I will admit it. I am swamped and close to brain dead. The school year has started for teachers in my county and we’ve been pulled in so many directions it painful. I just want to retreat to a place that makes me happy. I give you this amazing video from the Smithsonian Channel of some of our favorite places. I hope to regain some brainpower next week.
Stay Safe and Keep Dreaming
Aerial America: Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands
We know that airline travel at the moment isn’t recommended for most of us unless the need to travel by air is truly important, like business or life and death -not a vacation. We came across a great list published by The Points Guy. The Points Guy, if you don’t follow him, is a travel website and blog that produces news stories on travel with a focus on using airline and credit card points. The website did a serious survey of multiple airlines investigating the methods of cleaning and other new policies dealing with COVID-19. A key part of the survey was checking on how aggressively they enforce things like mask-wearing. We saw a series of tweets the other day about a person being kicked off a Delta flight for failing to comply with the requirement of wearing a mask. The top three in the survey were 1. Delta, 2. Alaska, and 3. Jetblue all coincidently also found in at the top of most customer surveys. I’m not going to just rewrite their article so here is the link for the full details on the best and worst airlines to fly in the time of COVID-19.
Best US airlines of 2020: Who’s doing it right in the COVID era
Travel portal launched to combat COVID-19 spread in the Territory and keep residents and visitors safe.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism announced the launch of phase one of a new online portal that will prescreen and assist with the certification process of all travelers prior to their arrival in the Territory to aid in the prevention in the spread of COVID-19.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Screening Portal facilitates pre-arrival processing in the hopes of reducing delays and making the travel experience better for those wishing to enter the territory. The portal will among other things use artificial intelligence to automate the processing of lab results wishing to enter from highly impacted states. A highly impacted state is considered as having a COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 10 percent.
The portal will greet travelers and guide them through, general information, terms and conditions, and the COVID-19 Travel Screen Tool. The travelers upload their results and that information is processed in 24-48 hours and a certification code is then issued. The Virgin Islands Port Authority and assisting agencies such as the Departemnt of Health will then process the traveler on arrival- including temperature checked with a thermal scanner.
“Our team has been working tirelessly to adapt to a rapidly changing operational environment in this ‘Open Doors’ phase of the pandemic,” said Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte, “and we continue to update our practices and procedures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.”
Any traveler aged 15 and older whose home state (state of residence) has a COVID-19 positivity rate greater than 10 percent will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 antigen (molecular/PCR/rapid) test result received within five days prior to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands or a positive COVID-19 antibody test result received within four months of travel to the Territory. Currently, residents of Puerto Rico are also subject to this requirement.
COVID-19 test results are also required from travelers, 15 years old and older, who have spent more than seven days in and are traveling from a state with a positivity rate greater than 10 percent. The positivity rates used are according to data and analysis from Johns Hopkins University: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/tracker/overview
The secure portal, a result of the coordinated efforts of the Office of the Governor, the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Port Authority, the Ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Department of Tourism can be found at www.usviupdate.com/travelportal
I had a conversation with my brother and we were talking about how the inability to travel due to COVID-19. We don’t want to travel because we do not want to be hypocrites. We both have been preaching the idea of being responsible during this pandemic and are refused to set a bad example. The key thing is to know where it is safe to travel and where the hot spots are. A map provided by AAA helps give you a good idea of where to travel given what you consider an acceptable risk. I personally don’t think that traveling unless absolutely necessary should be done. But, if you feel you must go this map might help.
Click on Image for Map
A very interesting article by lonely planet crossed our desk this week for anyone who working remotely is not temporary. The island nation of Barbados in the Caribbean announced that they have created a new 12-month visa targeted directly at digital nomads.
Barbados as seen from the International Space Station
“We came up with a concept and it is being refined now as ‘12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp’. This will allow people from the United States, Europe, and Latin America to come and do their jobs digitally for a couple of months and then go back home if they feel they can work better in a more relaxed atmosphere such as next to a beach,” Prime Minister Mottley said in an interview last week.
We thought this was one of the best ideas we’ve heard in a long while. We felt this needed to be investigated further. A quick survey of the real estate market says that you can get a basic 1-2 bedroom apartment for around 1,200-1,400 a month. You’d find those prices better than many larger cities in the United States.
The cost of living in Barbados is about the same as it is in Tampa, Florida, and 38% cheaper than New York according to Expatistan. We also figured that it would be important to check out the internet speeds or at least the advertised rates. We found that Flow one of the internet services on the island offers Super-Fast Broadband Plans at speeds of up to 1000Mbps and that puts those speed on the same footing as many of the major carriers in the United States.
The island is just reopening to the touring public this July and all travelers arriving into Barbados are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result and must wear a face mask at the airport. If you are traveling from a high-risk place like Florida or the United States in general you must take your test within 72 hours before departure, while visitors from low-risk countries can take it a week before traveling.
We’ve had a lot of reexamination of the founding fathers recently. I get that. I was raised by a history teacher and raised to ask questions. The Declaration of Independence states in the beginning that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
I always have looked at the words Pursuit of Happiness and focused in on the word Pursuit. I think the founders knew that they could never guarantee happiness. You should only be given the opportunity to chase after it. You may never get there but you should have the chance to try for it. The term pursuit is an active word and to me also says that the achievement of happiness isn’t something that you can easily achieve but you have to work for it.
The preamble of the Constitution of the United States is similar when in the preamble it says “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union. ” I’ve always held the belief that the words “more perfect union” don’t mean the same as perfect. The founders understood that everything was going to be a work in progress. The world of men could only move towards becoming perfect. The idea of utopia is something that you can strive for but is ultimately unobtainable. We are forever a work in progress. We will always fall short of our goal. Yet, that eternal task of striving towards perfection isn’t worth giving up on the world, the society of man was stagnated for thousands and thousands of years in its political thinking. The people who created these documents didn’t create them as a final say but as a starting gun that has spurned more social change in 243 years than in the prior 2000. I know sitting here in my comfortable living room with a privilege afforded to me by birth makes it easier for me to say it takes time. But, it does. It takes time. We have moved amazingly fast in overturning millennia of the status quo and we still have more to do. The ideals in those documents might not be achieved in 20 more or even 100 more years. But the Pursuit of that happiness and the creation of that more perfect union is something that we have to have faith will be achieved if not by us but our descendants.
We decided that we needed to get out and do something. We’ve been hyper responsible the last several months and haven’t been some of those complaining about quarantine closures either. We wanted to really get out and do something. The search didn’t take to long for us to decide that going snorkeling was probably one of the safest routes. Amanda and I could spend most of the time in the water and keep our distance from others. The boat to the key was a little more crowded than we’d like but was manageable considering it was open to the air and we were zipping through the water. The 15 mile trip from Gulf Port to Fort DeSoto National Park with dolphins playing in the wake of the boat was pleasant but a bit
noisy considering the large 500 horsepower engines of the tour boat. We were there for the chance to get in the water and do a little exploring and that was what was important. The water was warm and only about 60% as clear as the Caribbean so you had to look more carefully to see the wildlife. The fish in that area of the gulf aren’t nearly as brightly colored as coral swimming fish either. The fish tend to be brown or sand-colored and blend in easily with the grasses and bottom. The chance for us to spend some time swimming and exploring was nice anyway. We even took a little time to walk the shoreline in search of plastic and other trash that had washed up. The trip was about 5 hours total and was only a 110 dollars for the two of us, tip included.
Miss Gulfport the Tour Boat
A old concrete dock that was deteriorating at the Fort DeSoto National Park
Amanda ready to swim out to sea.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar with Behan and Jamie from the Sailing Totem blog. The topic was on the places they think should be on your travel list if you have the chance to go cruising. The term cruising in this sense in referring to sailing a yacht or other sailing vessel for an extended period of time. Behan and Jamie started sailing with their young family, and we mean young considering their children were ages 4, 6, and 9 at the time on August 21, 2008 and haven’t looked back. The family has become very popular YouTubers as well as running a sail making business. A unique service they offer is that of lifestyle coaching. The couple takes on clients and helps advise them on how to achieve a cruising way of life. A couple of examples are planing, boat shopping, planning for departure, helping you clear hurdles after you set sail, like finding who to talk to when you are caught at sea during a pandemic and aren’t allowed to enter a port.
You know how Amanda and I love to be on the water and we’ve been looking for a good boat to take us away from the madness and a service like theirs is something we’re really considering.
I’m writing about them today because after that webinar because they are definitely worth following online and on youtube.
If you are interested in the cruising lifestyle just click the link below.
A well-managed crisis equals normalcy returns quickly. We’ve been in awe recently of New Zealand and how fast they’ve handled crises. I was in awe of how fast an entire country can act when it determines something is a priority. A month after 50 people were killed in 2019 by a white nationalist opened fire at a mosque the country enacted an assault weapons ban. I was very impressed and so was Amanda. We now have coronavirus. The world is shut down and despite the number of people pretending that it is business as usual, we still don’t have sports back in a stadium filled with fans here in the US. The sports leagues have attempted to get back by playing without fans, not only in the US, but in Japan, Korea, and Europe. We as fans know its not the same. I personally can’t imagine watching a hockey game without the sound of the fans in the stands. I feel we are in this fix because of a lot of reasons but most of all mismanagement by our government in their response. You can’t say there was no way to prevent this predicament because once again New Zealand has proved that a nationwide response to this epidemic is possible. Yesterday, Rugby returned to New Zealand and had a packed stadium filled with 20,000 fans as the Otago Highlanders and the Waikato Chiefs. We attribute all of that to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership. I wasn’t a big fan of her at first either. I’ve become a huge fan. I know it will take great leadership and actual sacrifice for many of us, but we too in the United States, can have a true return to normalcy one day.
A new street appeared near the White House. The section of the street used to be called 16th Street NW where it ended in front of Laffeyett Park and can be seen from the White House is now called Black Lives Matter Plaza. We hope you enjoy the announcement and the video.