A Bad Day On the Beach
By Craig Altschul
My friend, the late irascible ski writer I. William Berry, hated to fly. To
him, being aboard a silver bullet in the sky was tantamount to being shot
from cannon. Hated it. Ski Magazine insisted that he do a feature story on skiing in the
Alps. After all, his editors figured, he'd trashed every U.S. ski slope, why
He got there somehow,
apparently without being tossed out the baggage claim chute by angry flight
attendants. There are probably some interesting stories they could tell. He
skied a bunch of resorts, no doubt complaining as he went about the lack of,
or the poor quality, of machine made snow and preponderance of uncomfortable
T-bars. "They do it better in New Hampshire," he likely told any poor Brit
in a lift line who would listen to him. He never thought much of Germany, so
he certainly ignored the Germans or ran over their ski tails.
So he comes back and writes
about a 2,500 word diatribe. About what, you ask? Would you believe the
weather? That was it. The weather. It was overcast. The light was flat. It
was foggy. It snowed. How dare they do that to him? Didn't they know he was
a famous American ski writer who carries a big ski pole?
"Why did you write about the
weather?" I asked him after reading the piece the following fall in the
magazine's travel edition. "Who the hell cares if it was overcast and the
light was flat when you skied there six months ago?"
"Well," he said, "everybody
cares about the weather. You have to ski in it." He dismissed the subject.
Discussion over. Europe meant flat light. That was it.
Fast forward to about a
month ago. Another friend had just returned from Honolulu. It was just about
the time the interminable rains began to pelt Oahu and Kauai. The whole
thing began, he told me, when he and his daughter were taking an island
They got about as far as the
North Shore and a mud slide closed the road. Ooops. Turn around. Go all the
way back. Raindrops, in ever-increasing numbers, were falling on their
heads. No complaints though. They considered it a future conversation
But all that rain got Peggi
in an uproar. We had reservations at the Marriott Kauai Ocean Club about
six weeks later. Then the news reports came. Dams bursting. A big sink hole
in front of the Marriott was getting "sinkier." Homes got washed away. It
rained. And rained. And rained. And rained. Then it rained some more.
"We can't go," she whined.
"I'm not going to sit on the beach in the rain all week."
I tried to appease her, but
she was about as bad as Bill. So, I called the nice lady at the Marriott.
"Please level with me. Should we reschedule our trip?"
"Look," she said. "I'll
level with you. If it's still raining in three weeks when you're coming,
tell the pilot to keep on flying."
That was reassuring. To me,
if not to Peggi. She had been checking the 17-day forecast outlooks on
remote weather Web sites no doubt managed by what's left of the Menehunes
(that mythical race of tiny Hawaiians). Any real meteorologist will tell you
there's barely such a thing as a 17-hour outlook.
"Look, my Web site says
showers are likely on April 24, cancel the trip," she said.
Why do people worry so over
the weather? Who cares? There's nothing any of us can do about it. If the
light's flat, carry a flashlight. If it's raining, wear a poncho.
The way I figure it, a bad
day on the beach in Kauai is a whole world better than a day in front of
We leave tomorrow. I'll
check in with you when we get back. If it rains, she'll tell me how I never
listen to her. If it's sunny, it will be because her Menehunes predicted the
rains were about to end.
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