LAX begins rapid COVID-19 testing for travelers

Despite a stay-at-home order across much of California and a plea from health officials to refrain from traveling amid the worst surge of the coronavirus to date, many people are still flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport.

In an effort to make travel as safe as possible, LAX opened an onsite rapid COVID-19 testing site on Thursday.

Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, said the airport supports the health advisories that are in place. “But we know that there are people who are traveling, and there are people who have essential travel,” he said. “We want to have this place to help those people who are traveling travel more healthy and safe.”

Fliers who pre-book an appointment at the recently built lab, located across from Terminal 6, will receive results in three to five hours. The lab, located in a shipping container, is currently processing about 250 to 300 rapid tests a day, with plans to ramp up to 1,000 tests daily.

Additional testing sites are at Terminal 2 and Tom Bradley International Terminal, which will provide results in 24 hours.

The tests, known as PCR tests, are administered with a nasal swab. Each costs $125, and results are provided electronically. Appointments are strongly encouraged for all three sites, but rapid testing appointments are filling up particularly fast, Erbacci said.

A trio of interim testing sites opened at the airport in mid-November, providing results within 24 hours. Around 14,000 tests have been administered across those sites.

The airport plans to roll out rapid antigen testing in about a week, officials said.

Although COVID-19 testing is not a prerequisite to fly out of LAX, some destinations — including Hawaii — do require negative PCR tests before traveling. Erbacci said the onsite testing at LAX is a convenient means to facilitate travel to those destinations.

Other airports — and even some airlines — are also testing passengers. On Thursday, Tampa International Airport began offering testing to all arriving and departing passengers on a walk-in basis.

United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines have all announced plans to offer either testing kits mailed to a passenger’s home or rapid tests taken at or near airports.

Although local airports saw steady increases in travelers determined to spend the Christmas holiday with family and friends, travel did not increase as much as officials predicted.

Air travel from Dec. 17-29 was around 30% of what it was during the same period last year, said Heath Montgomery, a spokesman for LAX. That fell short of the amount airport officials predicted in November, when they estimated passengers totals during that time would be about 50% of last year’s tally.

Travel declined during the first two weeks of December, following an uptick before Thanksgiving, Montgomery said. The numbers picked up again later in the month, with Dec. 23 marking the second busiest day of the year — trailing the Friday before Thanksgiving. The pre-Christmas travel date saw just over 43,000 passengers at TSA checkpoints at LAX, about 40% of the airport traffic on the same day last year.

The latest coronavirus surge and the new stay-at-home order, which was recently extended for Southern Californai, “suppressed what it could have been,” Montgomery said of the number of travelers.

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10 credit card perks we’d like to see in 2021

10 credit card perks we’d like to see in 2021 – The Points Guy

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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PennDOT enacting travel restrictions ahead of anticipated storm

Starting at noon Friday, certain vehicles will be banned on Interstate 80 except those using chains.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — PennDOT is enacting travel restrictions ahead of Friday’s anticipated storm.

Starting at noon Friday, commercial vehicles will be banned on Interstate 80 in our area except those using chains.

Additionally buses, RV’s, motorcycles, and cars pulling trailers will be banned.

Starting at 2 p.m.similar restrictions go into effect on Interstate 81, I-84, and I-380 in our area.

The speed limits on those highways will also be limited to 45 miles per hour.

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January 1 Outdoors Digest Calendar Fishing Hunting reports tip

By Lynn Burkhead
 |  For the Herald Democrat


Through Jan. 3 – Texas North Zone general whitetail deer season.

Through Jan. 3 – General whitetail deer season in Grayson County with means and methods of harvest restricted to lawful archery and crossbow gear.

Through Jan. 3 – Pheasant season in the Texas Panhandle.

Through Jan. 3 – Second split of Texas North Zone Dove Season.

Through Jan. 15 – Oklahoma archery deer season.

Through Jan. 31 – Texas East Zone light and dark goose season.

Through Jan. 31 – Oklahoma pheasant season.

Through Jan. 31 –Second split of the Texas North Zone duck season.

Through Jan. 31 – Second split of Oklahoma Zone 2 duck season.

Through Jan. 31 – Texas woodcock season.

Through Feb. 7 – Second split of Oklahoma white-fronted goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Second split of Oklahoma light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Texas West Zone light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 15 – Oklahoma quail season.

Through Feb. 28 – Texas quail season.

Jan. 1 – TPWD First Day Hike at Eisenhower State Park (self-guided scavenger hunt)

Jan. 1 – TPWD First Day Hike at Bonham State Park (self-paced hike)

Jan. 8 – TPWD rainbow trout stocking at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond.


On this New Year’s Day, please allow the outdoors staff here at the Herald Democrat to wish you, your families, and your friends a very healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!…With the start of the New Year in North Texas, all eyes in the local outdoors world will begin to look towards the 51st Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts from March 19-21, 2021. Look for numerous stories over the next several weeks as the local region gets ready to host the Classic for the first time since 1979 at Lake Texoma…Looking for something fun and healthy to do on this New Year’s Day? Then consider the two local “First Day Hikes” being offered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The first, a self-guided photo scavenger hunt, is being hosted today at Eisenhower State Park. Eisenhower SP Ranger Elizabeth Booth says to bring your cameras and sense of adventure for the hike, checking out the park’s Scavenger Hunt list along the way. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of their discoveries and share them on social media, including the park’s Facebook page. There are four miles of trails at Eisenhower SP as well as an 0.8 mile Interpretive Nature Trail complete with benches and markers describing the ecosystem surrounding the trail. Add in the Ike’s Hike and Bike Trail with its 3 miles of rugged terrain and amazing views of the natural beauty surrounding Lake Texoma, and there’s no limit to the New Year’s Day fun that hikers can have. For more information, contact the park at (903) 465-1956…Meanwhile, over in Fannin County, the self-paced hike at Bonham SP runs from 1 to 3 p.m. today. In its news release, TPWD says that participants can see historic CCC structures, explore the parks natural beauty, and meet volunteers who can help educate visitors about the park’s history and natural resources….At all First Day Hike events around the state, TPWD asks that visitors do their part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, staying 6-feet from those who don’t live in the same household and following the strong encouragement from the agency to wear a mask for everyone’s health and safety…

Hunting Reports

The 2020-21 deer season concludes this weekend in Grayson County and the rest of North Texas. The archery season will continue on to its Jan. 15 closure in Oklahoma. Keep in mind that as was pointed out last week, some of the best bucks ever put into the Grayson County Whitetail Record Book have come at the end of December and the beginning of January…Three of those buzzer-beater bucks easily come to mind—Robert Taylor’s 219 1/8-inch non-typical in late December 2012, Mike Benson’s 201 1/8-inch non-typical on the last weekend of the 2007 season, and Dale Moses’ 184 0/8-inch non-typical “Captain Hook” buck taken at the end of December 2014—proving that there’s still plenty of reason to head into the Grayson County deer woods as the 2020-21 season concludes…Local duck hunting action is fair to good across Texomaland for a mixture of ducks. Hopefully, this week’s big front and storm will bring even more ducks as the season enters its final month…A glance at the social media accounts for Dakota Stowers and his North Texas Outfitters operation shows good duck hunting out near Waurika, Okla. with numerous limits of gadwalls, wigeon, teal, and a few mallards…Stowers’ NTO guides are also taking some Canada geese, including one banded goose earlier in the week…Charlie Holder and the Sure-Shot Game Calls crew were in southern Oklahoma recently for a media hunt with writers from several publications in camp, including Wildfowl magazine. Duck hunting was good and stories of the hunts should be forthcoming online and in future magazine issues…Ducks Unlimited’s website had a “Migration Alert” on Dec. 23, telling of good duck hunting across portions of Oklahoma, particularly in the western part of the state. To see that DU report and more, visit …As the New Year arrives, a few plump mourning doves are still flying through Texomaland as the second split of dove season wraps up for the Texas North Zone on Sunday, Jan. 3…Covey Rise magazine editor Matt Soberg is a Minnesota resident who likes to chase grouse and woodcock among other upland birds. In recent days, Soberg has been in East Texas for a family holiday visit. And from the looks of his recent social media posts on Instagram and Facebook, the well-known outdoor writer and upland bird hunter is finding some good woodcock hunting as the Texas timberdoodle season continues…

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma, water is lightly stained; water temps are 50-52 degrees; and the lake is 0.87 below seasonal pool. TPWD says that striped bass and white bass are fair on live shad. Meanwhile, largemouth bass are fair for anglers fishing soft plastic swimbaits, deep diving crankbaits, bladed jigs, spinnerbaits, and spoons in 15-30’ of water. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs fished near boathouses, timber, creek ledges, and brush piles in 15-25’ of water…Continuing on at Texoma, ODWC reports that blue catfish action is good on cut bait and shad fished in the main lake and river channel. Jug-lining for blue cats has also been good in about 50 ft. of water for anglers fishing with whole shad…At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, water is lightly stained; water temp is 55 degrees; and the lake is 0.99 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are slow on skirted jigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits, bladed jigs and spinnerbaits fished near drop-offs, timber, rip rap, and deep creek channels. White bass are slow in 15-35’ of water for those fishing slabs near main lake points, flats, and drop-offs. Crappie are fair on minnows and small jigs fished in brush piles between 18-28’ depths… At Lake Fork, water is lightly stained; water temp is 53 degrees; and the lake is 2.31 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are fair on green pumpkin weighted worms, spoons, diving crankbaits, and Shakyheads fished near creeks with timber, roadbeds, brush piles, creek channels, and rocky shorelines. Crappie are fair on minnows in 12-25’ of water in brush piles and standing timber near creek ledges or drop-offs…Due to the early deadline brought about by the New Year’s Day publishing schedule, there’s no trout fishing report this week for the Blue River near Tishomingo. For those braving the cold and potential rain and/or snow at week’s end, trout should be hitting on small inline spinnerbaits, Power Bait nuggets, and fly selections including nymphs, Wooly Buggers, and Blue-Winged Olive nymphs, emergers, and dry flies…If your holiday travel plans take you to the Texas Gulf Coast, TPWD reports good coastal fishing at Port O’Connor where speckled trout have been very good lately on live or fresh baits such as shrimp or crab fished near shallow sand bars. Redfish are also very good in back bays on live shrimp while flounder are good on mullet in the shallow grass flats…Meanwhile, further down the coastal bend at Rockport, TPWD rates the holiday fishing action as good in back lakes and drains where the speckled trout and redfish are taking shrimp and topwaters. Meanwhile, the good flounder bite continues for those using mullet…

Tip of the Week

TPWD’s wintertime rainbow trout season is well underway across the Lone Star State, including at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond. The small pond in D-Town, which received a stocking of rainbows earlier in December, is scheduled to get its second stocking of rainbow trout next week. That load of catchable sized rainbow trout will be just in time for the city’s 14th annual Howard Caylor Trout Derby. Look for more information on the trout derby in next week’s Herald Democrat outdoors section or visit the City of Denison website at or call (903) 463-5116.

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We Said Go Travel News Dec 2020

Dec News 2020 with We Said Go Travel:

As the ten years of 2020 begins to end, this quote from the movie, The Martian, seems very apt: “At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” Mark Whatney, The Martian

I hope we have solved enough problems together! I put together a post of all my articles, posts and interviews from 2020 and another one which is a decade of my content 2010-2020!

Thank you to Teen Vogue for publishing my article, “How a Swimming Lesson From Olympian Markus Rogan Changed My Life” I am thrilled to be published in TEEN VOGUE especially since I wrote for AARP first! Oh 2020!!!

Thank you to Afluencer for including me in your 10 Top Travel Influencers of 2021

This is my #TOP9 posts from 2020 instagram: full of past travels, TV segments and #COUNTeveryVOTE!

2020 has been a year filled uncertainty and changes. Michael Jordan said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” We have to keep practicing, keep going, keep taking chances and making things HAPPEN!

Taken on one of my neighborhood COVID19 walks around the block with my #LGV60ThinQ

Thank you to Thrive Global for publishing my articles!

Thank you to all of the scientists who created the COVID 19 Vaccine and to all of the medical teams who have been treating people with this disease. Please see information below from UCLA Health.

During COVID19, I have been honored to publish diverse voices on many topics! Please enjoy Cherice Taylor’s poem, WOW 2020, Elwood Hopkins’ Will Santa Love Me if I am Gay? and an excerpt from DreamCatchers, the new anthology from POPS club for children who are impacted by a family member’s incarceration.

Let’s say GOOD-BYE to 2020’s uncertainty and HELLO to a 2021 with 12 months of success, 52 weeks of laughter, 365 days of fun, 8,760 hours of joy, 525,600 minutes of good luck, and 31,536,000 seconds of happiness. I hope that 2021 brings you peace, joy, and happiness!

Thank you to Amy and Hotel Erwin for my birthday staycation in Venice Beach! I learned to use Adobe Premiere Pro during COVID:


Here is the link to my video channel on YouTube where I have over one and a quarter million views on YouTube! (Exact count: 1,287,338   views) Thank you for your support! Are you one of my 2,960 subscribers? I hope you will join me and subscribe!

For more We Said Go Travel articles, TV segments, videos and social media: CLICK HERE

Find me on social media: InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube, and at  My social media following is now over 160,000 and I am verified on Twitter.

My fortune cookies said:

“From now on, your kindness will lead you to success.”

“Your Independence shall lead you to bold adventures.”

Stay safe and healthy! We will travel again….


Venice Beach Pier, December 26, 2020 by Lisa Niver #LGV60ThinQ

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Gibraltar Gets Its Own Last-Minute Brexit Deal on Borders

MADRID — The recent Brexit trade deal generated relief in Britain and the European Union, but some issues were left on the negotiating table — including what to do about Gibraltar, the British territory at the southern tip of Spain whose sovereignty has long been disputed by Madrid.

On Thursday, the Spanish foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, announced a last-minute agreement with negotiators in Britain and Gibraltar that avoids the possibility of travelers and goods being stranded at the border from Friday.

The draft agreement will allow passport-free travel between Gibraltar and Spain. As part of the deal, a European agency will monitor sea and air arrivals in Gibraltar. People arriving from Britain will need to go through passport control, as they do now.

“We have understood the need to manage our interdependency,” Ms. González Laya said at a news conference. While she insisted that “sovereignty is something inalienable for both sides,” she described the agreement as “a solid base for the future relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom.”

Spain had pushed for the talks over Gibraltar to be separate from the main Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union.

Known as the Rock because of the dominant feature of its 2.6-square-mile territory, Gibraltar has long punched above its weight in military and economic significance, as a gateway to the Mediterranean but also a financial hub that applies significantly lower corporate taxation than Britain.

Given their geographic isolation, Gibraltar’s residents and officials were fearful about the consequences of Brexit before the referendum in 2016, in which 96 percent of Gibraltar voters sought to remain in the European Union but Britons overall voted to leave.

Negotiators in Madrid, London and Gibraltar — working by videoconference — spent recent weeks scrambling to beat a Jan. 1 deadline for an agreement to ensure the smooth movement of goods and people in and out of Gibraltar, even with Britain no longer part of the European Union.

Issues including the mutual recognition of labor permits and drivers’ licenses were sorted out relatively easily, but the sticking points were what Gibraltar’s border means and who should police it.

Fearing border checks that could leave it isolated and economically pinched, Gibraltar wanted control-free access to the Spanish mainland, similar to that enjoyed between the European countries that are part of the Schengen area, in which travel checks have only been reintroduced in emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.

There are now limited border controls in place in Gibraltar, because Britain has never been part of the Schengen agreement. After Brexit, Spain wanted to ensure that the territory did not become a check-free point of entry for people traveling on to the Spanish mainland.

Ms. González Laya said that it could take about six months for Thursday’s agreement to be formalized into a new treaty between the European Union and Britain over Gibraltar, but she promised that Spain would “keep traffic the most fluid possible” across the territory’s border in the meantime.

“We believe that we may now be able to reset our relationship with Spain and cast it in a more positive light,” Fabian Picardo, the leader of Gibraltar, told a separate news conference after the deal was struck. “We are going to avert the worst effects of a hard Brexit.”

The talks had slowed because Spain wanted to take charge of policing the border, but Gibraltar proposed instead that it be handled by Frontex, a European Union agency that monitors the borders of countries in the Schengen zone.

Under the compromise announced on Thursday, “Schengen will be applied to Gibraltar with Spain as the responsible member for the control of Schengen,” in collaboration with Frontex over the coming four years, Ms. González Laya said. Frontex officers will control passengers in the port and airport of Gibraltar.

Officials in Brussels have not been involved in the latest Gibraltar talks, while the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain had insisted that a new border deal should have no impact on British sovereignty and the free flow between Britain and Gibraltar.

The extended negotiations over Gibraltar exasperated those who have to cross the border daily, with businesses that transport goods across the border already suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

“This is part of the eternal dispute over Gibraltar’s sovereignty, but the negotiators should really have been able to resolve this earlier and not force us to end the year in a situation of complete border uncertainty, when we already have to confront a worsening rate of coronavirus in Gibraltar,” said Jesús Moya, a Spanish employee of a food distribution company in Gibraltar, who commutes from his home in Spain. “Having a normal trade flow is essential, not only for Gibraltar but also for Spain.”

About 2,000 of Gibraltar’s nearly 34,000 residents are now isolating because of the coronavirus, and the authorities there decided before Christmas to close the border with Britain, to contain the spread of a new and seemingly more contagious virus variant.

Given their geographic isolation at the southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar’s residents and officials were fearful about the consequences of Brexit before the referendum in 2016, which was endorsed by an overall majority of Britons, but rejected by 96 percent of voters in Gibraltar.

Britain has handled Gibraltar’s defense and international relations since securing control over the territory in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Gibraltar’s government has significant autonomy over trade and fiscal issues, which has helped it become a European hub for financial services and online gaming.

In 1969, under Gen. Francisco Franco, Spain closed the border with Gibraltar, leaving the territory reliant on supplies and funding from Britain. Even if it has not barricaded the border in more recent years, Spain has occasionally created significant problems for Gibraltar by enforcing stricter customs controls, leaving people and vehicles waiting for hours to cross. In the past decade, Britain and Spain have also feuded over access to the waters off Gibraltar.

But any Spanish tightening of controls at Gibraltar’s land border also hurts about 10,000 workers like Mr. Moya who commute there daily, mostly from nearby towns that form an economically depressed area known as the Campo de Gibraltar.

“We are answering the aspirations of our citizens,” Ms. González Laya said. The deal would allow residents of nearby Spanish towns to “breathe a sigh of relief,” she added, while avoiding a situation in which residents of Gibraltar risked facing “the only hard Brexit border” in Europe, even though they had voted overwhelmingly to remain in the bloc.

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What happened when two virtual strangers booked an Airbnb together

(CNN) — The prospect of finding true love during a global pandemic seems almost impossible, especially if you’re stuck in lockdown and hate dating apps.

But that didn’t stop life coach Kayla MacArthur from taking a chance and booking an Airbnb apartment in Tulum, Mexico with a virtual stranger.

The 31-year-old from Massachusetts had been feeling disillusioned about the prospect of meeting someone while many Americans were under instructions to stay at home, when a friend decided to step in and play matchmaker.

“I was ready for love but loathed the idea of swiping left and right on dating apps,” MacArthur tells CNN.

“I prefer to sense a person’s energy, but with all the restrictions due to Covid-19, part of me accepted that it was highly unlikely I’d meet the man of my dreams in 2020.”

In June, a mutual friend named Ben arranged a Zoom call between her and Ryan Crain, a 35-year-old wellness manager from Oklahoma, saying he thought they’d hit it off.

“When Ryan’s face appeared on my screen, I felt attracted to him,” MacArthur admits. “As we spoke, I realized he was as passionate about traveling as I was — before lockdown he went on a solo trip around the world.

“We had lots in common but it wasn’t as if we could meet up and hang out.”

Crain also felt an instant attraction to MacArthur and says he was on a “huge high” after speaking to her for the first time.

“Although I went into the conversation thinking it would be more of a friend connection, I did immediately notice how beautiful she was and I was very attracted to her,” he says.

“She had just returned to the US from living in Bali so I knew she was like minded.”

While Mexico has remained open to US visitors arriving by air during the pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises against visiting because of the Covid risk. Over the holidays, the USCDC also advised against travel within the United States.

“A few weeks later, when both of us were fed up with being at home, we decided to go together,” she explains.

Mexico or bust

Tourists visit archeological site at the beach in Tulum National Park, Quintana Roo state, Mexico on March 22, 2017

Kayla MacArthur and Ryan Crain had never met before they booked an Airbnb together in Tulum, Mexico.

DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Although they knew it was a gamble, the pair decided to throw caution to the wind and book a two-bedroom Airbnb property in the coastal town Tulum, based on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, for one month.

“We decided to go as travel buddies although deep down I think we were both hoping for something more,” says MacArthur.

“Living together would be the ultimate test — we’d know whether there was mutual chemistry and we’d really get to know each other.”

After making the necessary arrangements, MacArthur and Crain flew to Cancun separately on August 8.

They landed at different times, and didn’t see each other face to face until they were at the apartment.

“When we met for the first time in our Airbnb living room, I remember thinking that she had a glowing energy,” Crain says.

“She had bought me a dozen eggs and some fruit for breakfast from the day before, since she knew I would be getting in late. She was kind and thoughtful.”

They quickly talked about their expectations for the trip, and agreed to communicate with each other if either was annoyed or upset about anything.

“I wanted us to use this trip to grow as individuals and practice conscious relating,” says MacArthur. “Luckily Ryan was totally open to this.”

After two weeks of enjoying each other’s company and a magical trip to Isla Mujeres, Crain told MacArthur he had fallen for her and asked to take her on a date.

“I was hesitant,” she admits. “I wasn’t as sure if Ryan was the one for me.”

Although they decided to extend their stay, MacArthur’s remained uncertain of her feelings until Crain left for a week-long trip to Akumal, a small town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, at the end of September.

“While Ryan was away, all the pressure disappeared and I realized just how much I missed him,” she says.

“During our time apart, I became clearer about my feelings — I wanted to give this a chance.”

When he returned, they officially became a couple and returned to the public beach in Tulum, where they’d had their first date.

The twosome then witnessed a double rainbow forming over the ocean. MacArthur says she interpreted this as a sign that they would go the distance.

Testing times

But their relationship was repeatedly put to the test over the next few months.

Not only did they experience unrelenting noise from nearby construction, the couple lived through three hurricanes, as well as Tropical Storm Gamma, which brought floods, and landslides to the Yucatán Peninsula, leaving them with no electricity or water for four days.

“It might’ve looked glamorous to friends and family but there were practical realities to living there just like anywhere else,” says Crain.

“I simply tried to go with the flow and make the most of it. So when the power would go out for 24 hours, I would turn the music on, light some candles and dance around like a dork to make her laugh.”

MacArthur’s ATM card was later swallowed up and she developed a parasitic foot disease, which left her unable to walk properly.

She was prescribed strong medication by doctors, but felt exhausted most of the time and couldn’t leave the apartment. However, Crain proved to be a great support throughout.

“Ryan was really thoughtful and affectionate the whole time, getting me ice cream and also picking up medicine for me,” MacArthur says.

Both say the trials they faced while in Mexico have only made their relationship stronger.

Once MacArthur had recovered, the couple spent the next two months traveling to the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza and Bacalar, dubbed the Maldives of Mexico, while planning their future together.

Back to reality

Love in the time of corona -- Kayla MacArthur and Ryan Crain

The couple spent the holidays in Boston with Kayla’s family and are looking forward to more adventures together.

Kayla MacArthur

They decided to return to the US together in December to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Boston with MacArthur’s family.

But the couple admit their whirlwind romance has received mixed reactions from friends and family.

“Our parents were thrilled,” says MacArthur. “But some of our friends were concerned. ‘You and Ryan are great together but when this vacation is over, you may encounter some problems’ and ‘When are you coming back to reality?’ were some of the things they said.”

“I smiled because Ryan and I have overcome quite a few obstacles. We are both committed to building a future together. I truly feel like I’ve found my person.”

Crain says he feels the same, and is hugely thankful that they opted to book that Airbnb over the summer.

“Kayla has helped me to be more open, vulnerable and authentic and I’m so grateful we took this chance together,” he says.

Although Covid-19 has no doubt brought much misery to the world, MacArthur says finding love during such a turbulent time has shown her that life can unfold in the most unexpected ways.

“I always hoped to find the love of my life but I had no idea it would happen so quickly and during a global pandemic,” she adds.

While ever-changing border restrictions continue to limit travel, the couple plan to go off on more adventures together in the future.

“We plan to travel together and spend some time in San Diego, Lisbon, and Costa Rica — that’s our dream,” she says. “Perhaps we’ll even make it back to Mexico one day.”

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PROGRESS 2020: Our towns | News, Sports, Jobs

News File Photo
Chrissy Prince hands a box of baklava to the businesses landlord and frequent customer, Earl Juergens, at The Baklava Shop in Atlanta in this 2019 archive photo.

Northeast Michigan is a diverse mix of communities, each with its own unique contribution to the region’s economy. Here’s a look at some of those towns.


Fifteen minutes south of Alpena, on U.S.-23 in Alcona County, Ossineke is home to about 1,000 residents, a state park, and a giant ox.

Anchored by its landmark Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues, the unincorporated community boasts several businesses along its main business corridor, from restaurants to a gun shop to a social service agency outpost.

South of Ossineke, Negwegon State Park protects 4,000 acres along the southern tip of Thunder Bay. Ossineke is also known as the home of Sanborn Elementary School, a cutting tool manufacturing plant, and a dinosaur-themed statue park.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson
The entrance to Harrisville State Park is seen.


The small coastal community of Rogers City is nestled in between larger communities Alpena and Cheboygan.

The city has a nautical history evident in its themed aesthetic and business names downtown. It is rich in natural resources, which provides boaters, fisherman, hunters, rock hounds, and other outdoor enthusiasts an ample menu of things to do.

To the north of Rogers City is the 40 Mile Point lighthouse and Hoeft State Park, while to the south there are the old and new lighthouses to tour in Presque Isle Township. There are also many small inland lakes nearby for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing are popular.


News File Photo
A scene from the 2018 Nautical Festival in downtown Rogers City.

Tucked between Hillman and Gaylord, Atlanta is the county seat of Montmorency County and is the only Michigan town to actually sit directly on the 45th Parallel.

As the Elk Capital of Michigan, Atlanta is home to the annual Elk Festival, which takes place every September. Atlanta celebrates its claim to fame with a large stuffed elk inside a glass case that greets visitors as they round a curve and come into the downtown area.

While Atlanta employs many people in professional service businesses, the town is also known for its tourism. Atlanta is home to several state forest campgrounds, including Clear Lake State Park, and wildlife enthusiasts can take advantage of 11 area lakes.

Sportsmen who love to hunt and fish and travel secluded trails and see bear, elk, deer and other wildlife. During the wintertime, Atlanta is the headquarters of the annual Sno*Drift Rally, a rally racing event held on snowy, gravel service roads.


News File Photo
A scene from the 2019 Posen Potato Festival.

Best known for the annual Posen Potato Festival in September, the village may be small but its spirit is big.

A close-knit farming community consisting of many families of Polish descent, Posen gears up each year for its festival that brings in hundreds of visitors to this Presque Isle County village with a population of just 234, as of 2010 Census numbers.


The quiet city of Harrisville, located along U.S.-23 about a half-mile from Lake Huron, comes alive in the summer.

Tourists like to frequent Harrisville State Park, located on 107 acres of forest, with frontage on Lake Huron. The park is also close to Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and Negwegon State Park.

News Photo by Julie Riddle
Ossineke is seen through the legs of the towering Paul Bunyan statute on U.S.-23.

Tourists can stop for coffee at Alcona Coffee Co., eat lunch at Dockside Cafe or the Flour Garden, enjoy a locally brewed beer at the Alcona Brew Haus, or grab a slice at Harbortown Pizza. The city is among the first in Northeast Michigan to allow recreational marijuana to be sold, with its first retail location to open within the coming months.

Tourists particularly like to flock to the city on Labor Day weekend, where approximately 300 artists and exhibitors participate in the Harrisville Harmony Weekend Arts and Craft Festival in front of the courthouse lawn.

The city is also known for its Fourth of July celebration, where the city holds a parade and fireworks.

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16 Good Things That Happened in the Travel World in 2020

16 Good Things That Happened in the Travel World in 2020 | Travel + Leisure

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Sun Belt teams roll with covid format

The Sun Belt Conference basketball season is set to open Friday with a scheduling format aimed at ensuring safety in an unprecedented coronavirus season.

This season, both ASU and UALR men’s and women’s basketball programs will face only divisional foes. They also will play the same team on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes less than 24 hours apart.

While coaches and players understand the emphasis on safety, questions remain about how the tightly packed schedule will affect competitive balance.

“[The plan) is something that is a good thing as far as covid-19 goes,” University of Arkansas at Little Rock women’s Coach Joe Foley said. “As far as the conference and basketball, it’s not the best by any means.”

The UALR men tip at home with Texas-Arlington for a pair of games while the women travel to play Texas-Arlington this weekend.

The Arkansas State University men’s team begins with two games at Louisiana-Monroe. The ASU women were set to start at home, but covid-19 issues in the Louisiana-Monroe program forced those two games to be postponed.

The division-only format means each Sun Belt team will face only five different opponents on an 18-game schedule. UALR and ASU make up one-third of the East Division, joined by Louisiana-Monroe, Texas-Arlington, Texas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Troy, South Alabama, Georgia State and Georgia Southern comprise the West Division.

The divided conference will reconvene in Pensacola, Fla., for the Sun Belt Tournament during the first week of March.

“I think every conference is trying to figure this season out the best way they can,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill said. “For us, this was what we thought would work best in terms of minimizing travel, minimizing changes and exposure opportunities in moving teams around the country and trying to complete a season.”

Reduced travel, fewer games and longer gaps between contests — along with the conference’s testing guidelines — were part of the recommendations made by the Sun Belt’s covid-19 advisory panel, which was made up of medical professionals from the conference’s member institutions.

The format also gives the conference flexibility in regard to postponements. The Sun Belt is eyeing midweek slots to schedule make-up dates.

“You can’t bend covid-19 to basketball,” Gill said. “You have to bend basketball to covid-19.”

But covid-19 is not the only concern for coaches and players.

The UALR women’s team will play Friday at 1 p.m.; 27 hours later, the Trojans will tip off at Texas-Arlington once again. Every program in the conference will maintain a similar schedule over the next two months.

“It’s a really tough schedule to ask college players to play,” UALR junior guard Bre’Amber Scott said. “It’s like AAU almost, but the games [in college] are 10 times harder.”

The format leaves players, who in normal Sun Belt seasons play Thursday and Saturday, a short window for recovery. Programs with deeper benches will benefit more than usual from the ability to spread minutes and rest key players.

The season will lend itself to coaches who can make adjustments on the fly. ASU men’s Coach Mike Balado compared the preparation required this winter to the work a football team puts in, preparing all week for one opponent.

“It’s different, but we’re embracing it and we’re just happy to be playing basketball,” Balado said. “With everything this year, if it were normal it’d be boring.”

A coach can’t do much between Friday and Saturday other than review game video and hope his players get a good meal and some sleep, UALR men’s Coach Darrell Walker said. Foley and Balado both feel that this season will be more about preparing their own teams than planning for opponents.

Walker is not too keen on facing only five different teams over the next two months.

“Why am I playing one team four times?” Walker asked. “And if we’re lucky enough to make it to the tournament in Florida, we haven’t played any of the other teams on the other side. It’s not good, as far as I’m concerned, but it is what it is.”

Any scheduling blowback hasn’t reached conference headquarters in New Orleans, Gill said Wednesday. He reiterated safety as the primary concern in the Sun Belt’s planning, and he credited schools for their adherence to covid-19 guidelines and willingness to adjust to the ever-changing landscape.

The rigors will begin to show themselves once conference play begins, and the Sun Belt’s experiment starts Friday.

UALR head coach Joe Foley talks to his players during the fourth quarter of the Trojans’ 58-46 win on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

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