I had been looking forward to my vacation for months – well, everything except the thoughts of motion sickness, car sickness, sleeping in strange, uncomfortable beds, eating strange, uncomfortable food, seeing strange uncomfortable people – you get the idea. Travel is not easy for one who has trouble leaving the house.
But this time I had a plan! I was set to travel to a beautiful place (Canada) and take dozens of beautiful pictures of the mountains and the coastline, the trees and the animals. It was to be calm and relaxing, with a minimum of stress. And one thought filled my head: “Oh the things I will see!”
This is what I saw. This is rain. This is water. It never stopped. Just about the only good thing I can say about the weather was that I was very happy that I packed my raincoat and boots. That’s when it comes in handy to be obsessive-compulsive. We tend to be overly-prepared.So, the shorts and sneakers stayed in the suitcase, and the rain gear came out.
The rain started as soon as my wife and I left the house. The storm must have been traveling at the exact same speed that we were, because we never saw it begin or end. I even think it took breaks at the same rest stops and had lunch at the same time we did. We were traveling companions with thunderclouds ahead of us and flash floods behind. I had all that I could do to keep my Fritos dry – but I did.
By the time we reached our first overnight destination, we were tired and waterlogged. Upon entering my room, I immediately turned on the Weather Channel to see what fate had in store for us. It didn’t look good. The week ahead called for rain or dark skies every single day. Thoughts of a vacation without photos ran through my head – even worse, thoughts of being cooped inside for 10 days caused me to shudder. I began to panic.
I struggled with my usual relaxation techniques: meditation and positive self-talk. And then it dawned upon me. This was a test. I was being tested to see how well I could cope under difficult circumstances – almost like a training course for later in life when I plan to travel more. I also felt that my marriage was being put to the test, because when two people travel together for 10 days (even under ideal conditions) they had better get along or face severe consequences.
My wife and I talked it over, and we decided to scrap our plans, cancel our reservations, and search for better weather somewhere – anywhere. The notion of doing things that way usually bothers me; but I convinced myself that I could handle it, and handle it well. I focused upon HER happiness, and was determined to do whatever she wanted to do, and go wherever she wanted to go. So, we got in the car and took off – and that is when our GPS broke. (I told you I was being tested). We took it someplace where I could buy the parts needed to fix it. We set our sights on a bird who was also fleeing the area. And we left.
Once in a while, the sun would try to pop through the clouds, but the best we could manage was gray and dark. We kept going, taking a ferry to a picturesque island in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm. We huddled below deck with Gilligan and the Skipper, while a local musician calmed our nerves by playing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” on his homemade guitar.
Finally, the black clouds parted to make way for the gray ones. At least we were dry. I looked at my wife and said “I would give anything for a day on the beach – in the sun.” So, once again we changed our plans and headed south. It was our only hope. And this time it worked. The sun finally came through, and my camera came out.
Of course there were moments when I could take a photo or two, but they often felt rushed and frantic, like there was a stopwatch timing the available sun, and when it was gone, that was that. I didn’t manage to get many pictures, but the ones I can salvage will be posted in the days to come – unless you like photos of rain – I have plenty of those.
And how would I consider my vacation? Honestly, a mixed bag of positive and negative. Scrambling around, coping with bad weather, and endless packing and unpacking are stressful and tiresome. But the bottom line is that we did not give up. We made the best of a bad situation – and we are still married. I consider that a huge success!