“Down The Road A-spell” from For the weekend…from Douglas E. Welch – Issue 6: January 14, 2022

For the weekend…
from Douglas E. Welch

Issue 6: January 14, 2022

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Down The Road A-spell

When you are embroiled in a crisis (or several of them) it can be so difficult to see the future — or even think about it. Everything becomes so focused on surviving the present, at the cost of anything else.

Still, looking towards the future is one action we can take to help alleviate our current stresses and fears. If we stop looking to the future, our lives can look insignificant, wasted, and unimportant. None of these are true, but it can feel that way at times.

In order to look beyond my own doldrums, I have created a few habits to move the focus out to the future whenever I can. I make it part of my daily life, tasks, and reading. I am not ignoring the present. Only try to divert my attention for a few minutes each day. Even better, once this is all over, I will have a wonderful list of things to do, places to visit, and experiences to have.

Take Note

One habit I instituted was to make sure I take note of every interesting place or experience I happen upon when reading my online feeds or watching videos. One big source of interesting places has been TikTok. There are many great travel-focused creators there. Some focus on specific cities or countries while others travel further afield.

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When I come across a place that interests me I copy the address of the video from TikTok, find the location on Google Maps, and use the Save feature to mark it. When you do that, Maps allows you to make a note about the location. I paste in the URL (web address) so that I have a reminder of why I found this place interesting.

Over the last several months I have saved places in London (one of my favorite places to visit), local places here in Los Angelesa wolf sanctuary in Norway (from an episode of Extraordinary Escape with Sandi Toksvig), hidden places to see in Rome (complete with step by step video directions), attractions in Vienna, which we hope to visit in September, and more.

Will I get to see all of these places? Probably not, but I decided I would mark whatever I find so that when and if I am in a particular city or area, all I have to do is open Google Maps and see what I might have found there.


Places I’ve Been, Places I Want To See from Google Maps

Read The Map

My reading also provides a wealth of exciting places to visit, books to read, and experiences. When you are reading anything — the newspaper, books, websites, whatever — take a moment to note those things that intrigued you. I often find myself looking up the locations of stories, tv shows, and movies. Even if the setting in the piece is fictional, it had to be filmed somewhere and you can often find that information on IMDB. Doc Martin’s Portwenn is actually the beautiful village of Port Issac in North CornwallBreaking Bad used the stark desert landscapes of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Murder, She Wrote often used the charming village of Mendocino in Northern California as the setting for Cabot Cover, Maine.

Travel shows can also give you specific places to visit, but I find that there are often many other reasons to visit a particular area. Segments on Sedona, Arizona often highlight the resort accommodations and high-end food there, but I find that I am more enamored with the red rocks, the desert surroundings, and rivers than I am with anything else. Check out the surrounding area of those places that catch your eye and see what might interest you even more.

You will probably laugh at me, but when I am investigating a new area — or prior to actually going there — I will poke around using Street View to gain a better feeling for the area. I don’t book a hotel or suite — especially internationally — until I can “walk” the neighborhood. How far is it from here to the sites I want to see or the location of the conference we are attending? Are there are a lot of hills to climb. Where are the restaurants I will need since I won’t be cooking? Where’s the closest metro station or bus stop? You will be greatly surprised how much you can learn — and vicariously experience — just using online mapping tools.

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Outside Suites Foz o Porto, where we stayed in September 2019

In the midst of this crisis, we must allow ourselves to dream again. We must look towards the future when we can freely travel, visit family and friends, and seek out great new experiences. If you start to plan now, you can hit the ground running, both literally and figuratively, once the world opens up again. If you can’t engage in your regular forms of entertainment, take the time to create an amazing to-do list for the future.

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