This archived article was written by: Kimberlee Ritchie
A fair percentage of people go on some sort of vacation or another during the summer holidays. Common choices are Disneyland, New York, San Francisco and Orlando. Only a small percentage of Americans have passports and are able to take holiday outside of the USA. I happen to be among that percentage.
I travel to England twice a year to visit my fiancee. I fly out once for Christmas and once for the summer; summer holidays lasting generally 90 days. In short, when I am not enjoying the educational experience at the College of Eastern Utah, I’m in Britain. This summer was no exception.
I flew out on May 5, 2004. For those of you who have East Coast or international travels in your future plans, at any point, be wary of Newark Airport in Newark, N.J.
Oftentimes there are sudden severe thunder and snowstorms that ground planes or cause planes idling above waiting for the storm to pass to run low on fuel, prompting an emergency refueling at a nearby, smaller airport. In May, there was a thunderstorm but I was lucky in the fact that my flight was not delayed. Shortly after takeoff, however, I was not so lucky.
The plane was hit by lightning. This is a surprisingly common occurrence. According to USA Today, “the odds are that each airliner in the USA will be hit by lightning once a year.” But, lightning has not caused an airliner to crash in more than 40 years, thanks to the way the skin of the plane is designed – it just travels along the outside of the plane and then goes back into the air. That doesn’t make the experience any less horrifying, of course, particularly when the sudden jolt of electricity is enough to cause the lights to go out briefly, accompanied by a terrifyingly loud pop.
Eventually, I made it to England, where, for some reason, customs always seems to be a lot faster than returning to the USA. While I didn’t get the chance to go to Stonehenge this year, as planned (next summer though, certainly), I was exposed to some new castles as well as my old favorites.
Many of these castles have a wonderfully haunting history behind them – indeed, we discovered a few through a satellite television show in Britain called Most Haunted. While they were all amazing in their own way, one in particular stands out. Tutbury Castle. Not only is it haunted, but I was able to witness an amazing historical breakthrough.
During an archeological dig, scientists believe they discovered the foundation of the house that Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in during her imprisonment at the castle. According to historical documents, letters that Queen Mary wrote to other noblepersons during her imprisonment, the foundation that was discovered is in the same placement as Mary, Queen of Scots imprisonment house.
It was an amazing opportunity to see the dig site, as they were going to bury it back up after their three week long dig, for the soil protects it better than any sealant man could place on it.
Other places I was able to see were Goodrich Castle (an amazingly well preserved medieval castle), Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace, and a favorite place of mine to visit), Kenilworth Castle and Coventry Cathedral (bombed during the 1940s).
I strongly suggest a visit to England, particularly the West Midlands, if you ever wish to join the small percentage of Americans owning passports. It has a beauty and history that you simply can’t find out here.