THANK GOD FOR A SLOW news week. WORLD has had 12 straight cover stories relating to Islam, concerns about terrorism, the buildup to war, the war itself, and now post-war relief. We plan to stick with this story, because historians will measure the success of the Iraq war not by its three weeks of lightning advances but by the progress of true liberation over the next three months, years, and decades. But now that the pace has slowed down, we can turn to other challenges as well as other pleasures in this world that God has made.
One of the pleasures is seeing that world, and so once a year recently we've had a travel issue. Where to go this year? China remains fascinating, but at this point most tourists prefer to be safe than SARS-worried. Many Americans are boycotting France. Baghdad is a destination for the intrepid, but we still can't recommend it for family travel. (But lovers of history may want to head there: Following front-page headlines about tens of thousands of antiquities destroyed or stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad, stories typically tucked away on inside newspaper pages now reveal that only 25-38 pieces are missing.)
It turned out that three of our editors over the past year had journeyed to three domains around the Pacific rim that most Americans from the continental 48 states never see: Alaska, Australia, and New Zealand. All three have great natural beauty and cool temperatures from June through August. All three are great escapes for travelers wanting a brief break from wars and rumors of wars. Here are brief highlight films.