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Eugene Buchanan: Best-laid plans

Note from the author: The following column hasn’t resonated well with many readers given the health and economic difficulties many are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. I certainly didn’t mean to make light of the situation we’re all in, but rather offer a lighthearted alternative to some of the disheartening news we’re hearing every day. We’ve all had to cancel and/or postpone a variety of trips and plans, be them kids’ sporting events, senior/graduation trips, vacations or work-related outings — and, fortunate as I am for even having them, this was my line-up. It’s a repercussion most of us have had to confront, just like job losses, working from home, keeping kids busy, social distancing and more. Still, I realize it’s trivial to even touch upon given the hardships and health issues imposed upon everyone by the virus. And for that I deeply apologize. — Eugene Buchanan

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While COVID-19 is affecting everything from our health care system to our economy and lifestyle — and we need to do all we can to stop it— it’s also wreaking havoc on something a little less palpable: our collective plans, especially as we head into mud season. 

The coronavirus has put the kibosh on everything from spring break to sashays to the desert. Our outings, like our ski season, have come to a screeching halt, leaving us eating everything from airline tickets to takeout food. While in the whole scheme of things all this isn’t overly consequential, it is, I profess, ushering in a new era of braggartness — one based not on what you’ve done, but what you had planned before those plans went kaput. 

“Dude, I had the best-laid plans,” a friend told me the other day. 

“Dude, so did I,” I countered in my best dudespeak, standing the now standard 6-feet away. 

And I genuinely did — including long-planned trips for my daughter’s high school graduation and, as a starving travel writer, a couple more that would help keep Top Ramen on the table. In fact, it was one of the best four-month lineup of my call-in-sick-for-work career. And it’s all collapsed like a flimsy house of cards. 

To that trivial end, I submit that, woe is me, my cancelled plans stack up with the best of them — a veritable case study in such corona-led cancellations. Granted, I hadn’t told my boss about any of them yet, figuring that would’ve come later. But I did have them all laid out, with a plan to somehow pull them all off while still remaining gainfully under-employed. 

The first trip to fall: my daughter’s AA hockey tournament in Phoenix. We had road-tripped 11 hours to Flagstaff only to see it cancelled that night in our hotel. So we turned around and drove straight back, the only bright side stopping at the Grand Canyon, showing Casey where her mom and I met all those years ago.

Back home, trying to make amends for her cut-short hockey season and being cooped up in the house, I then booked a night at the Seedhouse Guard Station cabin, only to see it negated the day before, right after I had packed the backpacks and s’mores.

Next came a freelance writing/skiing trip to Alaska with Volkl/Dalbello/Marker, leaving, coincidentally, on my birthday. Looks like I’d be blowing out my candles back home. Next up: abandoning the whole enchilada of my daughter’s senior spring break trip to Mexico. She was dismayed, naturally, until being reminded it’s a First World problem and there are a lot bigger concerns now. But it was scratchola on the surf sesh, also. 

Two bigger trips and freelance assignments are also going by the wayside. An outfitter buddy is supposed to take my daughter and I on a rafting trip down Peru’s Apurimac River as a graduation trip for her in June. Hasta luego that one as well. And the Iceland Tourism Board wanted me to come write a story on sea kayaking there in July, which is likely on ice as well.

All in all, it’s a line-up I was rather proud of. And we all have similar plans that are toppling like dominoes. But there are far more important issues to deal with right now, like helping others in need, supporting our caretakers and doing our best to get through this mess. As for our cancelled plans, we simply have to embrace telling stories about them rather than actually doing them — and take solace in the fact that we are fortunate to have even made them in the first place. After all, we’re all in the same ‘Boat, which thankfully isn’t a cruise ship.   

To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email ebuchanan@SteamboatPilot.com.


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