Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Travel Reservations

Dear New England:

I am sorry I am coming to visit, since you’re now getting the worst rains and flooding in seventy years. (Up to 17 inches of rain since last Friday? That’s impressive.) I had hoped Lynn’s Travel Curse was broken, since my last few trips east occurred without incident.

February 1993: My first visit to sunny southern California, where from 9 to 12 inches of rain fall in a couple of days and a mudslide closes Topanga Canyon 30 minutes after I drive through it. Debris flows and flooding are widespread, but not nearly so catastrophic as my appearance on Jeopardy!

Summer 1993: Disastrous floods inundate the Midwest when I attend the RWA Convention in St. Louis, a city even more humid than Philadelphia. While I am dressing for the awards banquet (where the table to which I am assigned turns out not to exist), I glance out the window and see a small tornado wandering down the street toward the river. According to NOAA, The 1993 midwest flood was one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months. The flood was unusual in the magnitude of the crests, the number of record crests, the large area impacted, and the length of the time the flood was an issue.

January 1996: A trip from Philadelphia to Albuquerque for a work conference is delayed by fog, lightning, rain, 60-mph winds, and freakishly warm temperatures that combine to melt the three feet of snow left by the great blizzard a few days before. My basement floods, my mother’s driveway is ripped out by torrents, and I arrive in Albuquerque 12 hours late to give my talk with the beginnings of laryngitis.

Christmas 2000: Arkansas suffers the worst natural disaster in its history when I come to spend Christmas with Michele’s family. Two inches of ice coated Little Rock and the surrounding areas. Half a million people were without power, many for more than a week. We were having Christmas dinner when we realized the ice storm was starting. Although we made a brave yet unbelievably stupid spirited attempt to drive back to the cabin where we were staying (where we had, of course, left our luggage, medicines, etc.), we were foiled by an inexperienced motorist who stopped driving halfway up a hill. We slid into a ditch and had to walk back a couple of miles through the freezing rain. Well, I say walk. We walked, fell, slid, skidded, and even rolled. Did I mention that none of us were really dressed for this activity? Or that there were three dogs, to which I am deathly allergic, at Michele’s father’s house? Or that his house was without electricity and therefore heat for the next several days? Or that, the airport closed for three days, delaying my flight home? Or that, when I did finally get home, I was flying into a huge Nor’easter that dumped large quantities of snow on my home state?

September 2001: I fly back to New York State to finish packing and moving to California. My original reservations to fly out of Logan Airport at 8AM on Tuesday, 9/11, are cancelled on the advice of my sensible older sister, who suggests I’ll need a few extra days in the east. (I don’t even need to link to this. If you do not know what happened that day, you can Google it.)

Perhaps now you see why I don’t travel much. But take heart, Massachusetts. By flooding now, you may be avoiding worse things later. Volcanoes, anyone?


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