Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New on the Horizon...

I picked up up the phone yesterday and called up the local dive shop to ask about taking scuba diving lessons. The total for the class is $450.00 which includes the PADI course, closed water class, four open water dives, and certification. After speaking with J.D. Emerson of BCXTreme Sports in Danville, VA, I find myself even more excited about taking this class than I was originally.

I will definately be updating when I start my classes!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Something I REALLY Want To Try

Doesn't this look like fun? Has anyone ever been kite surfing before? I would love to hear about your experience!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ohhhhh That Water Looks Cold

The three amigos, Tim, Boots, and I had a two hour break after our zip line tour. We decided to walk around the area near Wildwater Rafting where our ride downstream would take place. The view of the river was amazing. We stopped off to take a few pictures next to the river. "That water sure looks cold", said my husband. Boots agreed. I raised an eyebrow. "How does water *look* cold?" I asked flatly. "I don't know, said my husband, but it does". Again my friend agreed.

We watched as several kayaks and canoes floated down stream while enjoying a beer on a picnic bench. Before the beer I was consuming was even half empty, I realized I had forgotten my pack with all my stuff in it. In a rush, I went searching for it, never to finish my poor, over priced beer. I did find my pack (thanks to honest tourists) and we made our way to the rafting site.

Wildwater is a rafting business nestled in the side of a mountain along side the Nantahala River in Bryson City, NC. We arrived there a few minutes early, got checked in and waited for the van ride to the drop-off point where we would board our rubber rafts. The clouds were moving in quickly and when we did get into the van the rain started to pour down like never before. The three of us agreed that we would certainly be washed away, never to see dry land again. The van climbed the mountain road until we came to an abrupt stop. Traffic was backed up and was not moving. I silently rejoiced in the fact that it was giving the rain time to ease up... which it did. It was just sprinkling a bit when we were dropped off at the boat launch area.

We were introduced to our guide, and given instructions on what to do. We carried the raft across tons of gravel to the river (my ankle was still aching terribly from the sprain I had suffered and then re-injured during the zip line. I did drop my end of the raft twice :P (sorry guys).

With Boots and I positioned at the front of the raft and Tim and our guide at the rear, we began floating down the river, paddling, resting, chatting. At the very first rapid, the raft tossed upward then dove in bow-first. A huge wall of water crashed down on the two of us ladies that were given the "privilege" of sitting in the front of the boat. The water, which was only 48 degrees, completely engulfed me and I screamed out in shock. It definitely woke me up.

We went over a few more rapids, enjoyed the mountain scenery, and took in the mountain air (and water) for a little over two hours. The scenery was breathtaking. There was a fog that hovered over the surface of the river and a mist of clouds embraced the blue-gray tops of the mountains. The majestic green trees bowed over the clear river, and the sound of the rapids filled the otherwise quiet air.

The last rapid we descended was the most fun, but ended our trip down the Nantahala River. I was soaked to the bone, cold, and waterlogged, but at the same time I had a great first time experience with whitewater rafting. I'm definitely ready to go with Boots to a river she has braved with much bigger, stronger rapids. I just hope the water there doesn't *look* as cold as the Nantahala.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Feeling Zippy

My husband Tim and I were wanting a short getaway this past weekend. He called me from work and asked me to google the Nantahala River in North Carolina and look into whitewater rafting. I immediately pulled up my trusty search engine and within minutes was on the Nantahala River Rafting site. I looked around a bit and found the whitewater rafting but was sidetracked by something unusual. There was a link to a zipline canopy tour in the area. I texted Tim back to call me when he got a free miunute. I had found another adventure!

We set up reservations on Wednesday and I called up my friend Boots. This was something that she hadn't experienced yet either. She was up for the challenge and on Friday afternoon after work the three of us made our way to Bryson City, North Carolina.

We arrived at Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours and were given all the necessary equipment: a harness with a pulley system, a hard hat, and some heavy leather gloves. When we were all dressed and ready to go, our guides took us out to the practice lines to instruct us on safety and technique. I was actually suprised the briefing lasted MUCH longer than the briefing we got when we went skydiving. The waiver form we had to sign was much much shorter though as Boots pointed out.

The lines ran from tree to tree onto platforms as high as 70 feet in the air. In total there were 11 ziplines, the longest of which was a little over 600 feet long, 6 rope bridges, and 3 small transfer bridges. Some of the bridges had planks missing and there were no rails to hold to. There were only rope supports for the bridge and the cable that ran down the middle. The course covered 3/4 of a mile and the tour lasted a little over two hours.

The transfer bridges were what I worried about the most. I had sprained my ankle two nights before while taking the dog out. One of the requirements was that you were in good health and had no casts of any kind, hard or soft. I had been using a gel cast the day before just to stand. I wasn't afforded that luxury on this trip. I had to hide my injury and did so with the help of Boots' injinuity. She suggested I duct tape my ankle and cover said injury with a sock. Everything went well though and I was able to complete the course with the exception of one zipline and one bridge before I rolled my ankle again. I was in a bit of pain but wasn't able to let anyone know as we were all in tight proximity.

As I crossed the last (long) bridge, I made my footing slow and sure. I had gotten half way across the bridge when Tim stepped onto the planks behind me and began to bounce, unaware that I had been injured again. Still not able to give away my injury, I turned and yelled "stop it!". I think he (and the rest of the tour) thought I had gotten freaked out at the bridge. It worked out well though. He did stop and I made it to the other side of the bridge without incident.

We all zipped safely to the last platform, and posed for a group picture that our guide, Dion, graciously snapped for us. From left to right... Me, My husband Tim, and my friend Boots.

We were now off to the next adventure of the day... Whitewater Rafting. Post to come.

A Life Changing Experience

My best girlfriend Boots said to me a few months back, "Go skydiving with me". I smiled and told her that it was something I had always wanted to do. My husband and I had been to Las Vegas several times and I had actually called about pricing for a tandem jump. When the voice on the other end of the phone cheerfully said "300 dollars", I said "Thank you" and promptly hung up the phone. I told my husband I couldn't see spending $300 dollars on something that would only last a few minutes when we could see "Sigfried and Roy" or "Mystere" twice for that.

"Its a life changing experience", she assured me. I mulled over this "life changing experience" and decided that she was exaggerating. I would jump from an airplane, experience free fall, float down to earth, and when I got back on my feet my life would just pick up where I left off. Nothing will have changed after a skydive. My same old job would still be waiting for me. My same old home would still need to be cleaned. My husband and dog would still need to be fed. How life changing could this really be? After a bit of coaxing (I still couldn't see paying that kind of money), I decided to go along with it.
Fast forward to May 16, 2010. My friend, Boots made reservations for us at Raeford Parachute Center and I found myself suited up in a gawd-awful looking blue jumpsuit, a less than flattering padded "helmet", and a harness that made my body crimp and fold in all the wrong places. I was, however, going to be attached to a real cutie of a tandem instructor :P

The flight up was long. It took us three solid weeks to get to altitude. Well, not really. It took maybe 15 minutes but it did seem like three weeks. I was so excited I could barely stop grinning. That, combined with the uber-ugly jumpsuit made for some really goofy looking pictures. I watched out of the open door of the plane as the earth slowly moved farther and farther away. I anticipated what the initial drop would feel like. I wondered how the long, steady free fall would make me feel. I wondered what terminal velocity would actually be like. Then, I wondered if I was normal, as I hadn't yet been nervous.

The tandem instructor hooked me up to him and tightened down all the connections. I was attached to him tighter than I had expected to be. It was a really secure feeling. He then instructed me to position the two of us in front of the open door. This is the first and only time I actually got nervous. I'm naturally clumsy, and could see myself slipping and causing the two of us to fall out of the plane before he was ready. Then, I realized that although it wouldn't be the ideal way to go out of the plane, that is where we were going to end up anyway. I slowly and carefully positioned us in front of the door. "Are you ready?" he asked. "I'm ready", I said with a grin. He bent forward and we tumbled out of the plane into the clouds.

The first few seconds I was disoriented, but quickly found myself facing the earth. He tapped me on my shoulder, which was my signal that I could open my arms out and experience the free fall in the correct position. This didn't feel like falling. It didn't feel as if I was in danger. All I felt was wind and total freedom. I screamed out "WHOOOooOOOOOOo" to the top of my lungs. I decided during free fall that this was the most awesome thing I had ever experienced in my life.

When the chute opened there was an amazingly relaxing silence. I felt myself glide and soar in the sky. It was peaceful and relaxing. The instructor told me to grab the yellow straps he was holding and proceeded to show me how to speed up our decent, how to slow it down, and showed me how to steer left and right. I was actually maneuvering the parachute on my own! As I pulled down on the right strap, the chute angled and turned right. I pulled down on the left strap and we turned the opposite direction. I was actually flying; soaring like an eagle.

The drift down lasted maybe five minutes and we landed back on the ground. The second I stood up, all I could think was "I wanna do that again"! I was so excited, I was pumped up, I was full of adrenaline. I had actually loved doing what I had put off for so many years and regretted not doing it sooner. The $300 is a very small price to pay for such an amazing experience.

I made that jump one month ago. Since my feet hit the ground after that jump, I have wanted to experience so many other things I wouldn't have been willing to do before. I want to go hang gliding. I want to go scuba diving. I want to go kite surfing. I want to... well, you get the idea. Skydiving really IS a life changing experience.