Raise your hand if you’ve ever been rained out on your vacation.
I bet most of you did. For those of you who haven’t, imagine you’re on vacation in Maine, and it’s not just raining, it’s pouring.
We’re talking torrential. For days. With no end in sight.
That’s what we’ve experienced for days now in Maine.
So what would you do?
The way I see it, you have exactly two options when you’re expecting fabulous weather, only to be met with lots and lots of rainy, wet, dreary days:
- You can moan and groan about it. After all, even the weatherman is calling it “awful weather”. So why can’t you? And it’s your vacation, doggone it. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm! You’re supposed to go to the beach!
- You can feel grouchy. For exactly five minutes. Then shrug your shoulders, and go find something else to do.
Granted, choice #1 probably feels really good. There’s nothing like a good vent to make you feel better. However, when you’re done, you will find that exactly nothing has changed.
That brings us to choice #2. Sure, it’s sometimes really difficult to get over it and move on, but unfortunately, the weather isn’t going to pay you any mind, so there’s really no sense in being irritable about it or letting it ruin your vacation. And let’s face it–this exact scenario is going to happen someday, if it hasn’t already. It certainly been raining a lot here in Maine. This past weekend, Portland got as much rain as it normally does in all of June. In fact, Portland got as much rain this past weekend as it did during the two days of Hurricane Bob in 1991!
Rainy days are going to happen, and they’ll happen when you least expect it, like on our vacation. When my husband and I traveled cross-country by car on our honeymoon, we had exactly three goals: First, we wanted to see as much of the country as we possibly could. Second, we wanted to visit as many major league baseball stadiums as we could. Third, we wanted to camp out everywhere we went.
Guess what happened? That’s right…it rained.
Every. Single. Day.
Every time we pitched the tent, we got rained on. We were traveling for a month. Memphis and Graceland? Rain. Gettysburg? Rain. Our first trip to Maine? Rain. Nebraska? Rain. Yellowstone? Rain.
The only place we didn’t get rained on was one night in Cody, Wyoming, and that was probably only because we had already used up the national allotment of rain by that time.
And yet, it was a fantastic vacation. It was an adventure! And even though it rained every day we were in Maine, we loved the state enough to decide we would eventually move here–which we did, just four years later.
Being on vacation can feel like no fun when the unexpected happens, like car troubles, bad weather, or illness. But it’s how you choose to deal with the unexpected that can make the experience a nightmare–or make it great.
Back in the very early 1990s, we decided to go see the San Francisco Giants in Spring Training down in Scottsdale, Arizona. We had been there once before, and really liked it. This time, we intended to camp at a nice little KOA campground we had found the previous year.
The first mistake we made was taking that same tent that we used on our honeymoon. We’ve since come to understand that it’s cursed.
Anyway, the second bit of bad luck was that, on the way to Arizona, my car blew a radiator hose. It vented coolant into the car, right where my husband was sitting. Thankfully, my Dad had taught me enough about cars that I knew I had to reroute the coolant hose.
Unfortunately, that put the heater out of commission. But, hey–no biggie. It’s Arizona, right? It should be sunny and warm. Right?
Wrong. On our first evening in Arizona, after setting up the tent, we went to get some supplies. When we came back, we were treated to the sight of our tent lying upside-down and totally wet from the unexpected rain storm that had blown up. Thankfully we’d waterproofed the tent enough after that honeymoon experience that it was only damp, and not wringing wet.
That should have been our warning, but we shrugged it off and moved on.
We were there for three days, and it rained a bit, off and on, the entire time we were there. We did see some great games, but by the last night we were cold, damp, and somewhat miserable. That night, in desperation, we asked a woman at the KOA where we could get a good, hot meal, because we were freezing. She sent us to the Mining Camp Restaurant in Apache Junction, Arizona.
We ended up having what was, to this day, one of our best dinners ever. The Mining Camp Restaurant is a “cook shanty”, set up as though to feed hungry miners in a camp setting. The food was hot, plentiful, and delicious. The very unexpectedness of the experience made it thoroughly memorable. I can call to mind every detail, from the baked beans to the hot coffee, the fantastic chicken with gravy, and the huge platters of ribs that the servers plopped down in the middle of the long, family-style table.
It was fantastic. What a perfect way to warm up, and make a really cool memory at the same time.
The funny thing is, we actually went to Spring Training twice…but the only thing my husband and I can remember about the first trip was stopping in to the Pink Pony, where the San Francico KNBR radio broadcasters used to hang out.
We got a book of matches. That’s it.
It was the second trip, with all the wet weather, which is embedded into our memories. And looking back on it, it was a great adventure. Sure, we were wet and cold–at the time. But it passed. And had we not asked for somewhere with “good, hot food”, we would have never gone to the Mining Camp Restaurant. That remains one of our favorite “unexpected” experiences to this day.
So the question is: when it’s rainy, what can you do? Certainly, if you’re visiting somewhere that should be sunny (read: Maine, Hawaii, California, Florida, etc.), you may feel somewhat cheated. After all, nobody goes to Hawaii expecting to have day after day of rain. But it happens. So then what?
Whatever you do, don’t cancel the trip! Instead, do what we did: find an adventure. There are lots of opportunities in rainy weather; chances are that in doing the unexpected, you will end up making some fun memories in the process. In fact, you might even have some experiences that you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, have if it were sunny.
- How about enjoying a walk with a slicker and an umbrella along an empty beach?
- How about enjoying a warm meal on a cold, wet day?
- How about exploring little shops you would have otherwise ignored in favor of hanging out on the beach?
- How about getting a stack of postcards and writing them out to everyone you know while having a snack in a fabulous little café?
- How about finding an indoor adventure–like indoor Go-kart racing, trapeze lessons, or doing a stand-up routine on open-mic night at a comedy club?
- How about getting the best takeout you can find, and then parking by a picturesque oceanside location to eat while watching the clouds and the waves?
- How about shooting some pictures?
The point is, wet weather is going to come. And although you could grumble and complain about it, that just isn’t going to do any good. Instead of focusing on the negative, why not turn it into a positive and find something new, fun, or different to do?
Sometimes the rainy days give us experiences we wouldn’t otherwise have, like our dinner at the Mining Camp Restaurant.
Or repairing a car by yourself on the side of the highway while your new husband watches, awestruck by your awesomeness.
But that’s another story.
Your Monday Challenge is this:
The next time you find yourself in unexpected circumstances, such as a rained-out holiday, a vacation filled with unexpected weather, or anything else that knocks your plans awry, find a way to make an adventure out of it. Go ahead and rail at the heavens, grumble, stomp around, and fuss–for exactly five minutes. Then be done. Because no matter how much you complain, it isn’t going to change things.
And, oddly enough, it turns out that these unexpected moments are sometimes the ones that our fondest, most enjoyable or laugh-worthy memories are made of.
Remember…if life hands you lemons, you may as well use them to make some darned good margaritas!
FYI: In case you’re wondering…this is our current weather forecast here in Maine. Today was our fourth day straight with rain. Today we had went out on an adventure; tomorrow, we plan to have more!