Oh, The Places I’ll Go! by
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Last year, the year of lockdown and confinement, I was finally able to achieve a longtime goal: to walk the entire Camino de Santiago–a journey of about 480 miles. And then I decided to climb Mt. Fuji, a short hop of only 46 miles. I am currently traversing the Southern Island of New Zealand, on an Alps to the Ocean challenge of 180 miles. Next up: Kruger National Park in South Africa, for another 256 miles.

Like everyone else, I’ve also been staying home.

Denied the ability to attend my beloved  aqua aerobics class once the pandemic shut down the pool, I searched for other ways to keep moving. Somehow, and I don’t remember where or when because time has lost all meaning, I discovered the Conqueror Virtual Challenge app. Every move I make, every step I take, is entered into my activity tracker and transferred to the app at the end of every evening. It’s been a great motivator to keep walking in my local parks and in my neighborhood while experiencing these virtual journeys across the world. And, when you finish, they send you a medal. What will I do with all this hardware? I don’t know. For now, I’m putting them in a special place.




When we rebuilt our house after the fire, we designed a tap studio for my son who was in 5th grade. Adjacent to the garage, the long narrow room has a wall of mirrors, a floating hardwood floor and plenty of overhead light. My son used the room often enough to scuff the wood floor quite a bit. Since the pandemic started, my tap and exercise class went to Zoom, so I was spending more time in the room with bare, gray concrete walls and the scuffed up floor. Some time in the last year (see above for time losing meaning), I decided to get the floor refinished, paint an accent wall, and furnish the space with a couple of pieces to store equipment, DVDs, my tap shoes and other odds and ends. I researched painting on concrete and chose a very pleasing shade of blue (like Myrna Loy in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” I knew just what I wanted). While listening to “This American Life” and other podcasts, I primed and painted my blue wall to complement the new clock I’d bought on Etsy. I hung a couple of photographs on one of the concrete walls, put together the furniture I bought (both in white), and now every time I go down there to do my Yoga with Adriene or exercise with my  Zoom class, I feel as though I accomplished something that is both aesthetically pleasing and life-affirming. Also, I did a very good job with the paint and had no pieces left over when I put the furniture together. Win-win.

As the year at home began, I spent many hours on the couch also–don’t get me wrong. I knitted baby blankets, scarves, fingerless gloves, another blanket, a pair of bees

for grandchildren, and two little nurses for my daughter the nurse. This also involved a LOT of binge-watching.










Keeping feet and fingers busy during this most challenging year, I have something(s) to show for how I spent my time. The blue blanket was supposed to be my “big pandemic project.” I really thought it would take me so long to make that this whole shelter-in-place thing would be long past by the time I finished it. Little did I (or any of us) know…

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Risa, this is wonderful! I am filled with admiration for you and all you have accomplished, both in your walks and your knitting. I hope you will wear those medals proudly!

  2. Ha, Risa! You had me there in the first paragraph…jealous of your extensive travels and courageously intrepid sense of adventure. How did she manage all those trips? Damn! I should have found a way…
    And then I saw that you did, indeed, find a way. Well done. Along with all the rest!
    I intend to find that Conqueror Virtual Challenge app right now!

  3. Wow Risa,, you’ve been a busy little bee!

    I’ve been rather lazy in comparison but did take up pickleball and give what time is needed to a non-profit board, and a safety committee in my community that is also dealing with Covid concerns – meeting on Zoom of course, and keeping up with the reading for my (gulp). six book clubs. (I know that sounds crazy but will explain soon on Retro – wait for it!)

    • Risa Nye says:

      Dana, now YOU sound like a busy bee! I’ve never played pickleball but it does sound like fun. And good for you for your committee and board participation. And hat’s off for the six book clubs. I look forward to reading all about it!

  4. Marian says:

    Great coping, Risa, and I enjoyed vicariously all the trips, crafts, and remodeling projects. I’m glad you found a fulfilling way to use your talents at this crazy time.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Marian. I can’t remember much about the past year except for these things I have to show for it. One funny thing: the best review of the year for me was looking back at my Amazon orders. That tells quite a story, as you can imagine. Maybe I should’ve written about that!

  5. You are an inspiration, Risa! You definitely make me want to knit! I do know the basics but never got past the muffler stage. That bumble bee is beyond adorable, and I love the pattern on the blue blanket. Hmmm…

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thank you Barbara! That blanket was a good challenge: knit in a circle and then squared off at the border. Hard to explain. I really love knitting animals. They are quick and cute and the kids love them. Give knitting a go! YouTube is a great teacher.

  6. Very inspiring to hear how you have made lemonade from the pandemic lemons. As you have walked the Camino and other places, I have biked in Australia, Europe, Hawaii, etc.. Not sure if you saw my story about that. https://www.myretrospect.com/stories/a-different-form-of-binge-watching/

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Dale. I am way behind on reading, so I’ll definitely take a look at your story. I’m loving the NZ walk, because I have actually been to the South Island (ten years ago!) and remember the place names on the map. Not as good as being there, but still….

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    You have made very good use of time during this pandemic, Risa. I love that, long ago, you put in a tap studio for your son, and now you’ve fixed it up (à la Myrna Loy…we enjoyed that movie too) and really use it. The “Conqueror Virtual Challenge app sounds really interesting. And you caught me up short at the beginning of your story…how could she be at all the locations, I wondered? Clever.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Betsy. That was exactly the reaction I was hoping for! What I’ve been saying this past year is that the days are long but the weeks are short: we started a neighborhood Happy Hour on Fridays (had to stop when the time changed in the fall), and it seemed like time would drag on each day, but then suddenly it was another Friday. Now that the sunsets are later, we may go back to lawn chairs and cocktails in the street!

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