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In my humble opinion

In My Humble Opinion
Jodi McDade

What a difference one year makes


What a year we have had! I can’t NOT mention that this week is the anniversary of the lockdown of America because of a pandemic no one anticipated (possibly), no one was prepared for, and no one knew what to expect. And, I know none of us were aware of how drastically our lives, livelihood and freedoms would be affected.

Last March 15, six of us set out on a 3-day/2-night hiking adventure (kinda’ like Gilligan!) that included stops on the way to and the way from overnights in Gulf Shores and Dauphin Island. We left early morning and had intended to return late on the night of the seventeenth. We knew some closures were being made or at least talked about, but we didn’t worry about it at the time. Day 1 was wonderful – we made stops to hike at Splinter Hill Bog, Little River State Forest, Blakely State Park, Meaher State Park, Fairhope, Bama Henge with dinosaurs, and had a magnificent dinner at Doc’s restaurant (the original one) where the place was PACKED! We arrived well after dark at the new Gulf Shores Convention Center to get some well needed sleep.

The next morning we started early with a 3-mile hike in Gulf State Park, visited the zoo and did another hike at Bon Secour Wildlife Area on our way to catch the first ferry at Fort Morgan to take us to Dauphin Island. Once on Dauphin Island, we hiked in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary including the Beach Trail, the “Phenomena” at the Dauphin Island Pier and then ate at Pirate’s Restaurant at the old country club. As we headed back to our motel, we realized we were VERY close to having 13.3 miles for the day! SO, what else could we do but keep walking until we all got at least that distance!

We had great plans for the trip back on the seventeenth, but the news was beginning to sound bleak. The number of people who could be in a group had been cut to 10; restaurants, gas stations and other places were announcing they were closing; so we decided we might need to get back to Coosa County. We did detour into downtown Mobile to walk around in Mardi Gras Park and then to the Jacinto Port Tract in Saraland before heading north. We even joked about who would have to be put out of the vehicle if the group number was cut to five before we got home!

Needless to say, none of us realized this would be the last big adventure of the Bama Venturers for more than a year. We have done some day trips scattered during the past year, but nothing like we had built up to. We were purged into isolation from other people that just continued to increase in intensity. Now, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – but still being threatened that the only way we will have “permission” for an INDEPENDENCE DAY picnic is by following the rules between now and then!

We all realize the horrible affects COVID-19 has had on our families and friends. We’ve lost many of them who died alone in hospitals and nursing homes. Our children have lost a year of school – including graduations and other special events. We have been confined to our homes except for the basic necessities of life – groceries, medical care, etc. People have lost their jobs, and businesses (except the big box stores) have been shut down or had their operations turned upside down – many to never recover. Funerals and weddings have been limited in attendance and available venues. Toilet paper, bottled water and other basic items are still scarce.

Our government services and legislatures – local, state and national – have been curtailed and/or blocked from public attendance. COVID-19 was used as the excuse to drastically make illegal changes to our election procedures during a major presidential campaign, and no one can tell me it did NOT affect the outcome of the election. Many people took advantage of the relaxed limits on absentee voting, many states did mail-in voting (VERY different from absentee voting) without tight procedures in effect, people were afraid to go to the polls, voting registrations were extended, and vote counting was extended. Our legal system did not protect us from these changes or from the investigations that should have been done into so many reported events.

Thank goodness we are seeing state legislatures strengthen their voting requirements and procedures to prevent this from happening again. Who would have even thought common sense would be thrown out the window so casually? But, again, maybe we are getting close to finding our way back to a new type of normal – I don’t think it will ever really be the same again. We have all lost a year of our lives, and that cannot be regained; 2020 was the year that wasn’t.

I’m looking forward to a better 2021 – with or without the permission of the government. As Becky Gerritson so rightly testified before Congress in a hearing on government overreach against conservative groups – “I am a born-free American!” And, I WILL not give up my rights as protected by the Constitution of the United States of America for anyone. I hope you feel the same way! God bless you all!

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