By Dave and Deb
Dave and I have been spending a lot of our summer out in the wilderness of Ontario Canada. Without distractions like binge watching TV shows or being glued to our computers day in day out, we’ve had a lot of time to finally reminisce about the past 6 years of travel. We’ve been on the road traveling and blogging intensely for quite some time. If you read our Expedia Viewfinder Storybook Post about Finding ourselves in Ireland, you will see that we talked about how we had to slow down a bit and rediscover why we were traveling. When you work so hard each and every day, you tend to forget what you are doing it for. The past few years seem almost like a blur. It’s only these past few months that we’ve truly taken the time to sit back and take it all in.
Since slowing down this summer and getting back to the basics, we have been able to take stock of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. I have to pinch myself when I think of the opportunities we had. Who would have thought that two people who were so unhappy a decade ago could live the life they always dreamed of. We always thought adventures were for other people. We always thought we’d be stuck working at jobs we didn’t love, always scrambling to save money for a vacation or eventually settling on a life we truly didn’t want, but felt trapped in because of our station in life.
White Water Kayaking
With all the adventures we have on this list, you may be surprised that White Water Kayaking the Madawaska River is number one. However, if you think about the fact that we had to learn how to roll, and become comfortable flipping upside down in whitewater while navigating our own vessel down class 2 and 3 rapids, you’ll understand why. It is the most awesome feeling to run a set of rapids on your own. When you approach a set of rapids and you see the white water ahead, the adrenaline gets pumping and you feel a mixture of fear and excitement. There is nothing more rewarding than learning how to white water kayak.
Flying a Stunt Plane
And we thought only fighter pilots could do loops and corkscrews in the air. But in New Zealand, a regular ordinary every day person can pilot their own stunt plane. At U-fly Extreme you will take the controls of the plane as you fly upside down, dive in the sky and twist and turn until your stomach leaps into your throat. Don’t worry, you have a trained professional in the cockpit behind you to take over the controls in case anything should go astray.
Sky Diving Abel Tasman
You can skydive anywhere on earth, but why not do it at the adventure capital of the world. Abel Tasman offers better weather than Queenstown, so the chances of actually getting to jump are better here. You also get to jump from an altitude of 16,000 feet. That’s three thousand feet more than most commercial jumps giving you extra freefall time. It’s so high, you’ll need oxygen during your flight up!
Take a microlight flight and feel the wind whip through your hair as you fly high in the sky to take in the view. There are several places on earth to take a microlight flight. We did ours off the coast of Durban South Africa where we took in the extraordinary coast, and witnessed sealions playing
Bobsledding in BC
Want to know what it’s like to feel the force of 3Gs? Visit the Olympic Bobsled run in Whistler and join a professional boblsedder in the cockpit where you’ll reach speeds of 145km per hour as you whiz down the frozen course. It’s one crazy adventure that you’ll never forget.
High Mountain Trail Ride
We love riding horses, but taking a horseback ride high into the rocky mountains is an adventure we’ll always remember. As the owner of the Anchor D Ranch in Black Diamond Alberta said, “You have to have good horses out here or else you will get someone killed” We felt confident and surefooted on his horses as we hugged the edges of mountain cliffs and made our way up and down steep hills. It was one of our favourite adventures of all time.
If you want something to brag about, jumping into the icy waters of Antarctica or the Arctic Circle are something worth doing. If you travel with Quark Expeditions, you don’t do the Polar Plunge off the beach, nope, you jump right into the centre of the ocean from the ship into sub zero water. (salt water doesn’t freeze until -2) It’s cold alright, so cold that you have to be tethered to the boat in case something happens. Travel to Antarctica or the Arctic with Quark Expeditions.
Kayaking with Crocodiles
This was probably the stupidest adventure we’ve ever done. While kayaking in a crocodile, shark and hippo infested waters of a tributary in South Africa, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves “why are we doing this?” It’s definitely a hair raising adventure. There’s nothing scarier than thinking that if you happen to fall in the water a croc will be out to get you. The most vulnerable part of our day was getting in and out of the boat. Crocodiles love to sit near shallow water and attack when a person is standing in as little as two or three inches. Needless to say, we were happy to make it through the day in one piece.
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks
Move over shark week and instead become a part of it. Think you can only see great white sharks on TV? No way, in South Africa and South Australia, you can hope into a cage and dive with Great White Sharks. We enjoyed South Africa more than South Oz, because it had a bit more of a wild west feel. The cage was smaller, the sharks were friskier and the day was outstanding. You’ll gain a better understanding and appreciation of great white sharks and maybe one day, they won’t be vilified anymore.
We always wanted to try this and finally got our chance last year in Canmore Alberta. Ice Climbing is a crazy adventure where you not only have to worry about being sure footed, you also have to worry about ice breaking off and either falling on your partner or taking you down with it. Luckily we had a guide with decades of ice climbing experience leading the way and making sure we were on the firm ice of a frozen waterfall. There is nothing more rewarding than getting to the top of the climb and taking in the magnificent view.
Race a Ferrari
What guy hasn’t dreamed of driving a Ferrari on a real life race track. In Emilia Romagna Italy, we had the chance to do a couple of laps at La Modena in a genuine racing Ferrari. With a skilled driver in the passenger seat ready to hit the brakes whenever needed, we put our pedal to the medal and
Bunjee Jump or Canyon Swing
It’s a right of passage. If you really truly want to say you’ve done it all, you have to jump off of something at some point in your life. There are so many places around the world to do a bunjee jump or canyon swing. New Zealand is where it all started, so it’s as good a place as any to soar through the air. Zambia in Africa was also a memorable place for us. Where’s your favorite bunjee jump on earth?
Running with the Bulls
It was probably the wackiest thing we ever did. As we waited for the cannon to go off in Pamplona, Spain, we said “What on earth are we doing here?” Ambulances line the route where 2 million people run each year with a stampede of bulls. It’s not so much the bulls you have to worry about; though people are gored and trampled each and every day of the San Fermin Festival – it’s the people. You are crammed together like sardines and once you start running you are free game to have anyone knock you down and run you over.
Winter Trekking, River walking
Winter trekking isn’t so bad, but when you are following a river system and trekking over running water beneath ice, that’s a bit more hair raising. Being up in Northern Ontario in the dead of winter hiking the Missinaibi Headwaters was one of the most challenging adventures we’ve ever done. It was difficult sure, but pulling sleds while walking over frozen lakes could be downright terrifying. It’s unsettling to be walking along and seeing open water in the distance. When the poles come out and we all have to follow in single file, there’s no deviating from the path. One wrong move and you could break or punch through the ice. Try your own winter trek with Lure of the North
Dogsled Training for Yukon Quest
Dogsledding is one fun adventure. Having the chance to head out on an all night training run with a Yukon Quest and Iditarod racer is just about the most exciting thing we’ve ever done. It was minus 30 in the dead of the Polar Vortex. A moose had just attacked dog musher Hank DeBruin a few days earlier and he was still out there defending his territory. Hank was nervous about having us along. “Stay close.” he said. Moose don’t like dogs and they will attack. “Whatever you do, don’t let go” These dogs are finally tuned athletes and when they get out on the trail, they love to run. It took everything Dave and I could do to hang on. We’d crash into snowbanks and tip over on corners, but the dogs wouldn’t stop. We’d right the sled as quickly as possible and keep holding on so we wouldn’t be left behind. Now that would be terrifying to see your team of dogs take off in the middle of the night as you stand in alone in the Canadian wilderness. Lucky for us, we never let go. Follow Hank Debruin’s Dog Racing Website
Snorkelling in the Galapagos
The Galapagos is filled with wildlife and I think there is no better place in the world to break out the snorkels than right here off the coast of mainland Ecuador. You can swim with dozens of Galapagos sharks, play with sea lions and see the unique Galapagos Iguana feed underwater. Marine life is well fed here, so you don’t have to worry about being eaten by sharks, but when you are out in the open water and you see them swimming around you with enthusiastic curiosity, you can’t help but feel the hair raise on your neck just a bit.
Swimming with Dolphins
One would think that swimming with dolphins wouldn’t be so hair raising, but when you do it in great white shark country in South Australia, you feel a bit of anxiety. Especially when your guide needs to wear an electronic pulse to keep sharks away. Our instructions before hopping in the water were to stay within 10 meters of our guide. If we strayed too far, we could become food for sharks. Yikes! However, swimming with a pod of dolphins quickly made us forget the fear. These beauties stayed with us for so long. They wanted to play and dive with us. The good thing is, when there are dolphins around, chances are sharks will stay away.
Dirt Biking and Trail Riding
We thought Dirt Biking was only for crazy 17 year old boys, but if you ever get the chance to take a dirt biking course. Go for it. We had so much fun standing up on the full suspension bikes, jumping logs, navigating obstacles, jumping moguls and driving through single track trails. It makes mountain biking look like a day in the park. Although with a dirt bike, you don’t have to work hard to climb hills.
It’s the zaniest, whackiest adventure out there. Strap on a pair of cross country skis. Attach yourself to a pair of dogs that love to run and see how far you can get after they take off running. Skijorring is a fun take on dogledding only you fall a lot more.