Monthly Archives: November 2014

Have Kids, Will…Fly!

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In my quest for more adventure (because, you know, having four boys isn’t quite adventurous enough), I looked into what it would take to earn my pilot’s license.  There is a local flight school, whose owner happens to be a dad I know, that offers introductory flights to anyone who might be interested in giving it a shot.  It’s kind of like, Here, try a bite of this delicious chocolate brownie sundae, and see if you want more.  Of course I want more!  It was awesome!

I climbed into the tiny little seat of the Cessna 172 training plane (no training pants, training bra, or training wheels included) and felt like I was in a flying version of my uncle’s old MG Midget.  Surprisingly, this plane wasn’t that old–a 2004, I think.  It was cozy, but intimidating at first.  The instrument panel reminded me that I had no idea what I was doing.  My instructor, Bryce, assured me that the plane was safe and that he would take over if anything were to happen.  He then proceeded to explain what we would do in the event of an emergency, and showed me where the fire extinguisher was located.  “And where do we go if the plane catches on fire?” I asked.  “We stay here,” he replied, “and land the plane.”  Oh.

Remembering that I did sign up for this, I swallowed my fear and listened to Bryce’s directions.  The floor pedals control the direction of the plane while it’s on the ground, as well as the brakes.  He let me swerve around the runway a little bit before we were cleared for take-off.  I wondered what is the equivalent of a DUI for flying…an FUI?

Since my only flying experience has been in the Economy section of a commercial airline, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the small plane.  I barely noticed that we had lifted off until I saw the ground falling away from us.  It was magical!  As we ascended, I marveled at the engineering required to make that happen, and safely.  Bryce talked to me a little bit about how the air gets under the wings and the flaps adjust to the pressure (this is probably a completely inaccurate description, but it’s my interpretation). I was allowed to pull back on the little steering wheel that lifted us higher and higher.  We leveled out and I was flying!  It actually felt more like floating: smoothly sailing across the sky with a beautiful view of the autumnal colors below.

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We stayed in the air for about 45 minutes, finding landmarks, specific waterways, and even my house.  It was fabulous!  Someone once warned me, a long time ago, that flying is an addictive and expensive habit if you take it up as a hobby.  That is a totally accurate statement.  Now I just need to figure out how to make it work!

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Have Kids, Will…Climb Trees

Earlier last month, I felt the urge for a change of scenery and sought a place to take my family for the weekend.  Loving all things related to food,  I found a food truck festival that was taking place in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.  In fact, it was the inaugural Pocono Food Truck Festival at Shawnee Mountain Resort.  The idea of eating a variety of delicacies out in the crisp mountain air turned into a fun-filled weekend of so much more.

The festival offered about 15 different types of food that ranged from tacos to Pad Thai to authentic Belgian waffles (my favorite).  As far as festivals go, it was small, but a lot of fun for the afternoon.  They also hosted a motor cross show, which was something new to me.  With heavy metal music blaring, two young guys on dirt bikes launched themselves into the air from a huge, inflatable ramp, and defied gravity by doing tricks with their bodies, then landing on the other half of the ramp.  It was amazing!

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Naturally, my boys were in awe…especially when one of the performers announced he was going to do the “stripper pose” while in the air.  Imaginations were on fire, I’m sure.

Another activity offered was a monster truck ride along the slope side of the mountain.   I embraced my inner redneck as we climbed into the huge beast of a truck.   The ride was bumpy and bouncy, and included an insane number of  donuts.  It was a lot of fun, but I got out of it feeling a little like I had been on one of the time machine rides at a carnival…nauseous and giddy at the same time.

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When I had been online to purchase the tickets for this festival, I had also signed myself up for a little 5K that was being held at Shawnee Mountain.  Apparently, it’s an annual run that normally takes place in the small town of Barrett, PA, but because Eric Frein (the cop killing survivalist) was still on the loose, the race was moved to Shawnee.  I ran that on Sunday morning, hoping to burn off a small portion of the 50,000 calories I had ingested the day before.  It was an okay little race, despite the cold morning and double loop course through the parking lot.  What can I say, I’m a wimp about the weather and I like good scenery.  I did get a nice scarecrow shirt, though, and I do understand the situation was not ideal with a crazy man lurking in the woods nearby.

But, for the piece de resistance, we went to the Pocono TreeVentures ropes course and zip line headquarters.  This place was incredible!  For a family of six, whose children range in age from 7 to 17, it was the best!  There are very few places that can accommodate all of our ages and stages at one time, in one place.  This did.  We all enjoyed the whole process of harnessing and unharnessing to get ourselves across the canopy layer of trees, which were dressed in all their glorious fall colors.

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For the record, I am not a fan of heights and have an unreasonable fear of falling.  However, the security of the harnesses really helped to quell my fears and allowed me to enjoy the whole experience.  Even when my youngest, dubbed “a feather” by the staff, got stuck in the middle of a very long zip line (because he wasn’t heavy enough to maintain momentum), I was fully confident in his safety.

It was a really fun weekend and made me want to keep climbing trees.

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