Post Pandemic Adventures Bucket List

“A Bucket List shouldn’t be about things that will make you happy before you die.  It should be filled with things that will make you happy to die trying.” — Sylvia Longmire

May 22, 2020 (three days before George Floyd was murdered)

The world was upside-down due to the pandemic: COVID-19.  Starting in March, Mr. Rook and I had worked from home, not in downtown cubicles.  I was assigned and volunteered to answer the state COVID Helpline.  Our son, Arizona Eagle, was home from college on an extended Spring Break.    

We began to watch the daily noon briefing of the Governor and Dr. Amy Acton.  There the three of us sat, munching on last night’s leftovers to learn about Ohio’s health status.  Simultaneously, the Columbus Dispatch covered the protesters who emerged yelling at the Capital and later showing up at Dr. Acton’s home.  The group resented her policies on mask mandate and social distancing that were to help keep people safe.  Nationally, The New York Times began publishing national COVID statistics by county: cases, hospital admissions and deaths.  It was all very grim and unreal at the same time. 

Daily, I felt a soulful pain in my heart.  It was like living out in a case study from my college, community health and pathology classes on the 1918 flu epidemic (The Ohio State University Alumni).  

We stood outside Union Train Station in Chicago and took a picture. It was difficult for me to send my son back to college in Arizona. In the back of my mind, I wondered if this would be the last time we see each other?  Was I a good parent to send him back?  Yes, Arizona Eagle was an adult, but…  Was a train the safest mode of mass transportation?  Would he catch the virus and end up in the ICU?  Mr. Rook and I gave our son a final hug, and we waved as he walked through the station doors dragging his luggage behind him.  

Malchus Stafa, B. Tree at Tall Pines, Columbus OH, May 2020. Author’s personal collection

“Life is short.  You only have one chance to seek adventure, laugh too loud, make big messes, fall in love, chase your dreams, do stupid shit, and live to tell the tale.  Don’t sit on the sidelines, scrolling your time away.  When you’re 90 and wearing sensible shoes, you’ll be glad you embraced these fool hardy missions while you could.”  — Rod Sheffield, Your Rolling Stone Bucket List.

Malchus Stafa, B. May Apples. Columbus OH. May 2020. Author’s personal collection

Mr. Rook and I drove home from Chicago listening to Spotify.  We refrained from the NPR News describing the growing “count of the dead” and the heartbreaking strain on healthcare staff with the lack of personal protection equipment. We told ourselves our country would pull together similar to 9/11 and similar to what we learned in high school history classes about WWII stateside.  Was it wishful thinking everyone could at least embody the spirit of the Dumas’ three musketeers: “All for one. One for all?”   Or maybe acting out Bob Marley and The Wailers’ song “One love, one heart/Let’s join together and a-feel all right” (Bob Marley and The Wailers, 1977).

Somewhere in Indiana, one of us proposed the Post COVID Adventure List.  The list was something to implement once a vaccine was developed. It was a list of hopes and dreams we would do when things got back to some normality.  Yes, we knew it wouldn’t be the same, but we could eventually again do familiar things like family dinners, hugging, going to movies or hearing live music, eating a picnic supper in a park and watching a play, and going out to dinner with friends.  Our list focused on adventure and grew around now forbidden socially distanced, banned escapades from the ordinary walking in a park to slinging on a backpack and hiking.  We examined our completed list and chose one: The Appalachian Trail.  Planning this trip would divert our attention away from what was happening around us.  It was like looking at the dessert menu before selecting the entrée.  

Excerpt from the Post COVID Adventure List

  1. Biking across Canada
  2. Hiking the Grand Canyon leisurely 
  3. Traveling to Europe to see our exchange students
  4. Hot springs soak in Hokkaido
  5. Hiking  the Appalachian Trail
  6. Biking the Great Allegheny Passage
  7. Amtrak Train ride in the US  (Completed July 2020 and May 2022 wearing masks and vaxed)
  8. Hiking the Superior Trail
  9. Travel to Prince Edward Island
  10. Travel to the lands of Mr. Rook’s ancestors (on hold due to war in Ukraine and Polish border)
  11. Travel to the lands of Dessert Queen’s ancestors biking from bed & breakfast to bed & breakfast
  12. El Camino de Santiago – the whole thing
  13. Hiking in Banff National Park
  14. Hiking in Olympic National Park 



  • Dumas, Alexander Pier. The Three Musketeers. translated by Lowell Bair, Random House, 1984. 
  • Marley, Bob and The Wailers. “One Love.” Legend. Island Records, 1977.  See a cover done by Playing for Change from their album Around the World.
  • Sheffield, Rob. “Your rolling stone bucket list.” Rolling Stone. P-MRC Holding, LLC. Dec. 2022.

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