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Relaxing drive may be best way to treat COVID cabin fever

It has been seven months since Americans began locking down against COVID-19. Many have attempted to get back to “normal” by donning masks, washing hands more frequently and taking a step or two back sometimes, to maintain social distancing.

But many others have remained cloistered at home, and with good reason. For millions of people who are older and with pre-existing health conditions, any risk of contracting the disease is too much.

If you are among them, you are growing very, very tired of not getting out. A little fun would be nice.

Never fear. Now is the perfect time of year for that in most parts of the country. It is fall and in these parts, the scenery is simply spectacular.

Take a drive. If your car or truck needs gasoline, don’t worry. Nearly all retailers selling fuel have pumps that accept credit and debit cards. There is no need to have any contact with others before you fill ‘er up. Many have rubber glove dispensers so customers don’t have to touch pump handles. Take your own, if you like.

Where to go? Many of us know of scenic drives near our homes. Longer trips are no problem; pack a lunch.

Local and state tourism agencies often provide detailed maps for driving tours, and there are many from which to choose.

In our backyard, we’d like to suggest the 47-mile Pine Creek Gorge, which offers one of the most spectacular vistas in the state. A drive along its west rim offers wildlife-viewing opportunities as well as plenty of color.

We are fortunate to live in a state with a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation, according to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

And in this region, we have an abundance of state forests that are ripe for exploring. DCNR suggests driving along Route 44 northwest from its intersection with Route 220 through Tiadaghton, Sproul and Susquehannock state forests, one of the prettiest foliage drives in Pennsylvania.

But those are but a few of the many locations where leaf peeping will be at its peak this week. Check them out online. Chances are you’ll find some trips, short and long, that had not occurred to you.

Bottom line: Don’t let COVID-19 hold you prisoner. You can get out, with minimal or no risk of contracting the disease.

A relaxing drive in the country may be the perfect medicine for cabin fever. Try it. We’ll bet you feel better.

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