Monthly Archives: August 2015

Flashback Friday: Skydiving the Florida Keys

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Almost everyone I know has either experienced skydiving, or has it on their bucket list. Maybe I just hang out with crazy people, but regardless it was definitely on my bucket list as well! So when a friend of mine in Key West randomly called me asking if I wanted to go skydiving, I didn’t think twice. It was something I had always wanted to do, and what better place than soaring above the Florida Keys? Within 10 minutes of my friend asking if I was up for skydiving (pun intended), we were en route to Skydive Key West.

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The company we used was a small one, and instead of going up in the plane together, we would each go up separately as they only had one “jumper”, and not a whole lot of room in the plane. That didn’t bother me, and I let my friend go first. They were so high that you couldn’t see when my friend jumped out. I watched his plane, knowing he had jumped, but was unable to see him until he was close to landing. It was amazing watching that little tiny dot, which was my friend, get closer and closer.

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When it was my turn, the pilot flew us around for a while, allowing me to take in the views. I wasn’t completely terrified, but I am sure I would have enjoyed the views just a tad more if I wasn’t getting ready to jump out of a [perfectly good] plane! I still remember those views so vividly almost 10 years later, and the next time I return to the Keys, I definitely want to take a helicopter ride for those views again.

I don't remember feeling nervous, but I definitely look nervous in this picture!

I don’t remember feeling nervous, but I definitely look nervous in this picture!

The flyer and I “practiced” ahead of time, and the instructor told me that before we jumped out of the plane, he would tap my shoulder. I don’t know if he did or not, but if he did, I definitely didn’t feel it. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be scared; one minute I was sitting in the plane waiting to jump and the next I was flying (falling) towards the ground. The flyer would tap me once again while we were freefalling, and this was when I was supposed to stretch out my arms to prepare for the parachute but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel him at all. My video actually shows him tapping me several times! I am assuming it was a mixture of adrenaline and being so caught up in the moment that I was completely unaware of my surroundings.

So much happiness in this picture - right before I started freaking out!

So much happiness in this picture – right before I started freaking out!

It wasn’t until we were floating with the parachute out that I was actually scared. I remember looking down and seeing only ocean, and wondering where we were going to land. Also, the way the harness laid on my legs made them go numb and difficult to control for landing. By the time we got to the ground, my legs hurt so bad that I was ready to be done.

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Afterwards: I did it!

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I think it’s something everyone should do once, but honestly, with my legs going numb it was kind of difficult to enjoy after the freefalling portion was over. I am glad I experienced it with the company and in location that I did; they were wonderful at accommodating us and made us feel comfortable and at ease.

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Note: Picture quality certainly wasn’t as good almost 10 years ago as it is now! 

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Flashback Friday: Sea Trek Adventures in St. Maartin

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I went on a 10-day cruise in 2011, which stopped at 6 different ports. I stayed really busy and active throughout the duration of the cruise, trying to take advantage of every second. Because I’d stayed so busy, by the time I arrived in St. Maartin, all I wanted to do was lay on the beach.

Can you blame me for just wanting to sit here for an entire day?

Can you blame me for just wanting to sit here for an entire day?

But then I heard about something called a Sea Trek. Somehow, I had never heard of such a thing, and if you haven’t heard of it either, basically you wear a helmet on your head that allows you to breathe in oxygen underwater. It is a short excursion: you take a short boat ride, get a 15 minute instructional/safety briefing, then spend about an hour under the water (that’s my way of saying that I still got some beach time in).

The views on the way to the dive are gorgeous!

The views on the way to the dive are gorgeous!

I wasn’t prepared to feel nervous, but the second I put my foot on the ladder which would eventually lead me about 20 feet underwater, I swear I started having a panic attack. Also – the helmet, which only weighs about 15 pounds underwater, is approximately 75 pounds above water! I must mention that the crew does hold the helmet off of your head, so you’re not actually carrying 75 pounds.

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Even though I was nervous, I got over my fear almost instantly. Going on a Sea Trek isn’t like snorkeling or scuba diving where you choose where to go or what you look at, at least not in my experience. On my sea trek, there was a little path that had been built underwater, and it even had railings to hold onto. The staff was always nearby, and pointed out different sea life to everyone. I was even able to hold a few different creatures!

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I don’t know how to explain how unique and exciting this experience was for me, as usual I think I just have to get the pictures to do the talking. I went into this experience with no expectations, but it’s one of the coolest things I have done. I have always loved snorkeling, and would love to get scuba certified; this experience only made me want to become scuba certified even more!

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New Bern, North Carolina

New Bern, North Carolina may not be the most-visited town in North Carolina, but definitely warrants a visit if you are passing through or staying somewhere nearby.

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New Bern is a small town on the river near the coast. It was named after Bern, Switzerland and there is a lot of history packed into this tiny town.

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There were a lot of murals all over New Bern, adding to the charm

So why did we want to visit New Bern? For starters, it is only an hour from where we live. We also have heard that it is a charming town (literally, everyone used this adjective to describe New Bern), and you may also know that Nicholas Sparks (a famous author) lives there. He had visited New Bern, fell in love, and then moved there. So if it’s charming enough for a famous (cheesy) romance author to both live in and write about, then it must be pretty great, right?

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I must admit that we didn’t even spend a full day in New Bern. I say this so that you know that you don’t have to block out an entire day to experience this town. We always start the day with good intentions to leave early and spend the entire day at our one-day destinations, but it rarely goes that way.

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Even the alleys were fun to look at

We visited New Bern on a Sunday, which is relevant for a couple of reasons. First, North Carolina is very much a southern state; therefore, a lot of businesses are closed on Sundays, including restaurants. Second, I noticed as we walked around that there were a lot of fun places to grab a drink or two – I would have loved to get that experience, but of course, the bar scene isn’t exactly plentiful on a Sunday.

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Pepsi Cola was founded in New Bern, and it is a place that you can visit. The building now is more of a shop where you can purchase overpriced Pepsi clothing and other souvenirs, but I still think it’s still pretty special and they do have some antique Pepsi Cola items on display. You can purchase an old fashioned bottle of Pepsi or Mountain Dew for $1.50 (so worth it).

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Right across the street from the Pepsi Cola store is a beautiful church. We spend quite a bit of time admiring it, and checking out the gravestones that were in the courtyard area. New Bern has so many random places not in the tour books that I found to be both beautiful and fascinating. Even the alleys were fun to explore!

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If you are visiting New Bern, Tryon Palace is an absolute must! You purchase the tickets inside of the museum, which houses a WWI display; interactive displays based on life from the 1800’s (better for kids than for adults); exhibits on the history of North Carolina/natural resources/weather; and a movie.

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Tryon Palace was the original governor’s mansion and first permanent capitol for the state of North Carolina. It was ruined by a fire and has since been restored. There are several gardens on the grounds that are perfectly manicured, and I don’t know how we were so lucky to have the place to ourselves.

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I do recommend visiting New Bern if you have a chance. We really enjoyed our Sunday spent there!

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