Huntington Beach is a regular destination to visit parents and the Pacific Ocean.
The pandemic ruined all my travel plans last year. I started a four-month break from work in February 2020 with the hope of visiting a number of places. We had the savings to take the time off and book reservations. Of course, I sadly needed to cancel all those trips. Thankfully, I have travel credits and refunds to use for travel post-pandemic.
I’m not sure when we’ll actually be able say it is post-pandemic. Some parts of the world are very much in the midst of a new wave of coronavirus infections and deaths. But in two days Lori and I will be fully vaccinated. We are looking forward to rebooking those trips we missed out on last year and perhaps adding others as time and resources allow.
Here are five places I want to visit once I’m fully vaccinated or when the pandemic eases enough to travel.
Last April Lori and I planned a trip to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary. Since we went to Oahu for our honeymoon in 1994, we looked forward to visiting a different island–Maui. I researched and checked prices for a package deal at the Costco Travel site. The one I eventually booked included an extra night stay at the hotel, hundreds of dollars of freebies, and a rental car.
I especially looked forward to time on the beach where I could sunbathe for my psoriasis and eczema. The ocean water is soothing for my skin too. This trip may need to wait until the fall or winter, but it is number one on our list of places to visit for our 26th anniversary in August.
Joshua Tree and Saguaro National Parks
Before Hawaii we planned a trip to the desert southwest to visit Saguaro NP in Tucson, AZ and Joshua Tree NP, CA. For one of my birthdays my daughter, Lydia, framed a map of the national parks. She also made corresponding green tree stickers to place on each one after we visited. These two parks were next on my list.
I laid out the itinerary for the trip mapping out each stop for the day. Then I booked flights and places to stay. We planned to fly to Phoenix, AZ, pick up a rental car, then head down to Tucson the next day. After Saguaro we would head to Joshua Tree before visiting my daughter, Aleta, at UC Riverside.
I sadly cancelled each reservation when I realized that trip wouldn’t happen. The saguaro cactus and the Joshua trees will need to wait for another day, maybe when we drop off Aleta for the fall term.
Taiwan & Shanghai
My parents invited Lori and me to join them on a trip to Taiwan and Shanghai. Lori ultimately couldn’t make the trip, but I thought it might be the last time I could go to Asia with my mom and dad. Mom’s stage 4 lymphoma a couple of years ago reminded me that time is precious with loved ones. We hoped to do some business in Taiwan, then visit my brother and relatives on my mom’s side in Shanghai.
They said late spring or fall is a good time to visit. We could go two weeks after I returned from Hawaii. I sent my passport down with Aleta on her return to Southern California after winter break. But just days before they applied for visas and booked flights we decided to delay the trip. My parents want to wait and see how the pandemic unfolds in Asia before thinking about booking this trip again.
Huntington Beach & Corona, CA
My parents moved to Huntington Beach in Orange County, CA in 1997. When we lived in Southern California we visited them every month. The years we’ve lived in Northern California we saw them at least once a year. We also hoped to visit Lori’s dad in Corona, about an hour drive from Huntington Beach and thirty minutes from UC Riverside.
I missed visiting them all the more amidst the lockdowns and ongoing pandemic. Before my parents figured out how to get groceries delivered to them I helped them get groceries through services like InstaCart. Their anxiety over getting infected with COVID-19 kept them house bound for many months. My father-in-law was home alone for stretches of time as well. I wished I could help them, but we decided as a family against traveling during the pandemic.
I started a new job during the pandemic with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). After twenty-one years of working at local churches as a pastor we decided to join IV Graduate and Faculty Ministries serving campuses here in the Central Valley. I’ve always enjoyed student work, and had experience with graduate students in a couple of churches.
I quickly learned that IVCF holds many conferences and training. Just before the pandemic began Lori and I traveled to Orlando to join their national staff conference in January 2020. The summer before I went to Bellingham, WA for a conference for planting new student chapters on university campuses. Recently joined staff visit IV headquarters at Madison, WI for new staff orientation–a trip I would have made next month in June.
I do hope to make it to Madison sometime in the near future. This time, though, I’ll go through this training on Zoom like other conferences held during the pandemic.
There are other trips I want to make besides these five. I missed out on a psoriasis advisory panel in Atlanta last spring. Whether or not that trip is available again I do foresee other opportunities to travel for health advocacy. A few family members want to go to Chicago to see friends and sightsee. Aleta mentioned visiting national parks in Utah.
Lori and I have wanted to visit her mom’s grave site in British Columbia. This November marks twenty years since cancer took her life. I can’t think of a more meaningful trip to make this fall as we remember the legacy her mom left as a teacher, mother/grandmother, and community leader.
The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) posted travel guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated. It feels like these guidelines are often changing so I’ll be sure to check them as well as the conditions at potential destinations. But for the first time in over a year we can start to plan for travel again–one more step toward normal in a year that was anything but.