Thursday, October 13, 2011

Out on a Limb

Last spring, Graham and I took advantage of one of the perks of writing for a magazine — trying things you would normally never do. Through AY, I've had the opportunity to swing from rides at Silver Dollar City after eating "succotash"; shake the white-gloved hand of Al Green; fly on a private jet to Nashville to watch a band showcase; and sip cucumber water in the waiting room before a massage at the Alluvian Hotel Spa in Mississippi. None of those things prepared me for the challenge of flying from the trees — 50 feet (that's like a five-story building!) above the ground — at the Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours at WolfeCreek last spring.
We, of course, picked the worst day possible to zipline. It was early March, drizzling and around 40 degrees. After debating for an hour or so that morning on whether or not to bail on the trip, we finally accepted our fate and headed out to Wolfe Creek. 
The $4 million Branson Zipline facility was very impressive. This “walk along the tree line” is perfect for those who have a lust for the illusion of danger, but relish in the assurance of absolute safety. After getting acquainted with our guides and our gear, including a harness and helmet, we were transported to the top of Wolfe Mountain to begin our adventure.
We traversed our first suspension bridge, which consisted of slats of wood with a perforated covering — so we could see the ground below us moving further and further away. The bridge, held together by ropes, led us to the first zipline tower. 

Graham on suspension bridge

One of our two guides went ahead of us to the next tower and signaled he was ready for the first of the group. Rather than give Graham the opportunity to watch me scream and kick as I flew to the second tower, I opted to “man up” and go first. 
Not only do you have to step off of a 50-foot tower with nothing but the ground below you and nothing holding you to the zipline but a metal clamp, you also have to walk up three stairs located right on the very edge of the platform to take that first step off. After ascending the tallest three-step staircase I’ve ever climbed in my life, I hooked myself onto the zipline; gave it about 15 good tugs to make sure it was going to hold; asked the second guide waiting to send me off, “Are you sure this is safe?” about five times; then took a deep breath and went against everything in my being screaming "Don't jump!" and stepped out into the air.

It would be impossible to explain the exhilaration of sailing through the treetops of the Ozarks, watching the ground speeding across well below your feet, unless you have experienced something like it. The thrill and the lingering possibility of danger, combined with the shrillness of my screams and laughter echoing through the beauty of nature was incomparable. You really must try it … I cant’ wait to get back! Here are some photos from our trip. To read my full write up in AY Magazine click here!


With our awesome guides

We visited Wolf Creek in the cold, rainy early spring. This is what the grounds look like now. Beautiful! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DIY Halloween Decor

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday. I love dressing up for any occasion and, on Halloween, those who choose not to participate in the festive spirit are the odd ones out. Aside from the careful selection and assembly of my costume ... 

Dia de los Muertos with Graham 2010
... one of my favorite Halloween activities is decorating my home. This year, I kept a few of my favorites — fake spiderwebs, orange lights and skeletons — and tried a few new ideas; some were successful some not so much. 

Webs, lights (real dogs) and fake rats!

 Graham and I invested hours in a project that I found on the Country Living website that looked absolutely amazing and easy to make. You print a template of a bat shape, buy black felt squares (about 25 cents each), cut out lots of bats then duct tape them to your house. Easy, right? Graham got creative and even cut out different sizes of bats to make them look like they were ascending into the night. We stuck them all up on the house and marveled at our work for about two hours ... then they all fell off. The felt wouldn't stick to the duct tape. The idea is great, but I think if we had added a dab of superglue between the bats and the duct tape it would have held up. Try it and let me know!

Fake bat fail

The bats failed, but the Trash Bag Ghosts were a major hit. Graham's 3-year old daughter helped me out with these spooky decorations.  

Trash Bag Ghosts
White or light-colored plastic grocery bags
Small or medium sized trash bags
Trash bag twisty ties
Permanent markers
Masking tape

What to Do
Rip a bag off the roll

Stuff it with about four old grocery bags

 Twisty tie ghost's neck and draw faces

Tape 3 feet of string to ghosts' heads

Tie to tree branches

Have fun!

... and when Halloween is over, just throw your Trash Bag Ghosts in the recycling bin.

Here are some other ideas I found online and haven't gotten around to trying yet. If you do let me know how it goes!  

I love this, but don't have a staircase. AND I found paper mouse silhouettes at the Dollar Tree, so that pretty much eliminates ALL the work on this project!

Mouse Motel: so easy, even I could probably carve it.

Heebie Jeebie factor is through the roof on this Egg Sac decoration. I love it though.  

A few cut branches, pumpkins and fake blackbirds and this idea could be really eye-catching.

Happy Halloween!