Dec 12, 201201:07 PMHome & Garden
Bob Carey, D.B. Frank and All Things Home
Why Space Travel & Eco-Tourism Won't Fly: Life On Mars
I have a friend and a not-so-friendly acquaintance that derive a fair amount of their annual income from taking folks, who are otherwise perfectly capable, on visits to the gardens and arboreta of the world.
I could never quite understand how traveling with the Plant Director, for example, added any value to a graden travel experience while it certainly added to the cost.
I've also noticed that in an age where almost every other form of travel recreation trumpets the bigger than life experience of being on board, the garden/arboreta crowd seems to revel in a decidely old fashion level of experience.
The fact that I've never taken the plunge into hosting garden tours has not derailed my ruminations about its possiblities. As I've become more materialistic and self-centered in my old age, I feel like I'm morphing into the personality of an archetypical host and I recently thought I found a niche product to offer intrepid garden enthusiasts.
So the big news they're not telling us yet is there is life on Mars. No, it's not little green men, women or anything like that, but as in the God-forsaken places on earth, more likely its plants.
Perhaps not even plants, but more likely, seeds.
There are algae in the Antarctic ice pack. There are dandelion seeds on icebergs off Newfoundland. Few people realize there are trees growing in Philadelphis's Washington Square that took a trip to the moon (true fact!) before they were germinated into roosts for pigeons and starlings.
I was thinking that there are folks who'd have enough time on their hands (have you ever noticed the median age of the garden club?) and the intellectual curiosity (most likely retired teachers with great pensions) that I could book a capsule full of seats for a trip to the Mars Botanical Gardens.
Sure there's a lot of work to be done before the first departure, but we're privatizing space travel anyway and I'd get my commission up front.
So confident was I that I was on the next big thing, I even had a few calls into Sir Richard Branson. Things were looking real good until I heard from the Doctor.
One of the sad things about the old media is that we writer/thinkers put a lot of thought and effort into communicating important, useful information to an audience that just exists in our minds. It's no surprise then that a paragraph in a recent issue of a Harrisburg Community publication didn't get the reaction it deserved. Being one of those relics that still read stuff printed on paper however, one paragraph rocked my world.
Doctor John Goldman is the Program Director of Internal Medicine at Pinnacle Health. I've never met the man, but I've seen him on TV, heard him on the radio and he seems to me a guy who might even book a trip to Mars.
In his next to last paragraph of a contribution to the Your Health section of the aforementioned pubication, he writes; "It's not uncommon for travelors to engage in short-term sexual relations while traveling (Approximately 5% of short-term travelers and as many as 50% of long-term travelers engage in casual sex)". The Burg, August 2012, page 29
Well, browse my begonias!
In that one short paragraph I learned what years of pondering couldn't reveal about the travel business and why I've been missing the boat all this time. How many hours do travelers spend in the garden on those garden tours? At best, my eyes begin to roll back in my head after, let's say, four or five hours in an arboretum. After that, there is a lot of time spent screwing around until dinner; at least according to Dr. Goldman.
"Honey, I'm going to see the beautiful gardens of Washington state with George Wiggle, I'll be back in a week... I'll have my cell phone off most of the time so I'll call you around dinner time."
What's up with that? I'll tell you what I think is up with that. If I were going temporarily off the reservation, who better to cover your backside that the Plant Director, George Wiggle, RJ Hatcheck, or any other personalities who shepherd ordinary enough looking "friends" on these outings?
Okay, with that insight, I'm over my confusion about the business. I'd get paid for providing excuses for some biology that isn't limited to botony and get to see some cool places in the mix. But Mars isn't going to be one of those places anytime soon.
Yep, Mars definitely falls into the long-term travel category. Guided by Dr. Goldman's insights, we can expect that travelers are looking forward to some major cross pollination at their destination. The problem is, unless the doctor meant that all this casual sex was happening among the group, there isn't much to amuse the Mars Garden Tour folks after they spend a few hours watching algae multiply.
It all makes me wonder what I don't know about those eco-tours to the Antarctica.
So maybe what you've learned here has thrown you into deep denial, but it's actually liberating to me. Possibly, by sharing my reaction you'll be better able to process what is, unfortunately or not, what goes on beyond the garden.
Doctor Goldman admitted for me what I thought would make me exceptional; therefore guilty, if I were on one of those trips. The fact that 50% of the bus is doing it makes it more acceptable, even somehow expected.
Recently, the Mayor of Harrisburg had a community garden plowed into oblivion because among other related things, there was a whole lot of fornicating going on among the veggies. Maybe so, and perhaps a little tacky or even desperate, but if a city were able to collect an excise on condom sales to travelers departing Harrisburg for the Garden Tour, it'd be a revenue windfall. Sex and the City and the Garden; they're hand in glove in treasury.
You know, I think I'm going to jump into the Garden Travel thing after all. I've always known the key to generating interest in plants. I learned a long time ago I can engage garden club audiences by mentioning aphrodisiacs in connection with a few of the plants we talk about. My Garden Tours will be themed: Sex, Drugs and David Bowie (Life on Mars). I'll cover for you.