Many people aren’t traveling far beyond the grocery store as they’ve sheltered in place for several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some parts of the country have started to re-open, but restrictions remain in others and uncertainty abounds as to when laid-off workers will be rehired and if stay-at-home orders will be extended.
If you’re going a bit stir crazy at home, try these activities (if you haven’t already):
1. Attend a virtual performance. Research has found that music helps reduce stress, help you concentrate better and improve your outlook. Although many performances and music concerts have been canceled, there are plenty to hear and see online. Most are free. NPR Music has compiled a list of live audio and video streams with links. New York’s Metropolitan Opera is offering free shows of past performances (its Live in HD series) daily at 7:30 p.m. on its website and through its on-demand apps for Apple, Amazon, Roku and Samsung Smart TV. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is providing free access to video streaming of past performances. The Seattle Symphony is sharing music through YouTube and Facebook.
To do yoga, you can replace a mat with a large towel or just use the floor. (Pixabay)
3. Learn something new. The options are endless. Take language lessons via the Duolingo app or website. You’ll find many free cooking lessons on YouTube and social media channels. YouTube offers many cooking tutorials, such as six episodes of the Cuisinart Culinary School. Google Arts & Culture offers virtual tours and online exhibits of more than 1,500 museums and galleries globally, including the British Museum in London; National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
4. Read a book. Now that you’ve binge-watched all of the television shows and movies on your wish list, settle on the couch with a glass of wine and a good book. Tackle thick classics like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy that you’ve never had time to read. Raid your own bookshelves first (it doubles as a bit of spring cleaning). While most bookstores are closed, they’re still selling books online. And you can download borrowed books to an e-reader from closed libraries.
Few of us are traveling far amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
If you stuck at home with travel-withdrawal symptoms, consider diving into photographs of your past trips. Perhaps you have some extra time to organize those photos or embark on a fun photo-related project. Revisiting destinations may stir up fond memories — and it may spur ideas for your next trip once travel is encouraged again.
Here are five activities to tackle whether your photos are on your smartphone, computer, in the cloud or prints from film:
1. Cull photos collected from various excursions over the years.
I’m talking about the 2,000 photos from your trip to Australia that you dumped into your computer and haven’t looked at in two years. First, get rid of the mistake shots of the ground and out-of-focus images. Then ask yourself, “Do I really need 10 images of the same rock formation?” Do the same with older print photos from film.
2. Organize your photos.
Once you’ve narrowed down the number of digital or print images, organize them, label them and edit them. Doing this makes your images ready to share at any time and you don’t have ask yourself when and where you were in a particular shot. You may want to break up these tasks since they take time.
For digital photos, create separate files by year, location or whatever category you choose. Do something similar for print photos, but file them in envelopes, boxes or photo albums (see below).
3. Make digital photo books or put print images into photo albums.
Many website let you make digital photo books of varying styles, quality and prices. A subscription to Groovebook lets you upload 40-100 new cell phone photos monthly to its app and it will create a 4×6 photo book for you ($3.99 a month). Chatbooks lets you sync to your Instagram posts (no photo decisions necessary) to create photo books starting at $10 or you can subscribe (starting at $5 for a 5×5 book monthly made from 30 new photos from your camera roll).
4. Make scrapbooks of photos and other travel mementos.
Whether you print photos or use digital images to create e-scrapbooks, first make sure your photos are edited and organized. You can combine printed photos with mementos, such as maps and ticket stubs into physical scrapbooks.
For e-scrapbooks, use your smartphone or digital camera to photograph mementos and combine them with digital photos. You can use software like Adobe Photoshop (starts at $9.99 a month). Check out this free online class, Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners, from online resource Scrapneers.
5. Digitalize print photos.
Consider pulling out those shoeboxes of old family photos and digitalizing them. It’s a laborious task, but it’s worth it. Not only will digitalizing print images preserve them forever, it will make them easier to share with others.
You can scan photos yourself or pay a company to do it. The main differences are time, money and, some say, quality.
You can scan photos yourself using your smartphone’s camera and Google’s Photoscan app (for iOS and Android), which takes a series of images and combines them to eliminate glare. This method can be tedious if you have many photos.
Another DIY option is to use a flatbed scanner or a multifunction printer with a scanner. Some scanners have a photo-scanning mode or you can buy one specifically for photos for less than $100. PCMag likes the Epson Perfection V39 and Canon CanoScan LiDE 400. Save time by scanning multiple images at once; you can crop them and save them as separate digital files later.
The cost of most scanning services ranges from around 20 cents to 40 cents per image/negative. The cheapest option is ScanMyPhotos (prices start at 1 cent per image). Memories Renewed will even take photo albums (90 cents per image) and memorabilia ($1.50 each).
The global Coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we live, including air travel.
As a result of the fast-spreading virus, also known as COVID-19, changing company travel policies and cancelled events and conferences, many airlines have waived their ticket change and cancelation fees for customers. Such policies differ from airline to airline, so make sure you check. (If an airline cancels your flight, you are eligible for a cash refund.)
Here are direct links to the COVID-19 policies for major U.S. airlines:
In addition, travel companies, including AirBnB, Hotels.com, Orbitz and TripAdvisor, also have instituted flexible policies with no change or cancellation fees.
If you have questions about upcoming domestic or international flights, visit your airline’s website or the site through which you bought your ticket. Airlines and travel companies have posted information and instructions on their websites.
You can call your airline, but you may have to wait hours to speak to someone. In fact, today some airlines, such as British Airways, Delta and Lufthansa Group, are asking travelers no scheduled to travel within the next 72 hours to wait and contact them closer to their travel date so the airline can focus on “customers with immediate travel needs” and those affected by travel restrictions from Europe to the United States.
Parks are a welcome green oasis for anyone anywhere, but they’re possibly most appreciated in concrete jungles where space and nature are at a premium.
New parks are popping up across the country on top of highways. They’re called deck parks, highway cap parks or land bridges — and they’re a huge hit.
You’ll find deck parks in Boston, Dallas, New York City and San Francisco. Parks are underway in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Denver. Other cities, such as Atlanta and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, are considering it. (See below.)
Parks built over highways aren’t brand new. Seattle has had one over Interstate 5 since 1976 and Phoenix over I-100 since 1990. But such parks have become increasingly popular as a way to find space in teeming cities, add greenery to downtowns, encourage more outdoor activity, rejuvenate blighted areas and rejoin urban neighborhoods split by road construction decades earlier.
I’m all for more parks. Having grown up near a city park, I spent a lot of time there — as a child and as a teenager. I recently visited the new deck park in San Francisco. I’ve also been to the deck parks in Boston, Chicago and Dallas.
Parks can make a difference. Trees and plants take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. Studies shows that plants can help humans fight depression. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation case study found that most visitors (91 percent) to Dallas’ new deck park said it “significantly improved” their quality of life. That park also spurred economic, environmental and other benefits, including new tax revenue, a big jump in adjacent commercial rents and increased streetcar ridership in Dallas.
Here’s your guide to finding a deck park — or plans for one — near you:
5 new(ish) deck parks
San Francisco: Salesforce Park in the South of Market area is one of the latest deck parks. It opened in August 2018 as part of larger project, including a new transit center and office tower for software company Salesforce. Not long after, the 5.4-acre rooftop park closed when two cracked steel beams were found. It re-opened last summer. The narrow park includes a walking loop, a small amphitheater, a playground and a fountain. The $2.2 billion park is public, but Salesforce bought sponsorship, giving it naming rights for 25 years. It’s open through April 30 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dallas: I was living here in 2012, when the city opened the 5-acre, $110 million Klyde Warren Park above a freeway that separates two neighborhoods: the downtown Dallas Arts District and Uptown. People flock to the park, which offers many activities (ping-pong to yoga), a water feature, a restaurant, a dog park and free wi-fi. The foundation that runs the park plans to add 1.2 acres for a pavilion and more parking. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (See the featured photo I took of the park at top and below.)
Dallas plans to build another deck park near the Dallas Zoo as part of a project to widen I-35E. The 5-plus-acre Southern Gateway Deck Park will reconnect and revitalize parts of the Oak Cliff neighborhood south of downtown. Park construction could begin by 2022.
New York City: The High Line park built on a 1.45-mile, elevated rail line on the West Side opened in 2009. The High Line app lets visitors digitally explore the park’s features, such as overlooks, art, performances, food venues and programs like summer dancing. The narrow, serpentine park, which runs from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 31 (it closes later in spring, summer and fall).
The High Line deck park in New York City meanders through different neighborhoods. (Photo by Alex Simpson on Unsplash)
Boston: The Rose Kennedy Greenway opened in 2008 at a cost $40 million. The 1.5-mile park sits above the city’s Central Artery, which was moved underground during what’s called the “Big Dig.” The long and narrow park offers food trucks, planted paths, events (such as movies, music and fitness classes), a carousel, fountains, art and free wi-fi. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Chicago: While Millennium Park isn’t elevated and doesn’t cover a highway, it is on a deck built over railroad tracks. Since opening in 2004, the park has become a huge tourist attraction and a focal point of the city. Some highlights include: a 2.5-acre garden; Cloud Gate, a sculpture that resembles a giant shiny, stainless-steel bean; a 925-foot-long footbridge; two performance venues; Crown Fountain, which consists of a reflecting pool bookended by two 50-foot glass towers on which video images of residents are projected.
5 possible parks on the horizon
Pittsburgh: The city began working on the I-579 Cap Park in June 2019 to cover part of I-579 and reconnect downtown with its historically black neighborhood called the Hill District. The 3-acre park will include a garden, a watercourse, art and an amphitheater. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021.
Denver: The city’s $1.3 billion highway project will tear down an elevated portion of I-70 through a low-income neighborhood in the northeast, bury the new road and build a 5-acre deck park on top. The Central 70 project may be completed around 2022.
Philadelphia: The city is going big, with plans for a 12-acre, $220-million park over I-95. The Park at Penn’s Landing withe views of the Delaware River. The park, which is scheduled to open in 2024, will include performance space, food and drink venues, a play area, a water feature and an ice-skating rink (in winter).
St. Paul, Minn.: A nonprofit called ReConnect Rondo advocates building a “land bridge” over part of I-94. It would reconnect the city’s Rondo neighborhood, which was divided by the highway’s construction, and provide land for a park and other development.
You may not be able to find a free lunch on Maui, but you can find free parking if you know what to look for and where to look.
Certain areas of Maui try to provide a small amount of free parking to access public beaches. These spots are sometimes hard to find and may be marked with a small sign.
In and near Wailea, there’s parking at Keawakapu Wailea-Elahi Public Beach and Wailea Beach.
Near Kihei, there’s public beach access parking at Kamaole Beach Park I, Kamaole Beach Park III.
Lahaina has a public parking lot near the Lahaina Harbor on Front Street between Mokuhina Place and Prison Street.
In the Ka’anapali area, you’ll find public beach access parking (sometimes only a handful of spots) near most of the big resort hotels, such as the Sheraton Maui Resort and the Hyatt Ka’anapali, and Whalers Village. At the very north end of Ka’anapali when it becomes Honokowai, a large free parking lot just north of Honua Kai Resort & Spa off of the Lower Honoapiilani Road provides access to the beach and boardwalk.
Near Napili Bay area, there’s free parking with access to the Kapalua Coastal Trail and beach in a small lot and along the road just north of Napili Kai Beach Resort.
Note: The featured photo is by Nick Brugioni via Unsplash.
Links to the other nine posts about Maui freebies:
You may be able to skip renting a car on Maui if you don’t plan to venture far afield, especially if you stay on the west side of the island.
The Ka’anapali Trolley runs every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily between Whalers Village shopping center, Ka’anapali resort hotels and condominiums, The Fairway Shops and Ka’anapali Golf Courses. Schedules are available at hotels and on the trolley. For more information, call 808-667-0648.
While not free, Maui Bus service costs only $2 and runs seven days a week, including holidays. Its 13 routes include stops at Whalers Village in Ka’anapali, Wharf Cinema in Lahaina, Napili and — perhaps most importantly — the Kahului Airport.
You may want to choose lodgings within these free transportation areas or those offering their own shuttle service.
Note: I took the featured photo.
Links to the first eight free things to do or see on Maui:
Maui has plenty of wonderful scenic drives that offer free waterfalls, beaches, tidal pools, wildlife and trailheads. The stunning views are worth it even if you don’t get out of the car. Be prepared for some stomach-churning turns.
Perhaps Maui’s best scenic drives is the serpentine Road to Hana on the eastern coast (in the featured photo at top by abbs johnson via Unsplash). I recently wrote about the Road to Hana in another blog post.
On the opposite side of the island, the rough and wild northwest coast offers another fantastic drive, one framed in volcanic rock. The Hanoapiilani Highway, or Highway 30, takes you by beautiful beaches, such as DT Fleming Beach Park (great for body surfing and boogie boarding) and Honoloa Bay (a top snorkeling spot), and the Honoloa Bay Access Trail.
Along Kahekili Highway, or Highway 340, you’ll find more trails, the Nakalele Blowhole and the Olivine tidal pools. Last week, I wrote about the Nakalele Blowhole.
Links to the other nine free things to do or see on Maui:
You’ll find art galleries across Maui, but there also are several free artsy events.
Maui town parties: Several Maui towns host “town parties” or street festival once a month on Fridays with free activities, such as live music, art shows and face painting. They usually take place at night, but sometimes have daytime activities, too. Wailuku offers activities on the first Friday of each month, Lahaina on the second Friday, Kihei on the fourth Friday and Lana’i on the fifth Friday.
Friday Art Night in Lahaina: Tour Lahaina’s dozen art galleries, meet artists, sip wine and nibble on pupus (snacks) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday night. Grab a free Art Map at the Lahaina Visitor Center before 5 p.m.
Lahaina Arts Society’s Art Festivals: Check out local artists at this popular art fair held every weekend from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lahaina Cannery Mall (in front of Starbucks). The art show previously was called Art in the Park and held at Lahaina’s Banyan Tree Park.
Note: The featured image is “The Pianist” by Lahaina artist Don Dahlke. Credit is to gottShar and licensed under CC BY 2.0
Links to the other nine free things to do or see on Maui:
Consider Maui your outdoor zoo. As you might expect for an island, Maui is rich in sea life like dolphins, sea turtles and whales. You’ll also find other wildlife, such as birds, mongoose, wild boar and a wild Hawaiian goose called a nēnē.
The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Lahaina is the only hotel in Hawaii with an on-site penguin colony. Hotel guests and visitors can watch several penguins swim and waddle at a free feeding at 9:30 a.m. each day in the atrium lobby.
Maui is teeming with wildlife, such as this owl I spotted near Haleakala National Park. (Sheryl Jean)
Note: I snapped the featured photo of a Maui road sign warning of a nēnē crossing.
Links to nine other free things to do or see on Maui:
As an island, Maui’s hiking options range from easy-to-walk paths to challenging climbs. They’re all free.
Here are some of my favorites:
Ka’anapali Beach Walkway: The 2.7-mile out-and-back trail north of Lahaina contains sections that are paved, packed dirt and boardwalk. The palm tree-lined path is mostly flat with beautiful views of the beach and many beachfront resorts, such as the Black Rock Sheraton. The trail runs south through Wahikuli State Park and along the waterfront in Lahaina village.
Wailea Coastal Nature Trail: This 1.5-mile, out-and-back trail near Kihei offers beautiful wildflowers and vistas. This easy walk on a paved path winds by five beaches and stunning views of four islands — West Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini. You may see sea turtles along the shore or humpback whales in the ocean during season. It gets busy, so consider walking in early morning or late afternoon.
Kapalua Resort trails: The resort provides access to miles of coastal and mountain trails. Kapalua Coastal Trail is a pretty 3.5-mile trail (round trip) that runs north from Kapalua Bay Beach through the Ritz-Carlton to DT Fleming Beach Park. Village Walking Trails is a network of six paths that go from Kapalua Village Center along the golf cart path of a former golf course.
Hike to Nakalele Blowhole: A roughly 1-mile walk leads to a hole in the ground linked to a partially submerged ocean cave. When waves crash into the rocks, water is pushed through the hole to spout up to 100 feet into the air. There isn’t really a trail; just make your way across the rugged lava rock landscape. You don’t have to hike right up to the blowhole to see its geyser-like eruptions. There also are tidepools, stunning ocean views and odd-shaped rock formations. It’s about a 35-minute drive from Lahaina to the blowhole on Kahekili Highway (340).
Note: I snapped the featured photo of visitors at the spouting Nakalele Blowhole.
Links to nine other free things to do or see on Maui: