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What to do when a pandemic has squashed all your international travel plans? (goodbye New Zealand, goodbye Turkey, goodbye Patagonia!) Travel domestically, of course! The month-long furnished rental market has exploded since April, and I've joined the craze, swapping out my place in Boulder for your place in Anywhere Else, America. Come with me (virtually, of course) across the country as I experience all the rural roads, small towns, coastal regions, scrub-filled deserts, and damp, dark forests I might never have visited if not for the altered dynamic of global travel.
Recent posts

My Ten Favorite Things About West Virginia

My West Virginia days are behind me, and I'm already drafting posts about my new location, but before I move my reader on, I have one final post about the Mountain State. Obviously, I was going to a love a state filled with mountains and mountain roads mountain hikes and mountain adventures. But West Virginia offered many other quirky enjoyments and I'm so glad I ended up there. 1) The crazy roads. The roads of southern West Virginia twist and turn endlessly. You might think, oh, that's only 100 miles away, I'll be there in less than two hours. Nope. Three plus hours later, you feel like you just stepped off a ship adrift in a stormy sea and need to find your land legs again. And in the ice, the possibility of plummeting over an edge is very real, so you'd better have good snow tires. I didn't always understood why the roads had to be so twisty-turvy, but they were. Another little quirk - in some places, there is only a single paved center lane, with a few feet

Covid-Closed, Cold-Closed, or Closed-Closed?

Because I'm not trying to catch COVID-19, I don't spend a ton of time indoors around strangers. Events are not happening, if I'm dining alone I'll generally do takeout, and I'm not the kind of person who enjoys shopping anyway. But when it's cold outside, indoors has a lot of appeal and around Christmas, shopping must be done. And this year more than ever, I didn't want to give my money to Bezos .  In Lewisburg, West Virginia, the shops, like shops everywhere, are hurting. But this is different from shops in the little ski towns of Colorado, for example. There, skiing is open, so shops have a customer base. Lewisburg is known for theater , and the performances draw people to the restaurants and shops. With live theater stopped for the pandemic, the other businesses suffer greatly. (Side note - you might not expect it, but there are  many historic theaters in West Virginia , often linked to the prosperous eras of old coal mining towns when entertainment optio

National Hills and Hollers

In the final hours of the horrors of 2020 and the Trump administration, something lovely has happened. West Virginia got its first national park ! The state already had national rivers and historic trails and recreation areas, but not a proper national park. The New River Gorge area was the first place I explored in West Virginia, right before the switch over, and I've been back since, so I'm one of the very first people to visit it in its new official status, which is kind of cool.  Turning land over to national parks management is not without some potential drawbacks, and I hope the status quo will be largely preserved. Hunters are opposed to losing acreage , but I don't know enough about hunting to say whether losing 4,000 out of 70,000 acres is a big deal. I hope they don't ban dogs from the trails.  Acadia National Park has stayed dog friendly, so New River Gorge can too. I also hope they don't ban traditions, like Bridge Day . But mostly I hope they don't

Third World America

In my writing, I've previously questioned the tourist concept of authenticity . How as tourists when we say we want to see the "real" Mexico or Thailand or Zimbabwe, what we want is, in fact, not the authentic experience but some antiquated notion of what the country once was. We want to see people in developing countries dressed up in colorful, embroidered peasant clothing instead of cast off Gap jeans and donated t-shirts with NBA and NFL logos. We want an ocean of small food stalls selling pupusas or samosas or meat pies, with not a McDonald's or Subway anywhere in a 1,000 mile radius. We want cars from the 1950s or mule-drawn carts, not a Toyota Corolla. What we want, is to hold the rest of the world back, frozen in time, unable to progress, for our entertainment. But the authentic experience is exactly what you see when you are there, at the time you there. That is the world the people of that place inhabit. That is their reality, American cultural encroachment

How I Ended Up in America's Coolest Small Town

Last week, I blogged about needing to be okay with changing travel plans. Several months back, I booked a place in Asheville, North Carolina for a few weeks between Thanksgiving and when I was supposed to leave for a holiday in Turkey. But when COVID-19 cases started exploding in late October, I started to think the Turkey trip wasn't going to happen. Well, that and my dog is still alive. Given his heart condition and other age-related issues, I can't leave him in boarding anymore. And I wouldn't want to.  So, the Turkey plans vanished (thank goodness for totally flexible airline policies - I got all my money back) and I needed somewhere to stay in the United States until after New Years. Unfortunately, someone booked my Asheville rental the day after I originally planned to leave, so I couldn't extend it. And Asheville is expensive and popular, so finding another place there that fit all my criteria wasn't possible. It was too late. Time for some random internet se

1,000 Miles Across the Northeast

The subtitle for this post is, The Thanksgiving That Wasn't. Well, no one's Thanksgiving was really supposed to happen, so I didn't feel too let down when my dad called me the Saturday before to say that he and my mom weren't feeling well. And I also wasn't too eager to show up anyway and take my chances getting sick.  Adaptability has always been an important skill for travelling, but it's even more crucial in the time of COVID-19. Even though my travels have just begun, several of my plans have changed already. For example, I was hoping to visit a friend in Nova Scotia after leaving Maine but Canada still won't let us in. I was hoping to go to Turkey for Christmas and New Years but COVID-19 went bonkers and Air France cancelled my flight. And I was planning on being in Asheville right now (more on that next week) or Savannah as a backup, and yet I'm in West Virginia.  Fortunately, when everything I need can fit in my car, it's not that hard to be f

What About the Lobster?

I've moved on from Maine, but I have one more article to post while I'm still drafting initial thoughts about my newest destination. This article is more of a generic "what to do when you're in the neighborhood" kind of article because I wanted to mention some cool places I went that didn't fit into the themes of my other Maine articles. What everybody wants to know the most is "Did you eat some lobster?" Yes, once, because I was in Maine so I had to. But as I was eating it, I realized that we're all still living with the outdated idea that seafood on the coast is cheaper and better. With modern mass transportation and shipping options, this simply isn't true anymore. A hot, buttery lobster roll is always delicious, but the one I had outside Bar Harbor wasn't any better than the one I had a year ago at the Maine Shack in Denver. I dare say the one I had in Denver was even better. I'm sure the lobster was flown in fresh that morning a