In our always-on, interconnected world, one of the hardest things to find is a place to unwind. “Our brains and our bodies would like us to take things a lot slower,” says Victoria Ward, author of “The Bucket List: Places to Find Peace and Quiet” (Rizzoli, $35). She says far-flung spiritual spots and nature preserves are ideal places for escape. “They offer a retreat, a little respite from the crazy chaos of the world.” The meditation teacher and cognitive hypnotherapist shares some favored hideaways with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
A tiny stone in this wilderness area marks a spot an acoustic ecologist once designated as the quietest place in the nation. “You’ll hear insects buzzing, the birds in the trees and sounds of nature, but it’s the place you go to and feel the least touched by humanity,” Ward says. nps.gov/olym
Empty Quarter, Oman
Lawrence of Arabia once wandered this corner of the Middle East, which Ward calls the world’s largest sea of sand. “It’s nothing but dunes for miles and miles.” Visitors come for camel treks and to spend the night in the desert in Bedouin camps. Perhaps it’s fitting that the region has been featured in “Star Wars” films and other movies, she says. “You can believe you’re on another planet completely.” experienceoman.om
Neversink Pit, Fackler, Alabama
You must be a seasoned vertical caver and have a permit to explore this 162-foot sinkhole in northern Alabama. But those that reach the bottom of the fern-fringed shaft say the experience is unmatched. “It’s about just sitting and taking a moment … to reconnect to an almost primeval sense of nature,” Ward says. Even nonclimbers can find escape on the hike to the remote, mountainous site. scci.org
Easter Island, Chile
Ward understands the appeal of this remote island, best known for its mysterious, towering statues of heads known as moai. She spent two years living there as a volunteer teaching English. “I just fell in love with the place.” One of her favorite spots was the top of Mount Terevaka. “You see all around you an endless horizon of sea.” chile.travel
Fred W. Symmes Chapel, Cleveland, South Carolina
This open-air YMCA camp chapel looks out at the Blue Ridge Mountains near Caesars Head State Park. It’s a popular wedding venue, but is open to visitors based on the camp and chapel schedule. Ward says it’s worth making the trip to the spot, which is also called Pretty Place. “It doesn’t matter what your faith is. It’s a place for reflection and quiet contemplation.” campgreenville.org
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: USA Today, Larry Bleiberg