The Future of Tourism

Courtesy of ESA

There are many incredible sights on Earth. I’ve seen the pyramids at Chichen Itza, the Sistine Chapel, la Sagrada Familìa, the Grand Canyon, the bays of Jamaica, the most magnificent sea cliff in Europe, the Parthenon, and many other wonders. I can assure you, you don’t need to leave this Earth to experience sublimeness. Yet tourism is ever-changing and transgressing. Space tourism is entering the lexicon of journalism. Deep sea tourism is becoming “a thing.” People are also ironically seeking out tours to do non-tourist experiences. Some people are seeking out virtual reality experiences to overcome the financial and physical barriers of actual reality.

We are going to look at three phenomena that are increasing in popularity and interest. One is the concept of “Moon Village,” a European Space Agency project that aims to create tourist experiences on the moon. The next is virtual reality tourism. The last is “not-a-tourist” travel experiences.

Holiday on the Moon

Courtesy of ESA
The Moon Village Multi Dome will be designed to protect travelers from radiation and micrometeoroids.

First off, I want to know your thoughts on the advent of space tourism. Tweet us with an answer to one of these questions…

  1. How much money would you spend to have a 10-night vacation on the moon? (Use the hashtag #MoonVacation)
  2. Does the idea of space tourism excite or frighten you? (Use the hashtag #SpaceTourism)
  3. Why travel to space at all? (Use the hashtag #WhySpace)

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General Johann Woerner is seriously committed to building Moon Village, a community of people working and living together on the moon. When asked about the importance of space exploration, Woerner states that it is an agent for international cooperation and collaboration. In other words, Moon Village is a way to promote peace and solidarity between various countries.

Moon Village wouldn’t just be a base or a lab. Woerner directly indicates that the project could extend to tourist-related business ventures. People (with a lot of money presumably) may very well be planning a future family adventure across space towards Moon Village. Bumper stickers will read “I♥MOON.VILLG.” Children will possibly be buying freeze-dried ice cream from a space shuttle vending machine.

Is this something to expect soon? Maybe, maybe not. Moon Village isn’t a specified plan of action. It is rather just a concept that functions to bring people together in building ventures on the moon. There are, however, scholars that are pointing to the 2020s as a likely decade for moon tourism.

VR Tourism

The future of virtual reality tourism.

Meet the Oculus Rift.

Imagine putting on a device and then being able to see into the jungles of Peru. You take a step forward, and hear a wild macaw to the left of you. The macaw is real, and has made a real sound. You, however, are in your living room.

Will you be taking vacations with this thing? No. But it is an optimal way to test out an experience, or build up a voracious excitement for your next adventure. You may access a scene in downtown Tokyo, peruse the streets, and determine if you really want to go there. Or, you can look down Mount St. Helens and be filled with the motivation you need to complete your pre-excursion physical conditioning.

After using VR technology for a consumer case study, researchers found a 190% increase in New York excursion revenue. Not only are these devices boosting people’s interest in visiting particular destinations, they are also being offered as an accessory in some hotels.

#NotATourist Experiences

Courtesy of MYrago

Some people don’t want to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The thought of cramming into a building with other sweaty people in the summer months turns them off. People are increasingly turning to alternative experiences that are fulfilling, but go against the grain.

Take, for example, the experience of meditating with a monk in Japan. Or instead of heading straight to the Statue of Liberty, going on a Harlem Jazz Crawl instead. This is exactly what services like MYrago are doing.

There are millions upon millions of unique experiences one can have in a foreign country. There are sights and scenes that the typical tourist will never see, and may regret missing. The Louvre will be there for a long time, but a chance to do a glacier hike in Chile may slip away.

 

Strange Occurrences at Black Sabbath’s Performance (2004)

Being a child raised on heavy metal, the opportunity to see Black Sabbath in their full original form was extraordinary. They resurrected their magic and musico-chemical components specially for Ozzfest in 2004. Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and of course, Ozzy Osbourne, all took the stage to play some of the greatest songs ever made in the history of rock.

The band was infamous in the 70’s for dealing with occult themes and black magick. The (solo) Ozzy Osbourne song, “Mr. Crowley,” was an ode to one of the most notorious dark mystics in history, Aleister Crowley. Crowley was thought to be a Satanist by some, and he outwardly expressed allegiance to the devil multiple times. The Black Sabbath song “N.I.B.” includes the infamous line, “my name is Lucifer/please take my hand.” The album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath includes images of 666, demonic figures, and death. (We must mention that this album cover was created by Drew Struzan, famous for movie posters that include E.T., Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, Blade Runner, the Goonies,  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and dozens more.)

Courtesy of BlackSabbath.com

It’s no secret that Black Sabbath indulged in the folklore of witchcraft and dark magic. What happened on July 14, however, went way beyond rock and roll contrivances.

Ozzfest took place at Jones Beach Auditorium in Wantagh, NY. This is an open venue with no walls, ceiling or dome. It’s a beautiful auditorium that sits on the Long Island Sound coast. The forecast for the day was clear skies and 0% chance precipitation.

The crowd was a heterogeneous mixture of old classic rock hippies, young metal-heads, 80’s-era headbangers then losing their hair, and Gothic misfits. Some fans were seriously devoted to the art of witchcraft, wearing amulets and exhibiting mudras (cosmic hand signals) while on the line for the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, stoned eccentrics were tattooed with pentagrams. Many dismissed this as signs of crazy burnouts who took enthusiasm for metal a little too far.

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As Black Sabbath took to the stage, the scent of cannabis filled the air. They played fan favorites including “Sweet Leaf,” and “Fairies Wear Boots.” Then came the time for one of the darkest compositions in their catalog, the self-titled song “Black Sabbath.”

The song “Black Sabbath” functions on a repeating diminished chord. The diminished chord is built by stacking two tritones (diminished perfect fifths). The tritone is also known as the “devil’s chord,” and thought to summon the image of Baphomet (Satan) himself. The lyrics of the song deal with a individual performing a black magick ritual, summoning the devil, and damning his own soul. The composition is saturated with tension and dissonance.

As the band broke into this number, something odd happened. Drops of rain began to fall all around us. The sky was already dark by the coming of nightfall. The crack of thunder broke out above the bay. A light storm formed directly over Jones Beach Auditorium.

Ozzy seemed unfazed by this, as if it were an expected part of the performance routine. He did acknowledge it, however, as a way to get the crowd going wild. The rainfall never progressed to anything other than a mild shower. The song ended, concluding its lyrical screams and hard-hitting guitar solos. The crowd jeered in amazement.

It’s at this point that some of you may say, “Okay it rained. So what?” If you don’t believe in dark magic or witchcraft, here’s why it’s significant: no other band would have made this a memory. It can rain at any concert, and the typical reaction would be “oh shit, it’s raining.” But Black Sabbath is strikingly unique and evocative. The allure of horror and magical occurrences are both elements that affect nearly all human beings. Black Sabbath harnessed this in a way that is unspeakable and ineffable. When it storms at the exact same time the song “Black Sabbath” begins to sound, you are taken in to a rock and roll experience that may never be re-created.

Aleister Crowley Biography
Click the photo be taken to one if the greatest Crowley biographies available.

Some may actually believe that this was the pleasing of a dark master who controls all weather and elements. Maybe the ink pentagrams and sun adorations caused a cosmic force to alter the events of July 14, 2004. Some attendees did seem to defy the laws of typical consciousness.

Whatever you believe in, the point stands that this was a remarkable experience. Black Sabbath is broken up now, and I am not putting odds on Ozzy Osbourne living much longer of a life (though he’s defied all expectations so far). If there ever is the chance to see them perform again, be sure to recite an incantation directed at the ancient Egyptian deities to summon you some money for a ticket.

Venturing into the Lava River Cave of Flagstaff, Arizona

The lava river cave of Flagstaff, or the “Lava Tubes,” is a remarkable formation. It was created by the will of fiery nature over 675,000 years ago. It stays the same temperature year-round, and has ripples and cracks throughout the pathway. The lava formation spans for 3/4 of a mile, and is the longest cave in all of Arizona.

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Is it a breath-taking beauty that should be seen by all human beings everywhere? Not at all. Though it’s climate-controlled and a wonderful relief for summer heat, the cave isn’t particularly remarkable. Thought bats and porcupines are known to inhabit the cave, you may not see any signs of natural wildlife for the entire journey. There are no stalactites, stalagmites, or prized cavern jewels within its bowels. There are some cool glittery ferrous stone features, however.

Inside the Flagstaff Lava River Cave

 

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It is fun to venture down into complete darkness like you’re Bruce friggin’ Wayne. And the city of Flagstaff is a terrific place to visit. Check out Charly’s pub, a historical eatery with great beer selections, only 20 miles away and in the heart of downtown.

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Also be sure to visit the Flagstaff soap company, one of our favorite small businesses.

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Visiting the Cave

The lava river cave is an amazing geological site dating back to prehistory. It isn’t anything like the Grand Canyon or the red rocks in Sedona, however. If you do have some time in Flagstaff to explore, and like caves, then go on in there!

Here’s what you must bring:

Headlamp – You may be using your hands to crawl through some tight spaces. Though flashlights help, it will be a lot more manageable with a headlamp.

Warm clothing – The cave is at a perpetual 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Though you do get warm moving around and squatting, be sure to wear something substantial

Water – You don’t want to venture down into a vacuous cavern without water. The entire experience may last 1-2 hours.

Additional non-neccesary items:

Whistle – Just in case. There are many opportunities to injure yourself, between hitting your head on low ceilings and a multitude of slippery rocks. It’s a safe bet to bring a whistle to signal others near the entrance.

Boots – You can complete this trip with cross trainer shoes, but it is a lot better with hiking boots/work boots. The thick sole will protect against jutting rock edges, and you want ankle support for the jagged terrain. Also, regular shoes will probably get torn up. I bought these boots just in time for the hike, and am really glad I did.

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DSLR camera – Most of the photos in this article were taken with my own Nikon D3100 (click this link to check it out).

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It’s a great, affordable beginner’s camera that will light up the pitch-black inside the cave. Set it to the aperture setting and lower the ISO. Shoot in RAW file format.

 

 

 

P.S. Beware of creepy monkey doll…

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