Baby Boomer HeadQuarters (BBHQ)

This Week with The Chicowitz — July 17, 2017

The Zipline Adventure

This one goes back a ways, but it is one of our favorites.

The Boomer Crew at BBHQ has been up and down the country, east of the Mississippi, numerous times. We just love traveling. Early on Sunday morning, July 17, we piled into the OFMobile (Old Folks Car) and headed up Interstate 75 from Tampa Bay. BBHQ Chief Grammarian, Madam Red Dot, drew the short straw; thus, she was behind the wheel for the first shift. Madam Red Dot bears a slight resemblance to a certain former mother-of-one who, coincidently, had been released from an Orlando jail that same morning and was speeding away to avoid the media frenzy. Someone was playing a little practical joke on us.

The sign brought more than a little attention as we rolled north of Gainesville. By the time we reached Lake City, we had a small caravan tailing us.

A joke’s a joke; but I insisted that we remove the sign when we stopped for lunch, lest some misguided vigilante poison our french fries.

Bryson City

Our primary destination this year was a lovely little town nestled in the southern foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Bryson City, North Carolina. Bryson City is a tourist locale, to be sure, but it is much smaller, quieter, and far less “touristy” than Gatlinburg, the major tourist stop, on the northern side of the Smokies. There are over 80 hiking trails in the Smokies. There is also great fishing, horseback-riding, river-rafting, and all that other related stuff. At 814 square miles in size, it is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular of all our national parks.

Please note, for the record, that the spelling is
“Smoky Mountains,” or “Smokies,” for short.
The iconic bear is “Smokey.” I donno’ why, it just is. Don’t fight me on this.

Only you can prevent forest fires.

There is not a whole lot to Bryson City itself – there doesn’t have to be. The view is spectacular! And that’s all you need.

There are small lodges, bed and breakfasts, and loads of cabins in or near the mountains. If you travel there during the fall season, you better make reservations well in advance. Some places are open year-round; others close down during the winter.

You’ll find a few quaint shops and some restaurants with local flavor. Apparently, hunting wild game is frowned upon in the Smokies. But in Bryson City, you can buy a very fine wicker moosehead for the wall of your family room.

We were mightily impressed.

The Zipline Adventure

What drew us to the Bryson City area, however, was the zipline adventure.

As kids, we had Disneyland, but we did not have the zipline. “Me Tarzan,” was the closest we came to the zipline adventure. Oh, what we had in store for ourselves 40 years down the road!

This was Madam Red Dot’s idea. I had no idea what a zipline was. So I did some research. Required equipment for the zipline adventure includes thick gloves, a full body harness, helmet, and appropriate footwear – gear Tarzan would not have been caught dead wearing. As I understand it, after signing a waiver indicating that whatever may go wrong is all your fault, you stand at the edge of a platform mounted near the top of a large tree over a deep gorge in the forest. They strap you tightly into the harness, attach one of end of a metal clip to the harness, the other to a long, thick wire stretched across the entire gorge, and shove you off the edge of the platform. From there, you’re on your own. And, if you manage to survive, they do it to you another ten times!

What the heck was I thinking?

Actually, it was cool – very, very cool!

The Nantahala Gorge Canopy zipline adventure is a series of 11 ziplines separated by several foot-bridges. And I use the term “foot-bridge” loosely.

The longest zipline is over 600 feet. It takes you about 20 seconds to zoom that 600 feet. You’re up about 75 feet over terra not-so-firma most of the time you are in the air. I imagine it’s kinda’ like the Spiderman Broadway show only a lot safer.

Here, you can watch it in action:

The Waiver

Of course, they make you sign a waiver relieving them of all responsibility for anything. But the fine print is a lot milder than that on most prescription drug labels. You should be in reasonably good health, and not a big, fat slob. I know that that rules out many boomers, but come on. There is no upper age limit. There are two “tour guides” for each group of 10 zippers (my pet name, not theirs); and they (Daniel and Mackenzie, in our case) are a lot of fun and very good. They really make it fairly idiot-proof. Yes, that rules in most boomers. (Though for some unexplained reason, mortality rates are not available).

It is very different from a day at Disney, but it costs about the same: $79. It is nowhere near as mobbed, and parking is free. In fact, it is very different from any other vacation adventure. That is a major part of its appeal to us.

You can get more information about the Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour here:

The Bed and Breakfast (B&B)

This was our first experience with a bed and breakfast, too. We chose to stay at the West Oak Lodge in Bryson City. They have four rooms in the main lodge and three standalone cabins. Even our little room at the lodge had a small kitchen. It was clean, cute, and very comfortable.

Fair disclosure: We overslept and missed the call to breakfast entirely. So for us, it was less B&B, and more like B&O (Bed and Oversleep). But I am sure that breakfast was excellent.

It’s a great place to stay. Innkeeper Mercedith Bacon and her assistant, Janice, did a great job at making us feel welcome. When you make a reservation there, be sure to mention BBHQ to Ms. Bacon... she’ll probably say, “What is that?”

Another small practical joke.

More information about the West Oak Lodge is here:

But of course, whatever you do, do not mention the name Casey Anthony. A joke goes only so far.

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: From the BBHQ Lyrics You Know You Know collection, fill in the blank:
    A ________________ lives forever, but not so little boys.
    Painted wings and giant strings make way for other toys.

Your final answer is....

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