Monday, March 23, 2009

Thrill-Seeking Green Fun

Alan and I are thrilled to have cousins Tom and Debbie, from Michigan, coming to visit soon. I'm sure they're looking forward to experiencing our milder Florida weather, so we're planning some outdoor activities to get some fresh air and green scenery. Green outdoor activities in Florida abound, and Alan brilliantly came up with a couple of ideas that are sure to be big hits.

The first idea, hot air ballooning, is a bit pricey, but perfect for this special occasion. Have you even been up? The experience of floating on air is like nothing else; there is no feeling of a floor or solid ground underneath as you lift up ever so lightly. You're close enough to the ground to know what you're seeing, yet far enough up to get a twinge of heart-pounding excitement. Not quite the kind you get when you sky dive; nevertheless it is a thrill.

Taking off at daylight, you watch the sun slowly slip into view, larger than life, and enjoy its boldness as you rise along with it and a dozen or more other balloons. The sight is truly breathtaking. The flight plan will take us over the Walt Disney resort area and surrounding rural Central Florida. Much of the scenery will include dozens of lakes, Central Florida's trademark.

My first experience was particularly surprising at landing time. I expected to hit the ground with a plop, and tumble over with the balloon basket, but was surprised to find our talented pilot could set us gently on the ground, just as soft as a marshmallow. An assistant reached out from the ground and helped us each out, as we were still in shock at the powder puff landing.

Helping to gather the balloon and repackage it was more fun that it would appear. The balloon was immense, yet packaged into a tidy roll which fit into the back of a pickup truck. In the air, hot air balloons are clearly quite large, but on the ground, they suddenly are three times the size you may have expected. I enjoyed seeing the process of preparation and pack up, as each was its own learning experience, with a new story to tell.

Our nearby State park areas offer canoeing through wilderness, and the peaceful serenity of this experience is quite similar, yet less passive that hot air ballooning. On this adventure we will be the conductors, paddling and steering our way through low, caressing branches and watching for water life along the way. An occasional gator, spring flowers, or perhaps an Egret will be our thrills on this green adventure.

Hang gliding has been considered, but perhaps cast aside. There appear to be questions as to its safety which I cannot confirm or deny. Any input from you out there would be most appreciated. Thoughts on hang gliding in our area or other ideas are welcome. Mikey?

My personal thrill would be to take my dogs on a hike through the woods at the State park, but alas, the dogs are not welcome there. How is it possible that Tanner could be denied an opportunity to run through a forest and along a river, exploring the scents along the way. Isn't that what Golden Retrievers are supposed to do? Although Tanner's only fetching experiences have been in our pool and at dog parks, he is quite the fetcher, and would enjoy the water immensely, chasing a fetch toy into the river and returning it countless times to be tossed again. I'll have to find other hiking areas for this eventual outing, or go to a dog park with a lake.

If you know of a place where dogs are welcome to "hike" and swim, I would be most happy to hear from you. Hit the COMMENT button just under this post. Thanks!

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