By Annie Lindgren

During this time of chaos with the Covid-19 outbreak, we are challenged to act with resilience. The only constant is change, and we must adapt, and embrace the new opportunities that life gives along the way. Our ability to cope and remain hopeful, depends on our willingness to embrace change. 

It was late October when I booked a trip to Australia, planning to spend the entire month of March ‘down under’, a perfect finish to the long winter months, and a marvelous way to spend my birthday month. The fires threatened the trip, and then the virus. It was three days prior to departure when the virus hitting Australia made traveling too risky. I wasn’t so much worried about my own health, I am middle-aged and healthy, but I did not want to impact the health of others, or find myself sick or quarantined in another country, and not being able to return to my own at the end of the trip. The airline reimbursed the ticket, and I felt relieved knowing the fate of my trip and not having to stress anymore about the decision. 

When one plans for a month out of country, and the trip is cancelled, it leaves a void of not really knowing what to do with one’s time. The first week was filled with signs that I had made the right choice. I was able to help a friend out who needed farm sitting, I volunteered at what would be the first and probably last time trial bike race of the year, where I also completed my first race. I took care of some medical needs, a skin cancer scare, moving up an appointment that had been postponed until I returned. I knew I was where I was meant to be. 

I still felt the aching need for adventure, something I do often, but hadn’t had the opportunity for since my Ireland trip in November, due to saving up and preparing for this big trip in March. So, I started planning for a road trip south, to warmer weather and ocean. I honed in on Texas, a state I had visited, but never thoroughly explored. It felt like a mini version of Australia. Ocean coast, desert center, and varying terrain in between. 

I set off for a camping road-trip on March 9, in a Subaru Outback loaded for a month of wherever the road leads. Was shortly after the first case was documented in Colorado, but before all the cancelations, closings, and empty store aisles. I was grateful to be gone, but was quickly filled with sympathy for my friends, many of whom were parents, business owners, or worked in the education field. So much change and worry in such a short period of time. Events that have been long in the works, now cancelled. 

I found many treasures in Texas. Spent my birthday exploring Palo Duro Canyon, and then went on to see Lake Texoma, and mosey down the eastern side of the state, where the terrain was lush and midwestern, with farm land and lakes. The air got muggy the further south I got, until I saw marshes and tropical plants. Then, there was the ocean, and the animals that live along the sandy shores and boggy coast. Dolphins, sea birds, jellyfish, wild hogs, and alligators. Texas is a large state, and I have many more places on my list to see, and plenty of provisions to stay out for a few more weeks. I have daily moments of awe and gratitude, for this change in plans that led me to Texas.

I am seeing signs of the pandemic response in Texas, a  state with less cases than Colorado, but a growing number. My visit came during spring break, so am still seeing crowds at popular tourist locations, but I am avoiding crowds, opting for the more private camping options. I have all my food in my vehicle and at camp, so I avoid eating out and only have to stop for a resupply about once a week. I wash my hands and use hand sanitizer anytime I am in a place where I could pick up germs, and I take good care of my health in the process. Avoiding humans and being out in nature go together naturally. 

I hope that folks are able to find ways to cope with this time of social distancing. My heart is warmed seeing businesses act with resilience in coming up with creative new ways to reach their consumers. I am hopeful that schools and universities will quickly adapt to a venue change, so that children and adult learners continue to learn. We adapt, and grow, and I anticipate a shift coming from all this, hopefully to a lifestyle of even greater connection with our environment, our loved ones, and the things that are truly important. 

Meanwhile, I remain on the road, exploring the treasures of the great outdoors, within our country’s boundaries. Embracing this change of plans to deepen my connection with America, enjoying the endless musings of the great outdoors, and spending time with my loyal travel companion, a Golden Retriever named ‘Maverick’.