In the end, it was a lot like a belligerent drunk yelling incoherently, throwing punches at the air, and busting up glasses and turning over napkin holders as the security guys drag him out of the bar.

Bye-bye, 2020. You’re 86’d.

One way or another, we’re on to 2021 now, and maybe we could all use a minute to walk it off and get a little fresh air.

Which is exactly what this issue is all about: travel and adventure.

After nine months of quarantines, lockdowns and the like, getting outside and doing something adventurous sounds like a pretty good remedy for what ails us.

And as we’ll see, that doesn’t mean taking a safari, booking a cruise or touring the Grand Canyon with your hiking club. As it turns out, central Washington offers a lot of easily accessible day trips and mini-adventures that are social-distance safe, family-friendly and free.

Here’s an obvious example: Cowiche Canyon. It’s just minutes from anywhere in Yakima, and I know I’m nowhere near the only one who thinks of it as a favorite getaway.

Crowded freeways, ostentatious homes and busy shopping areas are barely out of view, yet walking the 30 miles of Cowiche Canyon Conservancy trails takes you light years away from the everyday. The wide-open shrub-steppe lands soothe the spirit and quiet even the most troubled mind.

Endless varieties of indigenous grasses and shrubs that somehow thrive with little moisture, enduring withering summer heat and relentless winter winds. Wildlife, seasonal streams, towering rock formations and craggy cliff faces soak up sunshine, shrug off snow and watch as century after century passes by.

Yeah. There really is more to this valley than gangs, graffiti and griping about the government. Healthy pursuits of happiness are closer than you think around here.

A few examples from this issue:

  • Why not warm up with some exercise? Start with Shannon Mahre’s take on local trail running — she’ll tell you what to pack when you take off for some backcountry challenges that couldn’t be more socially distant or healthful.
  • If you’d rather hit the highway by yourself or with your family, check out Glenda Tjarnberg’s feature on the apps that can tell you what to expect down the road. She’ll also tell you how one Yakima retiree has outrun the pandemic by living out of her camp trailer and relying on travel apps to map out her routes.
  • And let’s raise a (non-alcoholic) glass to Dry January, which evidently is a growing thing, according to Molly Allen’s reporting. She also has a few recipes for “mocktails” to give you a tasteful and sober way to ring in 2021.
  • OK, OK. Maybe you’d still just rather stay home. If so, we bet you’ll long for a comfortable cottage like the one Melissa Labberton and Chad Bremerman visited for this month’s Yakima Abode feature.

It’s a new year, and it’s your choice.

Either way, I think we’re all ready for a change.

- John Taylor