What if the pandemic was over? by Rich Paschall

Suppose the pandemic was past us. Suppose travel restrictions were lifted. If you could go anywhere at all, where would you go? Where would your sense of adventure lead you?  Would it be around the world or around town? Perhaps for you, it would have to be domestic. You could go to St. Louis and see the Gateway Arch and the mighty Mississippi River.  You could go upriver to Hannibal, Missouri, and see Mark Twain’s home. From there you could head east to Springfield, Illinois, and see Abe Lincoln’s wonderfully preserved home, maintained by the National Park Service.

Gateway arch

You might have one of the great wonders of North America in mind. So you could head north of Buffalo, New York to Niagara Falls and ride the Maid of the Mist right up to the Falls, or you could climb down the cliff to a point where the water will fall between you and the land. On your way home, you can stop in the Anchor Bar, home of Buffalo Chicken Wings. Yes, that’s the place that started what is now a full-blown food craze.

Galena Illinois, “the town that time forgot”

If this does not suit your taste, perhaps you would run up to the northwest corner of Illinois and stop in Galena, the “town that time forgot.”  You can walk through the mid-1800s.  You can stop at the place of speeches by Abraham Lincoln (1856) and Stephen A. Douglas (1858), or visit the home of President U.S. Grant. At this time of year, you could travel down to the Mississippi River, just west of Galena, and, with any luck at all, see the proud American Eagle. The very sight of the bald eagle, waiting to come down from the cliffs to fish, will make the trip worth it. Although you may have to go further inland to the Great Plains during summer to see them.

Seeing a rainbow over Germany from France

If Europe is your adventure you can fly to Frankfurt and go on to Stuttgart for museums and festivals. You can cross the Rhine to visit Strasbourg, France. You can visit the magnificent ancient Notre Dame Cathédrale de Strasbourg or the ancient castles of Alsace.  There are vineyards and wine festivals and if you like, you can visit the Statue of Liberty in Colmar, France.  It is in the middle of a busy traffic circle so you have to run fast and dodge the cars if you want to get over to it.

Cathedral selfie

If Germany or France is not on your list, how about London?  It is one of the great international cities. In 1777, author Samuel Johnson, writer of an early English Dictionary, spoke words that are still true, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  A few days or even a few weeks are not enough for the sights of London.

Approaching St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

Why do I bring up all these travel ideas?  It is because I am thinking of a recent journey. Some of my friends may say, “Did you go there again?”  Between Delta and Omicron, I traveled to the northeast of France.  It was the eleventh time my trip ended up there. In 2010 we made a trip to Stuttgart for an Oktoberfest-type celebration, then on to France.  In the summer of 2013, I went with some friends to Paris, and then on to Strasbourg. In 2012 I met my friend in Baden-Baden, Germany so we could fly together to London for the Summer Olympics, then we went back to France. Last year I made it all the way to Selestat, France. My friend met me in Strasbourg and we traveled from there. These many trips were halted by the pandemic. That helped me to realize how precious all this traveling has been.

Good wine and good friends, the best destination

For all of these adventures we had some specific ideas in mind, but each time we did much of the trip spontaneously. When I reflect on these journeys, I realize there really was no “destination.” I could have been going anywhere. We dreamed and we went, but it didn’t matter where. The ultimate destination was never a place. It was a culture, an experience, and friends. We visited new places and familiar locations. Some adventures were new, and some were familiar. We enjoyed the trips, large and small because we were doing them together. Every stop was fun, every place was exciting, and everywhere was new, even if we had been there before. It was because I was with my friend.

We have been together on all the adventures I have mentioned above and more. Of course, we often set off to see great sites or experience great things, but they were made special by the fact that we shared these adventures. So I might fly to Frankfurt again someday and take the bus to Strasbourg. Hopefully, the pandemic will not strand us where we are today. Destination Friendship is still calling my name.

See also
: “The Enemy of Ignorance,” Serendipity, February 6, 2022.

Categories: Friendship, Rich Paschall, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. At this point of time I would just like to walk freely without worrying, sit at a cafe with my loved one and not really worry, drink a cup of hot chocolate and not worry. Just be and not worry.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope I’ll travel again someday. I don’t know if I could find the money to go to Europe, Canada or the USA. I have always wanted to but I doubt it will happen now. I no longer want to visit tropical countries. I have my sights set on shorter trips I might be able to manage. Notably New Zealand. The cruise just made me want to spend more time there and I have not seen the South Island at all except for Picton.
    I have promised myself to travel from Sydney to Perth, or vice versa, on the Indian Pacific train. I have always wanted to do that trip and I would like to do it while I’m still fit enough to enjoy it.
    For now though I’ll wait. I want travel to be something closer to normal so that I can enjoy the journey without restriction. I also have an ageing dog who I would not like to leave for more than a few days so long trips are out for the foreseeable future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would like to have gone to Sydney. I have a friend who would love to travel there once the situation improves. It is a long and expensive trip from the middle of the US and I doubt I would be able to do it. Like you say, there are closer places to travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I’d had the time and wherewithal to do more European traveling. I really REALLY wanted to see Paris and Garry wanted to go back to the wine country in southern France. We just never made it. We did two round in the Caribbean and Ireland. I’d spent a couple of months in England and Wales, and of course 9+ years in Israel. I wish there’d been time and money to do more. I wanted to see Kenya and the Serengeti.

    Once you get a taste of travel, it never entirely leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true. You are always waiting for the next adventure. I may not get to go anywhwere again, but at least I had far more trips than I ever thought I would. That had to do with friendship really. Now you can take virtual tours, live or recorded, for little or no money. I know it is not the same, but it is better than not going at all.
      Someone who went to the same high school, but is a little younger, lives in Thailand. His family was from there originally. It would be an interesting trip, especially after seeing the country in some TV shows from there. I think it is too far and too expensive for me now.


      • I’m just not ready to fly around the world in what they humorously call “economy” these days. Putting aside COVID, they have made flying a miserable experience for anyone who can’t afford business or first class.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s it exactly, another reason I may never travel a long distance again. I went on the last trip while I still had vouchers because I knew the airline would bump me up in class if there was an open seat, which they did. No more free bump up in class for me.

          Liked by 1 person

%d bloggers like this: