Friday, October 30, 2020

Fall road trips offer peaceful time, uncrowded parks, spectacular scenery, laughs along the way


Whether you're headed east of west, it's freeing to be off and driving. Some safety pointers below.

While our American goldfinches have fled Montana,
 we found this one in a rest stop farther south in Nevada


WITH THE THREAT of Covid keeping us away from air travel, many of us are braving the highways this autumn and winter.
 Road trips are on the agenda for hundreds, including the two of us humans and our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier and faithful companion, Nick.
Like many readers and fellow travelers, we're avoiding air travel. We find road trips to be a safer way to deal with the hazards of the virus. Museums and parks are not crowded, many restaurants offer delivery to the hotels, temperatures are chilly, but the air is fresh.  
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
 hit the road for R&R, scenery and a few laughs.

Off-season travel offers uncrowded parks and a chance to enjoy
wonderful museums without rubbing elbows, here at
a virtually deserted Museum of the Rockies.

A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that 68 percent of travelers feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations such as parks and the beach.  Nearly half -- 45 percent -- of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car.  Road trips are on the agenda for many vacationers this as 2020 winds to a close. Those of us who usually hop on a plane to faraway destinations are staying closer to home, driving so we can enjoy "outdoor" stops. 
THE DECISION to travel with family and friends limits contact with others, and those travel companions are likely to be the same people you’ve quarantined with over the past few months. Keep your eyes open for entertainment. It's there! We started a collection of amusing billboard and poster shots.
If any of your passengers have had outside contact, it is a good idea to wear masks inside the vehicle. Experts caution against wearing a mask when driving alone because of a potential reduction in oxygen and possible lightheadedness.
In the era of coronavirus, avoiding public transportation, crowded waiting areas, and strangers is considered a safer way to go. For overnight stops, we plan ahead, so we can choose a property by price as well as
by published cleanliness standards.
Humor is always present -- just
have a look around on the road.

We're big fans of the Hilton brand when it comes to cleanliness and comfort.
Hotels listed on AAA's guide offer clean, comfortable stays at our favorite Hiltons, and others.  We recently enjoyed a pleasant kitchen suite at Winnemucca's Best Western Plus. Sparkling clean room, friendly check-in, top hygiene and a tasty "grab and go" breakfast. The kitchen in the suite allowed us to prepare a simple tasty safe meal without venturing out. Ask about a suite upgrade. For a few dollars more, you can book a small kitchen or add a microwave and frig.
We noticed, too, another option: at our hotel in Tahoe both the pizza parlor and Chinese restaurant near the hotel both delivered.
Nicky, our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier, at
a rest stop in Idaho on our current road trip. 

Low gas prices are another benefit of road trips, with per gallon averages just under $2, the lowest it’s been in five years.  We use the Gas Buddy app and a AAA Triptik to help with fuel prices, routes, and planning. Overall travel costs can be managed more easily on a driving trip, too. We stock the cooler and grocery bag with water, sodas, snacks: cheese, fruit, chips, crackers, protein bars, nuts.
NOT ONLY do we avoid extra stops, but we have healthy food we fixed.
Nicky the terrier and our great-niece Penelope
take a break from masking on a walk.
(Her mask is handy, on her neck, though.)
When it’s time for to stop for a meal, we look for a pleasant park or roadside complex where we can walk Nicky and stretch our legs.
Cracker Barrel, Subway and pilot Flying J all have high safety and hygiene practices. We keep masks in the glove compartment, in Keller's backpack, my purse and in our carry-on, so we have them always at the ready. Even when we walk, we keep our masks handy. Our family in the Bay Area always masks, even on a stroll to the post box on the corner.

California's central valley produces nearly half of the
country's fresh produce. Thousands of workers labor here.

UP NEXT: Come with us to California's rich farmland as we explore the farm to table phenomenon. We're in the beautiful and fertile central California "salad bowl" and we offer some of our favorite farmer's market shots, taken on this latest trip. Come enjoy the history of California's amazing and prolific central valley, which produces half of the nation's produce.  As we avoid the virus through healthy, cautious living, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at travel, the arts, nature, family and more:




  1. Fun piece; cautious smart approach to travel. Important to keep engaged-- with precautions.

  2. Nashville Europe LoversNovember 2, 2020 at 5:42 PM

    Thank you for continuing to travel, when most of us are too frightened. We take courage from your colorful reports and beautiful photos.

  3. Cowardly in ConnecticutNovember 6, 2020 at 7:45 AM

    We admire your bravado!