Thursday, June 17, 2021

National Parks, Europe beckon as the veil of Covid slowly lifts

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park is the park's largest lake and, many believe,
the most beautiful in the park. Record numbers of tourists are expected in national parks
as the veil of the pandemic slowly lifts and people seek solace in nature . 



Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers in Grand Teton.


AS THE VEIL of the pandemic slowly lifts, record numbers of travelers are taking to parks and open spaces worldwide.
After months of lock down, the outdoors offers inspiration and relief.
In the U.S., tourists are flocking to revel in the landscapes of Glacier, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon and Grand Teton national parks. 
In Europe, outdoor parks and mountain trails are welcoming record numbers of enthusiasts, joyous to be outdoors again. Nature and its varied landscapes offer a calming coda to months of isolation caused by the spread of COVID-19.
The world famous Vigeland Park in Norway
is welcoming thousands to its outdoor sculpture.
THROUGHOUT the world, where citizens are vaccinated, outdoor venues, concert spaces and parks are welcoming record numbers of guests. 
Norway's Vigeland Park, featuring the intriguing sculpture of Gustav Vigeland, is a wonderful, family-friendly outdoor arena. Remarkably, it's free, honoring the sculptor's wishes and a substantial endowment.
The fascinating venue is really a park within a park, located in Frognerparken (Frogner Park), the largest public park in Oslo.  A popular spot in all weather, this lovely park also boasts an open-air pool, restaurants, a museum and much more.
A natural backdrop provides a stunning setting for The Domo,
one of many intriguing sculptures on view at Tippet Rise.
Vigeland was a conservationist and hiker and wanted his sculpture to be showcased in a venue offering the compliment of nature's healing  balm. This life-saving pairing -- art and the outdoors --  is a magical elixir, a sanity saver and health booster for millions of us now more than ever.
TIPPET RISE Art Center in my native Montana is open. This unique venue in the spectacular plains and hills of south-central Montana is open for hiking and biking on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June 25 through Sept. Although there is no concert season again this year, outdoor enthusiasts are welcome to bring a mountain bike or hiking shoes and tour the remarkable collection of huge sculptures and soak up the gorgeous Montana landscape. Hiking and bicycling tours are free of charge, but require reservations. Call 406 328-7820.
Montana's and Wyoming's Rocky Mountains
are drawing tourists, here near Cody, Wyo.
We need all the open space we can find, so we turn to nature for relief and inspiration.
of isolation, people -- including the two of us travel writers -- are anxious to travel again.   
National parks predict tourist numbers will more than double this year, as families, hikers, bikers, campers and cyclists hit the roads.
Whether in search of geysers, sand dunes, beaches or wildlife refuges, folks are heading to the parks by the tens of thousands.
 As travel restrictions start to lift in Europe and beyond, and talks of a UK-US travel corridor heat up, travel is returning, slowly becoming possible.
The the European Union, a Covid travel pass is being rolled out across the bloc so travelers are again moving about within Europe.
The canals of Venice are expected to draw record numbers
of tourists, as Europe opens up slowly to post-Covid travel.
In several European countries, international tourists have been welcome since the start of June, with most visitors needing only to present a negative Covid test or vaccination card upon arrival.
Visitors from some countries, like the U.S., may still need to follow a 10-day quarantine. Restrictions are lifting country by country, however. So check with individual tourist bureaus.
HAPPY NEWS is that many European countries, including Italy, are expected to be classed as "low risk" by the end of June.
Cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and
In Ashland, Oregon, the renowned Oregon
Shakespeare Festival is opening its famous
Allen Elizabethan Theater after a long lock-down

theaters have partially reopened to the public in many European countries, and parks. In Ashland, Oregon, for instance, after 16 months of lock-down, the world famous Allen Elizabethan Theater is staging its first show.
Outdoor dining worldwide is more popular than it has ever been. Many restaurants have opened patio areas, and will likely keep them even after the virus is quelled.
Keller and Cookie hold Nick on a road trip.
They're awaiting room service at a hotel pool

Masks were removed for the photo and eating.

can increase a person’s risk of getting and spreading the virus, so it is still wise to take precautions. Remember that we're in close contact with one another, sometimes for prolonged periods. We are also exposed to more frequently touched surfaces. Air or train travel requires spending time in security lines and busy airport terminals. 
So even though the CDC has loosened its requirements for masking, we recommend it. We're also devoted "hand-sanitizers." We also distance whenever possible. We ask for outdoor dining seating whenever possible.  At a recent play, we were seated six feet from others. On a flight to Hawaii, a middle seat was empty, but that is soon ending, making masking even more important. 
So be shrewd, be cautious, be protected. And with these careful conditions, we can once again travel.
Happy, safe trails!

In Salinas and Monterey, at Cannery Row in the old part
of Monterey, most people were masked and thoughtful.
   Vaccinated and grateful, we hit the deck running -- "double Pfizered" and happy to travel again.  On the road, we're taking note of trends.  We weighed the pros and cons and decided in favor of traveling.  So as we cross several states, we continue to mask as we observe without judgment. We inquire about vaccinating and we remain vigilant sanitizers. We're surprised that many are not vaccinated and do not believe in masking. A post-Covid post-mortem awaits. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, food, family, cruising and more:


  1. Fun way to get us traveling again.

  2. San Francisco FollowersJune 19, 2021 at 4:50 PM

    Fun piece, great pictures and good attitude!