Dan and Hannah, the Delta Variant, and the Wildfires in California – September 2021

Yesterday morning (September 1, 2021) Hannah and I were preparing for our Saturday departure to LAX for two weeks of friends and hiking in California.  I’d just set up pickleball with our Santa Barbara friends, Bill and Claudia, while the confirmation of our Air B&B lodging in Mariposa, at the gateway to Yosemite National Park, had arrived.

Yesterday afternoon everything changed.  The straws of not traveling to California became too many.  (Sort of straw vote!)  The Delta Variant of Covid and the wildfires outweighed the excitement of our Golden State fortnight adventure.

Straw One, so much had changed since I made our Delta Airlines reservations in March of 2021.  The vaccine was readily available and returning to our active lives, sooner than later, seemed like a given.  First the Delta Variant, and then the wildfires.

Straw Two, Tuesday we learned that all national forests were to be closed in California so that meant hiking into the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara was out.

Straw Three, already the Caldor Fire blocked our drive from Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe; ten thousand people have been evacuated from the area.

Straw Four, with the wildfires still out of control, we were looking at the possibility of Yosemite closing, having to hike with masks, and breathing intolerable smoke.

Yosemite NP is to the south of the Caldor Fire

Straw Five, the realization that getting to the McArthur Burney Falls in northern California may be impossible and if we did, we’d likely see a trickle of water due to the historic twenty year drought in the West.

Straw Six, vaccinated folks like us are getting Covid, which was an unknown development this past March. 

There was just too much hanging over our heads to make it the 75th birthday national parks vacation that I was hoping for.  True, I’m just 73, but you get the point. Covid has made many of us wanting to travel now before the next pandemic or climate catastrophe.  Yes, climate change is real.

So how much money did we lose?

We don’t pay for our 15-day $1276 Enterprise rental car until we actually get the car.  Cancelled with no charge.

All the motels we signed up for allow us to cancel until the last day or two.  No charge.

The $315 two-night Air B&B in Mariposa for our September 9 and 10 stay had a full refund policy if we cancelled by September 4.  No charge.

Delta gave us e-credit for our plane tickets that we can use on another Delta flight if we make reservations by December 31, 2022.

Money was never the issue, the possibility of hiking with masks, breathing nasty wildfire smoke and closed trails were ultimately the key straws that has us postpone our two weeks in California.

California, we are not giving up on you!  Winter 2022!

20 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah, the Delta Variant, and the Wildfires in California – September 2021

  1. So sorry to hear that you will not be making your trip to CA. I do understand but will miss seeing you but important to stay well. We are so fortunate in SB since we are not near the smoke and we have had morning fog but later sun yet on the cool side. I do get out to the grocery store and church some Sundays. It could be worse, thankful to be healthy. Take care! Sending love and blessings, Jean

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  2. Ugh. This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. The disappointment is only compounded by the amount of effort it takes to put a trip like this together. Ugh

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  3. Oh, this makes me so sad. I know how much you’d been looking forward to heading back out to CA. It feels like a prudent and well-considered decision to me, but darn it, it stinks! This really doesn’t feel like the time to test the limits, though. On Wednesday, three days into the school year, we already had 2 Covid cases at school and a whole classroom along with a scattering of kids having to quarantine. Sigh.

    • We took in all the facts as we knew them and thought hanging in Maine during the most beautiful month of the year (September) was the prudent choice. June and October are tied for second. January and February in Santa Barbara are 1A.

  4. I really feel for the many bone-dry-vegetation areas uncontrollably burning. As a lifelong resident of southwestern B.C., the unprecedented heatwave here in late June, described by meteorologists as more of a ‘stalling heat dome’, left me feeling I could never again complain about the weather being too cold. …

    Whether it is unprecedented wildfires due to unprecedented heat waves, ‘stalling’ hurricanes, Europe’s wettest/hottest year on record, off-the-chart poor-air advisories, an exodus of sea life due to warming waters, the mass deforestation and incineration of the Amazonian rainforest, record-breaking floods, single-use plastics clogging life-bearing waters, a B.C. (2019) midsummer’s snowfall, the gradually dying endangered whale species or geologically invasive/destructive fracking or a myriad of other categories of large-scale toxic pollutant emissions and dumps — to date there clearly has been inexcusably insufficient political courage and will to properly act upon the cause-and-effect of manmade global warming thus climate change.

    I find hope, however, mostly in environmentally conscious and active young people, especially those approaching or reaching voting age. In contrast, the dinosaur electorate who have been voting into high office consecutive mass-pollution promoting or complicit/complacent governments for decades are gradually dying and making way for voters who fully support a healthy Earth thus populace.

  5. As always you made the mindful and best decision for the straws cast!!!!! Good on you Dan and Han . Long May you hike !!!!!love you both so so much !!!!! Mandy

    Sent from my iPhone

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