Extreme Zip Lining Adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

zip lining in Puerto Vallarta
Weee!

On our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta with my husband’s company, we were offered a sunset cruise and a zip lining tour. Very nonchalantly, I said, “Sure, sign us up!”

And that was that.

I didn’t google it or look into any details. I just knew we had to meet in the lobby at 8:00 a.m. and that we’d be back around 3 p.m.

Vallarta Adventures

At the Vallarta Adventures office, we all had to be weighed…

On vacation!

All the women were having a bit of panic after a couple days of margaritas and tacos. Then they gave us a wrist band with our weight on it! Thankfully it was in kilograms so I really didn’t know the conversion, and I told myself I wouldn’t look it up. We were on vacation after all. This must done, because if you are too light, you need sandbags to get you through one of the zip lines. If you are over 260 pounds, you cannot go on the zip lining portion.

We were ushered in a van for the hour drive to the Mexican jungle. This was the scariest part of the whole trip. Our driver kept trying to pass other cars on a two lane street without properly checking to make sure that another car wasn’t going to hit us head on. What is it with taxi drivers being hell bent on ending all of our lives?! No one needs to get anywhere that fast.

We made it safely to the location. At this point we were told there would be no bathrooms and we couldn’t bring anything with us. No water, snacks, sunscreen, etc. They did offer some filtered water and bananas throughout, but if you have low blood sugar, you might want to sneak a snack or ask in you can bring something extra. So we lathered up on sunscreen and bug spray, and put all of our belongings in a locker. From there we got fitted for our harnesses and had a little lesson about how to position our bodies while zip lining.

zip lining Mexico
Getting ready to go.

Extreme Zip Lining Adventure

Next we started the tour with a couple of small zip lines to get all used to it. The tour guides do a set of seven safety checks before each person is off. They communicate on each side to let you know when to go and if you need to try and brake yourself. This tour has two cords on each zip line providing a safer experience. They pride themselves on their safety measures, and I truly felt very safe the whole time.

zip lining
Off I go

Now to the part that I wasn’t expecting. This was a full day of all sorts of activities-not just zip lining. After a few zip lines, we got to the top of a tree where we just jumped off backwards. There was a few seconds of free fall before the line caught us, and we were lowered down. Some people were a little hesitant, and the guides would just push them off.

They called this “helping”.

Ropes Course and Tarzan Swing

zip lining Mexico
Just climbing up 65 feet. No big deal.

Next was a ropes course. We climbed a 65 foot net, walked across a rope at this height, then walked across a bridge made up of unstable poles. Again, I wasn’t expecting this piece and a number of people did opt out of this portion.

At this point, my legs are shaking, and I’m freaking out a little. Of course things are just ramping up.

We found ourselves at the top of a tree and had the option to do a Tarzan swing or a zip line. It is exactly like it sounds. You just jump off the tree and swing back and forth until you get to the ground. I thought, “When in Puerto Vallarta” and did the Tarzan swing.

zip lining Mexico
Tarzan Swing

ATV’s

I needed a break. I had to sit down for a minute to make my body stop shaking from all the nerves. Thankfully this is where we hopped into ATV’s.

Phew. A rest.

I was pretty nervous about this, because everyone kept talking about going over a suspension bridge. I hate all kinds of bridges, even very stable ones so this sounded really terrifying. It was actually pretty stable and not that far off the ground. The ATV course wasn’t all that crazy, and it really felt like a much needed break from the constant adrenaline.    

Superman

zip lining Mexico
Superman! That’s a GoPro attached to my helmet.

From here we took a fifteen minute hike through the forest to the Superman.

What is the Superman you ask?

You get into a special harness. The harness hooks up to the zip line on your back, and you catapult head first for about a mile going 60 mph.

It looks absolutely insane.

However, I hadn’t gone to the restroom all day, and the first bathroom on the tour was at the other end. My need to pee overcame my fear, and I was one of the first to volunteer.

I got in position and was off.

Flying through the Mexican jungle, I was trying to take it all in, and just like that it was over in about a minute. It felt so safe that it wasn’t that scary, and was just a cool experience.

Alas, the first restroom of the day!

Indoor Flight

As our tour guide would say, “Next activity!” Now we were onto the indoor flight experience. By now, I was ready for a cold beer and some lunch, and just generally ready this adventure to be over. Not that I wasn’t having fun, I was just hungry, borderline hangry.

We all suited up into our “flight suit” and received some instruction on the optimal flying position. Each person went one by one and stayed in the simulator for 60 seconds. A person was inside helping guide us and a person outside correcting our position. I wasn’t expecting much from this part, but it was really fun. I was just laughing and smiling the whole time. In the simulator, I could feel myself getting really high and feeling like the flying tunnel scene from Willy Wanka that I just kind of crumpled my body to get lower.

I would totally do this again.

zip lining Mexico
Flying!

Water Slide

The last part of the adventure day was a water slide to the bottom. I’ve never been on such a fast water slide. We even had to wear a helmet for this part, and I can see why. My head was whipped back at one of the turns, and I banged it pretty hard. Just like that the adventure day was over.

Base Camp

Back at the base camp, we all did a Mexican cheer and had a tequila shot to wrap up the day. This is where we looked at the pictures and had lunch before heading back to town.

Remember how I said, we weren’t allowed to bring anything with us?

This means all the pictures taken were by Vallarta Adventures, and if we wanted any of them, we had to pay for them.

I know, eye roll.

But the pictures of us zip lining through the Mexican jungle were really good, and I wanted to savory this memory for $99.

All in all, I felt very safe, had a ton fun, and experienced something new. Is this something you would try?

¡Salud!

The Helpful Hiker

My Outdoor Family: When three-nagers meet intentional parenting

Article originally posted on Outdoor Families Magazine in May 2018.

adventure family

In 2005, my husband and I moved to Colorado from Florida. We moved across the country for a change, a sense of adventure, and the Rocky Mountains. Our 480-foot studio apartment was only $500 a month. Our jobs were not serious, and with limited responsibilities, we explored this great state together. We hiked over 12 hours to summit and descent Long’s Peak. As fit and competitive people, we ran the Bolder Boulder, competed in multiple triathlons, and finished, albeit slowly, a century bike ride (100 miles). Additionally, we came to appreciate the outdoor music scene Colorado has to offer be attending shows at Red Rocks, Mishawaka, Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, and Jazz in the Park in Denver. Camping, mountain biking, snowboarding, four wheeling, rafting-you name it-we did it. Basically, we soaked up everything Colorado has to offer.

Our marriage was built on this framework of adventure and the outdoors. Now in 2018, we have two little boys, a dog, a house and careers. It sure would be easy to get caught up in the rat race, and say we’ve checked those items off our bucket list. After all, there is laundry to be done and a house to be cleaned. But, what kind of childhood memories would we be creating staying indoors and just watching movies? Sure, we all love a lazy day, but where is the sense of adventure? Some of my best childhood memories are running barefoot in the rain and riding my bike to the ice-cream store. I want that for my kids too.

As brand new parents we were in survival mode, but now we are establishing more of a groove and are finding time to get outside. Last year, we bought a pop-up camper. On our first camping trip as a family of four, our youngest was five months old and our oldest was three. There were challenges and fears. Our three-nager was going through a tantrum phase over the traumatic event of having a baby brother. I kept worrying the youngest would be too cold in his pack ‘n play. Also, packing for a trip with a baby and a toddler is no joke. How can people so small require so many things? We dealt with cleaning bottles and managing sleep schedules. But, we got outside together. Our kids know what a s’more tastes like and have seen the Milky Way in all its glory. They have been on hikes to waterfalls and fished in ponds with Dad. The awe they experience when they see a deer or even a frog is worth the effort to get outside.

Overall, we feel we are being intentional in our efforts to spend time together as family and instill values of appreciating experiences more than things. Of course, our kids will be their own people, but we hope they have a zest for life, and a love of nature. We want to experience things as a family and make memories together.

As a family, we have been on eight camping trips and have four more planned this summer. When we are not camping, we play outside and ride bikes around the neighborhood. We still watch tv and occasionally play video games, but we think there is more to childhood and life than screen-time. Our house could always cleaner and laundry is an infinite problem. It is not always easy, but we choose to go outside, spend time together and make lasting memories together.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

It’s no secret that our planet is in crisis. As you have probably heard, late last year the United Nations released a report predicting that temperatures will rise to dangerous and catastrophic levels by 2040. As humans, we are the ones that created this dire situation, and we are the only ones that can get us out of it. Wide spread governmental policy change is likely the only way to turn this around. Mandates to big corporations to become carbon neutral, taxes on environmentally harmful activities, and mass changes to our current means of transportation will have the biggest impact on our planet as a whole.

reduce your carbon footprint

However, as citizens of the planet, what can the average person do, while the governments of the world catch up? Turns out a lot!

Higher Income = Higher Carbon Footprint

Before I list all the ways you can begin helping the planet, let’s talk about privilege for a minute. I recognize having privilege includes having the time and energy to focus on my personal carbon footprint. According to a British charity, Oxfam study (and likely many other studies), the wealthier you are the higher your carbon footprint. It makes sense. The more money you have, the more you consume. Remember a few years back when Leonardo DiCaprio flew on a private jet to accept an award honoring him for his work on climate change? Even though he cares about the environment, he has the ability to take a private jet, so his carbon footprint is likely quite high. To Leo’s credit, he has started to fly commercial since this incident.

I’ve never flown on a private jet so I’m already doing my part on behalf of climate change. If you haven’t either, good job! We are already changing the world!

If your income falls in the middle class or higher, then your carbon footprint is already higher than someone at poverty level or below, let alone someone from a less industrialized nation. Meaning, you should be thinking about this and what you can do to neutralize your impact on the planet. It won’t solve all of our problems, but I am firm believer that we have to start somewhere.

Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

1. Reusable bags

By now, you’ve have likely heard about bringing your own bags to the grocery store. But then, you go to the produce section and use plastics bags for your fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of inexpensive reusable produce bags on the market. Many of them are actually better for storage and claim to keep your produce fresher longer. Neat!

2. Assess Your Consumption

While we are on the topic of the grocery store, think about everything you buy that comes in a one use package. Pretty much everything, right? It’s actually a little daunting to think about. But once you assess your consumption, you can assess where you can make some changes or look for options that might be better than others. For example, a bar of soap that comes in a small cardboard box is a little better than the bottle of liquid body soap. Purchasing bulk items are a little better than say, a whole box of individual squeezable applesauces (guilty!). Or even bring some of your reusable bags to shop the bulk aisle for items like nuts, candy, coffee beans, etc.

3. Buy from Farmer’s Markets

Better yet, if and when available, go to your local farmer’s market. Your food will be fresher, likely organic, and you will be helping a local business. You can easily shop at a farmer’s market without anything being held in a one-use plastic container.

4. Ditch the K-Cups

Truth be told, I love my Keurig. I need coffee the second I wake up, and coffee from a Keurig is the quickest, easiest route to my caffeine fix. But the waste is indisputable. Even the inventor of the K-Cup, John Sylvan has stated that he regrets his invention due to the waste that if lined up could circle the world ten times from sales in 2014 alone. If you love your Keurig like me, there are reusable K-Cups available for your coffee grounds. Of course, other methods of coffee making haven’t gone anywhere: drip coffee, french press, and Chemex.

5. Bring Reusable Cups

Bring your own water bottle and coffee mug everywhere you go. You will save money by not purchasing so many water bottles, and help the planet at the same time. Some coffee shops will let you use your mug as well. It’s a win, win.

6. Ban Plastic Straws

After the news of plastic filling our oceans and whales being found with an obscene amount of plastic in their stomachs, restaurants and other industry leaders took major efforts to reduce the use of plastic straws. What a great step! Paper straws are much more compostable, but having your own straw to carry around is even better. I personally don’t think paper straws work that well. Reusable straws are typically made out of silicone and come with a brush for easy cleaning.

7. Reduce Shipping Packaging

As a busy, full-time working mom, I thrive off convenience as much as the next person. Amazon has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. Need a birthday present for the party this weekend? It will be there in two days. Yay, supermom here! However the amount of packaging they use for one item is out of control. There is an option to combine packages on multiple orders cutting down on your overall package waste. And buying items in a store cuts out the packaging all together.

8. Greener Hotel Stays

Many hotels have ditched the small shampoo and conditioner bottles for larger refillable tubes in the shower. Guests can deny or delay housekeeping services. This reduces the overall amount of laundry from your towels and sheets.

9. Reduce Paper Towel Use

At home, you can reduce or completely get rid of your paper towel use by re-purposing old towels. If there is an old towel that you were going to throw away, you can now cut in up into many pieces to use as a paper towel. These can be washed and reused until they fall apart.

10. Compost

Some progressive areas like San Francisco are offer compost pick-up along with trash and recycling. If you don’t live in one of these areas, you can create or purchase your own compost bin. You can really see how long things take to degrade, and even use it as fertilizer.

11. Go solar

Install solar panels. This is the priciest suggestion so far. As I mentioned earlier, if you can afford solar panels, then you likely have quite a large carbon footprint, and this would greatly cut that down. Now if you also purchased an electric car and you have solar panels, you are doing good things for the environment.

12. Shop used

Shop used stores. Admittedly, some used stores are better than others. I have found kids used stores tend to be pretty good for things like jackets, furniture and toys. Kids use these items for such a short amount time, and then they have out grown them. Why not extend the life of the item a little longer by purchasing from used stores and then donating it back when you are done with it.

13. Reduce Driving

Think about ways you could reduce your driving. Could you ask your boss to work remote one day a week or month? Perhaps some places you go are very short distances and you could walk or ride a bike. Is there a bus or public transportation near you? Asking yourself some of these questions could change some of your driving habits. Maybe you will get a little exercise too!

14. Write your legislatures!

By letting your legislatures know you care about the environment and support environmentally friendly causes, you can directly impact the course of new policies and laws.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the things you could do to reduce your carbon footprint nor is it a manual for how you should live your life. We all gravitate towards convenience, and with convenience usually comes less environmentally friendly options. However, if all made a few changes with a little conscious effort, we will all be better off. Let’s start saving our planet!