Travel in the age of pandemics; look local!

Look for local options for travel in the age of pandemics

I was reminded of the challenge of travel in today’s skittish national psyche, when several  things occurred this week. I called Marriott, to shift our Newport Beach time share by one day in late April, from Saturday to a Sunday start. My Marriott rep noted one could not change the reservation within 60 days of arrival (and, that he was fielding a lot of calls from people wanting to cancel travel plans). 

The same morning, my wife suggested we postpone a planned two day Amtrak trip from Sacramento up to Reno and back, based on coronavirus concerns. The next day, Denver friends who we had agreed to housesit for called; Viking Cruises had cancelled their cruise to Australia, so our housesitting Colorado trip was toast. Today, I received an email noting the huge outdoor Sea Otter Bike Classic, with 10,000 participants and crowds that top 70,000 over four days in mid-April, is being postponed until the fall.

Yikes, it hit me – this is serious business, affecting travel in a myriad of ways. What to do?

Author’s grandkids Hunter, Jessica and Jack hiking on Shima Tract in North Stockton.

First, apply known travel safety measures. Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggestions are below.

If you are skittish and suspect this contagion may get worse before it gets better, consider your options, including the timeframe you have to change or cancel planned trips. As example, with Marriott, you’ve got to make changes 60 days in advance or you’re stuck. Hence, check with your airline, your cruise ship, your hotel reservations so you’ll know what your options are.

But, rather than deciding to go underground for the next number of months, consider all the special places nearby, where you can walk, bike or travel by car and avoid crowds. Ask your kids or grandkids what quiet, intriguing places they would like to explore (prime their pump by getting them thinking of such things as Native American or pioneer history, scenic wonder and the like). With literally scores of interesting options, consider:

View of the Delta, looking west toward Mt. Diablo, from Village West Marina.
Good walking options along the Delta in this area!

Serenity in your backyard: Head for nearby bird and wildlife watching to places like Cosumnes River Preserve, wildlife reserves like Lodi Lake). Go for a hike in the San Joaquin Delta (Shima Tract offers a four-mile and a nine mile loop, at the west end of Hammer Lane in Stockton). Bike the Calaveras River Bike Trail, or part of the 30-plus mile American River Parkway in Sacramento.

Tail end of cyclist group riding in the vineyards to the southwest of Lodi.

Day trips or weekend overnight trips: Go in search of something special, like California wildflowers, covered and historic bridges, ghost towns, Sierra vistas (Google a topic like “covered bridges” and become an explorer!).

Back roads exploration: Take a map or your GPS and go exploring back roads in the Sierra foothills or out into the San Joaquin Delta, sure to lead to quaint towns, spectacular views, Native American and pioneer history and much more. Explore a quiet road up to Pardee Reservoir and stop at the Buena Vista Store, or head west into the Delta to Rio Vista and head north to Isleton, Locke and Walnut Grove.

Egret lands near pelican at Cosumnes River Preserve just north of Thornton
(photo courtesy Chuck Higgs)

California‘s 280 state parks and scores of regional parks: They offer nearby, quiet destinations, such as a day trip to Round Valley Regional Park, on the way to Mount Diablo State Park, with nearby Black Diamond Regional Park which profiles the history and remaining coal mines of California’s coal mining district, producing the black gold that heated the homes and fired the boilers of Delta steam ships from the 1860s to 1900.

Check out Indian Grinding Rocks State Historical Park near, where Native Americans met to grind their acorn flour each spring and summer. Likewise, Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma reveals the site of the 1848 Gold discovery that changed the course of California history, with nearby Placerville delightful for strolling and noshing afterwards. If we get the rain forecast for this weekend, wildflower viewing will be a special side benefit to the views and history.

Docents at ready for a tour of the Hazel Atlas historic mine in
Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, just north of Mt. Diablo.

Don’t overlook quiet natural wonders like Micke Grove Park in Lodi (containing the San Joaquin Historical Museum, Japanese gardens, Zoo, Fun Town and disc golf). Similarly, just south of Ripon, Caswell Memorial State Park, framing the languid Stanislaus River, offers quiet hiking options into pristine and riparian habitats. Take binoculars for eye-opening new experiences.

Lesser-known national parks like Pinnacles, Lassen Volcanic and Redwoods National Parks are just 3-4 hours from San Joaquin county and offer special allure, spectacular flora and fauna and generally light visitation. For real adventure, book an overnight backpacking journey to Channel Islands National Park with a boat trip out of Ventura.

Machete Ridge in Pinnacles National Park, just three hours from Stockton.

Let’s review: Centers for Disease Control recommends everyday preventive actions, including:

  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date and get a flu shot;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (and, perhaps, big crowds),
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then trash the tissue;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Facemasks are only needed for those who show symptoms of coronavirus.

But, don’t become a hermit. Thoughtfully plan your travel, avoid crowds and explore nearby adventures.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com or follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

This entry was posted in Central California, Northern California, Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Stockton/San Joaquin County and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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