Further into New Hampshire we started encountering road closures due to flooding. It seemed as though every detour ended in another closed road requiring yet another detour. Crossing rivers became more nerve racking as the water was getting closer and closer to the roads that we could drive on causing me to wonder if the road was ready to give while driving over it. After about an hour and a half we made it out of this perpetual detour and found open roads again. Finally, the Vermont state line, not far now. At least this is what we thought. Daylight was once again leaving us making our task a little more difficult and discouraging.
Many of the creeks and streams were now raging rivers and nearing the roads that were open and covering the rest or washing them out. Once again there were constant detours as more and more roads where being closed. As the night wore on the only roads not closed in the areas we wanted to get to where interstates. Unfortunately there are only two interstates in Vermont and to get to Montpelier we need to drive south to almost the southern border on one interstate to get to the second one in order to get to this capital city. That was going to add 3-4 hours to our trip and we had been driving for 11 hours now. One last road and if this one is closed we’re going to find a place to stay and admit defeat. You guessed it – another road closure. Irene had won! It was time to quit driving for this day and re-evaluate our final destination another day.
At the worst point during the night there were 250 road closures in Vermont with video of cars and houses tumbling down the rivers. I felt frustrated and defeated because we were unable to get to Montpelier but also thankful that we were all safe. Our hearts went out to those who had lost so much and not sure of where to go and what to do. My desire to experience a hurricane is now gone. I enjoy storms but hurricanes are primarily wind and rain. The enjoyable parts of storms are the thunder and lightning so really the hurricane was disappointing. Also, being in the winds that hurricanes can produce for the length of time they can produce them is unappealing. Fortunately Hurricane Irene was less than expected but still provided plenty to remember.
The recent natural events in Japan have gained and required the world’s attention and reminded us that there are events that are beyond anything we can control. Forces of nature will eventually test what people have built and the political choices (or lack thereof) that have been made beyond what has been conceived. These earthquakes and tsunamis have physically altered Japan permanently and even altered time even if only a miniscule fraction. In some cases travelers are reminded of a place they have visited which now will never be the same as it was when they were there. People often use the phrase “SOMEDAY”. Well, for those who may have wanted to visit parts of Northern Japan, someday can never come. At least for those that wanted to experience Northern Japan as it use to be.
There are a number of events that can often change a destination that we may want to travel to such as natural disasters and more often political or religious tensions. Such examples include the Soviet Union splitting apart into several different countries or East and West Germany uniting into one country. Volcanoes erupt creating new landscapes, hurricanes destroy places, and rain can wipe away hillsides. It is easy to take for granted that a country will still be there tomorrow or a mountain will stay has it always has appeared. As we continue to gain experience one thing becomes more evident all the time – The world is constantly changing.
One of the lessons from the natural disasters in Japan is to make plans to experience an area of the world of your choosing instead of planning on going someday. This doesn’t mean that you should make plans to travel immediately if that does not fit into your budget or commitments. It does mean to put together a plan to travel including a potential budget needed, paperwork required such as visas and/or passports, and most importantly a date. At the very least putting together this plan increases the likelihood that you will be able to experience a new destination instead of someday which never comes. We can’t control this changing world and yes we can still miss seeing someplace as it is today but at least by putting together a plan, there is a greater chance of getting there.
There is another effect. I believe that those who have ventured into a foreign land and witnessed traditions of a culture other than their own experience the news and videos of Japan differently. Traveling to a foreign land teaches us that while there are many different beliefs we are all similar in many ways. These similarities are often not broadcast on news programs or in newspapers but people who have traveled have found a number of resemblances. We all need to eat and sleep and want to give our children the best that we can. Methods of communication and our personal beliefs based on what we have learned in life are different but the fact that we communicate in one form or another and have beliefs based on personal experiences binds us together.
Travelers have witnessed this first hand and this gives us a different perspective on the tragedies of Japan and how people there are affected and respond to it. We all are reacting to these events differently. One aspect to keep in mind is there is something to learn from every situation. For travelers, if there is a destination of interest make a plan to get there and stop saying someday.