I’ve always wondered what it would be like to spend a day exploring a part of the world that billions of us visit every day, that’s completely transformed pretty much everything in our lives – and didn’t exist until 1990.
That place of course is the internet.
And what better time to view its distant precincts than now, when time hangs heavy. Maybe not make it a day-trip, but how about an hour-trip?
So yesterday I did that. I wanted to make sure every site I landed on was new, at least to me. This trip was about exploring, not repeating. So I made sure I didn’t start from those old familiar sites that I check every day, like my homepage, the New York Times, or the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard, or its offshoot, the Trump Death Clock, which first appeared in the Washington Post and charts the number of Americans killed by COVID-19 because of the President’s inactions. See, the internet can take you to some pretty odd neighbourhoods, very fast.
Here’s where my curiosity took me. Try it and let me know where it takes you.
* * * *
In a couple of weeks, we were meant to be going to the Faroe Islands which are at the end of the earth between Iceland and Scotland. That trip is now next year.
But because I’m on their mailing list, I got an e-mail that showed you don’t have to be big to get creative around tourism. So that’s where I started. But I wanted to know what the Faroes looked like now. You can do that by Googling “webcam views of…….” and just insert the place you want to see. Everything from Tiananmen Square, to The White House, to Antarctica, to traffic at Bay and Bloor. I tried MI6 Headquarters in London. No luck. But I did stumble across this chirpy video about joining MI6. I digress.
That’s the thing about the internet. You look for one thing and it leads you to a different path. I noticed on the Faroe Islands’ webcam site that they were sponsored by windy.com which I must have accidentally clicked on and…….voila….….there’s a whole new world of ……of?……you got it.…. Weather maps!
These aren’t like The Weather Network or Apple Weather. These maps are for people for whom the speed and direction of the wind is a matter of life and death. I was transfixed by this map and quickly bought the app.
I did this because our holidays this summer, once so worldly and wild, are going to be spent entirely in Canada and entirely on the water. Alone, together – socially-distant from the madding crowd.
Jean and I are avid kayakers and last Fall we circumnavigated Manhattan by kayak. So this summer, we’ll do something we never gave ourselves time to think was possible, but that it turns out we’ve wanted to do for years. We’ll spend a week in June kayaking up Georgian Bay, then a week in July kayaking on Lake Superior, then if the planes are safe and the wilds are open, a week in August kayaking on Desolation Sound.
We can do this because the pandemic has given our habits a good shake.
But also because… well, we now have an app that will give us completely accurate, real-time views of the wind and the waves as we are kayaking through them. And not having this vital information has kept us away from places where having it will let us explore deeply.
And all of this is happening in part because I had a free hour and forced myself to go on a short trip on the internet without any destination in mind, driven only by curiosity and whimsey.