Travel in 2020 – The inside scoop of a travel writer/photographer and parks employee during the year from hell

A golden sunset through smoky skies in the Santa Cruz Mountains of CA

I don’t even have to tell you that 2020 has been a year beyond compare in our lifetime. It doesn’t help that one important thing we can do for stress relief has also been affected…travel. It feels like we can’t escape.

I also see it from another side. I work in three very popular state parks in California, two of which are beach parks with campgrounds. When there is nothing else to do and no public indoor places open, the beaches and campgrounds are the go to destinations to get away from it all. Since other activities are limited, people are funneled to outdoor spaces and parks.

However, right now even with physical distancing in place, there are still a lot of people out there and this rush to the popular beaches is generally not the best plan. The beaches are more crowded than I’ve seen them in the past. Another often overlooked point that I can say with most certainty is how greatly park employees are impacted and put into danger during this pandemic. Our public contact has increased tenfold with the crowds, which puts us at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. There are great measures put into place to keep us safe, but this also comes at a cost with slower park entrance lines due to the precautions we have to take. This often results in a lot of angry visitors, despite the fact that we are really doing our best under these crazy circumstances.

When your vehicle entrance line is already a mile long, you just can’t accommodate it all. Nothing can change that fact. There just isn’t the capacity to deal with the volume of people who are often angry people because of the crowds and slow lines. It’s not a good time to travel, it just really isn’t.

This year has been especially horrific for many of us locally due to the CZU Lightning Complex Wildfires in my area that destroyed over 900 houses in our community in the past few weeks, including a major loss for my family.

All I can say at this point is happy September and welcome to level 9 of Jumanji… That’s both funny and not. I guess we have to find some humor.

With all that has happened this year, I found it to be more than just challenging with my work as a travel writer and outdoor photographer. Normally, I travel outdoors regularly, which is both my stress outlet and my career choice. But for now, I’ve been working my parks job and staying home for the most part, with a few local trips. We’ve definitely made the best of it here, but I’m looking forward to traveling again.

For the last three weeks, the skies have been completely smoke-filled with a red sun and moon. Not at all picturesque, only a surreal and slightly creepy reminder of what happened with the wildfires that are burning all over California at the moment, and yes the pandemic is still a thing and will be for some time.

At times like these the only thing we can do is look forward to better days and rebuilding the future. We will be able to travel again, there will be blue skies, lives and homes rebuilt, communities pulled together and friendships made. There will be many opportunities to get away from it all again. We just have to have patience and treat each other well.

What I will do right now for my own well-being is work on travel articles and share my outdoor photography from past trips during the last year before the pandemic and any new trips that could happen and my outdoor experiences during this time. I know one day we will all be able to travel again, but in the meantime sometimes a virtual escape works wonders. Stay tuned…

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