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Adventures in adventure travel




 

 

It’s winter. The days are short. The weather is cold. You are ready for a vacation. And the cattle are ready for you.

At least, they are if you’ve got a saddlebag full of cash. For $2,500, the Prairie Hotel in South Australia is offering a three-day cattledroving tour, including two nights in an honest-to-goodness tent. (No word on what happens if your fellow travelers sup on honest-togoodness beans.)

This scam … er … vacation package kind of makes you wonder about the whole idea of “adventure travel.” The chance to ride a rusty tuna boat. The once-in-alifetime opportunity to jump out of a plane and fight forest fires. All the fun of mucking out someone else’s barn.

Sure, it’s nice to get away from the old routine, but doesn’t it sound as if you’re just dropping into someone else’s? Whatever happened to piña coladas on a beach with tourists screaming in sunburned agony? That always worked for me.

But apparently, rest and relaxation are no longer enough. In this postindustrial, prefab world of text messages and virtual sex (they tell me), what we long for are experiences, the more “real” the better. So expect to start seeing glossy brochures for …

PIE IN THE SKY: And layer cake, too! Join the staff of the Hartford Insurance Company’s 19thfloor cafeteria and spend three magical days restocking the dessert selection area (along with some light mopping). We can “insure” you a memorable trip!

BANGALORE GALORE: See India as you never have seen it — from inside a call center! After a fast-paced day of training and delicious curry lunch, it’s ready, headset, go! Banking questions, insurance issues, cheery disputes about surprise credit card fees — you’ll experience them all after you choose your very own new name! Stay a bonus day and walk callers through a last-minute flight cancellation the airline does not intend to reimburse them for. Please continue to hold; your vacation will be with you shortly!

FOR BLEETING HEARTS ONLY: If you don’t have $2,500 to go cattle droving, just $2,250 gets you three nights of shepherding in the Andes. You’ll be dropped from a private Learjet into one of the poorest towns in the Western Hemisphere. There you’ll receive a staff (wooden), a flute (wooden) and a backpack (Louis Vuitton). Your job? Give the local shepherd a break to forage for food and dig a well. Your $2,250 buys you a state-of-the-art parka for those three cold nights, a flask of 1969 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, six small sandwiches (black caviar, red caviar) and $1,000 worth of phone minutes to call your friends. Leftover minutes may be generously donated to the impoverished shepherd. So can the phone. So can your crusts.

PHENOMENAL PHLEBOTOMY! Ever wonder how a good nurse can find your veins so fast? A week at the Quest Diagnostics lab in suburban Cleveland demystifies the blood sample-taking process while teaching you the ins and outs of insurance reimbursement, too. Paint the town red!

IRON MAN X-TREME: Faster than you can say “no starch!” you’ll be thrown the most challenging pile of laundry in your life — all of it wrinkled and inside out. Think you’re tough enough to get it ironed by lunchtime? You better hope so, because prison laundries are not places for sissies. Get pressing!

GOING ON A BEAR HUNT: Who? You! Join Scout Troop No. 265 in northern Wyoming as they set out to bag the ultimate badge: a grizzly. Because all the troop leaders happen to be busy this weekend, your fee has been waived. Be prepared! Bring a whistle, a gun and Band-Aids.

Lots of Band-Aids.

Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at Advertising Age.

©2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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