If there is any one thing many of us share during this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a sense of cabin fever. For some it’s a mild case, for others it’s much more serious. I think I fall somewhere in the broad middle ground.
I really feel for our local travel agents who have taken a beating during this situation. It’s had to have been just brutal on some of them.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a Cheap Air alert via email advertising super low flights from Atlanta to Vancouver. Problem is, we can’t get into Canada right now. No wonder the airfare is cheap.
What’s more amazing is that my computer and my smartphone both know that I love Vancouver, so they’re sending me unsolicited stuff about it all the time.
As I mused about what to write about this week, I wondered if I didn’t live here, where would I want to be.
Vancouver is not on that list! It’s a beautiful city. It’s an amazingly clean city, lots of great restaurants and spectacular parks.
Stanley Park, “Stanley” as in hockey’s Stanley Cup, is one of the prettiest municipal parks I’ve ever been in.
Granville Island in Vancouver is my model for what our River District ought to look like. Check with former Downtown Development Director Ann Arnold for another endorsement of that thought.
But I wouldn’t want to live there. Vancouver is an expensive city. Real estate prices are through the roof and somewhere up in the stratosphere. Elon Musk could send up one of his Space X rockets and not hit the ceiling for housing prices in Vancouver.
So where might I want to live? Let me be perfectly clear: I love Rome, been here 36 years and have no plans to leave!
I’m just feeling a little cabin fever and the itch to travel, but just for the sake of it, I’m wondering where I’d retire to. Not that retirement will ever happen.
So here’s the list.
Auke Bay, Alaska. You want to talk about a special place! This is it. Auke Bay is a little north of Juneau and it is a feeding ground for humpback whales during the summer months. There is something beyond majestic about watching humpback whales, adults about the size of a school bus, glide through the water.
Steller sea lions play King of the Mountain on buoys and channel markers, eagles are everywhere and Admiralty Island out in the distance has one of the largest concentrations of grizzly bears in the world.
The water is glassy and surrounded by snow-capped mountain.
There is one caveat. I’ve never been there in the winter. I think I could deal with the cold because once it gets cold up there, it stay cold.
I’m not real sure I could deal with the lack of daylight during the winter months. I have a strong suspicion that four to five hours of daylight would drive me batty.
Bar Harbor, Maine. I’ve been to Baah Habuh, as the locals say, twice and love it. It’s a quaint town, lots of great restaurants, and the freshest of fresh seafood. I could eat salmon, lobster and crab daily. Atlantic cod is awesome.
Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park are the first real estate in the continental U.S. to see the sun daily.
It’s a special place.
Ask former Rome Police Chief Hubert Smith for another endorsement.
Elkins, West Virginia. I’ve always loved Elkins. It’s a lot like Rome in that it is a smallish city that is also a college town. Davis & Elkins College is a small liberal arts school in the mold of Berry, though not nearly as pretty a campus.
I like Elkins largely for what surrounds it, the Monongahela National Forest. Blackwater Falls State Park and Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area are nearby and they’re both spectacular in terms of their own natural beauty and the wildlife, both flora and fauna, is abundant and beautiful.
Waycross, Georgia. If there was anyplace else in Georgia that I would consider, it is the city where I first started my career in broadcast journalism 42 years ago.
To call Waycross a sleepy little town might be an understatement, but it has the Okefenokee Swamp, which is like no place else on earth. The Land of the Trembling Earth in late February through mid-April is one of the prettiest places in the world, if you get out on the canals and water trails.
The rare combination of alligators, black bears, sandhill cranes and more makes it a wildlife wonderland as well.
Since that’s where I started on the radio in 1978, it will always have a special place in my psyche.
Lastly, I want to list one place overseas.
Marseilles, France. Wow! An old, old, old port city with a harbor that is extremely active — a horseshoe-shaped waterfront that exits into the Mediterranean.
The harbor offers a daily seafood market that, while perhaps a little pungent to the nose, is pleasing to the palate.
They have a double-decker merry-go-round right in front of the Chamber of Commerce!
Weather-wise, Marseilles may have the best year-round climate of all these locations.
Alas, my French education ended in fifth grade. The only phrase I remember today is “Quelle heure est-il?” which translates to “What time is it?” I guess I was always ready for French class to end!
But fear not friends, I’m going anywhere. There’s no place like Rome, Toto.