I live in the woods, just thirty-five miles north of New Orleans, across Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana. My husband and I own six acres of what’s called a Riparian Forest. Complete with a creek winding its way through wooded tundra filled with live oaks, ten-story pines, and sweet-smelling magnolias.

We built everything, the road, bridge, and our two-story Acadian style cottage. Raised a son and daughter here, who are now married and live in New Orleans. The people here are survivors. After Katrina, we lost hundreds of trees, massive clusters across our road, our home, and property. We lived in a battered house without water, electricity, and cell phone towers. And we were one of the lucky ones.

So here we go again, but I keep reminding myself, there’s always GOOD THAT COMES FROM BAD.

Life Without Travel is a series of first-person accounts from the Getting On Travel team. Each post offers a personal glimpse into the lives of our travel writers and bloggers apropos of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Acadian-style home outside New Orleans

We built our Acadian-style home just north of New Orleans.

A New Orleans native shares the good and the bad

Life can play a cruel joke! Just as I’m free to travel again, the entire world shuts down. But life is a rollercoaster, good times and bad, and with it a time of self-discovery. Only this time, it’s one of solitude. Well, for the humans anyway. As I write this on my back deck, there’s a huge party going on: birds singing, bees buzzing, and butterflies flitting about.

This land is my Nirvana, my utopia, and the stories it holds continue to feed my creative spirit every day. It has lifted me to new heights in my career with more than a thousand articles and five books featuring the beauty of the south.

And it is my therapy, a healer, and an escape from a world of woe.

It was early March when I developed a cough, and two days later, I woke up with fever, body ache, sore throat, and extreme lethargy. I sanitized everything and quarantined upstairs.

I was told there were not enough tests, and to come back the next week for drive-thru testing. Nearly two weeks after the test, and close to three weeks since my first symptoms, I received the test results. They said it was negative. Luckily by then, I began to feel better.

While living upstairs during my quarantine, I had to take baths because the shower didn’t work. Never slept very well, so I would get up at dawn, run my bath, open the window and listen to the birds welcome the day as I soaked in the tub. And now I’m hooked, I start every day doing the same.

Enjoying nature near New Orleans, Louisiana

Taking time to appreciate nature

My salvation

As of right now, I have several deadlines for the next five months, and only one publication closed down. Of course, that could change at any moment. I look forward to catching up with my Getting On Travel posts, from my train travel across the south, to a trip to Pittsburgh in the fall, and a fantastic journey to Japan in early December. (Here’s one about New Orleans.)

I was in the process of booking travel to Colorado and Banff, Canada, but luckily never made any flight reservations. I did have to cancel a trip to Fayetteville, North Carolina, but the editors have offered to move the assignments a bit later in the year.

My sister, son, daughter, and their spouses are healthy and working. But I miss them terribly. We text each day, sometimes funny videos, the kind that makes you laugh so hard, tears roll down your face.

baby monarch butterflies

Watching monarch butterflies is mesmerizing

Creative distractions

I walk my pup, Pepper, every morning and afternoon down our dead-end gravel road, a good two miles each day. Now that my schedule has slowed down a bit, I have more time for the things I love: new discoveries in gardening, raking leaves, trimming azaleas, even pulling weeds is a delight.

Each night I look forward to streaming, with everything from the classics on PBS, BBC, or a long list of movies on Amazon Prime. There have been many times I’ve come up with storylines in watching television, so you never know.

It’s time to get creative, a time we finish all those to-do lists, even if it means cleaning the office or that spare room. Make that list of dream travels, and take time to pour over all those tour books and pamphlets.

Don’t forget restraint; take breaks from the news, enough to keep us informed, but careful not to become consumed with it all. Start a new hobby; I raise monarchs, and it is mesmerizing.

woodland walks outisde New Orleans

Make time for walks in the woods outside of New Orleans

Dream big and often

My advice: keep on dreaming. And keep moving, maybe a workout or a walk in the woods, and share it with the world. I do my best every day to post photos, the day’s discoveries, and share links to future travels. For a peek at my work, visit my website, DeborahBurst.com or my Facebook page under the same name. True, it will take time for the travel industry to come back. Not only the fear of travel due to the virus but the expense as well. But then again, the rich and the retirees have more disposable income, and they will be even more determined to catch up on their dream destinations. Right now, I’m looking forward to new discoveries in the United States and Canada.

Stay safe, my friends, and get creative!

GOT Contributor Deborah Burst

Deborah is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who has more than 1,000 published articles and twice as many photographs, including national covers. A New Orleans native, her taste for luxurious travel runs deep with reviews of world-renowned restaurants and historic hotels across the country. She has written five books in five years featuring travel throughout the south, and a trail of historic churches, cemeteries and ancient forests.