2020 giveth and 2020 taketh away. January began as usual with me on the road. As the year progressed, things did change drastically. In 2020 we learned to wear masks and distance ourselves from each other. While change is always a bit of a challenge we must learn to adapt. In order to make travel possible during a pandemic, learning to travel safely was key.
Pre Pandemic travel
In early January, I toured the Ancient Rome exhibit at the History Museum of Mobile.
Then I was headed to North Alabama for a FAM trip to Florence and Decatur, Alabama. I learned about Muscle Shoals’ contribution to the music world and enjoyed some outstanding food. I sneaked in some Presidential history with a quick detour north to Columbia, Tennessee for a visit to the James K. Polk Historic Site.
In Decatur, I enjoyed learning more about Alabama history. On the way home, I visited Rickwood Caverns and hiked the natural wonder in Warrior, Alabama.
Last year, I began traveling to each Alabama county last the purpose of photographing each courthouse. Alabama’s 67 counties are diverse and each has a unique history. In February, I continued my tour of Alabama Courthouses. Alabama’s Timber Belt was surprising, the area could use an infusion of industry.
A quick offer had me flying to Boulder, Colorado, in mid-February to review the Boulderado Hotel. The historic hotel opened in 1909. It is a beautiful time capsule of the history of the region. The journey gave me an opportunity to fly out of Mobile’s Downtown airport on Frontier Airlines. Spartan in design, Mobile’s Downtown airport will need more airlines operating from the facility to be a success. It will also need to be more comfortable and welcoming for passengers.
Covid-19 was front-page news by February. We were just beginning to learn about traveling safely in the face of a pandemic. I attended the Travel and Adventure Show in Atlanta. While there I visited my niece and her family. Meeting Josh Gates for a brief interview of Expedition Unknown was a delight. He is as charming and funny as you would expect. My brief visit to Atlanta provided me with intriguing venues to visit.
Traveling alone, I was able to stay safe while in hotels and eat out while on the road. Heading home from Atlanta, I toured several East Alabama courthouses. I stopped only to photograph the courthouses and to buy gas. I kept my contact limited to others to the barest minimum.
Just before the lockdown in March, I visited Beauvoir and the Jefferson Davis Library in Biloxi, Mississippi. Once the lockdown was underway, I had to wonder what the rest of the year would bring.
As Covid raged throughout Europe, an Italian tour operator described what the Corona Virus was doing to the travel industry; it put everyone in a period of hibernation. Hibernation perfectly describes the travel industry’s collective situation since defined as an extended period of remaining inactive or indoors. It also means that we will emerge from our hibernation healthier, stronger, and more than ready to travel again.
During the early days of the lockdown, I enjoyed a virtual tour of downtown Virginia City, Nevada. Virtual tours are a great way to be introduced to a location. Since March, I have done several virtual tours of locations. While I appreciate seeing the place by video, it is not the same as having my boots on the grounds. Like most people, I want to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a town.
In May, I continued my county courthouse tours on several day trips. In June, as we began dealing with Covid and some sites reopened with Covid practices in place, I visited the Monroeville County Courthouse. It is a charming town to visit.
By this time, Zoom calls and mask-wearing were becoming a new normal for everyone. It is a great way to stay connected with friends, workmates, and family.
On my birthday in late June, a friend and I traveled to Laurel, Mississippi, where Erin and Ben Napier film the HGTV show Hometown. Laurel is a lovely, charming small town. We discovered Pearl’s Diner was a fantastic place for lunch. Try the fried chicken! The downtown historic district is an easy walk with plenty of shops to explore. Driving through the historic neighborhood, we saw many of the town’s renovated homes completed by the Hometown crew.
A sponsored trip arranged by both North Alabama and Sweet Home Alabama made for a three day North Alabama Road trip in September. I was able to see several of Alabama’s Natural Wonders. Including several waterfalls, made another visit to Sylacauga, the Marble Capital of Alabama, and had a stay at Lake Guntersville Lodge.
A four-day trip to Jackson, Mississippi, and Monroe, Louisiana, and New Orleans, was on tap in October. The road trip included a visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and History Museum. The Civil Rights Museum is moving and impressive.
In Monroe, I discovered the town’s aviation history and several of its grand houses. The Antebellum homes of Natchez, Mississippi were resplendent and beckon me to return.
I ended my road trip in NOLA with a visit to the National World War II museum. The Higgins Hotel treated me to a superb stay.
November had me back on the road to attend the unveiling of Craigger Browne’s sculpture of Mortimer Jordan “Valor” in Kimberly, Alabama. The statue is spectacular.
Visiting OWA in December for the Legends In Concert Christmas show was a treat. I was able to enjoy some of the new restaurants and shops. I thoroughly enjoyed the Legends show. OWA is always adding something new to delight its visitors, and there is more to come this Summer.
Visiting all 67 county courthouses was an accomplishment. Enjoy the photographs and a brief history of each of the buildings.
2020 was a turbulent year. But we learned to deal with Covid and to wear a mask. While it’s not fun to wear a mask but it’s not difficult either, and we know it is the best way to protect oneself and others. I am hopeful that 2021 will help get us back on track to enjoying what traveling brings to each of us. Enjoy the Journey!