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As I have said several times here, I am aware that there are many differing opinions on the state of whether or not you should travel at all during this pandemic. It is my personal opinion that it is possible to travel safely and responsibly, and I try to be aware of the fact that other people have other opinions on the matter. I also believe that it is a good idea and polite to your fellow humans to follow the appropriate COVID protocols that we are all aware of by now. These are things like maintaining 6 feet distance where possible, wearing a mask while not in your own residence or around people, washing hands frequently, etc. My family and I recently returned from a trip to Northern Michigan and I felt that we were able to do so in a responsible way

(SEE ALSO: These were the social distancing and mask rules I encountered on my road trip)

Flying to Oregon

I am getting ready to take my first airplane trip since the world suddenly ended back in March. We had canceled all of our trips between then and now, though we did schedule a road trip to Michigan a few weeks ago. As some of you may already know, my oldest son is getting ready to serve a two-year mission for our church. He has been assigned to the Oregon Portland mission.

He and I have been planning to fly out there where I will drop him off to start his missionary service. Hearing some of the stories of the unrest in Downtown Portland recently has made his mother and me somewhat nervous, although I am sure that they keep the missionaries far away from the downtown courthouse, especially at night. While we were kind of hoping that the protests would stop before he went out there, I wasn’t suggesting that instead there be massive wildfires and the world’s worst air quality 😉

Roadtripping in Oregon and California (the plan)

A few weeks ago, I started making plans to do a bit of a road trip through southern Oregon and some of northern California after I dropped off my son. I am trying to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to pick up some of the rural counties that I have not yet visited. I was going to visit 35 new counties — 21 in Oregon and 14 in California. That would leave me only four counties left in Oregon (all in the Northeast — Umatilla, Union, Wallow, and Baker) and three left in California (all around Yosemite – Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa). In a twist of irony, one of the trips we canceled this year was to Yosemite…

Two of my siblings and a couple of other friends live in this general vicinity, so I reached out to them about some socially distant meetups. I was also going to visit Crater Lake, Lava Beds National Monument and some redwoods.

Then…. 2020 did its 2020 thing…

And then… the entire West Coast was on fire

I should have figured that 2020 had not finished 2020ing and had some more in store for us. It wasn’t enough that we’ve got a global pandemic – Mother Nature decided that we’d set what seems like the entire West Coast on fire. As you probably have seen, there are several fires all throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. And I don’t mean to make light of the fact that these fires are a much bigger deal to those who live and work in the area. I feel horribly for those who have lost life, loved ones, or property. But… these fires really cramping my road trip as well 😉

I have been monitoring the situation for road closures and other fire-related impediments. As it stands right now, the roads I am planning to take near Crater Lake are open (after being closed earlier this week). The only road closure that would impact my trip is the closure of US199 in southern Oregon as I was planning on using that to Josephine County.

I have driven down a dirt “road” in the middle of the woods at 4 a.m. to visit a county (Gallia OH) and I have walked across an abandoned bridge whose road was closed to pick up a parish (Iberville LA)

a group of road signs

But I’m sure (pretty sure?) I don’t want to drive into a wildfire to do so… 🙂

Possibly even worse is the air quality, which has Portland currently ranked as literally the major city with the worst air quality in the world. You’re not even really supposed to go outside, so hikes or trips to Crater Lake seem right out, and even driving or sleeping seem possibly not so fun with no air conditioning.

Miles and points to the rescue…. again?

I plan on monitoring the situation to decide whether it makes sense to audible on road trip destination or possibly just fly right home after dropping him off. Thankfully, I don’t have any non-refundable plans. All of my hotels were booked with points, and I’m flying Delta where I can cancel/change without penalty (just have to pay any fare difference, and I can probably get a flight with miles if the cash prices are really high with short notice). Even my rental car is refundable (I never pre-pay rental cars). So I guess we’ll see what the situation looks like as it gets closer to the time to travel!

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