Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Emerald Coast Parasailing yeah! :-D

Yet another road-trip, yet another travelogue, yet another adventure. I can see my life as a series of travelogues and adventures :-D. Hey I am not complaining, not at all! On the contrary, thats exactly how I want it to be :). Before I get all teary-eyed (:-p), let me start off with a bit of history. We had the Easter long weekend coming up, and didn't really know where to go. You don't get good airline deals over long weekends, so well, that wasn't really an option. Last year we had been to Washington, D.C for the Cherry blossom festival, and Sri suggested going there again, but I wasn't in the mood at all. I wanted to go somewhere south and the lady of the house somehow always manages to get her wish ;-).

And so, after much humming and hawing, Pensacola, Florida turned out to be the place we'd go to. We'd move on from there to Destin, Florida. The weekend would be a bit cold there too, but staring at beaches is wayyyyy better than being cold sitting at home staring at nothing (yeah the cold has returned to Lexington in the form of a cold wave and my plants are withering again :( :-p). Here's the trip sketch :).

5th April 2007:

Since Friday was a holiday, we started off driving at about 6 PM on Thurday evening. I drove the first shift of 2 hours (yeah for me!!) and was really surprised. I mean, I thought it'd be diffcult, but it turns out city driving is more strenuous. In freeway, if traffic is less, all you have to do is switch on the cruise button and only worry about the steering :-D. I put on the new RD burman duets CD that I had burnt and enjoyed driving immensely. Sri took over from me later and though we did stop at an Indian restaurant ("Taste of India") for dinner at Nashville, TN (the spicy dinner took its toll later ;-) :-D), he drove through to our stop for the day at Cullman, AL. Meanwhile, we did gain an hour due to timezone change :).

6th April 2007:

Friday morning, I took the wheel again for a 2.5 hours drive and later Sri took over again. We had lunch on the way and reached Pensacola, FL around after 2PM in the noon. The first order of the day was to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation there.

Compared to the huggggggggge National Museum of United States Air Force we had visited in Dayton, Ohio, this seemed a bit small. But still it had a pretty good collection.

There was a conference going on in the museum, so it was nice to see the naval officers/sailors stand in attention while the National anthem was sung :). But the best part was that there were some aircrafts with their hoods open, so we could actually see the cockpits of some of the fighter planes and even climb on to one :-D.

The enclosure is pretty small and there are 1000s of gadgets! It was lots of fun :).

After being there for an hour or so, we set off driving to Destin. Destin is hardly an hour away from Pensacola and the Gulf of Mexico is the coastline to both these places. The whole coast is called the Emerald Coast, I am guessing its because of the green colour of the sea :). While driving, first we encountered a beautiful bridge connecting Pensacola to a place called Gulf Breeze :).

The following snap was taken while we were driving over the bridge :).

Later there was another bridge near Destin and here's the view from the bridge:

The Emerald coast has many apartments, mostly owned by (obviously) rich people who also own powerful speedboats. So its a common sight to see speedboats on the sea everywhere :).

After reaching the hotel and resting for a while, we turned back to a place where there were still backwaters from the sea and where a few people were kitesurfing (this term I found after some research on google :-D). The water was freezing (as I mentioned earlier, though the temperature was pretty nice there, the wind chill was high and hence it felt cold), so we just sat on the white sands for a while and watched the kitesurfers :).

It was fun watching them maneuver the kites in the wind. What was shocking was that sometimes the wind was powerful enough to make the surfers fly. Since they were falling onto the water, it was ok. But it was still shocking to say the least..

I also clicked away a couple of more shots of the back waters (as expected :-D).

Soon it was sunset time and we went to one of the beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico in hope of a chance that we'll glimpse a sunset. But sadly, all the beaches facing Gulf of Mexico, face south, so the sunset was a bit unsatisfactory. Well, the beaches certainly weren't :-D.

The green sea and the white sand made a pretty wonderful combination. I have seen a lots of beaches, but most of the time the water has kinda been muddy. So this was a really enjoyable and a very pretty sight :). Anyways, after strolling around in the beach for sometime, we headed back to have dinner at an Italian restaurant (no Indian restaurants at all in the region :-p) and retired for the day :).

7th April 2007:

The next morning, we woke up a bit late, had breakfast and headed to a Gilligan's watersports :). Our intention (well, more like my intention :-D), was to go para-sailing. But we were worried that we may get wet and this was a major factor as the water was freezing :-p.

But the people there assured us that we'd be getting off the boat and later land on the boat, so there would be no water involved (except that the boat went on water ofcourse :-p). Also we were told that high up the temperatures were further cold and it would be better to wear some jackets/sweaters :).

We had an hour's time to get prepared, so we went back to the hotel and dressed in considerably warm wear, we headed back. Once we were there, we had to wait for quite sometime as there were people coming in and they usually prefer to head out in a full boat. Meanwhile we saw the life jackets being prepared..

This boat carried us all the way forth and back :). You can also notice the parachute (green and white) all wrapped up.

We had paid for double parasailing which means the 2 of us go parasailing together and there were 4 more couples who joined us on the boat (1 young couple, 2 girls, one 5-membered family in which an young boy refused to go parasailing but joined us on the boat, while the dad went with one of the daughters and the mom with another :-D). The boat went slowly at first (in an area with restricted speed, so as to not create any waves for the people who were kayaking) and as soon as it reached the sea it started going in its maximum speed :-D.

After reaching an optimum point at the sea, one of the guys (there were 2 of them) got the parachute ready for the actual parasailing :).

Before that we were already given life jackets and we already had harnesses tied around to our waists. The first couple to go was the young couple. Their harnesses were bound to the parachute and like a kite the parachute was reeled out. The boat sped to push the parachute higher. Our guide told us that it'd go upto 600 feet and later would be stabilized around 350-400 feet in the air. The ride would last for upto 12 minutes. As soon as they came back, it was our turn. We handed out the camera to the guide and were tied to the parachute ourselves..

The first instance when you are reeled out of the boat and your feet leave the boat is scary because thats when you are trusting the parachute to hold your weight :-D!

From then on its all fun :-D.

As you go higher...



And more higher until you are stabilized.

And just like the functioning of a kite, if the chute starts coming down, the boat speeds up for the parachute to regain the height :).

It was a thrill from the time it started to the end. Its literally like swinging on a swing in the sky :-D. It was really cold up there, but it was not scary in any way. Unlike bungee jumping, there's no free fall at all. Also, even if something happens to the chute, and you fall into the sea, you have life-jackets and so its still safe :). Well, it was really a cool experience. I felt like I was floating and flying in the sky to my heart's content. The boat we got off from, looked like a toy boat from way up there. Plus the view of the emerald coast was fabulous. I almost wished I had another small camera to capture the sights from up there..

After about more than 10 minutes of cruising in the skies (:-D), which included some wavering of the parachute due to high winds + boat direction changes), we were slowly reeled back in.

Again, they reel you in to the deck of the boat and you need to stand up to land on the boat safely. Then your harnesses are removed and you are safe to go back to your seats. It was wonderful, but I did feel very cold and kind of dizzy after landing on the boat (maybe because I was "swept" off my feet :-D). Well, Sri was totally fine for a guy who didn't even want to go parasailing :-p. Basically, we both enjoyed it a lot and we were even speculating that it'd be worth repeating if we can go back to the Emerald coast during summer when it'd not be so cold :). There were actually a few other things we missed because of the cold - dolphin tours, swimming in the sea and maybe even scuba-diving :-D.

We were on the speed boat for quite a long time after that since we needed to wait for other couples to finish their turn. Meanwhile the camera was back in my hands and I clicked away :-D.

Notice how green the water is. There were even pelicans/seagulls and cranes in the water which made a very lovely sight :). After about total 2 hours in the sea, we returned back to the docks and headed to the hotel for recovery, rest and later some lunch in a Tacobell :).

After lunch, we decided to take a scenic highway from Destin towards Panama city. But well, the "scenic" factor was missing as the place was covered with condos and huge apartment buildings (yup rich people :-D). We did stop at a beach for sometime and I was amazed again at the transparency of the water!

Even the waves were transparent!

Notice the shades of green :). Absolutely fascinating! Still the water was not that cold, so were able to dip our feets into it and stroll along for a while.

We decided to head back to another so-called scenic road known as Gulf National seashore in between Destin and Pensacola and started driving. The Gulf seashore starts at Navarre beach and ends at Gulf breeze. This is the bridge that goes to Navarre beach.

Look at how tall the apartment buldings are. Sri wondered how they could construct such buildings when this area is prone to so many hurricanes (New Orleans is only 3 hours away + it seems Katrina hit this area also pretty badly).

The sidewalks in the picture above are not covered with snow but the white sands :). It looks so much like snow that its amazing!

Sadly, our drive got cut short as the road was closed at some point (the reason was that the sand had spread to the road due to winds and they hadn't cleared it up yet). We did stop at another beach for another lovely view though :).

All in all a beautiful journey. We headed back and my mini-golf loving eyes soon caught one on the way back and we both played mini-golf there for sometime :). The settings were beautiful and we had loads of fun. Once Sri even hit his golf ball into a pond and lost it (we had to share mine after that particular disaster :-D).

We later went on to some nurseries to look at a couple of Jasmine plants. I even bought 4 lovely ones (sadly, its been too cold in Lexington and 2 of them are rotting, I only hope they are able to make it :( :-\). And so ended the day..

8th April 2007:

The next day, we woke up pretty early, had breakfast in an IHOP (I had never eaten in one before, the breakfast of strawberry pancakes and omelette with capsicums, onions and tomatoes was wonderful) and set off driving back. The total drive would be 10 hours + we'd lose one hour due to Timezone change. Sri took the first shift of 2 hours until we reached the main freeway and later I drove for 2 hours. We stopped for veggie burgers at Burger King and again Sri took over. This time he drove for 2.5 hours and later again I drove for 2.5 more hours. We both were pretty strained and tired when we reached home, but the trip was worth it. Moreover it was wayyyyyy better that Sri driving alone :-D. I always would feel guilty when he had to drive all the time and this time I felt that there was some contribution from my side too and so was glad :).

So alls well that ends well :-D. And here's your moment of zen :-D.

This was taken while we were driving towards Florida. Looks like a price list, doesn't it? A garland for $8 and a mobile for $112 :-D. In fact, Garland and Mobile are both places in Alabama :). There were a couple more places - "Evergreen" (which reminded me of Dev Anand, the evergreen hero), Castleberry (what a weird combination :-p) etc. But too much of anything (even if it is humour) is not good :-D. So thats it folks, goodbye and have a great day :).


Soumya retorted...

Amazing yaar! Ever the adventurous couple! Great photos and a great write up, as always..Must have been a wonderful experience..Looks like a pretty long drive..Good that u could drive part of the journey..

Orchid retorted...

:) so,now you really know what being swept off your feet is inspire me, maybe next time.....I am not at all adventurous btw:)

Deeps retorted...

Soum, thanku. And yup the drive was totally for 10 hours, so good that we were able to share :).

Orchid, I've been swept off my feet on water (white water rafting), on snow (ski-ing), by myself in air (bungee-jumping ;-D), with a rope (rappeling) and now with a parachute (parasailing). I wanted to do sky diving a lot, but Sri loves me too much to let me get swept off a plane, so looks like I'm not going to do that anytime soon :-D.

Smi retorted...

Bungee jumping and now parasailing eh? Looks like adventure gives you the "kicks" like nothing else! ;-)
I did the parasailing thingy on our honeymoon too, and found it exhilarating! Pity that my scaredy cat husband chickened out!:-))
Nice to see u had ur Sri for company!:-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema retorted...

cool account and snaps of parasailing!!!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema retorted...

hey- why are names in your posts always bolded?
/just curious

Chitra retorted...

Nice. :) It just occured to me, wouldn't it be wonderful if the parachute was transparent and you could see the sky and sea all at once? :)

Deeps retorted...

Smi, I somehow manage to convince my hubby into doing such things :-D. Well, at heart he too loves adventure :).

TGFI, Thank you. The bolding started off as the people mentioned were important to me. Now its become a habit. Does it look too weird?

Chitra, the parachute was green and white, maybe to suit the surroundings :-D.

wise donkey retorted...

you look great:)
and though it took almost an hour for the pics to load, they were worth the wait. especially the southern sunset:)..

the new blogger is just making it too slow for me to post or comment..

take care and have fun..

PS :took ur superman quiz, i am a spiderman 80% :)

accidental diva retorted...

Wow, u guys seem to be real adventurous...gr8 travelogue:)

Oh ya, v seem to have a few name's deepti too,am from blore n in a few mths am getting married n leaving to a foriegn country:):)
Thanx for visiting my blog!!!

Chickoo retorted...

On reading about your traveglogue, I remembered the impulsive vacations that I used to take with hubby when were newly married :)
Your travelogues make me nostalgic.

Deeps retorted...

Gaya, thanks :). I know my pictures are kind of heavy on size (not unlike me :-D), so sorry if they took a long time to load :(.

Dee, I knew your name was Dee, but never guessed it'd be same as mine :-D. Thanks!

Deepa, glad to be of service ;-). I only hope we continue to be this adventurous later in life :).

The_Girl_From_Ipanema retorted...

sorry for the late reply. I came back to see your wonderful snaps. ;) I wouldn't say weird- but it just made me wonder why you'd do it. :-)