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Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Ask my brother and sister. I believe they will verify that I was grounded very few times in my adolescent years. Maybe I deserved punishment more often than I received it, but generally speaking, I was a rule follower and typical firstborn child. In the instances when I rebelled and suffered the consequences of being grounded, it was completely my fault, and the result of my own poor choices. Now, however, I am grounded, and the circumstances that led to this situation are beyond my control. The truth of the matter is that at this very moment THE WHOLE WORLD IS GROUNDED -- something I've never experienced in my almost 70 years of life.

Normally my Monday posts give me a chance to let you know about a town, restaurant, attraction or destination I have discovered and want you to check out for yourselves. Right now, however, NO ONE is traveling. We can't even go inside restaurants/theaters/museums in our own hometowns, much less further away. I feel so badly for those I've come to know in the travel and tourism industry. Their sources of livelihood are closed right now. They are forced to work from home, if indeed there is work to be done. I don't own a hotel, a restaurant, an amusement park, an art gallery, an airline, a cruise ship, a botanical garden or a museum. My job has been to visit those places and tell others about them. It's difficult to be a travel writer if you don't travel, but my "daily bread" doesn't depend on traveling. That's not the case for so many.

From March 4th to the 11th, I was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with about 50 journalists and 600 other tourism representatives. Enthusiasm was high. The announced number of dollars generated by travel and tourism in 2019 was staggering. Every destination represented at Travel South Domestic Showcase was excited to describe what they had to offer. Their presentations were professional and enticing. I wondered how I would ever be able to visit all of them. But the news on television and social media began to sound ominous. On my return flights home on the 11th, the airports and airplanes were far less crowded than they had been only a week earlier.

I spent one day washing clothes and repacking, then Steve and I left for a previously planned trip to OWA in Foley, Alabama and to Mobile and Fairhope. OWA is new, gleaming and continuing to be developed into a stellar attraction. Bellingrath Gardens is showing off its springtime beauty, and The Grand Hotel at Point Clear is stately and elegant. I recommend them all highly.

It was so lovely to be there, but something was missing. Where were the crowds? This was Spring Break. Every hotel, restaurant and attraction SHOULD HAVE BEEN full of vacationers. The closer we got to home on Monday, the more the "new reality" was taking shape. Only drive-thrus for food. Lots of stores with "Closed" signs.

Church services have been canceled for at least the next two weeks. Schools are closed indefinitely. No bread, meat or paper goods were on the shelves in my grocery store during my last trip. All Americans have been told to stay home. Don't travel. It's serious. We have a microscopic enemy that MUST be defeated.

As the situation begins to improve -- and I am very confident that it WILL improve -- I will resume my Monday posts describing places you simply must see for yourself. And, of course, as God continues to teach me, I will share spiritually-focused insights with you on Friday.

In the meantime, let's stay positive. Let's get creative about ways to use our increased time at home. Most of all, let's pray for our President and his advisors as they lead during these unprecedented days. And certainly let's pray for those who contract the virus.

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