It’s January 20, 2021 and before I begin the new year, I must revisit 2020. It was strange and difficult, but as I look back at the places I roamed, and the people I shared time with, it wasn’t all bad.
The year began in Port St. Lucie for two weeks with a wonderful couple who migrated from Cuba many decades ago. Their warm welcome, ethnic foods, and generous spirit felt like family. The remainder of January was a series of challenges, however – a stalling car, fraying bike cables, popping mattresses, and 34 degree nights in Florida! My mood was also up and down.
I spent February at a single Melbourne address, and while the weather continued its' ups-and-downs, I took the time to get taxes done, my car stabilized, and connect with local friends. It was also the earliest I’ve ever hit 1,000 bike miles for the year, so you know I had time on my hands. As March rolled in, I enjoyed the Eau Gallie neighborhood, then Stuart, but whined about too much time living indoors as beds became cheaper than a piece of dirt for my tent. Otherwise, I was looking forward to the journey to a Louisiana bike tour with numerous stops along the way.
Then came Friday the 13th, when my travel itinerary changed, and the “public health crisis” pushed me past visiting friends and straight to a camping spot in Cedar Key. The next 10 days were my last of feeling fancy free in 2020, and while I enjoyed this quaint Old Florida town, I was living a parallel existence. Within 4 days, there was a distinctive change as out-of-state friends called to ask where I’d be staying, my next spots began canceling, and family members were going into lockdown. It was sheer luck that I was in a county campground that stayed open later than national and state parks.
With snowbirds and tourists going into panic mode, I opted to hang around a while and return to what I thought was a known entity. It was then a long, long month of sitting on the edge of my seat in Melbourne wondering what the commute north would resemble, and what the year would now bring. Mid-April, I hit the road, and in 16 hours, arrived to a whole new world at the Baltimore harbor for 7 weeks. While trying to adapt to urban cycling, elevator FOBs, and population density, I was also re-living my favorite spots in Charm City.
June took me West to Frostburg to enjoy the Allegheny Mountains and the GAP trail, before a 9-hour push to the Berkshires for a month in another college town in the mountains, North Adams. I was living month-to-month now so I still felt like I was traveling, and enjoyed a bright, cozy apartment in a historic flatiron building in the heart of town.
Mid-birth month was a drive east in the Bay State for an attempt at two weeks of cohabitation with my sister. The strange pandemic life was in full view with full-time masking, hand washing till it hurts, and the disappointment when mail never arrives. What planet am I on? Yet, at #64, alongside the residual of Hurricane Laura, the party prevailed and the calls, cards, texts, gifts, great food, and amazing pie stretched to a 24-hour celebration.
In no time at all, I danced into September in Connecticut’s Last Green Valley. I’m gifted with a stay at “Tree Hollow”, enjoying hikes in the state forest, cycling by vineyards and farms, and with the transition from summer to fall, taking in the fresh air and crisp, leafy smell. Sane driving routes brought me to Cooperstown next where my accidental timing dropped me into peak perfect scenery by the lake, but winter weather predictions sent me off a week early to Elizabethtown, PA enroute to settling in along the coast of Maryland.
So 2020 was certainly not the year that anyone had planned, but as I look back on the locations and the time shared with people, it was better than expected. With all its challenges and disappointments, people and pedaling kept me sane in scenic spots along the Eastern seaboard.
I’m now in my third month in Ocean City, and getting weary of the damp windy weather, the 24/7 connected universe, and the indoor life. I want to be woken by birds singing on warm, sunny days, and no electricity! That’s my rant, but I’m grateful for visits with family and friends, charming local towns, and the gorgeous Assateague seashore. When last year began, I was questioning if 2020 would be my final year of nomadness, but now I’m dreaming again.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover