Memories of Past Lives and Brighter Days
No sooner than we unpacked our last moving box in Huntsville, Alabama, we began hearing news of a virus spreading around the world. Before we knew it, we were in lockdown. You might ask yourself what a travel couple does during the quarantine. The answer is simple, we remember the good times we had together and the beautiful places we’ve been.
However, also being travel writers, we wanted to share those memories with our readers. We wanted to offer value, so we made a decision to only write what we knew best – the places we have lived in recently. We have moved to four different states in the eight years we have been married, so we have a lot to work with. That was the basis for our past lives and brighter days romantic pieces.
Our first foray into romantic quarantine writing was The 21 Most Romantic Getaways in Southern California for Active Couples, from our years living in San Diego. This turned out to be a massive piece with detailed research, but we literally had nothing but time.
We paired romantic activities (emphasis on active) with boutique hotels to create a complete package for all 21 destinations that showcased Southern California’s diversity, from the beaches to the mountains to the desert. It was an undertaking, but in the end, we created the guide we wished we had when we lived there and a burning passion for returning as soon as we are able.
Next on the editorial calendar was Orlando, the city we moved from less than a year prior. We learned a little from our Southern California experience. We broke the Orlando love story into two pieces: 9 Swoonworthy Romantic Hotels in Orlando and 19 Incredibly Romantic Things to Do in Orlando.
Unlike So-Cal, the trope worked remarkably well since Orlando’s tourist hotspots are centered around Disney and I-Drive tourist zone. That being said, we still worked in the vibrant and artsy downtown scene and our favorite day-trips. most of the hotels are primarily centered in the tourist zones, so the day trip and choose your own adventure format was perfect. This is also where we share our tips for enjoying Orlando’s resorts without buying a park ticket and avoiding the crowds of kids that swarm the city. There is definitely some high-quality local information buried in here.
Our final fling focused on Tucson, the city where we met and fell in love with Nine Things To Do In Tucson For Your Next Romantic Getaway. Unlike our time in San Diego and Orlando, we were not blogging in Tucson, so we didn’t that backlog of stories to point to. What we did have was 25+ years of experience living in the city.
Jenn covered the luxury resorts, Ed detailed cycling, and Mt Lemmon, and we both knew a thing or two about the restaurant scene. Did you know Tucson is America’s only UNESCO City of Gastronomy? It’s a solid piece, but you can see that So-Cal had 21 places, Orlando had 19 things to do, and Tucson only nine. Tucson’s desert is rich and diverse, unlike any place on Earth. Still, it’s a subtle beauty that you experience with your heart and eyes (and nose after a good rainstorm) that doesn’t lend itself to listicles.
A Summer of Socially Distanced Roadtrips (that lasted through fall and winter)
Summer saw the end of full lockdown and the rebirth of local travel. It looked a little different than before. There was more emphasis on road trips and socially distanced activities like hiking and biking. We were more than happy to oblige.
Our first trip out was to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, that wrote about in Ultimate Romantic Getaway in Gatlinburg TN for Nature Lovers. The nature lovers’ slant on this piece was critically important to us. We always heard how Gatlinburg was the gateway to the Smokies and that it was. We enjoyed waterfalls and biking in Cades Cove. However, there were just so many people in town.
We wrote a decent weekend itinerary, but it didn’t sparkle like our other massive guides full of insider information. We can’t wait to go back to Gatlinburg and flesh out the piece with more experiences at the adventure parks and wineries. There’s a lot to Gatlinburg, and we’ve just barely begun to scratch the surface.
Hamilton County Indiana
Hamilton County, Indiana, was our first sponsored piece of 2020. That’s blogger speak for we had a nice hotel and way too much food. Perhaps more than that, we were able to work with the local tourism board to find all the best places. Jenn had wanted to return (and take me) ever since she went to a small blogging conference in the summer of 2017 to eat more delicious food and ride the length of the Monon Trail. We wrote about all that and more in our piece – Planning a Romantic Getaway to Hamilton County Indiana – A Coffee Shop Conversation.
We choose the coffee shop conversation format so we could highlight the feeling of going to Hamilton County. It was relaxed, fun, socially distanced, and carried a different vibe from our rushed and crowded trip to the Smokies. We felt our spirits lift and our souls connect, exactly like they should on a romantic getaway. We learned a valuable lesson about how important it is to go out and have fun in the world the way you would at home, which for us was getting out and riding bike.
The trip to Sevierville was supposed to be a ‘lessons learned’ from Gatlinburg adventure. It was sponsored travel, working with the local tourism board to fine-tune a blend of good food, great lodging, and amazing adventures just for us. However, Ed was having some health issues, so Jenn had all the fun on a solo romantic getaway. We published An Adventurous Romantic Getaway to Sevierville – Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains anyway because that’s what you do on sponsored travel.
The trip was everything we hoped it would be. There were flash cabins in the woods with private hot tubs, couples massages, tons of good food, and even a side by side biplane ride. Unfortunately, the seat next to Jenn was empty because Ed had to stay home. Like the donkey in Shrek, she was all by herself. Hopefully, we get a chance to go back and do something like this again because the trip was epic, if not for the unwritten loneliness.
Summer turned to fall before Ed could travel again. Our first trip back in lovers’ lane was just up the road in Franklin, the setting for our piece Fall in Franklin TN – An Autumn Adventure.
The feeling in Williamson County (Franklin) was remarkably similar to Hamilton County. They are both the most prosperous counties in their respective state. The food scene is off the hook, and there are fun things to do if you know where to look. However, instead of a bike trail, we found great live music, a fabulous vineyard, and a herd of way too cute alpacas. Also, like Hamilton County, we are looking forward to going back.
Our final romantic getaway of the year was to Calhoun County, Alabama. Unlike Franklin Tennessee and Hamilton County, Indiana, this is not the most prosperous county in Alabama. The median family income is about 20k less than our home in Madison County (the second most prosperous county in Alabama), and almost 50k less than either Franklin or Hamilton County. It didn’t matter to us. We still had an incredible Romantic Bike Getaway to Calhoun County Alabama.
You see, Calhoun County is the home to Alabama’s premier bike trail, the Cheif Ladiga Trail. Only, instead of riding through a manicured park-like atmosphere on the Monon Trail, complete with millions of dollars of art installations, we rode bumpy pavement through the wilds of the Talladega National Forest. Instead of alpaca farms run by semi-retired accountants, we stayed in a vintage home run by the local historical society to preserve the town’s past and legacy. Both experiences were fantastic, and we met good people in each place; they were just different. We still felt that sense of relaxation and connection that we were seeking on a romantic getaway.
Hindsight is 2020 – Looking Forward to the Future
Who knows what the new year will bring? By the time this is published, we would have just returned from our first international trip post-pandemic. However, I firmly believe that we learned how important travel is to connect to each other and unwind from the day to day troubles. If you feel the same way, let us encourage you to never stop traveling. Even if you can’t go in person, let your mind wander, and your imagination explore. The world is too beautiful to forget, especially for travel couples bound together by a shared sense of adventure.
Like it? Pin it for later on Pinterest!