ON Travel + Gratitude


Article by Lynette Standley

Photography by Lynette Standley, Federico Lastrina + Patrick Standley

Covid-19 has taken many things from us this year: weddings, loved ones, graduations and jobs. It’s often difficult to see any hint of a silver lining. But if you pause for a moment, you’ll find one.

My business is custom tours, mostly to Italy. Tourism obviously was hit hard this year by the pandemic. And even if we wanted to go to Europe or Australia now, eight months later, we aren’t yet allowed entry. 

“Who knew that when we were returning from Sicily in February, it would be the last trip for this year,” said friend and travel mate Haley Lamey. “Looking back, we were so hopeful it would be cleared up in a month or two.” 

Our arrival into Southern Italy on Feb. 4 with travel mates Laurie and Michelle; Haley at right:

The virus continues to have the upper hand and will be with us for months to come. We are hopeful about the vaccine news while we also learn to live with it. One way we do that: don a mask and go do some of the things you enjoy. Life doesn’t wait, it’s just different now.

Local travel in 2020 and other blessings in disguise

I am grateful to live in such a beautiful state and to have spectacular venues within a few hours’ drive. Travel and experiences, from across town to neighboring states, will stimulate your mind, give you a dopamine boost and stir your wanderlust soul.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

This summer I’ve been fortunate enough to go on local adventures with family and friends that did all of the above. Priest Lake in north Idaho is stunning. It’s one of the deepest lakes in the state not far from the Canada border. And I wouldn’t trade a thing to sit on the deck at our little fishing cabin, circa 1948, overlooking Lake Chatcolet (below).

We’ve taken wine road trips in the Boise area and to Walla Walla, Washington, driving through high desert, mountain valleys and the Columbia River Basin. I’ve stopped and inhaled the sweet fragrance of freshly cut lumber in logging towns like Saint Maries, Idaho, and caught the scent of sulfur at natural hot springs around Lowman, Idaho. Friends and I toured my cousin’s fascinating remodel project of the old Knights of Pythias castle in downtown Baker City, Oregon, and I left flowers at family headstones in Hailey, Idaho. 

“We will travel again.

At this time of year when we count our blessings, I look back at this most strange year of 2020. I started January with a 10-year anniversary celebration for my small business, Cypress Tours. In February I made a recon trip to Sicily and southern France for journeys later in the year. I had a full calendar of tours planned from April to November. And then Covid.

Those tours have all moved out a year or two, of course. But I still traveled and explored my own backyard with family and friends, and I am grateful for that. I still hosted small-group wine tours this fall, close to home. It’s a sliver of silver lining, but it’s there, and we all need all need a little silver right now.

Travelers to the Walla Walla wine country in October:

New discoveries in our "Idaho backyard" this year that you might like:

  • Take a wine road trip to Sunny Slope along the Snake River
  • Plan a wine weekend in Walla Walla, and pick up some sweet onions too
  • Take a picnic to Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade and watch the kayakers
  • Walk through one of many charming small towns and soak up its history: La Grande, Hailey, Riggins or Hagerman
  • Watch barrel racing in Parma and stop for a burger or wine afterward
  • Ride a bike on a scenic trail in north Idaho like the Hiawatha or Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes
  • Drive a loop from Boise to Lowman, Stanley, Sun Valley and back. Stop in Lowman for a soak at Haven Hot Springs.

Travel experiences, large or small, get tucked away in your heart and memories forever. There are three parts of a travel experience that help do that: the planning and anticipation, the experience itself, and the memories that allow you to relive it.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I recall wonderful experiences with my family and my small tour groups over the years. Looking back at photos and reliving some of those adventures has helped me keep a positive outlook and brought some peace amidst the uncertainty we’ve lived this year. 

Travelers in Verona (2019), Rome (2014) and Chianti (2012):

We will travel again. We can travel now, depending on your comfort level leaving your safe-space bubble. There is much to be grateful for exploring our own towns and discovering new sights or tastes. Be in the moment and look with fresh eyes. You’ll see new things or appreciate what has been there all along. As the virus is contained, the world will open up again for even grander expeditions and discoveries. Keep your bucket list updated and be ready. When that time comes, we will all cherish those travel adventures even more.

  “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” 

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