Tag Archives: adventure

Snowmobiling

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“Do one thing every day that scares you,” I whisper this as I slip slide UP a mountain side at Arches National Park on a beautiful afternoon. “Then do one thing every day that terrifies you,” adds my travel mate David.

Arches National Park wasn’t an original stop on our list–in fact, I hadn’t even known it existed. But as David and I reach the top of the mountain side which reveals one of the most beautiful natural arches of the world–I smile. I’m happy to be here. Hiking has always been therapeutic for me–even if I don’t always appear to be the most graceful one scaling the mountain. Something about the way the sun shines off the landscape–and the way the wind blows the dirt–or the leaves on the trees has always had a calming effect on me. Hiking often gives me time to reflect.

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As we take pictures under the arch, that we’ve just masterfully climbed to, I feel like I finally have some time to think about the moments I’ve spent on the trip so far–the moments that were unplanned–and the moments that were planned.
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Snowmobiling had always been planned–but like climbing up a slippery side of a mountain, it also instilled a bit of fear in me. The last time I tried to tackle a ski mountain–it was on a down hill mountain bike–and I had crashed the bike. And the last time I had ridden on anything similar to a snowmobile was in the summer of 2006, when I went jet skiing for the first time. Despite having the opportunity to try and drive the jet ski, I declined and enjoyed the ride as a passenger the entire time.

This time was different. This time I would be taking the driver’s seat first. This time, for the most part, I would be in control and in charge for safely getting us up an 11,000 foot mountain in Colorado–and back down.  As I turn the key, I take a deep breath. I look at David, who is going to start out driving the other mobile, and he grins. He’s ready for a thrill. I ask Kim, who’s on my mobile, if she’s ready–and she is. Our tour guide takes off–I press the throttle with my thumb–and we are off.

Not before long, the sun is brightly shining off the snow, we’re soaring past trees, taking tight turns, and zooming up a valley of hills. The terrain changes from turn to turn going from a two lane snow-way to a narrow steep section bordered by giant trees whose arms seem to reach out to attempt and grab us at times.  And as we reach a clearing–it feels as if we could be flying–without wings attached. My nerves are gone–This is freaking awesome.

After a brief moment of making sure the tour group is all together, I ask Kim if she’d like to take the driver’s seat. We swap positions. But before we even make it around our first curve, we manage to drive the mobile through a three-foot wall of snow sending the snowmobile just feet away from toppling on top of us. Kim and I fall off the mobile and land in a pool of powder. Kim and I look at each other, David rushes over to us, and I begin to giggle. “You okay, Libs?” Kim asks.

I giggle again. “I’m good–but how do we get this snow mobile out of here?”

After a five minute dose of a 7 person effort to dig out a path for the snow mobile–we are back on track. And instead of being scared-I am excited to get back on. This mountain–this trek to the Continental Divide is meant to be conquered–much like the icey trek to the top of Arches National Park just a couple days later.

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It’s now been just a few weeks since both the snowmobiling adventure and the Arches National Park Hike–and again I am having time to reflect as I snow shoe around the side of one of earth’s greatest natural wonders: Crater Lake Park. As I ungracefully hike–falling down once in a while, my friend Adam reminds me that “Fear is a habit.” And he’s right. Fear is only what we let it be and only how controlling we let it get.  Fear is unintentionally-intentional-it becomes a choice. If we let every fall scare us–if we choose to let fear over-ride our courage–then our ability to find out what we are truly capable of will always be fogged. And the earth and life is a lot more beautiful when we can see clearly. And I can safely say that I’m happy to be seeing life so clearly (even if it’s through my yellow sunglasses many of the times 😉  ).


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Skydiving

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“Close your tired eyes-Relax and then-Count from one to ten-and open them-All the heavy thoughts will try to weigh you down-But not this time-Way up in the air-You’re finally free”-Owl City

If I had told you that jumping out of a plane was on my original “52 hobbies in 52 weeks” list, I’d be lying. But after piloting a plane–and realizing how free I felt way up in the air, I knew I had to take the dive–the sky dive that is–and see what it really felt like to spread my wings and “fly.”

And it felt amazing.

 

David and I first booked our skydiving adventure to happen a couple weeks ago, but after Hurricane Sandy came through, we had to reschedule twice. And it’s a good thing we did. We were fortunate enough to jump on a day in Mid-November with well above average temps: 70 degrees.

As we arrived at Endless Mountain Skydivers, I could feel my smile brighten. “This is it. We are going to jump out of a plane today…and that’s pretty effin spectacular,” I thought to myself.

Not before long, we were watching a safety video, suiting up and heading into our plane. There was no turning back now–not even just to pee (the harnesses had us strapped in for good).

As the plane began to climb to it’s peak altitude, I felt my heart begin to beat with excitement. I watched the world get smaller below–the houses now just little boxes, the airport just a set of white crosses in a field. I took a breath. This is the part where I should probably be writing an in depth acknowledgement of the jitters that one feels right before they take a dive through the sky; or the part where I should be explaining that I was becoming fearful of the worst–but the truth is, I wasn’t. I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.

As the plane began to climb higher and higher, the more I wanted to do this. And the more times that my camera guy asked me if I was nervous, the less-nervous, I became. This was just another stopping point on my journey–that could only propel me ahead. What happened next is as clear to me as the sky outside of the plane:

 

I take a look out the window–I slide on my goggles, I wiggle my jaw, the door opens to the plane, I flash a smile at the camera–and then suddenly–we are free-falling. As we drop quickly, I can feel my adrenaline beginning to pump wildly. I grin as the cold air rushes past us. “I’m flying…I’m really flying,” I think to myself.  “I’m free, I”m free.” The fall is only 40 seconds long, but it’s the biggest rush I’ve ever had. As the world below, begins to get a little bigger down below, so does my smile. I feel like I am holding the whole world in my arms. 

As our free-fall reaches it’s climatic end, my instructor pulls our parachute sending us briefly back up into the sky, before floating down to the ground. I begin to feel a little motion sick as the adrenaline continues to rush through my body. My adrenaline is screaming at me, “You’re nuts–you’re nuts, you’ve gotten me all riled up. Even I can’t handle this.” I don’t let my illness ruin the experience. This is truly one of the greatest days of my life. 

And the truth is that this has been the greatest year of my life. And the adventure itself has been like one big skydiving trip. With each new hobby that I’ve tried, I’ve experienced a sensation of free-fall: including all the fears, all the anxiety, all the excitement, all the happiness, and all the utter joy. Every week–I feel like I have the whole world in my arms–and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

I can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

 

 

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Special Thanks
Endless Mountain Skydivers

 

 

Song in video:

Owl City
Shooting Star
–No copyright infringement intended!–

If you can make it here: My First Audition

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I moved to the city nearly three years ago, and while I call it “home,” I’m not quite sure I ever went through my official initiation– that is until this past weekend, when I attended my first audition.

Now. I should stop for a moment. I have many, many friends here in the city who are actors and actresses, and in no way, shape, or form am I attempting to take away from their hard work and effort—by calling auditioning a hobby—because for most all of them it isn’t. Auditioning is serious business and leads to amazing opportunities.  More closely, auditioning resembles job interviews—Ideally, you only go to one of those every so often.

But this audition was a bit different. Unlike my friends who have practiced, rehearsed, and memorized their lines, I had to do nothing other than be myself and hope for the best.  I auditioned for a game show—which is quite a bit different than auditioning for a television pilot, series, indie or feature film. It’s about auditioning for a chance at having fun—and winning money. And that’s a hobby I could really get used to!

Now your big question. What game show was it? … Wheel of Fortune? Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Jeopardy.

Nope.

A brand new one—that features a hypnotist. This audition was for a game show pilot—which seemed even cooler. How awesome would it be to be the first contestant on the next big show!?

And even though the audition wasn’t for my future Emmy or Oscar winning role—I still got nervous. “What if I say something embarrassing while I am hypnotized?” What if I can’t be hypnotized?” “What if I DO get picked for this game show pilot?!” “What if I do win money?!” “What would I use the money on?!”  (That answer is easy—more hobbies—and traveling).

While I can’t dive too much into specifics—because I truly don’t know any part of the show other than the fact that someone tried to hypnotize me, I can tell you that the experience of applying—and finding out that they wanted me to even come in and audition at all was exhilarating in itself. I consider that the first win of it all.

My friend, Adam, who is on his own journey, travels the country, and runs the site We Own The Moment, came along with me—and I believe he said it best when he explained that it’s amazing how many opportunities there are to do something like this every day in New York City.  And he’s right–there are SO many opportunities. I began to question myself. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? Why hadn’t I auditioned for ANYTHING sooner?

I could go into the psychology of why I hadn’t—but for now I think I’ll just start focusing on the present which involves a stack of casting calls…because hey…why the heck not?

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In honor of the theme of hypnotism, I thought I’d include the recent Joseph Gordon-Levitt skit from SNL:

Bruises Really do Make for Better Conversation: Downhill Mountain Biking

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Disclaimer: Title of this blog post is based on song “Bruises” by Train.

Ski mountains have always been a bit terrifying for me. The first time I tried to go down something other than the bunny hill, in 6th grade, I fell so hard that my skis popped off. I decided that this was the moment that instead of going down the hill–I’d walk back up it and straight into the lodge. After a dinner full of persuasion, my best friend had me back out on the mountain in no time.

A year later, my brother broke his arm and leg skiing.

And the following year, I took a tumble down a black diamond that had all my co-skiiers questioning how I’d ever survived the fall without breaking my neck. I laughed and said, “Let’s do it again.”

Even still, ski mountains are kryptonite to me. Smiling, I can take on any hill, but inside all my organs are twisting.

When I signed up for downhill mountain biking–I really didn’t know what I was getting in to. A Twitter follower had suggested it–and had suggested the perfect place as well. I reached out to Mountain Creek Bike Park and they were ecstatic about having me come out for a trial lesson and run on the mountain.

When I told my friend what I’d be doing, his response was:  “Oh that’s awesome! You know it’s like a ski mountain right?!”

HUH?

“Like a bunny hill though, right?”

“No–a ski slope.”

Oh…Right…I’ll be fine.
As I approached Mountain Creek Park on Sunday afternoon, I could feel myself bubbling with both anxiety and excitement.

I suited up, met my instructor Jon–and headed outside for a quick tutorial on the basics. Following our flat ground lesson, Jon took me to the lift–and said it was time to head up to the top of the mountain. Again, my insides bubbled. I remained calm and continued to talk to Jon along our ride.

We pulled our bikes off the lift-hopped on and headed toward the green hill. As we approached, I smiled and said to myself “Libs, you got this.” And then we were off. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. After a few turns, a couple of stops, some high fives, and a short  glance at a double – black diamond- that Jon has taken a ride down before–we took off for our next couple turns.

“Oh god. Oh Jesus. Oh God. Oh Jesus” (that was the most the holy man had heard from me in a long time). With each bump, my “oh Gods” became more frequent. As I came around a turn I began to lose control, my feet came off the pedals, and I came off the side of the bike as it fell to the ground. ‘Deep breath,’ I thought to myself as Jon asked me “what happened?”

“I hit the breaks too hard and I panicked.” That was the easy answer. But within moments, I was back on the bike, ready to take on the next challenging turns…I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

And then it hit me–no not a lightning bolt–but instead my own bike.

As I went over a rocky area, I lost control of the bike, and took a turn persay–without taking a turn, sending me off track. As I tried to stop myself I felt my butt fall behind the seat–and as the breaks eventually caught, I felt the bike seat jam directly back into my groin muscle and–babymaker–aka pelvic bone. Pain immediately swelled over the lower half of my body. Jon came over and helped me to get out of this unpleasant situation….and I attempted to walk it off.

Realizing I couldn’t really lift my leg–I began to tear behind my helmet. “Just give me a moment. I got this…” But I didn’t. The pain didn’t subside, and the movement in my leg, due to the crushed muscle, was limited–My bike ride was over.

Jon understood. But my disappointment level was high. I do a really good job of laughing and smiling about things–even when I am experiencing multiple levels of pain-and frustration–but really I just wanted to curl up in a ball. The thought of physically not being able to get back up was just as painful as the bruised pelvic bone I’d have for the rest of the day.

Even still, there is a lesson in this. We’re not invincible–I’m not invincible. And it’s these falls–and these bruises that teach us about our pain tolerance–both mentally–and physically. It’s these falls and these bruises that teach us about the risk–in taking risks. And most of all, it’s these fells and bruises that give us something to go back and conquer later. This won’t be my last time at Mountain Creek Bike Park. I still have unfinished business to attend to.

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Mountain Creek Bike Park

bikepark.mountaincreek.com

What the professionals look like doing it:

The Hobby Hoarder Aims, Shoots, Fires: Shooting Range

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Inhale. Exhale. Aim. Shoot. Fire. Inhale. Exhale. Do again.

The last time, and only time I shot a gun, I was on a camping trip with my sixth grade boyfriend at the time. His father, his brother, he and several other men were excited to head out to middle of the woods at a deserted camp site and shoot guns. As a guest, I went along for the ride, believing I wouldn’t have to touch a gun.

Half-way through their target practice, the older–very good looking–brother handed me a gun–a pistol–and said here–aim at the target and shoot. Nervously, I took the gun. I shot, and I fired. Shaking, I handed the gun back to the older brother of my then boyfriend and said, “Not for me–not again–this is scary.”

I believed that my first time pulling a trigger would be my last time. But as the hobby project came into play, I decided that learning how to shoot a gun–for real–and safely–would be interesting and useful–in case of an absolute emergency. You see as an avid Law and Order SVU watcher–as well as action movie fan, I have always predicted that I’d be the girl to try to shoot the gun and discover very quickly that the safety was still on. In real life–this could be the difference between my living and my dying (in worse scenario–of course). The lesson at the West Side Rifle & Pistol Range served as the perfect educational model for learning to use a gun.

Two of my friends joined me, and we anxiously awaited our instructor on the day of our lesson. As our teacher described the parts of the gun, my palms began to sweat more and more. “I was really going to pick up a gun again.” As he told us that we needed to find out which eye was our dominant eye, I stared at him, and attempted to mimmick him…He laughed. “You are doing it wrong.”

I began to shake a bit more. “If I can’t get the parts right where we don’t hold a gun…How will this guy ever trust me pulling a trigger?”

But he did…and I shot-I aimed-I fired–safely–fifty times. Looking a bit nerdy too:

Thank goodness, I didn’t shoot my eye out.

West Side Rifle & Pistol Range
20 West 20th Street
Manhattan, NY


The Hobby Hoarder is the 10 Billion Dollar Libby: Boxing

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I didn’t set out, schedule, or predict that I would end up at a boxing lesson for the hobby of the week, this week, but I did. In fact, I should have been at a West-African dance class at the Alvin Ailey Center that I had put on my calendar two weeks earlier. I am not sure how I got to the boxing gym. I had called my mother hours earlier to say it was a beautiful day outside and that I wanted to change my hobby from West-African dance to something outdoorsy. She suggested being a “naturalist.” Apparently, I decided to act naturally on my current feelings because four hours later, I was sitting in a boxing gym, texting my best friend to say, “What the hell am I doing–do you think they’ll make me jump rope–and will I get hit in the face…I am a crier.”

I realized that frustrations that had built up from the evening prior, and the day of, had sent me to the boxing gym to release tension–in a safe way. I didn’t want to hit a person–I just wanted to punch my problems away.  I mean it… I wear yellow sunglasses, damnitt–I am NOT a violent person.

Besides, for self-defense–it’s not so bad to know how to throw a punch–or block your face.


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While on my back-to-back quest to discover how to defend myself, I realized that I was really just disguising another quest…to become Hilary Swank movie characters–I’ll be flying a plane on May 20–to take care of her role in Amelia.

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Church Street Boxing Gym
25 Park Place
Manhattan, NY

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