Like anyone who likes to travel, I constantly maintain a list of places I want to see and things I’d like to do or experience.
Boeing a few years ago floated the idea of building a supersonic commercial airliner, but like most ideas that captivate the mind and offer some hope that the world isn’t in a constant race to the bottom, that idea quickly died. At the time, Boeing was looking down the barrel of an unknown future filled with airline fleets of the Airbus A380, the gigantic airliner recently flown in Europe. Boeing thought that airlines might like to offer their customers the option of getting somewhere faster, rather than arriving in a massive heap of humanity. As it turned out, the airlines are too mired in their own cess pools of tunnel vision and cost cutting to care much about what their customers liked. (If you need evidence of that, I challenge you to find me ten people who actually want to be dehumanized at the airport security line, then crammed into an impossibly small seat, and charged for the privilege.) Why do I bring up this piece of aerospace trivia? Nearly ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to fly on the Concorde some day. It occurred to me that I probably was never going to fly faster than the speed of sound any other way, so I needed to get onto the Concorde. The problem was that I didn’t have $20,000 dollars to spend on a round-trip flight to Europe for Sarah and I. Time passed and I never was able to get together $20,000 for the purpose of a pair of airline flights. As we all know, the Concorde now flies no more and my chance to travel faster than the speed of sound now sits grounded in a museum hanger in Virginia.
As I read about Hurricane Katrina the last few days, I started wondering if I missed my chance to see New Orleans, too. For the last four years, after reading about New Orleans’ extreme vulnerability to hurricanes, I’ve been saying that I need to see New Orleans before it is gone forever. As I went to bed last night, it appeared that New Orleans was going to join the Concorde on my list of missed opportunities.
Now that the city has been spared the full fury of an apocalyptic storm, I’ve pushed New Orleans back on to my list of places I need to see, and soon. Next time, the Big Easy may not be so lucky.