Adventure Travel: Why not Mars?

A friend of mine recently pointed something out to me.

He said I dream up “crazy stuff” to do while cooped-up inside when temperatures drop and snow is on the ground.

Chalk it up to cabin fever.

Last year around this time, I suggested we bicycle the C&O Canal Towpath from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. It’s about 185 miles. My friend couldn’t come along (wimped out?), but last spring I got together with some of my other cronies to cycle the first 75 miles or so. It rained on us most of the time but we are planning on doing the rest this April.

Just the other day, I gave my wayward cycling partner another chance. I texted him to broach the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail. When I asked if he’d like to come along, he put his “crazy” remark on the table. But if he thinks that’s crazy, wait till he hears about my latest idea to add a little adventure travel to our lives.

I found out this week that a group called Mars One is looking for people to take a one-way ticket to Mars, with the aim of colonizing the red planet.

Mars One is a non-profit based in the Netherlands. It made a splash on Wednesday when it released its basic requirements for people who want to go far away and never come back. As far as I can tell, they’ve pretty much jettisoned the usual things you find on an astronaut’s resume. Instead of fighter pilots and scientists, the selection process is apparently open to anyone over 18 with a sense of adventure and, I suspect, a taste for the crazy side of life.

And the really crazy thing is, Mars One is apparently planning to stage a reality TV show to choose its colonists and help fund the project.

Call it “Survivor Mars” (I know, too easy and not quite original but it works all the same).

The project’s organizers want to put four people on Mars in 2023 and they say they’ll send more every couple years after that.

I think I could qualify to be a colonist. After all, I know a little bit about Mars. I’m one of the few who actually paid to see the Disney flop, “John Carter,” the movie based on the Mars (or Barsoom, if you like) series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Also, I once applied for a job in Alaska.

What does that have to do with Mars?

Well, when I told my wife after I was offered the Alaska gig, she looked at me like I was from there. We moved to the Eastern Panhandle soon after that.

Martinsburg isn’t quite Mars but it could be if the looks I get from some of my co-workers are to be taken seriously when I tell them where I live. I work in Washington, D.C., where anything beyond the beltway is often seen as totally alien.

When I say “I live in West Virginia” one of two things happens – I get a blank stare or eyes bug out in astonishment.

Since my co-workers think I’m from another planet anyway, I might as well go all the way and make it a reality.

First, I’m going to need an application.

And, I think I better get a couple of them on the off-chance my BFF decides to go, too.


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