3/28/2013 - So what do you want to do before you die?
Bucket lists are great for setting lofty goals, giving you something to strive for, something to look forward to. Maybe you want to try skydiving or write a book or climb Mount Everest. It’s good to dream, but what if, right now, you don’t have the time or resources to make those dreams come true?
Enter the poor man’s bucket list. The Hippo has come up with alternatives to some of the most common bucket list aspirations — no need to wait until you’re rich or retired to make a dent in your dreams. Did you know you can skydive indoors in Nashua? You get a similar experience to the real thing with a much lower risk of heart attack. Would you love to drive across the country but can’t find the time or the money? There’s plenty of fun to be had driving across New Hampshire too. Or let Mount Washington be your Mount Everest — the climb to the world’s worst weather isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
There’s no shame in starting small(er). In fact, you might find that the poor man’s bucket list, with its achievable but challenging goals, is just the inspiration you’re looking for.
If you can’t jump out of a plane, you could...
Skydive closer to the ground
Thrill seekers who may be hesitant to jump out of a plane can get the same feeling without stepping foot outdoors. For almost seven years, SkyVenture New Hampshire has offered indoor skydiving in Nashua. After taking a 15-minute course, you can head into the flight tunnel and float through the air without a plane or parachute.
Via a recirculating air system, you can remain safely suspended in the air, just 12 feet off the ground. SkyVenture co-owner Laurie Greer said the flight tube goes up about 45 feet, but for first-timers, a 12-foot maximum is the general guideline. As long as you’re in good health, you can try an indoor skydive. One memorable flight, she said, had four generations floating together in the tube.
“People see pretty quickly that this is a safe family environment to fly,” Greer said. “Two and a half is the youngest I’ve flown and 93 is the oldest.”
Or, take a hot air balloon ride
After the balloon landed safely back on earth, one passenger took out a notebook and made a quick strike through a line of text she’d written. Tony Sica, the owner and a pilot at High 5 Ballooning, said many of his customers have “Take a hot air balloon ride” high up on their bucket lists, though not everyone brings their lists with them on the flight.
One of the reasons ballooning has become such a popular bucket list goal, Sica said, is that it turns a childhood fantasy into a reality.
“People in general have this kind of weird draw to hot air balloons,” Sica said. “There’s something magical about it, and when people see balloons they follow them. Sometimes we’ll land and there’s a caravan that followed us.”
Once airborne from the High 5 Ballooning launch point in Salem, Sica said passengers can see the Boston skyline to the south, the White Mountains to the north, the ocean to the east and even as far west as the Berkshires.
He said occasionally a passenger will be hesitant because they think they’re afraid of heights, but it’s really falling they’re afraid of. After a few minutes pass in the basket and they start to realize it’s a safe way to fly, Sica said even most nervous passengers settle in.
Eric Nickerson, the owner and a pilot at Milford’s Liberty Flights, said he will adjust the height based on a passenger’s comfort, starting low and increasing the altitude as passengers request it.
“At the tree-top level people don’t have concerns,” Nickerson said. “We’ll be kissing the tops of pine trees and people will think, ‘This is not bad, this is nice.’”
— Cory Francer
No time for a
cross-country road trip?
Drive across N.H. instead
Road-tripping it from the East Coast to California sounds like a grand adventure, with visions of national landmarks, car sing-alongs and off-the-beaten-path diners filling your head. But a road trip across the country isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
For one, gas prices are rising, so you’re going to burn through some serious cash. It’s also a really long trip, and some people just don’t have that kind of time. Plus, if you’re not in good company, there’s not much you can do to escape.
So drive across the state instead. If you’re going to take a state-wide road trip, New Hampshire really is the ideal place to do it, said Tai Freligh, communications manager at the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development.
“You score if you live in New Hampshire. There’s so much right here,” Freligh said. “You can go from the seacoast to the White Mountains, and it’s like you’re in a whole different state.”
Plus, you can split these into day trips; i.e., you don’t have to worry about lodging.
So take a day trip up north to see some moose, or to downtown Portsmouth or, on the other side of the state, Hanover. Go camping in Franconia Notch State Park or drive along Route 4 to peruse Antique Alley.
Or you could visit a whole region, such as Monadnock, which Freligh said doesn’t get enough credit. Downtown Keene, for instance, is rich in arts, culture and beauty, he said. And while Mount Washington gets all the praise, Mount Monadnock is now the most-climbed mountain in the world. (Mt. Fuji had that distinction until the Japanese built a road within a few hundred feet of the top.)
If you want to try a multi-day road trip, NH Travel and Tourism has a few already planned out.
There’s the Route 3 Retro Tour, which hits upon old-fashioned diners, Clark’s Trading Post, the Franconia Notch Hotel and Santa’s Village, among 30 other places.
Or you could try a photography tour, which captures some of the most picturesque places in each region: Odiorne Point State Park on the seacoast, Chocorua Lake in Tamworth. These itineraries are mapped, detailed and downloadable from visitnh.com. (We also wrote a longer story about some of these road trip itineraries last spring; check it out at hippopress.com/read-article/eat-it-up.)
Then there are themed tours, like “Filmed in NH,” “Coos Covered Bridges,” “The Footsteps of Lincoln” and “Forts Castles and Kids.”
— Kelly Sennott
Not ready to write a book?
Start with a blog.
This gateway into the writing world has become increasingly popular over the past decade.
Stacy Milbouer teaches blogging and column writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and says that part of the draw in blogging is its accessibility.
“It’s easy. If you have a Gmail account, you can be blogging within five minutes. It’s very intuitive,” she said.
Milbouer said she has at least 15 blogs, some public, some private, all of which are very subject-driven. If you’re going to blog, she said, this is very important. Cooking blogs, sports blogs and mommy blogs are all popular, but you need to have a concentrated topic to keep interest, both yours and your readers.
“One of the biggest mistakes bloggers do is just throw their thoughts around in a blog, just as they do on Facebook,” she said. “But you have to follow the rules of regular writing. If you’re a terrible speller, if you have bad grammar, you’re not going to be taken seriously. That’s where it’s different from Facebook and Twitter.”
The blog itself can can satisfy this craving to write, but it can also provide structure and a means to help you write your book.
Or, since there’s no major risk or financial commitment in trying to write a book, you could go ahead and give it a try — just be realistic.
“Most people don’t think that it is, but writing is very hard,” said George Geers, executive director of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project.
And even if you are able to do this —physically sit down and write an entire book — you’re only about 40 to 45 percent done, Geers said, because even after you’re done writing, you’ll need to find someone to publish it.
But if you are serious about this endeavor, besides utilizing resources like the New Hampshire Writers’ Project (nhwritersproject.org), Geers recommends talking to successful writers at local bookstore readings and signings.
“It’s a matter of putting yourself in the community of writing. Writers are very giving of their time and of their opinions,” Geers said.
So why is this item a common bucket list item?
“We all like to share stories,” Geers said. “And when you write a book, it’s around for a long time. You’ve shared a little bit of your soul, and even if it’s fiction, there’s a lot of you in that,” Geers said. — Kelly Sennott
If you can’t be a NASCAR driver...
Try racing your street car
Most people will never get to experience what it’s like to race around a track in a car traveling 200 miles per hour while maneuvering for position against competitors. But that doesn’t mean people can’t get a taste for speed, even in a run-of-the-mill sedan.
For $25, the New England Dragway in Epping, which features a quarter-mile strip of pavement, lets drivers hit the gas in their street cars every Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. It’s pretty simple: drivers show up with their car, pay the fee, have their vehicle inspected, proceed to the starting line and slam down the gas for a quarter mile.
On street nights, it’s typical that drivers show up in whatever they drive every day, whether car, truck, motorcycle or souped-up Mustang. The idea is to cover the quarter-mile strip as quickly as possible.
“They do it just for the fun of it, most of the time,” said dragway General Manager Joe Lombardo.
The dragway had its origins with the New England Hot Rod Council, which initially began racing in Sanford, Maine, at an airport. When they could no longer race at the airport, council members found a piece of property in Epping that worked. The dragway’s first race took place in 1966.
For those worried about wear and tear on vehicles, Lombardo said track officials typically equate the experience to getting on the highway. On street nights, drivers can make unlimited runs.
“When you’re getting on the highway, you’re hitting the gas pretty good to get it up to speed,” Lombardo said. “This is a little more intense than that.”
As long as a car can pass a state vehicle inspection, it will be good to go, Lombardo said.
Track officials are there to help, so if people haven’t done it before, officials help them get to the starting line and let them know when to go.
“Once they do it once or twice, they’re usually pretty good,” Lombardo said.
Those who want to take the experience to the next level might come in on a street night, get a baseline for the car’s speed, and then make some modifications, Lombardo said.
Drivers must wear helmets for any car that covers the quarter-mile in less than 14 seconds. The course is a closed environment, so if anything goes wrong vehicles are still in a walled-in environment, Lombardo said. Ambulances and EMTs are on standby at the track.
Lombardo said people might be surprised at how fast their cars go. He said the dragway sees a lot of BMWs, particularly the 3 Series, cover the distance fast enough that drivers need helmets. With some modifications, those same cars can travel the distance in less than 12 seconds, which puts speeds at 105 to 110 miles per hour, he said.
Many people who start out on street nights enjoy it enough that they choose to compete. The dragway hosts racing series, including handicap formats, where the most consistent — not the fastest — cars win. — Jeff Mucciarone
Can’t make it to the Big Leagues?
Train with someone who did
A 40-man roster multiplied by 30 teams makes room for only 1,200 Major League Baseball players. But around the world millions of kids dream of one day making the cut as one of the best of the best. It can be a nearly impossible task to cross off a bucket list, but around here, ballplayers have a chance to practice with someone who made it to the top.
Matt Tupman spent eight seasons as a catcher in the Kansas City Royals minor-league organization, making an appearance with the big club during the 2008 season. His playing career ended in 2009, but after returning to his native Concord, he has been a baseball coach and instructor at the Concord Sports Center.
He gives one-on-one instruction, runs clinics for ages 7 to 12 and coaches the Concord Cannons travel teams and the Post 21 American Legion team. Tupman said transitioning from a player to a coach has been a challenge, but he said he enjoys being living proof that a northern New Englander can be a big leaguer.
“Being from where we are, those snowy days can be depressing,” Tupman said. “To be an elite athlete, it’s all about mind over matter.”
Though Tupman is still relatively fresh off his playing days, he said spending his career as a catcher has helped him transition to the coaching role. The catcher serves as the director of the team’s defense and Tupman said the position requires a deep understanding of pitching and situational baseball.
“A catcher has to have leadership qualities,” he said. “You’re the quarterback out there. If you look around at the Major League level, the majority of managers who played were catchers.”
New Hampshire may not be recognized as a national powerhouse for producing pro athletes, but Tupman said he likes to refer to his Concord High School graduating class of 1999, which also produced Matt Bonner of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. With snow on the ground for much of the year, New Hampshire players may have a disadvantage, but working through the winter helps.
“There’s always someone in California, Texas or Florida who could be getting better than you,” Tupman said. “So kids need to get to the Sports Center and get in their ground balls and swings.” — Cory Francer