Call your travel agent and tell her to cancel your trip to Paris! Yesterday!
I know it sounds nice. I know it’s near Nice! But your passport is filled with enough stamps from romantically and historically significant European cities for a lifetime. Go somewhere else!
OK, so maybe you don’t have a travel agent, since the internet made them as useful as a Microsoft Encarta. And true, not all travel agents are female, even though the doctor was the mom (#feminism). What I want you to take away here is you must cancel that cushy, lovely, cliché vacation you have scheduled. You have an appointment outside your comfort zone.
Get your ass to Death Valley. It’s that easy. Except that nothing about it is easy, which is the entire point. It’s not close to any major cities, does not have any luxury hotels or highly rated restaurants, and has the weather patterns of a broken boiler room.
Boy is it a good thing I don’t work for the Death Valley Tourism Committee! OK, here is where the real sell begins: Death Valley is the most physically interesting and bizarrely non-human place I have ever been. Maybe the eventual pilgrimage to The Milky Way will make Death Valley banal, but in the meantime, this is the best we’ve got.
So put aside your hesitations and consider expanding your horizons, at the expense of a little comfort and a lot of perspiration. But getting a little sweaty and getting a little dirty are good for you, and Death Valley will ensure you get your daily fill of both. Plus, they have come a long way in sweat-wicking fabric technology.
While hiking is certainly not everyone’s forte, seeing some hardly believable shit is something we all like (case in point: Now You See Me earned $117M at the box office). In Death Valley you can explore sand dunes reminiscent of Earth’s iconic deserts, black craggy fields reminiscent of the nearing Apocalypse, and red-rocked mountains reminiscent of Mars, all from the comfort of your air-conditioned car. Just make sure your A/C isn’t on too high, though, or your car could overheat. This is a real warning locals and highway signs will give you.
And if you enjoy what you see, you can even get out of your car (GASP, literally—you just got hit with a faceful of hot desert breeze) and walk through this alien habitat.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have imagination and curiosity, you will want to do this no matter the temperature. The 5,000-ish square miles of Death Valley offer myriad opportunities to hike, climb, and even sled.
Basically, Death Valley is the weird love child between a science museum and a playground, which was conceived in a sauna (#familyvalues).
This vacation will offer as much of a learning experience as any posh European metropolis. It’s easy to forget that science is amazing when it’s all around us and not just manifesting itself as a bunch of equations in a notebook.
Want to learn why there are acres of white salt flats neighboring a red hilly rockfield, AND a golf course? Death Valley has the answers and more. And with funding—for science and the Department of the Interior—increasingly at risk, act now, supplies are running out!
In a world of increasing homogenization, Death Valley offers you the rare, unique experience. Comparing and contrasting luxury meals and spa treatments with friends may be a fun activity, but it is wholly less fulfilling than doing something that your social circles cannot one-up. Plus the moral high ground is as delicious as anything coming out of a Michelin-rated kitchen.
And finally, in case you have heard all of these reasons to try something new and funky and to get outside your comfort zone, and still feel like the basic part of you has not had its needs met, you can do it for the ‘Gram. You will not take better iPhone photos than at Death Valley (#nofilter), I promise. So rack up those LIKES, if that’s what fuels you.
And remember the big deal I’ve been making about Death Valley’s unbearable heaviness of being? Even though they proudly boast the world’s hottest recorded temperature (134 degrees Farenheit!!!), it’s actually not always so sweltering. Check out the month by month highs and lows and choose a time more palatable to your sensibilities.
It takes a special person to abandon amenities and embark on a challenging vacation. It takes a weird person to travel and voluntarily forfeit levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. And it takes a curious person to delve into the unknown and embrace an arduous and unique experience. But I like those kinds of people the best, and I invite you and challenge you to be one of them.