Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. — Maya Angelou
The other cool thing about visiting New York City in the winter? All those wonderful outdoor ice rinks.
Like this one in Central Park.
So here’s a thing. When you go to New York City in December, like I did the other weekend, you get all kinds of weather. Here’s a view of the Empire State Building from Bryant Park. Snow was softly falling, which is why the third-tallest building in New York has a ghostly look in the photo.
Ten years ago today, a massive windstorm devastated Stanley Park. Hurricane-force winds off English Bay levelled 41 hectares of forest, about 10,000 trees in all, some of which were more than 500 years old. It was the most violent windstorm to hit Stanley Park in 40 years.
Although it was overwhelming to see the devastation, the forest was long overdue for a regeneration. The wide open spaces changed the look of parts of the park and increased the diversity of both plant life and animals. Woodpeckers, for example, are now thriving. More than 15,000 trees and shrubs were planted by park staff and volunteers. I was walking near Prospect Point recently and it struck me how tall those young trees are already.
I was out of town on December 15, 2006, but I remember taking a walk through the park on Christmas Day — as much as it was possible to walk through the park since every trail was blocked by fallen trees — with my mouth open wide in shock. The seawall was also extensively damaged and remained closed for some 18 months until the repairs could be finished and the cliff tops above the seawall stabilized.
This photo is of a tree that came down near the Georgia Street entrance to Stanley Park. It lies near where it fell, trimmed of its foliage, and has been left as a memorial to that storm. It is now a popular photo stop for tourists, who I am sure have no idea why it is lying there.
Last weekend I spent an afternoon with a friend who had just returned from a week in Hawaii. Yes, it was painful, given the solid eight weeks of rain we Vancouverites have just endured. Yes, I turned green with envy when I learned it had been her fifth trip to the Aloha State. And yes, it brought back memories of my (sniff) single trip to Oahu.
Oahu is a popular destination for first-time visitors to Hawaii, and a bonus for me was that Oahu is the location of Pearl Harbor, which let me feed my inner history geek. Since today is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I thought a post about my visit to the harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial would be timely.
The memorial straddles the wreck of the USS Arizona, which took a direct hit on December 7, 1941, and sank within minutes. The battleship burned for three days, having taken on more than a million gallons of fuel the day before. Most of the 1177 sailors and marines who died on the Arizona are entombed in the shipwreck that lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Oil still seeps out of the wreck, as much as nine quarts of oil a day.
Pearl Harbor was the deadliest single attack on American soil until September 11, 2001. In just under two hours, 20 ships and 300 airplanes were damaged or destroyed and 2400 Americans lost their lives. The USS Arizona Memorial is a touching memorial to 1177 of those lives.