Here’s another fun adventure we enjoyed over this past winter, during Coivd… skydiving. After going parasailing, the girls had mentioned how the “fear-factor” was no biggie, and that they’d like to try skydiving sometime. So, I called them on it and booked a tandem jump at Skydive City in Zephryhills, FL. Coincidentally, about 28 years earlier, it is where Gretchen and I had gone for one of our first dates while students at UCF in Orlando. Back then, on a total whim, we jumped in the car and headed over with a couple of friends. It was such a blast! Although we had not been skydiving again since then, we remembered how awesome Skydive City was! Their safety record is (still) spotless, their facilities fantastic, and their instructors are super cool, highly skilled and very accomplished. Best of all, they take you up higher than most places – over 13,000 feet so that you get to experience over a full minute of freefall at 120 miles per hour. The day that we went this most recent time was in January, and it was bitterly cold by Florida standards (40 degrees?). Not the norm! But it was also sunny, clear and beautiful! Gretchen didn’t go up this time– just Kendall, Kaelyn, and myself. Needless to say, the girls did great, just as they always seem to do whenever I challenge them. They had a blast and I imagine they’ll be headed back with friends, soon! This was an awesome Father/Daughter experience, one I’m sure they’ll never forget. I know I won’t!
Archive for category: Family and Friends
Looking for a fun Florida “staycation” getaway? Check out kayaking with the manatees in Crystal River during the winter months when the manatees head into Florida’s springs to keep warm. Super inexpensive adventure and a chance to experience some pretty interesting Florida wildlife up close and personal. You can even jump in and snorkel with the gentle giants if you like (but no touching, of course). We used Get Up & Go Kayaking for the outfitters. They have crystal clear see-through kayaks and great guides who put you right on top of the manatees. Check ’em out!
Here are a few pictures of Picken’s Nose in North Carolina. This was a fairly challenging, spectacular hike through a bear sanctuary. There weren’t many people there and the quiet hike through a truly enchanted-feeling forest was really something special. Eventually, you pop out into an area where there are some dramatic rock outcroppings with incredible views of the area. This place was great!
On our trip to Franklin, NC, we visited a place called Picken’s Nose, which is a demanding hike through a bear sanctuary, but also one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina. One thing we didn’t realize before we went was that the entrance to the trailhead required an 8-mile drive up a winding, narrow gravel road, which would be fine in my Jeep, but not in my wife’s car, an Azera with a low-set base, which is the one we took on the trip. It was well worth it, but be aware should you ever decide to go.
So, if you go to Tallulah Gorge State Park and show up early enough in the morning to get one of the 100 daily permits that are issued to go beyond the end of the regular trail all the way to the gorge bottom, and you make that difficult hike, this is your reward. It’s a pretty unique experience and a fun one!
On our trip to Franklin, NC, we ventured down into northern Georgia for a very special adventure – hiking Tallulah Gorge. This is a 3.4-mile hike down into the very steep 1,000-foot gorge. This was a serious hike, extremely difficult in parts, with a lot of boulder climbing. There’s a regular (fairly easy) trail that ends at a suspension bridge, but if you get a special permit (they only issue 100 per day, so you have to arrive early), then you can proceed off-trail and continue all the way on down to the gorge bottom, navigating along unmarked rock walls and trails along the river. Eventually, you come to a big sliding rock formation that dumps into a refreshing pool of water at the very bottom! You have to climb back up a ridiculously steep boulder trail to get back to the top, but it’s well worth it! My daughters, Kendall and Kaelyn led the way for our crew! Here are a few pics from the hike. I’ll post a video of the rock slide, next.
We recently took a fun trip up to Franklin, N.C. and had a great time hiking, zip-lining and enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty. Here are a couple of pictures of the cabin where we stayed. The next few posts will document some of our adventures.
Nice pic from earlier this year at Mickler’s Landing for PVPC’s Easter Sunrise Service.
I recently took a trip to Payne’s Prairie to hang out with my oldest daughter, Kendall, for Dad / Daughter weekend with her sorority at the University of Florida. Kendall and I decided to go for a hike in this spectacular state park and came across a lot of wildlife (although we didn’t run into any wild horses or bison -yes, bison- that live in the park). Nonetheless, it was an awesome time adventuring with my daughter, who’s always up for exploring with me.
Here’s some bad cell phone footage of Jack Johnson on his recent (2017) stop at the St. Augustine Amphitheater in St. Augustine, Florida (Sorry, I was too busy watching and listening to try and film him!) Fantastic concert, as always! Here’s Jack doing a cover of Sublime’s Bad Fish and Boss DJ.
The Blizzard Branch Syrup company in Middendorf, South Carolina makes pure cane sugar syrup using fresh cut sugar cane and a hand press. Sugar cane goes in. Sweet stuff comes out. Then it’s off to be strained boiled and strained again. Willy Wonka has nothing on these guys! I’m pretty sure this is where they recorded the sound effects for that movie, anyway. This is a great example of sustainable farming and agritourism. Interesting stuff! We had a good time romping around up there while visiting family in Hartsville, SC over the Thanksgiving holidays.
Here’s one more unplugged acoustic cover from the Dead 27’s. This one is Stevie Wonder’s ’74 classic, “Livin’ in the City”. Again, you can’t really even try to tackle a song like this one on unless you’ve got a lot of soul in you. These guys do.
Here’s a couple of more great tunes for you! If you want to catch a fantastic up-and-coming band, check out the Dead 27s (named for all of the famous musicians who died at age 27 including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, among others). They’re based out of Charleston, SC where they recently won Rock Band of the Year and Best Rock Song for the area. Their sound is a mix of rock, funk and soul. They’ve put out a couple of albums, the most recent being Ghosts Are Calling, which represents their first major record deal. They’ll be touring to support that album this year.
Will Evans, their lead guitarist, keyboardist and harmony vocalist is a great guy who is marrying my wife’s cousin, Amanda. We get to see both of them up on the Chapman family farm in Hartsville, SC each year, which I’ve written about here before. I’m excited for both of them. I’m sure 2017 is going to be an epic year for Will and Amanda in many ways!
The Dead 27s have an active Facebook page where they regularly post unplugged acoustic music videos. I’m going to post a couple of their fantastic covers. Here’s Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” which they performed as a tribute shortly after the Purple One’s passing. This is Will and lead singer, Trey Francis. I don’t know too many people who could pull this song off. You’ve just got to have a lot of soul to be able to do it. These guys have got it! I’ll post one more after this showcasing the entire band tackling Stevie Wonder. It’s also pretty amamzing! Enjoy, and make sure to check ’em out!
A peek at the fun from our recent annual trip up to farm country in Hartsville, SC at Thanksgiving! Roasting hot dogs on a stick and making s’mores is always on the agenda here. Good times!
I recently took a trip to the Smoky Mountains with my brother Rob’s wife and daughters, her parents, and my own, to release some of my brother’s ashes into the Appalachians, up there. His 18-year-old daughter, Madison, found this perfect spot. This stream is on the Gatlinburg side of the Great Smoky Mountain. Fortunately, we made it up there just a few weeks before the deadly wildfires of this past week.
Rob, myself and our family used to travel up here every Christmas, to romp around around in the snow, hike the trails and go skiing. Like all of us, Rob loved it, and while his soul is with the Lord, I know he’d sure be happy with the returning of the ashes of his body to the earth, right here in this beautiful, peaceful setting that held so many great memories for our family. Rest in Peace, Rob. We love you, and will never forget you.