As we emerge from Pandemic Summer and head into Pandemic Fall, I imagine my world looks a bit like yours. The pandemic has caused my life to shift online and my travel aspirations to shift to places closer to home. I find myself celebrating unexpected moments that I may have missed in years past. 

In a year where it can be hard to find things to smile about, First Story fills my proverbial cup. Despite many of our events this year being grounded, we found ways to deliver keys to five new homes. Whether it be casting with a fishing rod, tossing with a glove and mitt or popping a giant balloon, we delivered keys in ways we never dreamed of.     

I am getting ready to hit the road to dedicate our last of nine First Story homes. I am eager to see what the “new normal” looks like in our communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. As I write this, some schools are open, sidewalks are bustling with outdoor dining and people continue to cautiously move forward. My wardrobe now includes a selection of buffs and masks to coordinate with my chosen outfit for the day. As I get ready to crisscross from state to state, I will have to navigate different ideas on how to “deal” with the pandemic.

Tackling all of the moving parts of traveling during these unprecedented times can feel like it’s more trouble than its worth. But, I must admit, I am looking forward to a brief respite from coronavirus-induced cabin fever. My roadmap includes my usual stomping grounds in the Treasure Valley, the Tri-Cities and the Willamette Valley. This time around, though, I have detours planned to support local restaurants and coffee shops struggling to survive. I will enjoy eating local cuisine as I stroll through a new park or sit on the banks of a river. I’m surprised to find so many trails I had skipped over for some reason. Luckily, ripping on my mountain bike is still easily accomplished at a socially responsible distance. One thing the experts seem to agree on, the airborne particles of the virus are no match for the great outdoors.

I guess being “grounded” is really how you look at it. At First Story, we’re still making the biggest of dreams come true. I’m jumping on the opportunity to dedicate time to exploring local nooks and crannies that I missed previously. And for now, I’ll find joy in the unexpected moments of life while hoping Pandemic Winter never comes.