Where to Go in a Hot Tub Time Machine

By the year's Bicentennial celebratory July 4 fireworks, Barack Obama makes me promise that one day, he hopes to see the great city that is Las Vegas. I remind him that anything is possible. That even Barack Obama could be president of this fine nation. He then asks me if I can take him to Las Vegas after high school. My reply? Yes, we can.

P.S. Barack, Call me. I'm still at the Hard Rock and can hook it up.

Tim Winship, publisher of FrequentFlier.com and an editor-at-large at SmarterTravel.com

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It's 1972. June. A Friday afternoon.

The country is roiled by foreign war and domestic conflict, and the first oil price shock is just over the horizon.

But on the spacious upper deck of a TWA 747 winging its way west to Los Angeles from the airline's Eero Saarinen-designed terminal at JFK, I sit serene in my powder-blue leisure suit, nursing a Gordon's gin martini, shaken not stirred by a fawning stew sporting a skimpy skirt and a towering 'do. She catches my eye and wags her pert chin in the direction of the Steinway upright, keys beckoning. Because this is not just an in-flight bar, it's an in-flight piano bar.

Landing -- I think to myself, drawing deeply on my Parliament and launching into a disco-inflected rendition of "My Beautiful Balloon" -- will be a real downer.

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My hot tub time machine would cosmically connect with the hot tub on Necker Island (Richard Branson's private island in the Caribbean). Each time I jump into my hot tub time machine it would send me to Necker Island's hot tub when a top celebrity has reserved the island. Each time it's a surprise. One time I'm hanging with Mariah Carey. The next I'm chillin' with Beyonce. The next I'm there during a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot.

And each time I'm also transported back to my 22-year-old body. (I was fortunate enough to stay on Necker Island a few years ago, and it's a fantasy even without the hot tub time machine. If you drink enough of Necker's private label Champagne, I'm pretty sure the hot tub can transport you.)

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So I'm in my hot tub time machine with my buddy Red Auerbach (hey, this is my fantasy -- and I'm a hopeless basketball fanatic). Naturally, we are smoking cigars. And schmoozing.

"Where to, Red?" I ask.

"Let's make a fast break for Eastern Turkey," says Red. "Mount Ararat."

"Ah, Noah's Ark, good choice."

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