Updates From People Around The World
We have been checking in with our travelers as well as our staff and tour leaders. Dennis and Carolyn Dawson live just north of our Colorado HQ in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. Here is what they have been up to recently.
Carolyn and Dennis Dawson, Canada
Where do you live? We live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, close to the Rocky Mountains and our Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Is life with COVID starting to feel almost normal? Life with COVID in 2020 is still definitely different. During the initial lockdown in March, a walk around the block felt like an adventure. Restrictions eased in June, so while we were able to do more outdoor activities, our new normal was to wear facemasks in public places, keep our social distance everywhere and minimize our social contacts. This means that a gathering with friends is very small and held outside to keep social distance – more of a challenge now that winter is arriving. We have used all the available apps to stay in touch with friends remotely, but these are not like being together in person.
Have you been doing any cycling? How have you been staying fit? We are fortunate to live in an area with access to many outdoor activities. Cycling is great in the area with an extensive network of bike paths in Calgary and easy access to cycling in the foothills and mountains. We cycled a lot over the summer with family and friends. We found that cycling, plus other outdoor activities like golfing, hiking and walking in the neighborhood were fundamental to our mental health while staying active and trying to stay fit. The best part is that all of these activities are possible to do with friends while still keeping the appropriate COVID social distance.
Have you come up with any coping strategies now that winter is coming? We have a long winter in Canada, so we have to embrace it to keep active. We upgraded our cross-country skis with a plan to do more cross-country skiing this winter. There are many beautiful trails in the mountains within easy driving distance. This is a sport like cycling that allows you to get outside with friends and yet maintain all the requisite distancing. Ski hills were closed down during the lockdown in March, but are opening this winter with protocols for keeping crowds to a minimum, so we anticipate doing some downhill skiing as well.
Have you done any travelling? If yes, tell us where you went and how it worked! Travel outside of Alberta and Canada is currently discouraged or impossible. When restrictions for travel in Alberta started to ease in June, our daughter Mackenzie came up with a plan for a self-supported family cycle trip. The plan was a seven-day trip in our own backyard – the spectacular 280 km Icefields Parkway from Jasper, Alberta to Banff, Alberta. This trip has long been on our to-do list, but the ones close to home are often the last you consider.
We applied what we have learned on our trips with ExperiencePlus! to plan the logistics and to organize hotel and restaurant bookings. The planning was certainly fun and it gave us new appreciation for all the excellent work done at the Farm and by the Leaders on tour!
The cycle trip could not have gone better. The road from Jasper to Banff over two passes, Sunwapta Pass and Bow Summit, is truly beautiful. We also had great weather. The hotels and restaurants we booked along the way were well organized for COVID protocols, so we had no concerns. Following best ExperiencePlus! practice, we had a safety and route briefing each night. (We heard a rumor they even had daysheets!)
Fortunately, there is pretty much only one road to follow, so there was no need for arrows! We took turns driving our support vehicle and learned that we also very much appreciate the work done by the Tour Leader driving the van.
What things do you need in place to feel safe to travel overseas? We are anxious to travel as soon as possible. It seems that borders and countries will not fully re-open until there is a COVID vaccine in place.
Anything else? We miss our friends at Experience Plus and all the people we have cycled with over the years – we hope everyone is well and look forward to cycling together again very soon. The pandemic experience has certainly emphasized the importance of family and friends and being able to get together with people in person. It has also given us a new appreciation for the wonderful things in our own back yard – the people, the places and the local restaurants and businesses.
Cheers and stay well! Carolyn and Dennis