On Tuesday, May 3, our two Alexes (Wilson and Wallace) embarked on the Toyota It’s Amazing Out There Tour. The tour took them to Amicalola Falls, GA and Greenville, SC in search of some fun spring time activities. The following is Alex Wallace’s journal from the road. Get an inside look at what went down as he and our other Alex embarked on their road trip.
Time to get up and ready for a new adventure. I do a little last minute packing, say “goodbye” to the wife and I head out the door to meet up with the crew. Of course, it wouldn’t be a day in Atlanta if there wasn’t any traffic. Thankfully, I gave myself plenty of time to be on time and I have to give a shout out to Waze. It took me on a route I’ve never been on, but it sure enough kept me clear of traffic and I arrived to meet up with the crew on schedule.
We all introduce ourselves and everyone seems really cool, which is a key ingredient to a successful road trip. This fact completely outweighs the light rain that starts to come down. So, we’re already starting on a good note. We realize my partner in crime, Wilson (that’s what I call Alex Wilson) isn’t here yet. She’s not late but no one has heard from her. Of course, at that moment she pulls right up. Apparently, as she was walking the dog that morning, her flip flop snapped. She wasn’t that close to home when it happened so it took her a little extra time to get back to the house with only one working flip flop. She cracks me up!
So we are off to our first stop…Amicalola Falls State Park. It’s located in North Georgia, about an hour and 15 minutes north of Atlanta. I’ve been living in Georgia for 20 years and I’ve never been. Sad, but true. So I’m looking forward to something new. When we arrive, we find out the first activity will be ziplining! My first response is to look at Wilson and jokingly say, “Ladies First”. She’s a trooper so she says “Sure thing”. Clearly, we weren’t just going to ease into this trip. We strap on our gear, which was very comfortable. That would be sarcasm. But as long as it kept us safe, we were good. Time to head up to the platform. I lead the way to a wooden staircase which leads to a bridge that looks like the bridge from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. We slowly but surely make it to a ledge perched high–and I do mean high–in a tree. That’s the take off point. We wait for the camera crew to set up, which seemed like an eternity, while up 30 feet off the ground. It was probably no more than 5 minutes. The time arrived to take the plunge. We were given some quick and dirty instructions. I think I actually heard half of them because my mind was thinking about not plunging into an abyss. Ok, so it was time to go. Since I went up to the platform first, I had to go first. So much for “ladies first”. I looked back at Wilson. She gave me a reassuring look and said, “You got this”. That’s all I needed to give me that extra push. Quick prayer and off I go. That first step off the ledge was pretty frightening but then…I was off and flying above the trees. Yes, I was going a good 45 mph but I wasn’t scared. It was surprisingly very peaceful. The view, soaring from above and staring at the rolling hills was truly breathtaking. I thought, “everyone should have the opportunity to experience this”.
Wilson followed behind me and she was all smiles when she landed. We gave each other a high five and it was off to the next platform to zip back to where we came from. But we had to hike a bit to get there.
Full disclosure. Neither Wilson or myself are outdoors people. You won’t find us hiking in the woods in our spare time but we are both open to try new things. We begin the hike through the forest full of leaves, mud and whatever else was hidden. We remember that earlier, the Park Manager said there was poison ivy and snakes to look out for. Fortunately, we would be safe from those if we stayed on the makeshift path that was in front of us. It’s a steep climb and one that is not easy. Out of breath and sweating would be an understatement. But we trooped along and made it to the next zipline platform. Thighs were burning like we had just completed a Shaun T “Insanity” workout, but we made it. I should add that the hike was probably not even a half a mile long, but don’t tell that to my legs. Hats off to people that do real hiking. This time, Wilson goes first on the zipline. They strap a GoPro to capture her reaction and off she goes. I’m excited to be headed back out to see the view again but also because I can get off my feet and give my legs a chance to rest from the hike. I’m given a GoPro to hold in my hand to capture the view and off I go. Again, a spectacular view but this time another thought entered my head, “Don’t drop the GoPro!” I landed and SUCCESS! I didn’t drop the GoPro! Next up, a little lunch then off to check out the waterfall.
We start out checking out the waterfall from the very top. There’s a bridge that overlooks the startof the falls and it’s pretty cool to see the water cascading down from above. It’s an even better view from the midpoint of the falls. We get there and look up and our jaws just drop. Most of the day, the sky had been overcast but at that moment we looked up and the sky opened up to reveal the sun which shone on the water and a bright blue sky appeared. It really is a “wow” moment. After this zen moment, it’s time to go grab some arrows and try a little archery.
“You’ll shoot your eye out” is what comes to mind as I’m handed the bow. We get a 2 minute tutorial on how to shoot. The target is a fake deer in the woods. Wilson gets her Katniss Everdeen on first. First two shots narrowly miss but the third shot strikes. And the next one strikes as well. Last one comes close, but no cigar. All in all, not bad. Not bad at all. My turn. Of course, one of the crew shouts, “You have to get three strikes since Wilson got two”. Awwww man, now the pressure is on. First shot wildly misses. Second one hits and I feel pretty good. At least I won’t put up a goose egg. Third shot also connects so now we are tied. I’m thinking, with two arrows left, I’m in a good position to win this mini “Man vs Woman” competition. I fire…no dice. Last shot. I take a deep breath, pull back, aim and let her go. THUMP!!! I hit the target. Woo! Round one goes to Wallace. We try another target and we end up doing about the same. About two strikes each. At this point, our instructor shows off his masterful skill. We challenge him to hit the eye of the target. He says, “Sure, no problem”. And guess what??? He hit it right on target. Then he does it again and essentially hits the exact same spot as the first arrow. We all can’t believe it. Then we hit the last target. It’s a “jackalope”. A fictional cross between a jack rabbit and an antelope. I do ok and connect with three arrows. Wilson is up next and she proceeds to hit the target with all 6 of her arrows. Very impressive! I can only bow down as she celebrates her victory.
Our last activity of the day is to learn how to make fire. Now, I’ve watched “Survivor” and “Naked and Afraid” and always wondered why they always had so much trouble starting fires. Well, I quickly understood that it is not an easy thing to do. Our guide got everything prepared. Essentially, all we had to do was strike a flint, get some sparks and blow. Easy right?!? Not quite. We tried and tried…and tried. Nothing! It got to a point where we had to get lint from a dryer that had been soaked in Vaseline. Even that had a hard time igniting. We finally got a small fire burning but keeping it going was another story. Maybe twenty seconds and poof, it was out. Needless to say, if Wilson and I were ever in a survival situation in the woods, we probably wouldn’t make it very long. It was fun to try though.
It was a long and tiring day but it was a blast, full of things I would have probably never done on my own. The weather was perfect for everything and it’s a great place to enjoy the great outdoors, even if you aren’t an outdoors person.
Now off to the lodge for some rest. We order pizza. I head to my room, eat some slices and turn on the news. Oh, wow! Ted Cruz has dropped out of the race and I doze off!
Want to see the biggest funnel cake you’ve ever laid your eyes on? Read about day two here.