Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

by Nancy Bestor

I’m a planner. I like to know what I’m going to be doing two hours from now, two days from now, and two weeks from now. When traveling, I like to have seen the hotels I’ll be staying at ahead of time. I like to read restaurant reviews prior to dining, and I like to know how far I’m going to be traveling to my next destination. Spontaneity is not really in my vocabulary.

But alas, travel plans don’t always go the way we expect. Hotel pictures are frequently deceiving, and a good restaurant review on Yelp doesn’t guarantee a good meal. And then there’s weather – it seems that Mother Nature often has a mind of her own. Thus, sometimes you’ve just got to make lemonade out of lemons.

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When Bob and I were in New Zealand earlier this year it was their “summer.” The weather wasn’t hot, rather it was mostly very pleasant. But when we got to Franz Josef, a town on the Western coast of the South Island of New Zealand, a place we had pre-booked for three nights, it started raining. But it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. Our plan had been to do lots of hiking in this beautiful part of the country. Franz Josef boasts two beautiful glaciers, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, as well as many other outstanding treks with stunning vistas. But did I mention that it poured? It rained so hard that many paths and walkways were completely washed out by flooding. And in addition to the rain, the stunning vistas were often shrouded by fog.

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But Bob and I agreed that we had no control over the weather (a shocking revelation, I know) and just figured we would play the cards that nature dealt us and get outside whenever the rain let up. New Zealand is incredibly organized for tourists. Each city we visited had amazing tourist offices, boasting great maps, the ability to make reservations for any kind of activity you wanted to do, and most importantly for us, the latest news on open tracks for hiking.

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One tourist office was directly across the street from our Franz Josef hotel, and we stopped in many times to get updates on hiking paths. The national park workers were diligent and worked as fast as they could to get paths (even makeshift ones) open for hiking, and detailed, up to date news was always available at the tourist office. Information such as “this path will be open at 3pm this afternoon, or another path at 10am tomorrow,” could not have been better.

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So even though the weather was iffy, we hiked anyway.  Yes, our hikes were cold, wet and foggy, but we dressed appropriately, and every now and then the clouds would break and we’d get a stunning view of the glaciers. We may not have been able to see the perfect reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the still waters of Lake Matheson, but we got to pose for a great kiss on a beautiful walking bridge with no one around to bother us. And perhaps we didn’t get as up close and personal to the primary viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier, because the path had completely washed away, but we did get up close and personal to some beautiful sheep on a hike along Gillespie’s Beach. This hike had an awesome miner’s tunnel too, at the end of a jungle-like hiking trail.

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I dare say our three days in Franz Josef with inclement weather worked out just perfectly. It turns out our lemonade was really delicious.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

by Nancy Bestor

Perhaps I’m like the cobbler who wears broken down shoes, or the carpenter whose deck is falling apart, as every now and then when we travel I neglect to take along a handy item that we sell at Travel Essentials, and I am truly sorry. There was the time my daughter got seasick on a whale-watching trip in the San Juan Islands, and our guide advised us that she really should be wearing motion bands, and then proceeded to inform us of all their benefits as she lent Emily a pair. I knew all about the benefits, because we sell them at Travel Essentials. Other trips have found us desperate to take a family photo but without a tri-pod. And of course, we sell excellent little travel tri-pods at Travel Essentials too.

Most recently however, Bob and I were caught in a torrential downpour at a beautiful temple on the outskirts of Tirtagangga in Bali, without any kind of rain gear. It was coming down so hard that there was no way we would be able to walk the 1700 steps to see the temple at the top without being completely drenched by about our third step. The temple is beautiful (or so I’m told) and it was a warm downpour, but our cameras and phones would have been soaked through and ruined, not to mention our bodies.

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Sure wish we would have had the emergency poncho that we sell at Travel Essentials for $3.95. Yes, just three dollars and ninety-five cents, and it packs up into a teeny-tiny square. How easy it would have been for me to throw two (or four) of those ponchos into my suitcase. We would have put them on and hiked up the 1,700 stairs to see Pura Lempuyang, and it would have been beautiful (I’m sure). We’re headed to New Orleans in September, and if it rains, rather than walking around with plastic trash bags over ourselves, like we did when we were younger, (and by the way, I would have been delighted with trash bags in Bali) I’ll make sure to pack a couple of emergency ponchos. If nothing else, it will guarantee a weekend of perfect weather.