Can be found here:
Photos can be found here:
Can be found here:
Photos can be found here:
And now for the finale of the great adventure week…a Day at the Spa! This is something I have been looking forward to all week. Spa Terra, at the Meritage Hotel in Napa is a beautiful spa located inside a series of wine caves. It is elegant and beautiful.
I choose La Dolce Vita package: An indulgent retreat in their cave which begins with a Body Treatment including Scrub and Wrap, followed by a a full massage, and a ending with a Gentleman’s Facial. This is decadent! But Hell, I deserve it! Especially after adventure week.
The package includes a nice lunch which I indulge in after my treatment. Ahh what a morning! Too bad I can’t do this at least once a week!
And so Adventure Week ends! It has been a fantastic week. Great adventure, wonderful people. And I only sprained my ankle 4 times and lost a pair of Ray Bans! Not too bad. In summary, I’d say it was a winning week.
The last adventure is upon me. Sky diving! For this adventure, my daughter Zenia has joined me. We take off in the morning for Cloverdale, home of Norcal Skydiving. Once we get there, we sign all of our rights away, watch a video and get suited up. We are doing tandem jumps, so our harnesses are simple with no parachute. We will be strapped into our jump masters and they control the chute.
A small Cesna takes us up to about 10,000 feet. There are no seats in the plane except for the pilot’s. The four of us plus the videographer climb in the back and get comfortable. Our jump masters explain what is going to happen and what we need to do. Its really quite simple. Sit on the edge of an open plane, stick your feet out and roll forward. At 10,000 feet, I watch my eldest caught do exactly that.
I think to myself…”Oh shit, my daughter just jumped out of a plane!” About 2 minutes later, I do the same thing…
We free fall for about 45-60 seconds traveling act about 120 mph.
The rush of the air against my body is powerful. We do a few inversions, spins and other maneuvers. I have no idea where Zenia is. Then all of a sudden, the chute is deployed and I shoot up in the air. At this point, the experience is very much like hang gliding; serene, quiet and peaceful. I spot Zenia’s chute in the distance. OK, she is still with us! We drift around turning from one side to another taking in the beautiful views. I really can get into this flying thing…
In preparation for our landing my flight master describes what I need to do.
Legs up and out in case we do a butt landing. He swings us into position and we come down right on target. We actually make it down before Zenia. I get out of the landing zone and wait for Zenia to make her landing. They do so with pinpoint accuracy and grace.
What a great way to end the adventures! Time to start planning the next adventure week!!!
For those that missed it, my adventure week consisted of:
Fireworks on the bay on July 4th
Biplane ride with Acrobatic Maneuvers
A Day at the Spa
Adventure number 5 (assuming you don’t count everything I did on the 4th of July) has been tackled: a biplane ride over Napa and Sonoma Valleys with acrobatic maneuvers with The Vintage Aircraft Company and my pilot Tom Morris.
The plane is a 1942 Boeing Stearman BiPlane (N56749). We take off heading west from the Sonoma Airport, but immediately make a wide U-Turn and head over the Mayacamas Mountain over to The Napa Valley. We fly over the northern edge of the city of Napa and then head north following Highway 29. It is beautiful to see Napa from the sky! I can make out familiar landmarks in the city, even pinpoint my townhouse!
The flight up-valley is calm and beautiful. We cruise all the way up to Calistoga, then head east back over the Mayacamas. Another turn and we are heading south-west over the Sonoma Valley just this side of the Petaluma river. This is where the fun really starts!
Its acrobatics time! Big ariel loops, inversions, corkscrews, dives and sharp climbs are the order of the day. Although I am locked into my parachute and seat harness, I brace my legs under the restraining bars in the cockpit. I want to lock myself in without encumbering my hands so I can film the maneuvers. Up, around, over, under we go! What a ride. Better than a roller coaster!
Eventually the acrobatics are done and we head east again towards the landing strip. Of course, the landing is perfect and another adventure comes to an end.
The fourth installment of Adventure Week is under way! Today we experience hang gliding!
Its a long ride out to Brentwood to meet up with Zac Majors, my gliding instructor and 2008 US National Hang Gliding Champion. I arrive at the location, a large field with an “airstrip” (i.e. mowed area) and I help Zac set up the tandem glider. Its a very large device, probably 25′ across. Zac’s buddy, John shows up in a “grasshopper”, a small plane designed to tow gliders to height. We attach the glider to the tow cable, place it on the tow trailer and mount up. As the plane takes off, we are right behind. Within a few minutes, we are at 3000′ and we release the tow line.
What an AMAZING experience. We are in controlled flight soaring like the birds. Zac explains how simple it is to control the glider: its all about weight shifting. Within a few minutes, I am flying it myself. Climbs, dives and turns, all happen easily and naturally. Do nothing, and the glider flies itself.
Zac explains how he looks out for circling birds. This indicates some kind of thermal which we may be able to ride up to gain altitude and extend our flight. He spots a hawk circling ahead and takes us into the thermal. We ride it up a bit, although its not strong enough to give us too much more glide time.
It is simply breath taking out here. You can relax and just go wherever you want. You hang suspended from the glider and just shift your body forward, back, left and right to rise, dive or turn. Peaceful. I can see that it would be easy to get addicted to this activity.
Time to land. Zac brings the glider in on the airstrip and as we get close, I start “running” in the air. Eventually my feet touch terra firm and we come to an easy stop. WOW. What an amazing flight!
The third day of Adventure Week begins with a long, leisurely motorcycle ride into northern Sonoma County. Situated on the Bohemian Highway (yes, as in the Bohemian club) and nestled in the redwoods, is Sonoma Canopy Tours, my destination for the morning.
The tour includes 7 zip lines (one almost 800 ft in length), two rope bridges, a rappel and beautiful panoramic views.
Our group leaders, Alexis and Clair, are quite knowledgeable about the local flora and are very good at their jobs. While their sense of humor borders on the very corny, they are quite pleasant and warm.
The first couple of zip lines are “bunny” lines; short and designed to get us comfortable with the process of
mounting up, zipping, braking and dismounting. Then we are ready for some longer zips, including an 800′ zip that takes your breath away.
Towards the send of the zip experience, we encounter 2 rope bridges which lead to a spiral staircase that climbs 50+ feet around a redwood. This leads us to our final zip and then to a free fall rappel.
As I have done zip lines before, this is not that “thrilling” but like the white water rafting of yesterday, its quite pleasant, fun and its always great meeting new and interesting people.