It’s 2010 and we still don’t have jetpacks. I thought a shiny new jetpack would be waiting at my doorstep on the first day of the new millennium with a note that read: “Thanks for waiting patiently for the future to arrive. Here’s that jetpack we promised.”
Jetpacks are a traveler’s dream. We could travel wherever we want, whenever we want. No more pat-downs from airport security guards who seem to enjoy their job too much. Free from the bondage of economy seating, crying babies and airline food. No more smelly old buses about to break apart, coughing people on crammed subways, or dangerous canoe rides down muddy rivers with jungle snakes large enough to swallow you whole.
But most importantly, jetpacks are a passport to travel to mysterious destinations, hard-to-reach locations, even places seen by few — if any –humans. We could scour the globe in search of earth’s undiscovered treasures like a flying Indiana Jones. (Fact: jetpacks will come with fedoras.)
We hold out hope that one day we’ll open the door and our jetpacks (and fedoras) will be waiting for us. And when that day comes, we’ll be prepared. There are so many places we want to visit that can only be reached through long, arduous journeys that quite frankly we’re too lazy to make. So we’ve come up with a list of 12 places we’d visit if we had a jetpack. Here they are in no particular order…
Located 414 miles off the coast of Chile, the Juan Fernández Islands are sometimes a port of call for boats making the long trek to Easter Island (which is another place in the middle of nowhere that we’d like to visit). The largest island is called Robinson Crusoe Island, named after Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for the novel, who was marooned on the island for over four years and had to live off rats and anything else he could kill. But that’s not even the most interesting thing about the islands. Over a decade ago, anthropologist Jim Turner discovered what he believes is a long-lost Mayan monument that holds the secret to the end of days. Turner believes that a pillar of rock on “Apocalypse Island” that looks like a face is one of the only places on earth to see the last two celestial events — the transit of Venus and total solar eclipse — that herald the end of the world according to the Maya: December 21st, 2012.
Travel 250 miles of the coast of Yemen to Socotra Island and you’ll think you traveled 250 light years to another planet. Called “the most alien-looking place on earth,” Socotra Island features somewhere around 240 kinds of flora and fauna that are found nowhere else on earth. The most famous attractions at this UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site are the Dragon’s Blood Tree, a tree that bleeds dark red sap, and the Desert Rose, which looks more like flowers growing out of an old person’s leathery leg.
There are some places that look cooler from the sky than they do from the ground, and this is one of them. The Richat Structure, also known as The Eye Of The Sahara, is located in the Sahara Desert in West Africa. This 30-mile wide earth anomaly that looks like a bulls-eye has become a landmark for astronauts since it was first seen from space. Originally it was believed the structure formed after a meteorite impact, but scientists now think it’s just an unusual formation caused by erosion.
In the Straight of Magellan at the southern tip of Chile is a small island called Magdalena Island that is only inhabited by one thing: penguins. Well, I shouldn’t say one thing; it’s actually inhabited by over 60,000 of them. The island apparently stinks from all the poop and pee and rotting fish carcasses, but we wouldn’t mind looking at the adorable Magellanic Penguins from above.
Tsingy de Bemaraha
Near the western coast of Madagascar is an unusual forest that has been catalogued as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason that this place is so unusual is that it is not a forest of trees… rather, a forest of stone. Tsingy, which means “where one cannot walk barefoot,” is made up of limestone peaks as sharp as knives. But visitors are willing to risk life and limb to catch a glimpse of a rare ghostly white lemur called Decken’s sifaka. Cute as it is, we’re not getting near this place unless it’s with a jetpack.
The North Pole
If you could only come up with one good reason to invent the jetpack, the North Pole would be it. Nobody wants to spend weeks traversing harsh terrain in sub-freezing temperatures just to get to the northernmost point on earth and find out there is no Santa. We just want to fly to the North Pole with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, say we’ve been there, and quickly make our way to Bora Bora to defrost.
What is supposed to be one of the most secret places on earth is actually the most well-known. The conspiracy theories surrounding the military base at Groom Lake, Nevada range from reverse engineering alien spacecraft to time travel technology to transcontinental underground railway systems. We think extraterrestrial life is probably out there… just not at Area 51. But it would be cool to catch a glimpse of this little-seen base, even if we have to dodge tazers and ray-guns to get there.
The Door To Hell
When people tell me to go to hell, I say, “I want to, but it’s too far.” I’d have to travel all the way to Derweze, a small village in the desert of Turkmenistan, to find The Door To Hell. There you will see a 328-foot wide cavern of natural gas that’s been burning continuously for 39 years with no end in sight.
Mirny Diamond Mine
The diamond mind in Mirny, Russia, a small town in eastern Siberia, is the second largest man-made hole in the world. At 1,722 meters deep, it takes one hour to drive to the bottom. We really want to see it for ourselves, but we couldn’t get too close… even with a jetpack. That’s because the airspace above the mine is closed due to helicopters being sucked into the hole by downward air flow.
Thousands of people every year climb 29,029 feet all the way to the top of the tallest mountain on earth; but seeing as how we get winded climbing a flight of stairs, I don’t think we’ll ever have a chance to overlook the Himalayas from the summit of Mount Everest… unless it’s with a jetpack. From there you can play a game called “Eye Spy A Dead Body” where you try to find the corpses of climbers who perished in the aptly-titled “death zone” that were left on the mountain.
In the movie “Up”, an old man with an adventurous spirit embarks on a journey to the wilds of South America in search of Paradise Falls. If only he had a jetpack instead of a house tied to balloons things would have been much easier. Angel Falls, located in Venezuela, was the inspiration for Paradise Falls. At 3,212 feet, it’s the largest waterfall in the world, and also a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Captain Kirk had it wrong when he called Space the final frontier. The earth must be conquered before we head to the stars. That’s why the title of “final frontier” really belongs to Antarctica, one of the last unexplored lands on earth. Even though 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, the continent is actually considered a desert because it only receives 8 inches of precipitation a year. In fact, one of the driest places on earth is on Antarctica: the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Antarctica is also home to the largest glacier in the world, Lambert Glacier, at 60 miles wide and 250 miles long. But perhaps Antarctica’s most interesting feature is Blood Falls. Here, a primordial ooze rich in iron bleeds out of Taylor Glacier. Inside the ooze scientists discovered something mysterious, something never before seen in nature: a microbe that has survived over 1.5 million years without heat, light or oxygen.
Earth is full of so many interesting destinations that are rarely visited by people. But before we tell you about more places we’d like to visit, we want to know: Where would you travel if you had a jetpack?