We often think of warm, sunny days as the only optimal time to travel, but sometimes, bad weather gives us a completely different perspective of a new place. Such is the case with this photo from Doug Murray taken during a rainy day in Vancouver, BC.
As any traveler to the Pacific Northwest will tell you, rain is often inevitable, but wet weather is what makes this region beautiful. Plus a good wet day gives you the perfect excuse to check out the local coffee culture.
It isn’t always sunny in California. It only just seems that way for those of us who live in colder climates. On Thursday, it rained in Los Angeles. I swear, there was no sun or blue skies to be had anywhere. Before I travel anywhere, I check the forecast for my destination obsessively and I can tell you that this is the first time there’s been rain in L.A. in at least 6 or 7 years. Or it least it seems that way.
I’ve traveled extensively around California over the past 30 years and this was actually the first time I have ever – ever – felt any significant rainfall in this glorious state. Perhaps I’ve just been remarkably lucky, but I think Californians are actually quite unused to inclement weather.
On the drive to out hotel we were listening to the local NPR affiliate in Los Angeles and the hosts noted that there had been 188 crashes on L.A. freeways that morning, which, they said, was a big haul, even for L.A. The hosts chalked this up to the rain and I almost burst out laughing.I grew up in Buffalo and my adopted hometown is Chicago. The notion that large numbers of people are crashing their cars due to the fact that it was 65 degrees with a light drizzle seemed delicious, preposterous, wonderful! Only in a place with a truly glorious climate could people forget how to safely operate their vehicles because they are so shocked or unaccustomed to a little harmless precipitation.
Most travel writers like to wax poetic about how they don’t mind rainy weather while traveling. And most of them are full of crap for the following reasons. 1) They spend most of the year traveling and thus have a completely different perspective than someone who has just a few precious days to savor outside their office each year. 2) They typically aren’t traveling with small children they have to find ways to amuse in bad weather.
Anyone who travels frequently can tell you stories about how awful the weather was on one trip or another they’ve taken. Other than California, which has been my lucky destination over the years, I seem to have a knack for brining bad weather to even the sunniest of places.
Italy is a prime example. I’ve encountered day after day of torrential rain and winds in places like Capri, Polignano A Mare, and Siracusa, to name just a few. And on each occasion, everyone I met assured me that the weather we were experiencing was like a freak, supernatural experience. It’s NEVER like this! They say. Or, more commonly, The weather was perfect until you arrived.
I don’t care what anyone says, the truth is that no place looks as good in the rain as it does under blue skies and sunshine. You make the best of bad weather and sometimes it forces you to do some fun things that you wouldn’t do otherwise, but if you get nothing but rain in a place, the chances are, you probably won’t like it as much as if you’d had good weather there.
If you’re traveling with small children, inclement weather takes an even greater toll. If you aren’t with kids, you can lie in bed and curl up with a book or hit a museum, but you’re options are much more limited if you have small kids in tow. You can throw on a movie for them, but it’s hard to do that all day long for days on end. Bitching about the weather won’t help either, but it can be therapeutic.
Our first two days in California have been rainy, with yet more rain in the forecast and the weather is getting warmer in Chicago. It was 63 and rainy in L.A. on Thursday and 54 and sunny in Chicago, so take your pick. According to weather.com, though, L.A. had zero days with measurable precipitation in October and just two days with a wee bit of rain in November prior to my arrival. But L.A. averages 2.37 inches of precipitation in December historically, not much different than Chicago’s 2.57 inches.
Never mind the fact that Chicago is 50 degrees colder. (And there are microclimates all over California, so if you want different weather, just get the car and drive a bit) But on Saturday, we were in La Jolla, basking in the sunshine. And after a couple gloomy days, we appreciated the warmth of the sun all the more so. You can never take good weather for granted, even in California.
1. FAAWait – During a creeping weather delay a flight attendant who also works part time as an air traffic controller told me about FAAWait. It’s his favorite app. One click and we knew which airports across the country were also experiencing delays, how long the delays were averaging, and what had caused the delays.
2. MyRadar: Recently a fearful flier on board one of my flights spent three hours watching the weather light up his iPad screen: blue, green, red – wow, so much red! He knew exactly when to expect turbulence, how bad it might get, and how long it would last. Knowing this kept him calm. At one point he even turned around in his seat to let the crew know it would be smooth flying from here on out. Two seconds later the captain called to tell us the exact same thing, it was safe to get up and finish the service. Since then I’ve been recommending the app to anyone who mentions they’re afraid to fly.
4. Twitter: Still the best way to get breaking news! You don’t need to “get it.” Just learn how to use the hashtags to find information as it’s happening. For instance, not too long ago I was at an airport that was being evacuated and no one knew why. That was my cue to search the airport code – #DFW. That’s how I found out there was a bomb threat on an incoming flight. I learned this from passengers who were actually on board the flight and tweeting about it as they taxied to the gate.
5. HappyHourFinder: Flight attendants don’t make a lot of money. In fact new hires start out making less than $18,000 a year. And yet we’re subjected to overpriced hotel and airport food on a regular basis. This is why we take advantage of happy hour specials, particularly ones that include half priced appetizers, which might explain how I ended up at Vince Neil’s Bar, Tres Rios, in Las Vegas two hours after learning about the app in the crew van on our way from the airport to the layover hotel.6. Instagram: Because when you travel there are just so many beautiful things to photograph. The app not only makes your pictures look ten times better, it’s easy to text and email your photos or post photos straight to Facebook or Twitter. What I enjoy most about the app is following people whose photos inspire me to travel, like @Lax2Nrt or even @Umetaturou who shares hilarious pictures of a Border Collie named Sora who can balance anything on his head. One of these days I’m going to fly to Japan and walk that dog!
7. Postagram: Remember when you used to send postcards to family and friends from around the world just to let them know you were thinking about them? Now you’re too busy to think, let alone search for just the right card to send. Not to mention all that time it takes to address and stamp it. With Postagram you can turn your cool photos into postcards by using pictures from your phone, Facebook or Twitter. Write a short message and Postagram will take care of the rest.
8. Yelp: Whenever I find myself at a layover hotel in a new city, the first thing I do is pull up Yelp just to see what’s nearby. I might use it to find a great place to eat, check out a tourist attraction, or locate a pharmacy within walking distance. Users post reviews and photos to help narrow down the search so you can determine whether or not it’s worth it to leave your hotel room.
9. HotelTonight: If you’re a commuter like me, this app will save your life one day. At noon each day HotelTonight offers great last minute deals on a couple of hotels near your current location. Get a $25 credit with your first booking, $25 for each friend who signs up, and $25 when a friend makes their first bookings. So … who wants to be friends?
10. GateGuru: Enter an airport code and up pops everything you could ever want to know about food, shopping, and any services offered, along with reviews, ratings and maps. Enter your flight number and access flight status, delays and weather conditions all in the same place.
New Yorkers and residents along the Eastern Seaboard are just beginning to emerge today from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy – millions remain without power, thousands of flights have been cancelled and transportation throughout the region has been severely disrupted.
If you need further evidence of what it looks like in New York here on the ground, just check out this shot posted this morning by a flight attendant at LaGuardia airport. The airport, which lies in a low-lying coastal area remains severely flooded this morning.
For those of you in transit this week, stay patient. It could be a few days before normal flight, train and bus service in and out of the New York area resumes normal activity.
UPDATE: A special thanks to tireless LaGuardia airport worker Francesco Giannola for your photo.
Blood rain just before Halloween? While it may sound like a festive prank, forecasters are really predicting this bizarre weather occurrence.
The phenomenon is actually a mix of red dust from the Sahara Desert blowing toward Europe. However, because it’s supposed to rain, the dust will most likely mix with the precipitation causing red raindrops, or blood rain.
Other predictions include the blood rain spattering and staining cars to mixing with snow to create a gruesome winter wonderland.
“The warm air has been drawn from a long way south down in north Africa and is spreading north,” London’s Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples told news.com.au. “But there is going to be a sharp contrast in weather as a cold snap sweeps across the country from Friday, which is likely to bring snow to Scotland and the north of England.”
This isn’t the first time the U.K. has experienced blood rain. Throughout history it has been noted, and in earlier times was used to presage unfortunate events. In fact, as early as 685 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded “there was a bloody rain in Britain. And milk and butter were turned to blood. And Lothere, king of Kent, died.”
Let’s hope this year’s blood rain is nothing more than an uncanny incidence.