Sunday musings: Pandemic changes, California fires, Traveling with cats, Most won’t fly

pandemic changes

Possible pandemic changes: Will hotel buffets disappear forever?

Today we ponder how the pandemic changes will affect some of the things we love about travel. We look at the spread of the California fires and learn that they are not all that apocalyptic. Then we read about traveling cats. Finally, we reveal the Travelers United poll about the effects of the airline elimination of change fees.

9 everyday pandemic changes that will impact our travel lives

Should we dance with strangers? What about blowing out our birthday candles? Can singing karaoke in a crowded room be dangerous? Is eating from a buffet safe? And for heaven’s sake, is the day of the one-night-stand doomed? Personally, I don’t think these very human activities will disappear. But the pandemic changes may be put on hold until we figure out how to deal with the supposed danger.

The Washington Post has explored these and other everyday experiences the coronavirus pandemic has endangered. What do we miss about these pandemic changes? How might they transform? Are they even worth keeping? We heard from the fans who want them back, the experts cautioning against them and, on occasion, the detractors who say good riddance.

This series looks beyond bars, shows, sporting events, vacations and other experiences that we know all too well have been affected, and examines the ones that are less obvious, which makes some of them more likely to fade away. Of course, covid-19 has had far more serious effects, and it is the privileged among us who have the luxury of dwelling on such minutiae. But the list reveals how the pandemic has reached into every corner our lives — and the ways that life’s modest events can evoke a calming normalcy and bring us joy …

Stop blaming climate change for California’s fires. Many forests, including the redwoods, need them.

Video: Inside Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Bay Area fires aftermath. CLICK HERE if you’re having trouble viewing media on a mobile device.

The news has been full of photos of the red and orange skies over California. Together with those photos is a narrative about climate change. The governor of the state has even said, “If you have any doubts about climate change, come to California.” However, there is climate change and there are forest fires. Few doubt today’s climate change. But, today’s fires are normal and not apocalyptic.

According to Jon Keeley, a leading forest scientist, “I see [the current California fires] as a normal event, just not one that happens every year.”

A 2003 fire in Humboldt Redwoods State Park burned 13,774 acres. Forest fires in 2008 burned over 165,000 acres. And a 2016 fire burned 130,000 acres.

There are in fact fewer and smaller fires than in the past. So, during the coming fall and winter and next year’s summer months, visitors will not see large swaths of burned forests. The burn has been massive, but less than many recent fires. The redwoods will still be there and new growth will continue. So, visit without worries.

…every school child who has visited one of California’s redwood parks knows from reading the signs at the visitor’s center and in front of the trailheads that old-growth redwood forests need fire to survive and thrive.
Heat from fire is required for the release and germination of redwood seeds, and to burn up the woody debris on the forest floor. The thick bark on old-growth redwood trees provides evidence of many past fires.
And, indeed, video footage taken by two San Jose Mercury News reporters who hiked into Big Basin after the fire shows the vast majority of trees still standing. What was burned up was the visitor’s center and other park infrastructure.
Nor is it the case that California’s fires have “grown more apocalyptic every year,” as The New York Times reported. In fact, 2019 saw a remarkably small amount of acreage burn, — just 280,000 acres compared to 1.3 million and 1.6 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

A brief history of traveling cats

Irritated by hotel resort fees?Many of us have house cats. Yes, I mean house. indoor-only, cats. One of my pets wouldn’t even go on the back porch. She would sit and gaze outside and every so often put a paw on the deck, but never ventured beyond the threshold. However, today, many cat lovers have traveling cats.

Vikings took cats on long sea voyages. Other seafarers used cats not only for companionship but as ratters. They were good at both jobs. It took centuries for cats to move indoors and become pets. Today, some live a life of wandering outdoors whenever they want. Others remain indoors forever. Yet others travel the world.

What kind of cat do you have?

Earlier this summer, Laura Moss, a human at the center of a community helping introduce housecats to the outdoor world, published a book, Adventure Cats, bringing awareness to some remarkable cats who are out there hiking, camping — even surfing.

Moss, who also runs a website by the same name (, explains that this kind of cat is far from a new phenomenon. “People have been doing this with their cats long before social media existed,” she tells But in recent years, the community has received new recognition, she says, in large part thanks to people sharing photos and videos of their furry friends on various media accounts.

It’s not exactly surprising that it took the internet (which, undeniably, has done much for cats) to bring new awareness to this kind of anti-Garfield feline. While cats have been arguably unfairly stereotyped as anti-social, afraid of water, lazy, history contradicts that narrative.

“From their beginnings in Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe, domestic cats have accompanied people to almost every corner of the globe,” write Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist in Wild Cats of the World. “Wherever people have traveled, they have taken their cats with them. Geographic features such as major rivers and oceans that are barriers to most animals have the opposite effect on cats. Almost as soon as people began to move goods around on ships, cats joined ships’ crews. These cats traveled the globe, joining and leaving ships at ports along the way.”

Has the elimination of airline change fees affected your travel?