Enduring another few weeks of sheltering in place at home certainly builds appreciation for future opportunities to freely travel the world. When you suddenly have a lot more time on your hands to engage with Google to your heart’s delight, the bucket list of destinations grows exponentially; whether seeking new journeys or revisiting past treks.
What I have recognized since February of this year is my increased awareness of my good fortune as a human being during this devastating period in history. I have experienced both death and miraculous recovery in my family in the last few weeks. Once our global community has emerged on the other side of this evilness, my hope as world citizens is we commit to being even more charitable and even more thankful, as we embrace the preciousness of life.
My eightyish-year-old next-door neighbor, who is one of the kindest people I have know in my lifetime, has spent his entire retirement years cruising the world. During the summer months while during yard work, we stop and chat to catch up on the latest news. However, as soon as the fall chill hits the air, we observe his car service carrying him to the airport for his next winter adventure.
This week, I learned he is on his way home to the States after his last sea trek was cut short; yet it took the ship sometime to get permission to dock in California. Thankfully, he is doing well and will arrive back in Michigan within the week.
His passion for traveling the world so reminds me of the George Bailey character in It’s a Wonderful Life, who announces to his family, “I’m shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world!”.
Let’s be confident in embracing our wanderlust souls once again. It may take much longer than anyone desires, since most countries will be tepidly cautious with welcoming an influx of tourists. So starting with baby steps and look at a couple of different destinations within the confines of the United States offering two spectacular locales for your consideration, one on the west coast, and of course, the other in my home state of Michigan:
The small coastal city of Yachats (YAH-hots), Oregon only offers dramatic scenery, promising to give visitors the opportunity to renew and heal via the power of Mother Earth. Yachats provides all varieties of recreational activities from biking, beachcombing, kayaking, tide-pooling, wildlife viewing, hiking, boating, golfing with the backdrop perfect for movie-like landscapes that are positively stunning.
Eugene Airport which handles commercial flights and charters is located east of Yachats and is approximately a 1.5-hour drive. Alternatively, the Newport Municipal Airport offers private air chartered service is located approximately 23 miles north and takes a little over 30 minutes.
As far as ground transportation, the airport houses all of the major rental car agencies, hotel shuttle services, taxi services and their noted private car service, Sunshine Limo Service and Wine Tours which specializes in luxury transportation to and from the airport, car service during your stay and wine tours.
Lodging is temporarily suspended as of a result of Covid-19, however, the Yachats Chamber of Commerce lays out nicely an array of optional lodging including ocean-side accommodations, hotels/motels/inns, bed and breakfast offerings, vacation rentals, and RV/Camping sites. Currently, all venues are taking future reservations. I also included a listing of luxury Oceanside Airbnbs for even more private and exclusive lodging choice.
Yachats is a photographer’s dream for capturing breathtaking shots. The top scenic attractions include Cape Perpetua Scenic Area State Park to experience the tidal displays of the Spouting Horn and Devil’s Churn, and the eye-popping blowhole of Thor’s Well or a hike on the 7-mile stretch of the 804 Trail of marine, wildlife, and sunset watching at the Smelt Sands Recreation site.
TAHQUAMENON FALLS, TAHQUAMENON FALLS STATE PARK
I will always take an opportunity to brag on my home state of Michigan which offers a multitude of tourist destinations that can satisfy the wants and needs of visitors, for any season. This suggested locale is just as magical but the visit will be more rustic than Yachats.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (or as fondly refer to it as the U.P.) is home to the Tahquamenon (tuh-KWAH-mee-nahn) Falls located in its namesake the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the second-largest state park in Michigan. The locals lovingly refer to it as the “Root Beer Falls” because of the water’s rich brown color which originates from the tannins of the trees; then the water turns into a white frothy foam as it hits the bottom of the river. From Detroit, (Detroit Metropolitan Airport) it is about a 6-hour drive (make note that their are closer airports in the U.P. or Wisconsin)
There are two separate waterfalls, the upper Tahquamenon Falls is 200 feet across with a drop of almost 50 feet with over 50,000 gallons of water falling over the cliff per second; the lower falls are almost 5 miles downstream made up of five small falls around a small island. The lower falls can be enjoyed up close and personal by a rental canoe.
For people who adore outdoor activities, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the perfect year-round destination: spring and summer are devoted to camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and photography. As the leaves put on their color fall show and a chill is in the air, hunting is the main activity. In the winter, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing take over the park and visitors are privy to see the water from the falls freeze into a sculpture-like figure. Throughout the year wildlife watching is also encouraged with a multitude of animals living in the state park (birds, moose, bears, wolves, fish, etc.).
A trip up North to this area will truly be focused on “rest and relaxation|” as everything slows down to appreciate the work of Mother Nature. There are some local attractions including the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. There are several Breweries and Pubs, casual cafes and dine in restaurants serving Midwest cuisine.
Lodging in the park must be reserved through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. If setting up a tent or RV’ing is a little too much for your sensibilities, there is a Tahquamenon Falls Lodge (reservation must be made early) located between the Upper and Lower Falls and sleeps up to 8 people while providing all the cookware and linen (6-night minimum stay).
Most people who visit, have plans to use the campgrounds or cabins situated around the park, however if room service is more your cup of tea, you will be driving over 30 minutes for more upscale accommodations. I suggest researching the Airbnb’s in the area, which offer some chic and lovely options near or on waterfronts (cedarwood log cabins, garden cottages, etc) from $150 and up a night. Most of the houses are under an hour’s drive to the park.
Since so much is still up in the air, when the time comes for our borders within the states and other countries begin welcoming travelers, I am hopeful that many of us will take a soulful trip to commune with earth’s magical elements of beauty and life, allowing us all to properly mourn and rehabilitate what we’ve endured as well as celebrate humanity and life’s gains. – AJ
Is there a spiritual destination in the U.S. that you can recommend? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter!
Thank you to all the sites linked above that provided content for this blog.
Hat Tip To the beautiful scenic photos from the following photographers:
Teamum 57 – Yachats Sunset
Greg Rakozy – Yachats Evening Shoreline
Stephen Roth – Yachats Day Shoreline
Mockturtle29 – Cape Perpetua
Petrin Express – cape perpetua
Eric Muhr – Thor’s Well
Dennis Buchner – Fall Colors
Dennis Buchner – Winter shot
Jason Gillman – Summer Shot