What a Long Strange Trip it Continues to Be

Is it just me, or does it feel like the past seven months have actually been two years in disguise? The last time we published our newsletter, we were heading to Southern Italy for three weeks of pasta eating and sightseeing in Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Lecce, among other places. We returned at the beginning of February, and it quickly became clear to us that life, as we knew it, was about to change. Little did we know by how much.

Well it’s now October, and Travel Essentials is still here. We closed for two months, and have been back open five days a week, with Bob and I manning the store since mid-May. It hasn’t been easy, but the truth is we are fortunate. Just a month ago the Almeda Fire burned almost 3,000 residences in north Ashland, Talent and Phoenix, and so many people—including customers, acquaintances, former employees and community members—lost absolutely everything. It’s sobering to hear people tell you they fled their home with only the clothes on their back.

It has been uplifting however, to watch our community rally in support. From free meals provided by so many local restaurants, to clothing and furniture donations, and even the adoption of families into people’s homes, our Rogue Valley is trying hard to take care of its own. Travel Essentials’ customers have supported our efforts to donate to fire victims as well, and we’ve been able to donate new and used suitcases, backpacks and bags, as well as new underwear (a big need) and even furniture.

There’s still much work to be done, and if you’re looking for a good place to donate, I’d suggest you check out Unete, the Center for Farm Worker Advocacy, www.uneteoregon.org. Unete has established a farm worker and immigrant family relief fund whose monies are distributed directly to families for basic needs like food, gas and other essentials. Unete is also assisting families with navigating community resources.

There’s still work to be done before we get back to travel as well. But I’m confident we WILL travel again. It may not happen as soon as we’d all like, but someday, COVID-19 (and dare I say 2020?) will be a distant memory. We will get on planes again, and travel to exotic places like Angkor Wat and the Pyrenees—two places on our list. Let’s be honest, when COVID is behind us, I’ll be willing to travel to less exotic places as well. I’ll be willing to travel just about anywhere.

So until we’re all back out there adventuring around the world, I know this goes without saying, but please continue being kind, please wear a mask, and please vote.