Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson: We got a long way to go and a short time to live there

Just about everybody needs to get away from it all every now and then -- away from the same ol' scenery, the same ol' people and the same ol' bill collector wanting to know what I, er, I mean you did with that $100,000 in student loans upon finding out that Troy's Snack Shack & State University is not an actual college.

Personally, I like to paddle out on the kayak into some gator-infested section of a river slough or lilypad-covered pond, the kind of place where motorized boats can't go and where there are no empty cans of Milwaukee's Best or fishing lures hanging from trees. Those images often seem to go together for some reason, and I suspect it's not because beer-swilling fishermen suddenly develop a hankering for a sycamore tree.

I could also go for a quiet stretch of beach, a hammock in the woods or someplace really away from it all -- such as a household with a TV tuned to MSNBC. But there's a new option out there for folks who want to get away from it all like nobody's ever done before -- Mars.

Yes, it appears that Marvin the Martian will finally have some company besides Bugs Bunny. The Dutch nonprofit Mars One plans to send humans on a one-way trip to the Red Planet beginning in 2024. They plan to send crews of four people every couple of years in an effort to colonize Mars.

There's a catch, of course. A recent study by MIT found that, given current technology, the explorers would likely survive only about 68 days on Mars if they survive the seven-month trip there -- 71 days if Mars has no McDonald's.

Despite those scary numbers, more than 200,000 people applied to go on this one-way trip to Mars. From that, they whittled it down to 100,000 and then whittled it down to 100, which will later be whittled down to 24. That's more whittling than Uncle Jed had to do before having a long talk with Jethro.

They started all this whittling before I even had a chance to apply, but they said I was too valuable right here on Earth anyway. It was the same kind of "you're too valuable where you are" speech I used to get when I wanted to work fewer nights and weekends at the newspaper. I'm not sure I believe either one of them.

But it's just as well because I'm probably not suited for colonizing. Besides, I'm sure the other three folks on my shuttle would be folks I can't stand -- like somebody's crazy uncle spouting conspiracy theories; some idiot who mistakenly thinks they're smart and therefore talks too much (as those sorts do); and Kanye West, who would spend the whole 68 days on Mars saying, "Mars is cool, but it ain't no Jupiter; now that's a planet!"

In the song "Rocket Man," Elton John says Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids -- mainly because there's no "Curious George" on TV to placate the kids while you can take a nap. And it ain't the kind of place I want to be, either. It looks too much like Afghanistan, where, coincidentally, my life expectancy also would be about 68 days. There are no TV shows in Afghanistan, either, where George was stoned to death last month for being too curious.

You can keep your seven-month trip to Mars; I'd rather have a seven-day cruise through the Caribbean. In fact, I think I'll hop on a ship today. And when I see Mars in the sky tonight, I'll propose a toast to our future space explorers boldly going where no man has gone before:

Better y'all than me!

Connect with Chris Johnson at or on Twitter @kudzukid88.