Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So I Went Skydiving...

As I'm looking at my photos from yesterday's Wish Jump 2012 fundraising finale for Make A Wish, I didn't realize how many facial expressions and emotions I was obviously going through - scared (crapless), euphoria, nervous, exhausted, adrenaline-rushed, awe, panic, and finally relief and acceptance.

It kinda reminded me of the Five Steps of Grief......only I'm translating them into the Six Steps of Skydiving.

First - Afraid, very Afraid
I'd say this probably first hit me as Mike Fraser and I watched a video on liability related to what we were about to do. There were clips of ambulances and the narrator, who happened to be the inventor of tandem jumping Bill Booth, said if we wanted to know more about the injuries sometimes associated with tandem skydiving (when skydiving with someone on your back) just to ask your instructor. Who would even ask that? Really.
I was then swooped away by the man who was about to be strapped to my back - Tom Wells.
As I held on tight to the hand grips in the back of the plane, we slowly ascended, taking about 15 minutes, to 4,000 feet for another skydiving to jump - or as I thought of it, jumping from a plane is like a skydiver's morning cup of coffee.
But soon it would be my turn...

Second - Denial
Though we did have some on-ground training for posture and remembering to breath,etc, I don't know if I felt quite prepared for what was about to happen. I don't know if you can ever feel fully prepared to do this.
Here I was flying above Saratoga County, in a very small plane, in between the legs of a guy I had only just met. Luckily, Tom had about 1,470 jumps under his belt parachute but that really only meant the odds of an accident were that much more inevitable if nothing had really happen before.

Third - Bargaining (aka - I don't know about this)
Overall, I was feeling pretty good that morning. I was proud of the $1,760-plus that I had raised for Make A Wish through Wish Jump 2012. I mean, I had volunteered to be here. I volunteer with Make A Wish all the time - but this was definitely a bit different than the usual visit to see a wish child.
And when you get to 9,000 feet, you look down, and the only thing between you and the ground below is a small silver step - you do start to have doubts.

Fourth - Depression - of the face
After having a little trouble getting my feet out - for multiple reasons, likely that my body probably really didn't want to go - I was at that point of no return. Tom had said that he had people who asked not to jump when they got to this point  but unlike when you're still on your way up and you have a change of mind - when the door is open and you're out, there really isn't a choice anymore. You jump. Or at least - you let the guy you're strapped to jump. And, you fall. Fast.
Fifth - Stopping to Smell the Sunlight
I remember closing my eyes and then when I opened them again I saw the world as I had never seen it before. Aside from the view at 9,000 feet above sea level,  there was the very present feeling of diving with nothing there to stop me. It was all encompassing and it was intense. wasn't as scary as I thought.
The parachute opened after less than a minute of free fall and I could enjoy the moment, as brief as it was considering we approached the land quickly in a few minutes.
Though, we also hadn't landed yet...

Sixth - Acceptance
At this point, I had come to terms with my fears, even of possibly spraining my ankle again (the first time being from a static line skydive - where there's a chord attached to the plane so the parachute opens automatically - from 10 years prior).
I trusted Tom and I was ready to touch the ground again. Scared/nervous a bit again, but ready.
The miniature houses and trees and streets all went back to normal sizes again and I was instructed to put my feet out straight in front of me for the landing. I did what I was told.

It was a smooth, grassy landing on a beautiful blue-skied morning.
I accepted the fact that it was scary. I accepted that it was crazy. I accepted that it was one of the best experiences of my life.
And I realized I wanted to do it again.
I'd say of all my blog posts, this is probably the most appropriate so far to quote my blog title and say: COWABUNGA!!!

If you're interested in having a similar (traumatic - but fun) experience, I definitely recommend Saratoga Skydiving Adventures in Gansevoort, NY.

And for anyone who has a soft place in their heart for Make A Wish, I am still accepting donations for the local MAW chapter with Wish Jump 2012 here:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Airport Health

I found this article from the Wall Street Journal interesting about how sanitary airports are - also the stat about Times Square is a bit scary.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Accommodation in Old Forge - The Narrows Cottages

It was less than two weeks until our trip to Old Forge and we had not yet found a place to stay. I think we had expected to be able to find a nearby camping ground but that did not work out as planned. So, I basically spent half a day looking through this list of accommodations.

I emailed anyone and everyone desperately looking for somewhere with availability. The majority responded - almost immediately - to inform me that they were booked. But of the few that did have vacancies - I thought the Narrows of Old Forge looked the nicest. And now, two weeks later and a day after our trip, I'm glad I went with that decision.

The lodging option is less than a mile from the main village area yet you feel like you're practically camping with a provided picnic table, charcoal grill, lawn chairs, and fire pit for each unit.

The interior of our cottage was rustic but sufficient for what we needed it for. There was a small kitchen area - that was stocked with pots/pans/utensils/plates,etc. The sitting area sat three comfortably (perfect for our group). The bathroom was small but had a toilet (indoor plumbing trumps camping) and a shower.

 The bedrooms - one with a full size bed and one with a bunk bed - were do-able though we found it odd that there wasn't a ladder for the top bunk. My friend who was going to sleep there shared the full size with me instead - which was comfortable enough. Though my friend who took the bottom bunk said it was a bit hard.

I'd say my favorite part of the place was that it was on the water - a narrow part just off the main lake in Old Forge. And the Narrows takes full advantage of their water front property - there's a sun deck, a deck under tree coverage with lots of tables/chairs for the various guests to meet and socialize, and there's a dock with a few chairs to vege out right on the water.

For water activities, there is swimming in a roped off area - but it looked more like a swimming area for ducks and I was informed by a couple girls who went in the water that it was kinda mucky/shallow.

But, aside from swimming, there was also boating - with a canoe and paddle boat provided for guests to share.

The proprietor, Patty, made a point of introducing herself and was very friendly. She also made sure to get our pilot light going in our furnace so we wouldn't be cold that night - since it was one of the first cold weekends of the summer.

We watched a family of deer across the narrow eat their dinner along the water and were greeted by a buck the following morning.

All in all, I'd say it was definitely worth it for the $100 we paid for the cottage for one night. Considering they rent out by the week and also have the place available in the colder seasons, I wouldn't mind staying longer next time.

Review of Enchanted Forest Water Safari

Isn't it usually the case that when you revisit a place with childhood memories, it's a lot smaller than you remembered? Not so with Enchanted Forest Water Safari. It got bigger.

To be frank, I loved the place as a kid and I might love it even more as an adult.

First off, it's cheap. I think I'm starting to understand why the place is such a huge hit with families (well, other than for the obvious reasons). As of the 2012 season, tickets are less than $30 for adults (12 and over), about $26 for kids (3-11), and free for real youngins. You also get in free the next day if you pay for a ticket after 3pm, or after 2pm on days they open at 10am.

From a family point of view, the Enchanted Forest portion of the park is great for little ones. There are fairy tale themed houses everywhere with several carnival rides in the middle of the park. And the water park has areas with mini-rides (even a Kids Carwash) for the kids and parents.

 The park is relaxed about what you bring in - coolers are allowed - so that's another way for a family to save some money.

It's marketed as the state's largest water theme park and it's heated water is highlighted.

From an adult point of view, the place has classic rides like traditional water slides with mats, fast/tall slides, practically vertical flumes, and the Amazon (a raging river sort of ride where you carry up your own tube for up to three adults or two adults/two kids and come down on a bumpy and wet chute - I'm pretty sure the water for this ride is not heated, though. Brrr. And it also had the longest line we waited in).

There were completely dark water rides and a fun new one is the Curse of the Silverback which is partially enclosed and partially going in a circular motion - kinda like you're going down the toilet.

There are two areas of water rides - the old ones mainly in the front and the newer section in the back. Both have lazy river areas with kid rides. A tidal wave pool is kinda in the middle.

Maybe we lucked out on the day we went but it was a no-rain day, with mostly sun, and the lines weren't bad at all (longest was about 45minutes). Might have also helped it was a Sunday instead of the traditional Saturday.

The Old Forge summer vacation spot - where the fun never stops (as the jingle goes) - is about 2.5 hours away from Albany. Well, depending on how fast you drive and if you take I-90 to Rt 28, or the Northway to Rt 28. The village is also great for fams since nearly everything is within walking distance.

The one odd - but kinda interesting - thing I found while at the park was that in between the provided music they actually played commercials for themselves. As if "Enchanted Forest, Water Safari - where the fun never stops" wasn't already engrained in my memory....forever. But, it is true. And I probably will go back - as an adult with friends and eventually when I have a family of my own.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I-95 Traffic Stops Aug. 15 and 16 in Westchester County

From a press release today:

Temporary Traffic Stops on I-95 North and Southbound

Night Work Slated for New Signs in Westchester County; Work Begins Wednesday

WHITE PLAINS -- Motorists on the New England Thruway (I-95) northbound
and southbound in Westchester County may encounter temporary lane
closures on the nights of August 15, and August 16, 2012, during the
nighttime installation of new signs, the New York State Thruway
Authority announced.

The construction activity will take place from 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
between Exit 18B (White Plains, Mamaroneck Ave. East) and Exit 20
(Rye, Route 1) on August 15 and August 16.

The sign installation will necessitate multiple traffic stops. The
traffic stops are scheduled to last no more than 20 minutes each.

The Thruway Authority appreciates motorists’ patience during this
scheduled event.

Google is Buying Frommer's Travel Brand

According to the Wall Street Journal:

"On Monday, Google said it is acquiring the Frommer's travel-guide business in a bid to attract more advertising dollars tied to online-travel bookings and local-business information. Google is buying Frommer's from publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc."

In my opinion, the move makes sense I just hope it doesn't affect the quality of travel information from Frommer's.

You can read more here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge Toll to Nearly Triple

Once construction is finished ( billions of dollars of construction) on the Tappan Zee Bridge, the toll is expected to go from $5 to $14.
Just an fyi.

The bridge, which goes across the Hudson, is part of the thruway/I-87.  It's about 25 miles of Manhattan.

Just another reason to take the Metro-North down from Poughkeepsie into the city.

Here's a story by the AP on it.

Melissa Etheridge Coming to The Palace

Just got this press release today. I'm not a huge fan, aside from knowing her songs, but I'm sure someone out there is.....right? If so, tickets are on sale this Friday.
Melissa Etheridge
“4th Street Feeling Tour”

Friday, October 26
8:00 PM 

Experience an unforgettable night of music with one of the greatest female rock icons of all time, Melissa Etheridge! After an incredible performance in 2010, Melissa Etheridge returns to the Palace to perform songs from her newest album, 4th Street Feeling, as well as classic hits from throughout her career.

Melissa Etheridge is best known for her memorable songs “I’m the Only One,” “Come to My Window,” “Bring Me Some Water” and “Ain’t It Heavy.” Melissa Etheridge hit her musical stride with her fourth album, Yes I Am, an album that went six times platinum and spent more than two and a half years on the album chart. Her astounding success has led her to receive numerous awards and honors including the Songwriter of the Year honor at the ASCAP Pop Awards, two Grammy awards, the Academy Award® in 2007 for her song “I Need To Wake Up” and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“The Walk of Fame, the Women’s Museum, the milestones, they made me go, ‘I did it!’,” explains Melissa Etheridge. “And I’m still doing it. I feel I’m at the peak of it. It’s all I know how to do, so glad I get to keep doing it!”

Releasing her 12th studio album, 4th Street Feeling (set to release September 4, 2012), Melissa Etheridge takes the lead on vocals, piano, harmonica and banjitar. She wrote twelve new songs for the album, which features Blair Sinta on drums, Brett Simons on bass and Zac Rae on keyboards.


Tickets are $103, $78, $58 & $38 and go On Sale FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 at 10AM at the Palace Theatre Box Office (located at 19 Clinton Ave). Summer Box Office hours are Monday – Thursday 10AM – 5PM and Friday 10AM – 2PM and select Weekend hours for events and public On Sales. Tickets are also available for purchase via Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone at 800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster outlets, local Wal-Mart Ticketmaster Centers or online at