Often, the most interesting experiences are found in unexpected places. Recently, I traveled to Schwenksville, Pennsylvania – a small community just outside Philadelphia.
My plan for the weekend was to do a little sightseeing at Valley Forge, a little shopping at King of Prussia mall (that place is massive), grill some steaks on the barbie at Tiki Bar at Spring Mountain while sipping on a hurricane, and spend a couple of enchanting evenings at the Woodside Lodge. I managed to do all of those things with an added adventure.
Shortly after checking into Woodside Lodge, proprietors Rick and Gayle Buckman asked if I was interested in a canopy tour. This dynamic and entrepreneurial couple don’t just own the inn, they also own Spring Mountain Ski Lodge. They have cleverly created a source of summer revenue by setting up several canopy tours on the mountain. The canopy tours include zip-lining coupled with challenging ropes courses of varying degrees of difficulty. Their enthusiasm was contagious and it wasn’t long before I was convinced to give it a try.
As the time drew close for my adventure, I admit I was very nervous but I am not a quitter, so I signed the waiver (which basically said I could die) and followed the guides to the equipment area. I was fitted with a harness, given a helmet, and taken outside for a little ground school training. From there, we took the ski lift up the mountain for the big adventure.
I scrambled over some rocks and climbed the ladder onto the platform. My zip-line buddy, John, assured me I would be fine. “It’s a little weird when you first step off the platform into the air – it’s counter-intuitive,” he said. No kidding.
John had no problem overcoming the “counter-intuitive” action of stepping into thin air and off he zipped. I was next. Standing on the edge of the platform I was mostly concerned about whether or not the harness would hold. There was no graceful way to get out of this, so I went through the safety checks and heard myself saying “ready to zip.”
That was it. I stepped off the platform flying like a bird through the treetops! Well, actually, I think I more likely resembled a monkey going from tree to tree. I loved it! I could not wait for the next zip.
There were three zips in the tour with each being higher and longer than the previous. I zipped along, gaining confidence with each flight and then I spotted it…my next challenge.
Somehow the fact that the canopy tour was also a ropes course with a serious of challenges designed to take you out of your comfort zone and force you to face your fears had escaped my short term memory. The zipping was done, but to finish the tour I had to cross an Indiana-Jones-type suspension bridge – and I use the term bridge very loosely.
This thing was hanging 50 feet up and consisted of several metal plates no more than 15 or so inches wide with two ropes on the sides for support. The guides demonstrated just how easy it would be – I knew better. I was really going to die.
I took the first step onto the bridge with my right foot while the bridge took a violent swing in the opposite direction. Attempting to steady myself, I put my left foot down and I was off – like a snail. With each step my fear increased until I was violently trembling. The bridge kept pace with my trembling by producing its own brand of the shakes as I inched my way across.
In what felt like 30 or so days (but was actually just over a minute), I made it to the other side. My guide, Duncan, was there to meet me and I have never been so happy to see another person. Ever. I had done the unthinkable – for me anyway – and it was quite the adrenaline rush!
The saying goes that every journey begins with a single step. While it may seem that my journey to conquering the zip-line began with that first step off the platform, in reality it began when I ordered the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program a few years ago.
You see, using the tips and techniques for travel writing I learned in the course and following the suggestions for finding outlets to publish my articles resulted in my securing a column in a regional magazine.
My trip to Schwenksville (and ultimately to the zip-line) was work…research for my article. I contacted the local tourism office prior to my trip and was offered free accommodation, free meals, a free zip-line canopy tour experience and even free drinks. I needed one after that bridge!
Take the first step and order the program – you may find that crossing the bridge to become a travel writer is easier than you expected.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]