorer. His knowledge of the outdoors was extensive, he knew of camping, backpacking, fishing, hunting, off-roading, and many outdoor skills. He kept me out of trouble when I wander off to take a photo or was oblivious to danger. He was there to protect me. We went on many adventures, many of which were not publicized on my social media. I have so many amazing memories of our adventures. I always felt safe because I knew he would get us home safely. He taught me so much and showed me a whole new world (starting to sound like Jasmine in Aladdin, but it is true) I never knew. He taught me to push the limits and not give up. I went on my first ever backpacking trip with him and I could not imagine doing this with anyone else. He proved to me that I was stronger than I thought I was. I learned so much and saw so many beautiful places by his side. I am grateful for the time we had together and thank God for blessing me with loving such an amazing man. He has forever changed my life. Sadly that chapter of my life is closed. Now I have to face the reality of exploring alone again.
It's hard to face reality. I miss him. Exploring California will never be the same. It is hard to move forward when I see an empty seat in my Jeep. It's been a long time since I had the urge to explore and the pandemic is only making it worse but today was a breakthrough. I finally made the effort to start looking into getting new tires for my Jeep. My current tires are factory stock and not fit for off-road exploring. I research some all-terrain tires (something I learned from my mountain man) and I will be ordering them soon. I had a sudden spark of adventure, fleeting but I am hoping I see more sparks soon once I get my new tires. I had forgotten that prior to us being a couple we were individual and I was an explorer. I still am. I will continue to explore.
I had many adventures of my own and with family. I would often take off on long road trips to find new and exciting places. Those years seem so long ago. I was young and fit, less afraid and unaware of the dangers. Today it is scary to imagine being alone in the middle of nowhere but I am an explorer and curiosity is stronger than fear at times. My mother and sisters have an adventurous spirit, and so do I. I have to remember who I was. I have new skills thanks to my mountain man and I plan on using them and learn new skills of my own. I hope that I become the explorer I dream of when I was a young girl.
In 2015 I took my nephews and nieces to visit San Gabriel Mission. I took some photos here and there but I didn't dedicate enough time to really photograph the place. I thought to myself that I would have to come again alone and photograph this mission to add to my collection. I woke up this morning to the bad news that the church part of the mission which is basically the history part of the mission was burnt down.
I had to dig up my unsorted files from 2015 to find photos of the mission. I am very said that I didn't dedicate my time to this mission. It will be years before they restore this mission. Learned my lesson, I better photograph is well the first time and if I am not satisfied then come back again.
I got up today, loaded my car with my camera gear and took off to the mountains. My goal was to film the Cleveland National Forest Sunrise Scenic Byway and create a You Tube video. I was excited because I haven't done any filming due the quarantine and haven't been in the mood to film for a while. So today I thought it was the day, but things did not go as planned.
The dash camera I was depending on to get footage of the byway did not function. It turned on and off but never stayed on. I knew there was an issue with the camera but I thought it was only the memory card. I formatted the memory card but the camera would not stay on. I had to use my cellphone to film the road. To make things interesting my cellphone battery was running low and the charging cable would not reach the cellphone mounted on the windshield. Thinking that the footage was going to be a bit shaky and the camera showed a small section of the sucker cup on the top right hand corner I decided to stop filming. I couldn't ignore the corner as I played back the footage. I also didn't want my viewers to be distracted by this.
I also forgot to bring my selfie stick which makes a world of difference for me. At times I don't care what I look like but other times I do. I don't know why but I am sure there are many people who have those days where the hair must be in the right place and the light must be hitting at the right angle. After all selfies are self portraits of our best angles. Unfortunately for me I have not master the selfie so it is a struggle for me to make videos.
When my Gopro stabilizer broke, that was it. I was going to add some really nice b-roll to the video but with my stabilizer acting up I was not able to get the shots I needed. Not to mention that the memory card was giving the camera errors. So I packed my cameras and just enjoyed the ride.
I didn't want to just delete the clips I took so I figured I write a blog about my failed attempt. This will be a blooper blog. Surprisingly the cellphone footage was not as shaky as I thought it would be. In fact I think it has a camera stabilizer built in. I am very impressed with my new cellphone camera and might just do a video only using my cellphone camera. I just ordered some charging cables so there is no more excuses next time.
There are trips I prepare for and other trips I just don't want to hassle with the preparation. My last trip to Big Sur was the fun, unprepared trip I always wanted to do. It was so much fun but I do regret not researching on the Mission Carmel Basilica. If I would have prepared I would have know that this is Father Serra's final resting place. His portrait is on the first step of the alter and his remains are buried on the floor. Because I didn't do my research I did not get a photo of Father Serra's resting place which is an iconic feature of the mission. On my next trip I will research first then have fun when I am there.
On my last road trip I camped at Big Sur State Park. I did not pack food because I considered it more of a road trip than a camping trip. I just wanted to use the campground for sleeping. When I arrived at Big Sur it was about 3:00 pm and I had missed lunch so I decided to have an early dinner at Big Sur Lodge Restaurant.
The Restaurant was mostly empty except for a couple eating at the far end of the restaurant. The Hostess was friendly and immediately sat me near the fire place at a table next to the window. I was able to admire the tall redwoods just outside my window, I felt so remote from the city at that moment. Although the restaurant was empty it had a romantic vibe to it, candle lit tables, roaring fireplace, large windows with views of the woods. Apparently Valentine's Day is their busiest day.
Since I did not rent a room at a hotel and choose to camp, I was able to use the money I saved on more expensive meals. I selected the Grilled Top Sirloin for my dinner and a coke because I needed the caffeine. The meat was a little overcooked for my taste but since I was starving I ate my meal within minutes afterwards I enjoyed the view. The services was excellent.
While traveling I search for delicious local restaurants, food trucks and street stands to eat my next meal. Food says a lot about the place I am visiting. I want to start highlight on my website some of the places I have eaten in hopes that you will try them too. Please note I am not getting any type of compensation by highlighting these places, I just want to share them with you.
On my most recent trip to Big Sur, I drove north to the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. While buying a patch for my collection I asked a young cashier if she knew of a great place to eat breakfast, she recommended a few places but The Cottage sounded like a good place to check out. The Cottage is a cute restaurant that can easily be missed if you are not looking for it. It is a house that was converted to a restaurant. I was lucky to be seated at the table next to the main window. I felt like I was at home enjoying the view from the comfort of my table.
The staff was great, there was this young Mexican cook who brought me all the hot sauce bottles he could find when I asked him for hot sauce. He was handsome and fit, very attentive. Whenever I visit a new place, I always ask the locals for advice on where to go and visit in hopes they will give me a “locals only” destination. Since I was new to the area, I asked this young man for recommendations and he was happy to provide them. My server never came back, the only person coming to the table was the young cook. We were having a great conversation about places to visit, I realize that I need to carry a small notebook to write things down since my phone is not always charged. Next thing I know he comes back and sits on the empty chair across my table. I had the feeling that he was confusing my friendly conversation with flirting. It was not my intention, I never pass the flirting lesson that most people master at a young age. He finally asked if I had a boyfriend which I made clear that I did.
He was polite and continued the conversation for a bit before leaving. I was sad that the conversation was over since he was providing me with great information about Carmel however, he was asking about my life while I was trying to get more information from him about surrounding areas. In the end, I thanked him and gave him a good tip. I left the restaurant and forgot a sheet of hand-made paper that I was planning on using for a book cover. I just bought the paper a few blocks away and it cost me almost $6.00. I felt embarrassed going back for it, I don’t know why since I did nothing wrong. I decided to walk to my car and visit the next place of interest on my list. The sad thing is I can’t remember the young man’s name now.
I was looking for an interesting video to watch on You Tube when I ran into an Anorama video titled "Create No Matter What." I felt compelled to click on the video and watch it.
These are difficult times and although I didn't feel like creating anything these past few weeks I didn't want to stop completely. I can't explore California right now but I can continue sharing my previous travels. I remembered there are several places I had not added to this website. I just created a new destination on Queen Califa's Magical Circle. This brought me joy. I hope that those who love to create continue to do so. Stay safe and healthy. #createnomatterwhat
There is so much uncertainty right now. Yesterday evening was stressful, Governor Newsom issued a state wide "stay at home" order. I received this news through the San Diego Emergency notification system via my cellphone. I was out driving when this was issued. The streets were nearly empty except for some cars driving. I panic and drive to the office to pick up my frozen Asian food that I had left a day prior in the employee refrigerator since my home refrigerator was full in preparations for a possible mandatory quarantine. I didn't think I could survive the quarantine without my Asian food. Now that I think about it sounds, it is so stupid, my priorities are so wrong, but in my defense I was near the office, so why not. I took my Asian food and drove home.
The company I work for is considered and "essential," job therefore I was able to go to work despite the order. Many others are not so fortunate and they risk loosing their jobs. Many will not be able to pay their bills and feed their family. Without people going out and living their normal lives it will be hard for even the "essential" jobs to stay open. We are all hoping this health care crisis is over soon however the state and local officials believe this will last several months. Its hard to keep positive when there is so much fear and panic.
This weekend I want a distraction. I don't want to think about COVID-19, especially the "what if" questions. This weekend I want to just plan for future trips. Soon the borders will close in the US so travel is out of the questions. I plan on researching new places, keep updating the website and hoping for the best. I hope you all are safe and stay healthy.
I have seen the pandemic movies produced by Hollywood in which society falls apart when a virus spreads rapidly through a urban area and the hero of the movie must face unbelievable odds to protect his/her family and arrive in the "safe zone." The world changes rapidly within hours, from normal to panic to bad. You see the "good" people turn bad and "bad" people have more humanity than the "good" people. At the end of the movie I wonder how I would react to an event like that. Would I be that "good" person gone bad? I go home and re-evaluate my emergency preparedness and find that I am lack in so many areas. I promise myself that I prepare better and evetually by the end of the week I forget.
What happens when the movie becomes real? To my horror the movie just turn real. We are living it right now! I already went through the denial stage. I thought this virus was nothing, it will soon blow over. I believed the media was blowing it out of proportion just to get high ratings. Things started to get real when the government started to send the COVID-19 positive cruise line passengers to San Diego. In one week my denial stage was torn to shreds. It started with the World Health Organization announcing that COVID-19 had the characteristics of a pandemic. Then President Trump announced travel bans starting 3/13/2020 until the end of the month. No travel to or from Europe except UK. Immediately after San Diego gave its restrictions, no gatherings of more than 250 people allowed. They are recommending for us to prepare for an emergency. Schools are closing, events are cancelling, there is also a restriction on visiting hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other medical facilities. I had the misfortune of having to go to an urgent care, before I was even allowed to enter the urgent care I was screened. I was no longer in denial it was now the harsh reality and I needed to get with the program.
Right now I am in the panic stage, I guess everyone else is in that stage too. Panic shopping has taken over and as much as I don't want to participate in this chaos how can I ignore the fact that the supplies are flying of the shelves. We are being forced to panic shop because all the hordes are taking all the supplies and refuse to leave any for others. The unscrupulous people are buying large quantities of supplies and cleaning out every store in 100 miles or more just to sell them back for 20 x or more the price. Some people don't buy anything because they don't believe in what is happening. They are still in the denial stage. Others don't buy because they don't want to be bothered and think there will be a special stash saved by the store for them. Others don't have the time to shop because they are at work. The worse are those who are capable of getting their own supplies but decide to steal from business, people or even family.
Soon I will be in the stage of acceptance in which I evaluated my situation and realized I am not prepared and now I have to suffer the consequences. At that point there is nothing that can be done. My only hope is that the panic shopping stops or slows down enough to be able to get much needed supplies. I don't know when that will be but it looks like it will last until the end of March. The patients with the COVID-19 virus are increasing so this panic may continue for longer period of time.
Luckily, traveling to remote places has semi-prepared me to have some essential items at the ready. Unfortunately my essentials are not pandemic proof. I love the idea of becoming an over-lander, in a way over-lander have some similarities to "dooms day peppers" however they are different group of people. Right now the "dooms day peppers" are hunker down in an undisclosed location surrounded by supplies and watching society go into chaos. They are probably thinking "I am not so crazy after all," among other phrases like "I told you so," "Who is going to survive now."
Since the announcement of the pandemic I have stayed home, mostly because the day it was announced I was ill for a different reason. During my recovery I was only focus on recovering and did not do any travel planning or editing. I am differently not doing any travel by plane anytime soon. If I do travel I will be visiting the mountains and places where there is not that many people. My original plan for this year was to visit all the tourist places in San Diego. I just received my San Diego Visitor's Guide this week. Due to the COVID-19 I have to rethink my plans since it is being recommended stay away from people and avoid large crowds. I know this will affect tourism especially in the small mountain communities that depend on tourist money to sustain themselves. Right now my only concern is that we make it out of this pandemic. While I am staying indoors I am using that time to plan. Better planning makes for better content. Stay safe out there and explore when it is safe.