Archive for the ‘Adrenaline’ Category

Tanks For The Memories: 2 Unforgettable Tank-Driving Adventures

April 14, 2010

Tank Driving adventuresOf all the extraordinary experiences I’ve had over the years, the chance to take the controls of a 55-ton British Chieftain battle tank has to be among the most memorable.

Unfortunately, the Dallas-based operation that gave me that opportunity is no longer in business.  The good news, however, is that I’ve found a couple places that still allow ordinary civilians to have similar tank-driving adventures:

Lazer Tanks

This small mom-and-pop shop located just north of Reno, Nevada is now the only place in North America where individuals and small groups can spend time in the driver’s seat of Cold War classics including a Soviet-era T-55 battle tank and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle.

Tanks-A-Lot

Think of this well-established British operation as a military hardware theme park, where you can run British Chieftain tanks on a dedicated off-road course that includes the uniquely geeky thrill of driving one of these massive machines over a parked car.  They also usually have a number of tanks for sale in case you’d like to bring home the ultimate souvenir!

MORE EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES:

Bulldozer Daze: Dig This Offers Big Kids A Chance To Play In A Life-Size Sandbox

Summer Skirmishes: Playing Army At The Annual War & Peace Show

WFO Weekend: Texas Mile Gives Lead-Footed Drivers A Chance To Feed Their Need For Speed

March 12, 2010

Texas Mile Event

Read through some of the extraordinary experiences featured here over the years and it’s pretty clear that I like fast cars and motorcycles as much as the next guy.  That said, I think anyone who’s dumb enough to do triple-digit speeds on public roads deserves to have their license yanked right out from under them.

Especially when you consider how many places there are where you can safely run your high-performance machine wide f@#!ing open without putting innocent lives at risk.  Like the Texas Mile, for instance.

This relatively low-key event rolls onto a deserted airport runway located two hours north of Corpus Christi March 26-28 for three days of tire-smoking good fun.  Cars and bikes compete in four classes, ranging from 130 MPH to 200+ MPH, to see who can achieve the top speed from a standing start over the mile-long track.  Like my experience with the USFRA’s 130 MPH Club on the Bonneville Salt Flats, it’s a simple premise but oh-so addicting!

To get a feel for one of the few places in the world where speeding is actually encouraged, check out this short video from the folks at SuperCars Exposed.

MORE COOL STUFF:

Fast & Furious:  Frank Hawley’s NHRA Drag Racing School.

Fun With Fossil Fuels:  Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

Bungee Jumping Bonus: What One Young Woman’s Leap Of Faith Can Teach Us About Living Life To The Fullest

March 5, 2010

While this website is filled to overflowing with stories of  way-cool once-in-a-lifetime adventures, read between the lines and you’ll discover everything here is really intended to promote the larger idea that life was meant to be lived to the fullest.  Which is why I wanted to introduce you to Mary Thompson and let her tell you the tale of her first bungee jump.

In many ways her experience might not seem that unusual.  But what really impressed me is the way this plucky young woman didn’t let her fears stand in the way of having an extraordinary experience she’d always dreamed of.  Let me know in the Comments section below if there’s anything in here that you can relate to!

Bungee Jump New ZealandWhat made you want to do this?  Or, to put it more bluntly, what the heck were you thinking?!

I’m not exactly the typical adrenaline-junkie.  In fact, even though I have stuff like bungee jumping and skydiving on my life list, these things make me a bit nervous and I generally have to be talked into doing them.  While I never thought I’d actually do it, my boyfriend said he’d always wanted to try it so I figured, well, why not?  You only live once and you might as well do the things that scare you a little because they make you feel really alive.

Describe the safety precautions they take — did they actually make you feel more secure?

I researched bungee jumping in general and Taupo Bungy in particular beforehand and I knew they had a great record for safety.  The fact that I knew the general safety procedures by the time I got there also helped me feel more secure. I was still clearly nervous though, so the two guys who worked there started joking around pretending they didn’t know what they were doing.  Which made me laugh even as I was watching them double-checking everything.

Bungee Jumping Taupo BungyWhat was it like to stand on the edge?  Did you look down?

I was only on the edge for a few seconds, long enough to take a photo and count down to jump, but I was thinking, ” I can’t believe this!  I’m really going to jump!”  The only time I looked straight down was when I started to fall forward and by then I was committed!

Did you expect to hit the water?  What was that like?

I told them I wanted to hit the water with my hands, but they said that they couldn’t guarantee it.  I ended up going in up to my waist, which was fun even though I got water in my contacts that made my vision blurry for the first bounce.

What was the scariest part?  And at what point did it become fun?

The scariest part was standing on the edge because your feet are hooked together and the weight of the bungee cord feels like it might pull you off before you’re ready.  It really started to be fun after I bounced up out of the water because then you know it’s all going to be fine!

Now that you’re back home, how do you feel when you look at the photos and video of the experience?

The first couple of days afterwards I looked at them all the time because I still felt such a thrill from actually doing it.  Now I like to look at them because I’m proud of myself and they remind me that I can do anything!

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about doing this?Bungee Jump Adventure

On a practical level, tuck in your shirt unless you want to flash everyone watching you jump!  Other than that, I’d encourage anyone who wants to bungee jump to do it even if it seems scary.  For me, things like this are all about proving you can achieve anything you really want to, and actually doing it makes you feel great!

Mary Thompson is a freelance writer based in Memphis.  To read more of her adventures, check out her Life Is Awesome blog.  You can also follow her exploits on Twitter.

MORE COOL STUFF:

The Ultimate Thrill Ride: Tandem Skydives Offer All Of the Fun Of Free-Fall With None Of The Work

Blown Up: Indoor Skydiving Offers A Much Saner Alternative To The Real Deal

February 23, 2010

Indoor Skydive--Las VegasAs I look around this tubular chamber, a random thought occurs to me:  Aren’t rooms with padded walls usually reserved for crazy people?  Before I have a chance to consider what lying spread-eagled on the wire mesh floor of a two-story padded room says about my mental health, the gentle breeze generated by the giant fan beneath me quickly builds to hurricane force.  And suddenly I find myself flying.

Granted, the concept of “indoor skydiving” may seem a bit loony in its own right.  But the fact is this is about as close to the exhilaration of free fall as a relatively sane person—herein defined as anyone with more sense than to jump out of a perfectly good airplane—is ever likely to get.

When my friend Todd and I decided to give the sport a whirl we headed to Vegas Indoor Skydiving, one of only a handful of places in the U.S. that make these 120 mile-per-hour vertical wind tunnels available to the general public.  Our instructor K8 (her spelling, not mine) started out by showing us a short video that demonstrated proper body-flight technique, the hand signals we’d use to communicate, and—most importantly—how to tuck-and-roll properly to guarantee a safe landing on the chamber’s well-padded rim if we found ourselves flying out of the airstream.

After getting us decked out like escapees from some low-budget sci-fi flick in brightly-colored flight-suits, helmets, and goggles, the three of us headed for the wind tunnel.  Once inside, K8 had me lie face down on the trampoline-like wire mesh in the center of the chamber as she signaled the wind tunnel operator to crank up the huge fan in the building’s basement.

As the wind speed approached 75 miles-per-hour I was literally blown up, with K8 stepping in with an occasional tug on a sleeve or pants leg to keep me positioned in the center of the airstream.  Once I started to get the hang of flying sans aircraft, I was able to stand on the rim of the chamber and dive head-first into the airstream in a move not unlike Superman taking flight.

While most of this operation’s customers are satisfied with a couple of three-minute flight sessions, I flew for a total of 12 minutes as Todd took his sweet time snapping photos.  Then it was his turn to fly with K8, whereupon he quickly decided that this off-the-wall form of flight is a lot harder than it looks.

Having done a couple of tandem skydives I can tell you that, while this indoor version of free fall lacks the full-on sensory overload of the real deal, the overall experience is pretty darn similar.  It also happens to be the best way I know to get a taste of skydiving without making folks think you’ve lost your mind.

MORE COOL STUFF
The Ultimate Thrill Ride: Tandem Skydive

List of Other Indoor Skydiving Centers

The Wildest Ride At The Winter Olympics

February 19, 2010

Utah Olympic Park Comet bobsled rideLet’s say you find yourself watching the opening rounds of the Olympic bobsled competition this weekend and thinking “Man, that looks like fun!” Well, here’s the cautionary tale of how you can experience this wild ride for yourself—and why you may not want to.

You see, I had the same thought when I visited Park City’s Utah Olympic Park last August.  When their PR person offered me the chance to try their Comet bobsled ride, well, I couldn’t say “Yes!” fast enough.

The park offers these rides year-round, though the number of public runs is limited during the winter months when dozens of world-class athletes use the mile-long track for training.  The modified 400-pound Comet sleds wrap a professional driver and three passengers inside a steel roll-cage as they go hurtling down through the track’s 15 turns in just under a minute.

While they tell me the ride is a little less extreme in the summer—the wheeled bobsleds only hit 70 miles-per-hour and subject you to 4 G’s on concrete—it was still the wildest ride I’ve ever experienced.  So much so that it actually made my Air Combat USA fighter pilot experience look downright tame by comparison.

Which is why you need to take the warnings in the Comet’s pre-ride video briefings seriously.  Even though I’m in pretty good shape, I walked away from this ride with a collection of physical complaints ranging from bruised shoulders to a sore lower back.

Though I’m now perfectly content to go back to watching the bobsled competition on TV, I can tell you those 60 seconds I spent watching the world go by in a serious bobsled-induced blur are something I’ll never ever forget.

More Cool Stuff:

VIDEO: Utah Olympic Park Comet Bobsled Ride

Bonneville Salt Flats: Utah’s Other Home For Those Who Feel The Need For Speed

Matadors, Machine Guns, Monster Trucks & More: 4 Politically Incorrect Adventures

February 17, 2010

Come on, admit it: There’s something you’ve always wanted to do, some extraordinary experience you’ve always wanted to have, that you just don’t talk about for fear of what people might think.  Well, you’ll find no judgments here.  Provided it’s not illegal or immoral, I say go for it.

If you’re one of those rare folks who don’t harbor such secret fantasies, allow me to put a few outrageous ideas into your head. Here are four thoroughly un-PC adventures that promise to be so unforgettable you’ll have a hard time keeping them to yourself:

bullfight schoolFight A Bull

There’s just something about squaring off with a quarter-ton of bad-tempered bovine that’s bound to make you feel fully alive.  This San Diego-based school will teach you the basics of the bullfighter’s art (minus the bloodshed) and then turn you loose to face a yearling bull who’s also in training.

knob creek machine gun shootFire A Machine Gun

Chances are none of us will ever own the kind of high-caliber hardware that shows up at this annual event, which is probably a good thing.  But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be wicked good fun to blow through a few hundred rounds of ammo within the safe confines of this springtime firepower festival.

professional wrestling schoolBecome A Pro Wrestler

If you’ve ever watched the stars of the WWE strut their stuff in the ring and thought, “Man, I could do that!”, well, here’s your chance to prove it.  These schools will teach you the grappling moves you’ll need to crush your opponents, right along with the less obvious but no less important skills you’ll need like developing a crowd-pleasing character and doing on-camera interviews.

Drive A Monster Truck

Anyone who’s ever been stuck in an endless traffic jam has surely fantasized about taking the wheel of one of these massive machines and simply driving right over the top of anything that gets in your way.  This British monster truck driving experience allows you to do just that, flattening a couple of perfectly good cars in the process.

Going Out With A Bang: Contest Lets Lucky Winner Blow Up Texas Stadium

January 6, 2010

Not sure what it is about human nature, but it seems we’re genetically hard-wired for an attraction to things that go BOOM!  Now, a new contest is offering one lucky person what very well may be the ultimate extraordinary experience: A chance to set off an explosion that will literally bring the house down.

You see, the folks at Kraft Foods have just signed a deal that will allow the winner of an essay contest to push a button that will turn Texas Stadium, former home of the Dallas Cowboys, into a pile of rubble.  The blast that triggers the implosion is scheduled to happen this spring in front of a crowd of former players, coaches, and fans who have understandably fond memories of the historic 65,000-seat stadium.

For more information on how you can enter the contest or watch festivities, check out the contest’s official website here.

Related Experiences:

International Fireworks Competitions

Explosives Summer Camp

Civil War Adventure Camp

Ten For ’10: New Year, New Experiences

January 1, 2010

While other media outlets have been busy looking back at 2009, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks planning some of the great new feature stories I’ll be bringing you in the year ahead.

Now before we go any further, understand that the list below is by no means complete.  In fact, if my math is correct, you can look forward to reading about more than 100 truly remarkable once-in-a-lifetime adventures both here and on the pages of XTRORD.com in the next 12 months.

That said, here’s a quick preview of what I expect to be our 10 coolest extraordinary experience stories for 2010 (click on the links to see previous posts):

Throw Me Something!

I’ll show you how to go from being a spectator to a participant at one of New Orleans’ glitziest and most star-studded Mardi Gras parades.

Olympic Bobsled

If watching the Winter Olympics on TV this February isn’t exciting enough, I’ll tell you about a place where you can experience one of the event’s wildest rides for yourself.

Stand Up Comedy School

Like making people laugh?  Me too.  Whether the five-minutes of stand-up schtick that caps off my comedy school experience will bring down the house or whether I’ll die on stage, well, that remains to be seen.

Machine Gun Shootout

First off, let me say I’m no gun nut.  But attending an event where I can spend the day safely shooting off all manner of machine guns definitely sounds like an extraordinary experience.

Storm-Chasing Tours

Growing up in Ohio, I saw first-hand the devastation tornadoes can leave in their wake.  Even so, I still plan on getting as close as possible to the planet’s most violent weather phenomenon next spring.

CompetiTours

I like to think of myself as a creative guy and a pretty savvy traveler with good problem-solving skills.  Which is why I’m dying to try my hand at this recreational version of the hit TV show The Amazing Race.

Burning Man

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big believer in the idea that different is good and very different is even better.  Which makes this week-long freak show (and I mean that in a good way) in the Nevada desert something I’ve just got to experience.

Ghost Hunting

Not sure I believe in ghosts, but I’m definitely open to the possibility.  If that sounds like you, I’ll fill you in on how you can join a group of serious paranormal investigators on one of their outings.

Shark Diving

Shark diving

Even though my wife rolls her eyes every time it comes on cable TV, Jaws is still one of my all-time favorite movies.  So I figure this is the year I need to follow in RoyScheider’s footsteps and finally meet a great white shark face-to-face.

Polar Bear Safari

On a recent behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld/San Diego’s WildArctic display, I got an up-close look at a gigantic polar bear—11 feet tall on his hind legs— behind a thick pane of glass.  Now I want to see these magnificent creatures in the wild before they’re gone.

Black Friday Blues

November 27, 2009

Just heard an interview with a women who arrived at a southern California mall at 4:30 this morning because she thought joining the crowds lined up for the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving deals would be an interesting “experience.” I’m sure she’s right on some level, though honestly battling the Black Friday throngs for questionable deals on things I have no real use for is one adventure I have absolutely no interest in.

As a matter of fact, I’ve long been a proponent of the philosophy that we’re all burdened by way too much “stuff.”  All of which will wear out, go out of style, or just plain get ignored at the back of the hall closet much sooner than we’d care to imagine.  Which explains why one of XTRORD.com’s core principles is that “Possessions don’t last but memories do.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I recommend giving the gift of an extraordinary experience this holiday.  Besides providing your giftee with a day they’ll never forget, you can also take satisfaction in knowing that you’ll be able to avoid the whole hassle of standing in line at the Returns counter when you discover that your friends and relatives already had one.

If you’re in need of some specific ideas for once-in-a-lifetime adventure gifts, here are a few I can highly recommend based on personal experience:

  • Let your favorite guitar hero live out their rock star fantasies (minus the groupies) at Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp.
  • Give her an experience that’s as unique as she is by creating her own one-of-a-kind custom fragrance.
  • Honestly now, what guy (actually, I’m told girls like it too) wouldn’t dig spending the day operating a 10-ton bulldozer or excavator?
  • Top Gun wannabes can take the controls of their own fighter plane at Air Combat USA and go head-to-head with an opponent in full-on dogfights.
  • If you know someone who has dreams where they find themselves flying like a bird, make those visions come true on a tandem paragliding flight.
  • Find out what the whole surfing craze is about with these affordable surfing lessons.
  • This drag racing school is one of the few places where putting the pedal to the metal is actually encouraged.
  • History buffs and aviation geeks will both love these one-hour flights aboard an authentic World War II-era B-17 bomber.
  • If you know someone who enjoys sailing, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll get off on taking the wheel of a genuine America’s Cup yacht.

Shark Season

September 17, 2009

"I think we're going to need a bigger boat."

"We're going to need a bigger boat."

Remember the scene in the movie Jaws where beachgoers ran screaming from the water’s edge when someone spotted the movie’s toothy star (no, not Roy Scheider) in the waters off the fictional Amity Island?  Well, call me crazy, but I had exactly the opposite reaction last week when I heard several great white sharks had been seen cruising the waters around Cape Cod.

You see, I’m one of those people who’d go way out of my way to see a great white in the wild.  If you’re similarly inclined, you might want to check out the one-day shark diving trips to California’s Farallon Islands or five-day expeditions to Baja’s Isla Guadalupe offered by Great White Adventures.  Fall is prime-time for seeing great whites in these two areas, as the 15-foot eating machines come to feed on the seals that congregate on these remote rocky outcroppings.

If these up-close-and-personal shark encounters seem a little too, ummm, up-close for you, you might want to head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they’ve just introduced the fifth in a series of juvenile great whites into their million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit.  But don’t delay if you’re hoping to get a look at one of only a handful of these rare creatures ever put on public display, as this sleek five-foot female will likely be released back into the open ocean before the turn of the year.