Outdoor Adventures

5 Reasons For Americans To Travel Their Own Country

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While some people envy those hopping around Europe, touring Asia, or soaking up the sun on the exotice beaches of Bali, I sort of envy the complete opposite vibe of all that. Granted, I want to visit more outside the United States in the future, and a luxurious Mediterranean cruise sounds lovely once in a while. However, those destinations are not that pressing because even though I’ve traveled to a good portion of the United States, there is still so much to this big ol’ country I have yet to explore. And really, I have always thought it silly to visit all the other countries (unless an inexpensive or rare opportunity presents itself) before first getting to know your own country.

The hubs and I have a few surrounding areas we want to visit while living in the Pacific Northwest, and we are slowly knocking those off our list. And lately, my dream vacation has just been a good old fashioned road trip. Specifically, there’s something to be said for a classic American cross country road trip. Even though we basically did that on our move out to Seattle from Columbus, Ohio, I am excited to do a different route on our move to the New England area in the near future.

So, what are the advantages for us Americans to travel around our own backyard?
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Finding Serenity At The Portland Oregon Japanese Garden

Portland Oregon Japanese Garden_Tall Trees

During our visit to Seattle last month, the husband and I spared a couple days to visit Portland, Oregon. We traveled by Amtrak which was very easy, relaxing and pretty chill… except for on the way back with two ladies behind us yakking the whole way and a crying baby. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It seemed relatively easy to switch cars if need be as well, and I would definitely travel by train again.

The highlight of our trip (if you don’t count some of the best ice cream at Salt & Straw and the fried chicken and biscuits at Pine State Biscuits — so delicious!!!) was visiting the Portland Japanese Garden. Continue reading

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Tips On Preparing For Your First Skydiving Jump

I recently wrote and gushed unabashedly about how much I loved my first skydiving experience. Well, I loved it so much that I think everyone should try it at least once. So, here are a few tips if you’re thinking of jumping from a  perfectly good airplane anytime soon.

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Choose Your Skydiving Preference:

For your very first skydive, it’s usually suggested to go tandem where you are harnessed to an instructor. You could choose static line if that’s an option. In static line, your parachute automatically deploys within 5 seconds of exiting the aircraft, but then you don’t experience freefall. I highly recommend doing tandem for your first jump to get the full experience of skydiving. You could then do a static line jump if you want more focus on guiding a parachute by yourself. For tandem, expect to be at your skydiving location of choice for two to three hours… maybe a half day. For static line, it seems you’ll need almost a whole day. Continue reading

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I Went Skydiving For The First Time & I Fucking LOVED It!

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The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?

OK.

*deep breath*

Internets, I think I have a problem.

This may take a while to explain, so grab a cup of coffee and a pastry or something.

I feel a little lightheaded, and I kind of have the shakes. I cannot stop thinking about getting my next fix. I’m bugging my husband to dole out the cash for more. I’m on the verge of peer pressuring more pawns friends into joining me on this crazy ride. I want to lose myself to that high over and over again.

I should so write song lyrics.

But seriously, you guys have got to try this.

It’s called adrenaline. Pure, unadulterated adrenaline.

More specifically, fucking skydiving.

So if you haven’t gathered by now with all my gushing lately, I went skydiving with the husband and few friends a little over a week ago, and oh my god… it was insane!

When talking to other people about skydiving, it seems we’re in the minority and complete wack jobs for wanting to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. So, let’s back this train up a bit, yo.

How did this crazy awesome day all come together?

Well, on a fated day in mid-March, a friend casually mentioned on Facebook that he wanted to go skydiving and shouted out to his friends to let him know if we wanted to join him. I watched as the conversation unfolded into a lot of “No fucking way.” to “Oh, hell no.” to “Are you crazy?” and to his mom saying, “Why do you hate your mother?”. It was quite amusing, to say the least.

Further down the thread though, another close friend chimed in by simply saying, “I’m in.” He’s the one we can always count on to be up for an adventure, and that’s all it took for me to facetiously say, “Well, if everyone else is doing it…”

I’m not a follower by any means, but there are things that are better with your closest friends. And folks, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is one of those things.

So then… a few days later on a Monday morning, our friend messaged me asking if April 5th at 10am was good for me to go fucking skydiving.

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Uhh…

1. I honestly kind of thought this little adventure of his wouldn’t come to fruition.

and

2. He said “within a few months” not a few weeks.

I calmly said, “Hold, please.” while I proceeded to message the husband, “Hey husband, do you want to go skydiving on April 5th at 10am with our friends?”

Now somewhat surprisingly, my husband has mentioned quite a few times over the years about wanting to go skydiving. However, I wasn’t sure if he would actually ever do it. After quickly justifying spending the money and what could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity with his closest friends, it took him about five minutes to say, “Yes, let’s do it.” … he didn’t even think twice about it.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how the husband and I along with several of our good friends decided to go fucking skydiving.

Then several panic attacks erupted throughout the group. :)

For the three weeks from the time we scheduled up to the morning of our jump, I was excited yet a little apprehensive whenever I thought about our plans. After all, I’m scared of heights and get woozy on ladders if I look down. But, I’m also the type of person who just hates ladders. If given the choice to scale a building or climb a ladder or use scaffolding, I’m going to climb that bitch. Because even though the height will scare me no matter what, I’d rather trust myself and a stable building than a wobbly ladder or sway-y scaffolding. (Sway-y is a word, right?) Does that make sense? Plus, I’m like a little monkey. I like to climb things. If I could get over the fear of heights the always looming fear of death, I know I would love rock climbing.

Fast forward to the night before… it took me forever to get to sleep. I was immeasurably excited yet crazy anxious thinking about the next day. In preparation, the husband and I packed some drinks and snacks, and I laid out some comfy, well-fitting, light layers to wear the next day.

And I’m not gonna lie… as I packed a change of clothes for afterwards, I also threw in a spare pair of underwear. After all, this was my first time fucking skydiving. I didn’t know how I would feel during the whole experience. Would the anxiety increase? Would I feel sick? Whenever I get nervous under other circumstances, nausea and sweating ensues. So obviously, I wanted to be prepared in case I shit or piss myself.

I have no shame, you guys.

Shit happens.

When the husband and I woke up in the morning, we were both still anxious as we gathered all our stuff together, picked up a friend, and made our way to the tiny airport. The rest of our group was already there, and the energy was… electric. It was subtle, but you could feel this buzzing intensity of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation that just kept increasing as we all prepared for our first jump.

For me though, the anxiety lifted almost completely and was filled with eagerness. Something took ahold of me, and I just couldn’t wait for my turn.

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The company’s airplane could comfortably hold four people, so our group went up in pairs. But since we had a group of seven from bringing on a friend at sort of the last minute, they allowed for three of us to pack into this tiny airplane with our instructors. This prevented one of us from being left out of the group and having to experience fucking skydiving all by him or herself.

So, I was part of a group of six people plus a pilot packed into the tiniest airplane. My instructor and I were positioned on the floor parallel along the edge of the exit… next to the plastic “door” that rolls down. Yeah… one of those planes. Surprisingly, that didn’t make me nervous. Like I said, I was just getting more and more pumped. Nothing could faze me at this point.

As we ascended into the air, my instructor went over everything once again. I’m pretty sure all I said in response to his instructions was “OK” because afterwards he said, “You seem pretty prepared.” Ha. Well, I guess I was… pretty much as prepared as one can be about to jump out of plane for the very first time.

Over the next 20 minutes or so as the plane slowly climbed and climbed, my instructor and I pretty much just shot the shit. He told me of his favorite places he had been skydiving. He asked how I got talked into doing this, and I told him I was one of the first to jump on board this whole skydiving extravaganza. He pointed out landmarks as we climbed into the air while also cracking a joke… I was craning my neck to see better out the window, and he brought up a good point that I would soon have a clear view of everything.

Once we were close to the jump altitude of 10,000 feet, I slapped on my goggles and my instructor attached himself to my harness. I basically had to sit on his lap for that last bit. (By the way, tandem skydiving means getting pretty damn cozy with your instructor.) He rolled up the window, swung one leg out so I could twist my body to thrust my legs out of the plane’s door and perch on the edge. For a couple seconds, I was suspended there with my legs dangling out into the open air.

They weren’t able to do video service the day we went, but I wish I could have seen what happened next. The husband said I didn’t look nervous at all. All I remember was crossing my arms and being ready… partially expecting my instructor to move his other leg out the plane’s door and partially expecting him to say something before plunging us to the earth. He told me before we left that the last case scenario was to fall out backwards because of how we would all be packed into the airplane. I seriously tried to contain my glee when he told me that could be a possibility. Not that I didn’t want to see when we jumped but that I thought it would be a lot more fun to go out backwards.

Without warning, my instructor wrapped his arms around me and boom. We basically just fell out of the plane sideways… which was also just as awesome.

I might be a crazy girl.

It took my brain a few seconds to register that we just fell out of a goddamn perfectly good airplane and are spinning in the fucking air. I can’t tell you how excited I am that we did a couple spins! It seems mostly everyone else just went face forward… which is probably what the instructors are supposed to do with skydiving virgins.

Now, freefall… that shit is exhilarating and pretty much indescribable. Once I did a little screaming and uttered a “holy shit”, I steadied my breathing and remembered as instructed to look at the horizon and not at the ground. It honestly feels like flying. It was the most thrilling experience of my life, and that 30 to 45 seconds whizzes by way too fast. It’s also the highly addictive part of skydiving.

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Once we reached the correct altitude, my instructor tapped my hand to prompt me to open the parachute. Once the chute opened, the roaring sound of the wind turned to almost complete silence. It was beautiful and so utterly serene to just glide around in the sky. If you could have seen me, I was probably grinning from ear to ear.

The instructor showed me how to guide the parachute, make turns, and spin. We practiced what to do when it came time to land. My one friend who jumped after me was in the air near me and we waved at each other, laughed, and screamed hello to each other like high school cheerleaders.

After about five minutes of enjoying the view, we landed swiftly and smoothly. I hugged my husband when he landed soon after me and was so excited that we both felt the same way. We then chattered excitedly with our friends about our incredible experience of fucking skydiving.

Can’t wait to do it again… and again. 

xo~ Frani

p.s. Thinking of going skydiving for the first time? Check out my tips!

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Franklin Park Conservatory In Columbus OH ~ Bruce Munro Light

It always bothers me when you see a bunch of people at events with their families, but they’re also lugging around their fancy cameras and tripods. You have to walk around them and try not to get in their shot. Their families are waiting on them. They have to wait for you to move out of their frame. A traffic jam of people occurs. Seeing a bunch of people with cameras up to their eyeballs is distracting from the real experience let alone if they’re breaking out their tripods and lighting equipment. Everyone’s experience is hindered.

Maybe someday there will be unplugged events like unplugged weddings. I’d rather quickly snap a few amateur photos and enjoy the experience with my friends and family that I feel is lost if I’m trying to capture that “perfect” shot every half hour.

Ya feel me?

Wow, that was pretty rant-y of me…

Anyway… a few weeks ago, The Hubs and I ventured out to the Franklin Park Conservatory to check out Bruce Munro’s Light exhibition. We found a few of the exhibitions a bit meh, but a few of them were also kind of cool. Here is my visual sampling…

Franklin Park Conservatory_Bruce Munro Icos

Franklin Park Conservatory_Bruce Munro Eden Blooms

The next three images are from my favorite of the installations titled The Field Of Light and the only one where I spent a significant amount of time with the camera up to my eyeballs. ;) It is outside and pretty wide open. It would be an awesome setting for an outdoor nighttime wedding.

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The next two images is from the Beacon installation which is a bunch of recycled plastic bottles.

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Franklin Park Conservatory_Bruce Munro Beacon (2)

Franklin Park Conservatory_Bruce Munro Whizz Pops (2)

Franklin Park Conservatory_Bruce Munro Whizz Pops (1)

The exhibit goes on until March 30, 2014. Be forewarned that the price of admission is a few dollars more than the general admission fee, but it’s a good choice if you and your significant other are looking for something romantic to do in the city. 

Bruce Munro Field Of Light (3)

xo~ Frani

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Into The Wilds ~ An Ohio Safari Adventure

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Howdy, folks! I hope all is well with y’all. The Hubs and I have been apartment hunting like mad fools for quite some time now, and It. Is. Exhausting. And insanely frustrating. We now know that starting our search early was a good call on our part seeing as almost every landlord/owner disses on us for having a dog, and it appears that it is just apocalyptic that we have two dogs. Bow before their destruction.

Bow. Get it?

Anyhow… this past Saturday, we took a break from scouring the city for a new home and ventured into The Wilds which is a conservation center that sits on 10,000 acres in rural southeastern Ohio.

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The Wilds_Columbus OH_Zebra

The Wilds_Columbus OH_Wild Flowers

I never heard of this place until recently, and all the husband had to say was “They have giraffes.” for me to say “Fuck yes we’re going!”.

I  me some giraffes.

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They have a variety of tours. We did the Open-Air Safari tour. Amazingly, most of the animals come up to the buses on the road, so we were able to see them up close and personal.

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Because of the closeness, I also didn’t really feel the need for one of the big, fancy-ass zoom lenses I saw a lot of “photographers” wielding, which is good because I love me some fixed focal lenses.

At one point, I was ready to bolt from my seat when an ostrich approached us.

The Wilds_Columbus OH Ostrich

We already decided if we visit again, we would like to do the Wildside Tour to get up real close with the animals with the chance of petting and feeding them.

Except for maybe this guy…

The Wilds_Columbus OH_Sichuan Takin

The Sichuan Takins are some crazy looking animals.

But these Persian Onagers are so cute and pretty…

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Of course, I have a soft spot in my heart for giraffes. My eyes got real wide and I squealed like a little girl when I saw one. Seeing these beautiful animals in a more natural habitat and not in a zoo is simply breathtaking.

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It was a fun and amazing experience that I highly recommend. Plus, the ticket fees go toward funding the conservation center and helping many endangered species!

xo~ Frani

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