Seeing Red

The looming threat of Valentine’s Day is everywhere you look. Every store is brimming with pink and red tokens of love. Every website is selling something for the season, flowers or chocolates or wine or little teddy bears dressed in black leather. That’s all well and good if you are in a relationship or if you are a little child who is planning to swap cards with everyone in your classroom but what if you are not? What if you are single and your family is constantly pressuring you to “find that special someone”? Or what if you just gave the last special someone the boot? The last thing you want is romance stuffed down your throat. Just for you I have compiled this list of exceedingly unromantic places.

When you feel like your heart has turned into a little piece of rock there is no better destination than the Petrified Forest National Park. The park is in an area of the badlands (isn’t that the best word, badlands?) called the Painted Desert in Arizona. Home to stunning petroglyphs, vistas, archeological sites, and of course, petrified wood, the park does not have one single lacy heart anywhere. You can hike, you can backpack, you can drive, and you can visit the museum, but don’t take any of the petrified wood that you find. It’s all protected just like your heart.

It’s easy to feel like the only way to get away from all this Valentine’s Day stuff is to go hide in a cave. Maybe a really big cave if you have a touch of claustrophobia. This is where the Mammoth Cave National Park comes in handy. I suggest you take the Violet City Lantern Tour. Where else do you lump together things like a Giant’s Coffin, Mummy Ledge and Tuberculosis Huts? Romanticism warning: there are certain books that try to make tuberculosis or consumption look romantic. After all it’s got all that swooning and white handkerchiefs turning red and ill-fated lovers, but trust me, it’s not. Stay healthy and enjoy the caves.

Snow shoeing and cross-country skiing through the unspoiled wilderness could be just what you need to prove to your family that no, you really don’t want to go on a blind date. Explain to them that the Glacier National Park wildlife is much more acceptable than second cousin Rhonda Lou or little Stuart who went to preschool with you. Mountain lions and hibernating bears look downright cuddly in comparison. And if you happen to meet someone cool and hot on your treks well then heck, you met them yourself and now maybe everyone will shut up.

Sometimes you feel like your emotional life is one big swampy mess and you need a distraction. If you have a hankering to see both alligators and crocodiles in the same place then the Everglades National Park is the place for you. It is an official Wetland of International Importance. Doesn’t that make you feel important? I thought so. I would personally suggest you take the part in the Slough Slog, an off trail hike guaranteed to get your feet muddy. Cupid wouldn’t dare show his face on something with such a frumpy name. Romanticism alert: there are pink flamingos and other pretty birdies everywhere. Focus on the insects and the turkey vulture and you’ll be fine.

We’re looking for feedback here at Quality Time. We’re going to start a letters to the editor page but in order to do that correctly we really should have some letters. Do you think romance is overrated? Does love make the world go round? Do you only wear red and pink? Then write in to and let me know and I’ll publish the most interesting responses.