When is it nice here?
Or where is it nice now?
The All New Buenomadic 2020
This little diddy is perhaps moot following the Coronation. But assuming we someday resume travel, here’s a way to make it more blissful.
How to Where to Vacay
I see an excess supply of vacation out there. There are WAY more places to go and things to see than we, who must vacate our daily lives periodically to maintain our insanity, could check off. Even when I was one-bag traveling full-time, more travel opportunities present themselves than can even be catalogued for future adventures, much less worked into an itinerary.
Two things I learned in Econ 101. It’s okay to sleep through the lecture; I’m not the only one who needs a nap. And two when there is an excess supply, price drops or stuff goes to waste. So why isn’t vacation extremely cheap?
First off, anyone in the vacation business doesn’t want it to be cheap. Vacation implies space. Discounting the value of a vacation experience would induce more vacationers, who take up space, to cankle in. For those providing hospitality, there is a middle path between too few and too many patrons where things are lively, but not messy or overwhelming; somewhere between a ghost town and a Vegas buffet. Somewhere over the rainbow lies an ideal flowstate for the vacation system where everyone involved is maxin' and/or relaxin'.
Secondly, it is extremely cheap, depending on what you call vacation. If you heed the roar of the advertofascisyndicapitalist media monster, your senses are flooded with deals on flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises to third-world island getaways, public restrooms/waterparks, and tourist traps and roadside attractions within a day-trip radius.
And if those don’t strike your fancy, there are gads of special interests, hobbies, and thrills to seek. Check the magazine rack at the airport for 10 ways to free-two-day-shipping yourself new gear you’ll use twice. Just wait until Saturday! You can get a late start and end up in traffic trying to escape the city with the rest of us. And when you arrive at the trailhead you saw on Buzzfeed, there’s nowhere to park, because, well, it was on Buzzfeed.
Hold on, hold on. Let’s look at a different scenario.
The weather is perfect, Marklar levels just right. I didn’t get lost on the way here, and it was easy to park (in fact we shared a ride so I didn’t have to park). I found out yesterday that the Rainbow Hoosefarthings are in bloom this week and they’re only 5 miles from my house. How come I never knew about this? It’s so beautiful! Wish I’d had a $1500 SLR to capture this! But do I really need 25 bizzy-buzzy reasons and a $1500 SLR to enjoy a walk in the hills? No way Josie, I’m in the here and now, where I always am but sometimes I pretend not to be because I’m a time traveler stuck in an anal-cranial inversion loop. Whoa, are those dragonflies fighting…? Oh my, nope. Not fighting…
Vacation should be simple, cheap, frequent, and organic!
How do we fix this? Is there an app for that?
A cursory survey of the area yields:
- The Best Time to Visit Anywhere is the closest thing to a useful answer, and seems to be the foundation of Champion Traveler.
- Audley provides some weather data by location on the way to peddling tailor-made journeys via SEO.
- HipCamp and a few others
- Hiking Project, seemingly sponsored by REI
- Pleasant Places by Kelly Norton
- A nice weather map from The Wash Po
Lt. Commander Data to the Bridge
We need more data. Where and when is it nice to be? Who keeps track of this stuff?
Weather databases could provide some insight about past conditions in current locations. If only photos contained some weather info in their metadata. With enough photos with timestamps and geodata, we may be able to roughly induce the quality of the environs. An AI could be trained for this task. Classify photos with faces by emotional affect on a positive-negative axis then plot a four-dimensional heat map of our fair planet where the heat is how nice it is to be there. Take that fourth dimension and make it a scrubber, the other three can be spatial. Spin the globe and scrub the seasons to find your next vacation spot.
Where in the bonny blue blazes is Lt. Com. Data?
We could poll the audience! With a few
tidal viral waves of tagging on Instagram we could start logging where and when it is nice worldwide.
#nicehere #nicenow #buenoaqui #bienici #这里很好 #ここでいい
It might take a year—two on the long side—to build up a solid database of when and where people like to be. Nothing stands in our way there. The database needn’t be proprietary. I’d rather if someone else handles the particulars actually. My external hard drives keep failing.
Call in the experts
We also want to appeal to more refined palettes, to our mavens of hill an dale, forest and field. There are little pockets of wonder and amazement snap-crackle-popping all around us if we could only see beyond the streetlights or hear over the freeway traffic.
There are Glindas and Gandalfs among us who know when the flowers bloom, whence the birds sing, and why the wind blows. We only needst ask them. And we do. Many a forum brims with their wisdom, secure but obscure. Google crawls and indexes the message boards, but the culture and structure of forums and niche-interest sites lend themselves to threaded anonymous discussion, not the aggregation and distillation of friendly advice from local experts and time-tested specialists.
Quora and Reddit, and in some sense Disqus, are doing a fine job of standardizing and consolidating these discussions by offering everyone citizenship and a civilized agora. So we ought to be able to place the right questions in the right places to gather some leads. Who knows, we might even spark some enthusiasm.
Ideally those who greet the morning fog, paddle out past the breakers, scramble to the first pitch, bathe in the geothermals, forage for chanterelles or whatever fungi, ideally they will offer and we will collect their evanescent instants of wonderment.
“Mmm, it’s nice here today.”
That’s it. That’s all we want, from millions and millions of people all over the world all year long. Then, whenever you find yourself wondering where to go when you have the spacetime to spare, just give the globe a whirl and scrub to a datetime. Or pick up that old smartphone you used to carry around everywhere. There might still be an app for that.