Archive for June, 2011


And I’m Stuck

The road to Foxfire Mountain can be quite a scenic and fun ride, with all the twists and turns.  That is if you have a reliable car.  Recently we had one truck give us a lot of trouble.

When you get to the property at Foxfire Mountain you have two options.  Park down the hill or park behind the main office in the handicap spots.  Most people don’t even bother driving up the hill to park by the office.  But when you’re delivering a couple of packages it makes sense.  A few days ago FedEx came and dropped off some cool new t-shirts.  Everything went on as usual.  The packages were dropped off inside, everything was signed for, small talk was had, etc.  But, I knew something wasn’t quite right when I was leaving to take pictures and the FedEx man was walking back to the office empty-handed.

It turns out that his truck was having some problems starting and he thought if he put it into neutral it would roll down the hill until he was able to start it.  He didn’t make it very far though.  He started rolling down the hill toward the fence and luckily stopped in time.  But he stopped right in a pile of mulch.

He came inside to ask if any of our big strong guides could help him push the truck out and down the hill.  A few of the guides walked outside and started to push the truck.  But it was not moving at all.  Just rocking back and forth.  Naturally, I thought that maybe if they had a five foot nothing girl helping to push it might do something.  How wrong I was.

After awhile, the guides started to give up.  That is until Tom got back from the tour he was on.  “No problem,”  he said.  “Let me get my truck.” The other guides just laughed and laughed.  There was no way that he was going to pull that FedEx truck with his truck.  But he hooked it up and soon enough that FedEx truck was down the hill.  It wasn’t working yet, but at least it wasn’t sitting in a pile of mulch unable to move.  They finally sent a “rescue” crew out to get him and soon that FedEx would leave our property.  But it was pretty funny watching the guides struggling to get the truck out.  And their jaws drop when Tom’s truck did the job.

T-shirt Time!!

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Idea!!

After listening to the same banjo music day in and day out, I have had a sudden stroke of genius.  Many of the people who work at Foxfire Mountain have some sort of musical background.  It may be strumming the guitar, banging on the bongo drums, or in my case smacking that tamborine.  In fact, there have often been times when the weather isn’t the greatest that a few of the people will jam with the Walmart guitar the owner Marc has lying around the office.

Then one day, when I was in a good mood and must have just finished watching the Glee finale, it hit me.  I was walking around the office humming along to the banjo music (my singing voice isn’t the greatest) and instead of telling someone “you’re welcome” I sang it to them.  This started me thinking.  Instead of listening to the same banjo music day after day, hour after hour, song after song, we should try our hand at making our own music.  Then we could play that in the office instead.

Just think about it.  We could have great original songs such as, “Watch out!  It’s Zombie Chicken” or perhaps “Flippity Flopping while were Zippity Zopping”.  The possibilities are endless.  Or course this whole blog is me being sarcastic (unless you think this is a brilliant idea and would like to purchase a CD right now).  But I thought it was a funny idea and wanted to share.

Excuses Excuses

I’ve worked at Foxfire Mountain for almost three months now and I have heard almost every excuse for people not to zip line.  I’m afraid of heights.  I just had knee surgery.  I’m allergic to fun.  But the worst of all excuses is I’m too old.  I beg to differ on that one. 

Just a couple of weeks ago we had a zip liner come in that was eighty-six years young.  He didn’t seem afraid at all to be on the zip lines and was there with his family.  Usually when I’m taking pictures, I notice the fear and shock on people’s faces when they start off.  Then by the end of the line, they are smiling and woo hooing the whole time.  It’s a complete 180.  But this man was smiles the whole entire time.  He truly was enjoying the entire experience. 

And it made me wonder what else might be on his bucket list.  Who knows, maybe he is out there somewhere bungee jumping.  Or hang gliding.  Or just enjoying a nice meal with his family.  But it made me think about everything I have yet to try.  I might even start making my own bucket list. 

But for everyone out there thinking I’m too old to be zip lining (mom and dad) you might want to reconsider and try something new and exciting while you still can.  🙂

The Man Behind Home Plate

Once again, I think it is very important for us at Foxfire Mountain, to take a break from talking about our oldest zip liner, rescuing FedEx, and white water rafting to take time to appreciate all the papas out there.  And since I am the one writing this blog I want to write about my dad (even though he may not like it).

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my dad.  At the ripe old age of 22, I already am starting to act like him (which is a little scary).  Maybe that’s the reason why I can’t hear correctly or am always getting names wrong or why I am so competitive.  My dad and I have always been competitive (which may be a reason why I shy away from games that I don’t know how to play because I hate losing).  We like to point out all the different places we’ve been to try to one up each other.  And like myself, my dad was a bit of a “traveling gypsy” back in the day also.  So, the game can get pretty intense sometimes.  But, my dad has always been there to support me.  Even if it is just a high school softball game.  Which reminds me…

Way back when I was in high school, I use to play Softball.  And I don’t just mean I would show up for practices and might play an occasional game when the season was out.  I played fall leagues, summer leagues, spring leagues, slow pitch leagues, took pitching lessons, showed up at school an hour early to play catch, even considered transferring to private school to play softball.  That kind of dedication.  And through all of these practices and games was my dad.  He even coached a few of the games when our regular coach had hip surgery.  I can see him now crouching by third base with his hands on his knees talking to me about oranges to try to get me to loosen up (I get pretty intense sometimes) and he would try to be extremely sneaky with the signals, which was hard to adapt to considering our regular coach was extremely obvious with his signals.

After my freshman year of playing infield, they switched me over to being pitcher.  And I’m not going to lie, I am pretty bad at pitching.  I could throw a strike but I don’t have the greatest aim and at times felt like I didn’t have much direction.  Without saying a thing about it, my dad knew exactly what I was thinking.  He would plant himself in the stands behind home base (come rain, shine, or snow) and we started to develop signals about what pitch I should throw and where I should throw it.  Now, I can be pretty stubborn sometimes, so I wouldn’t always listen to him (I still do this).  But whenever things were getting hard, I would just glance back at my dad to see what he suggested.  And to this day, even when I don’t ask for it, it’s almost as if he still behind that home plate giving me guidance on what to do next.

So I just wanted to thank my dad for all the patience, guidance, and encouragement over the years.  And from all of us here at Foxfire Mountain, a big thank you to all the papas out there that are doing the same for their sons and daughters.  Happy Father’s Day!!

Como Say What?!?!

Before I dive into this topic, I feel the need to give a little bit of a back story.  Throughout the years, my hearing has slowly been going (I’m getting so old).  It got so bad that my friends back in Philadelphia said I would only hear what I wanted to hear.  My roommate would tell me to take out the garbage but instead I would here him say, “I want the bar maid”.  Strange I know.  Sometimes the things they were saying wouldn’t even sound like what I was hearing. 

Well since moving to the south a little over two months ago, I thought my hearing was finally improving.  The first couple days were great.  Everyone was super nice and I wasn’t having trouble understanding what they were saying (even with their southern drawl).  But as I got more comfortable with my surroundings, I noticed that I wasn’t hearing as clearly as I thought I was. 

What I thought the guides at Foxfire Mountain were calling Charlie, they were actually calling Trolly.  And then there were some days where it seemed like everything they were saying was coming out a different language.  What’s wrong with me?!  I’m way to young to be losing my hearing.  But I just wanted to write it on here and explain to everyone, not just the people I work with, that if you say something to me that registers no response, I probably am trying to figure out what you just said.  Please don’t get upset.  Just look me in the eye, make sure you have my full attention, and then speak as clearly as possible.  This way when you tell me to watch out for bees, I won’t bring you back a pound of cheese.  If you do repeat yourself a second time and all you get from me is a smile and nod, just save us both the embarrassment and walk away slowly.  I’ll probably figure out what you are asking for eventually (at least I hope I do).  But I just wanted to explain and apologize before hand.  So for everyone out there on the receiving end of a blank stare from me, I am extremely sorry for my lack of hearing and I hope you understand. 

I didn't know what picture to post with this blog. But this picture makes me laugh.

Brand New Record!!!

Yesterday was kind of crazy.  To start this story, let me just say that it was my day off.  I was looking forward to sleeping in and doing nothing important except for going Zorbing.  This plan was shattered when my phone started to ring.  “Day Man!  Ahh-ahhh-ahhhhhh” was heard loudly throughout my apartment (it’s my ring tone).  And guess who was on the other line.  Foxfire Mountain.  They had been open for a little less than an hour and it was already busier than normal.  So I headed over to see if I could help. 

Things were still a little hectic for the office workers when I got here.  There were crowds of people standing in the gift shop signing waivers, guides were answering telephones, the other photographer Tim (who is also trained as a guide) was on a tour.  It was madness I tell you!  Madness!!  So I started taking pictures.  Groups would leave as others were coming in and it was just me taking pictures.  I was running around the zip lines like a chicken with its head cut off (and the fact that I compared myself to a chicken should be saying something). 

Now it may seem like I am complaining about taking pictures like a crazy lady living in the wilderness (I do love to complain) but let me explain how we take pictures on the last line.  The last line is known as the trick line, and in order to get tricks you have to walk down the platform, a small ways down a hill, and then stand amongst the wildlife in order to see their tricks.  Then once they arrive at the platform and are getting disconnected, you have to run out from behind the trees, up the hill, and up the platform.  Pardon my language, but yesterday that platform kicked my ass. 

We had a record-breaking number come out to zip with us at Foxfire Mountain.  And to all who came out that are reading this now, I just want to thank you for helping Foxfire Mountain reach their old record and then smash it down to the ground.  And I guess for getting me back in to shape.  Well, sort of getting me back into shape.  And finally I just want to congratulate Foxfire Mountain

The only thing I have to worry about now is when we break this record, because after all, it’s only the beginning of summer.  Yikes.  Now, if you will excuse me.  I’m going to go home and ice my ankle. 

New Record!! Woo!!

Building Bridges

Over the past few weeks when we have been reading about our lovely guides, Foxfire Mountain has undergone a lot of changes.  One of the changes is a new beautiful waterfall that runs over the old iron mine.  And no waterfall is complete without a swinging bridge to stand from in order to get a good view.  We have hiking trails all over the property here, and one of those trails will lead up to the swinging bridge and running waterfall (that zip liners are riding over). 

It had been awhile since I was able to be out on the lines, so I hadn’t been up to date on all the progress being made.  One night a few weeks back, a couple of us office staff deciding to hijack (and by hijack I mean politely borrow) one of the ATVs and go check it out.  We rode up the mountain and tried to avoid getting hit by branches when we finally made it to the top of the waterfall.  But we wanted to get the good view.  So we decided to take a small hike down the mountainside in order to be able to walk across the bridge.  Visions of my past experience hiking downhill were flashing through my mind.  So I was the last one to make the trek down the mountain.  After a little bit of slipping and sliding we made it to the bridge.  And this was my favorite part.  Not only was the waterfall beautiful and seemed to fit in perfectly, the swinging bridge was so much fun.  It was almost like being on a trampoline.  You didn’t walk across it, but more like bounced across the bridge.  And once I figured this out, I stopped walking and proceded to jump up and down laughing with joy.  But I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only one on the bridge.  I looked behind me to see Charles grasping the bridge, a look of apprehension on his face.  So I stopped jumping and calmly walked the rest of the way.  Doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and sneak up there to jump around again though.

That isn’t the only bridge that Foxfire Mountain is building at the moment.  Foxfire Mountain is involved with this charity called Bridges to Prosperity, which is a volunteer charity that works to empower rural communitites in Afria, Asia, and South America by providing them with bridges to better expand their access to the community, economic prosperity, schools, clinics, jobs, and markets.  They built their first bridge in 2001 and since have continued to build over 2,000 footbridges.  Foxfire Mountain is involved with helping them build two more bridges.

The first bridge is in Zarazoga, El Salvador in the small community of La Hacienda Corinto.  During the rainy season, the water gets so high that La Hacienda Corinto is completely cut off from the municipality and main highway of Zarazoga.  Without access to Zarazoga, the community is unable to attend school and get to their jobs.  But thanks to Foxfire Mountain and Bangs-Russell Foundation, La Hacienda Corinto is soon going to have a 35 meter suspended bridge to help them cross the Rio El Jute during the rainy season. 

The other bridge is located in Guadalupe, Nicaragua.  This bridge will help cross the people of Guadalupe be able to cross the Rio Guapinol during the rainy season, when this small stream can turn into a raging river that prevents students from going to school for weeks at time.  The townspeaple are extremely grateful for the bridge being built.  They have been trying to get a bridge built for the last fifteen years, but since they are a small rural community, finding the funds has been a very difficult challenge. 

If you would like to learn more about Bridges to Prosperity and how you can help out, feel free to visit their website:  http://bridgestoprosperity.org/

Last guide update for awhile.  I swear.  Everyone else is still in training.  At least to my knowledge they are still in training.  But up next we have Lance.

Lance started working at Foxfire Mountain last summer and still loves to go out on the zip lines.  I can tell he misses it sometimes because he attempts to get in their pictures sometimes.  It is his goal to be able to head butt a guide while they are going down the lines.  He has to get about a foot higher off the ground before that can happen though.  Working as a guide, Lance slowly worked his way up and has just been promoted to General Manager.  He still finds time to take a tour out every once in awhile though.  At first he didn’t want to do this.  But after much convincing I finally was able to fill out a guide questionnare.

Name:  Lance

Nickname:  Boss

Birthday:  November 16

Favorite Trick:  Inverted Tornado

Funniest Guide Story:  Flare out + 40 M.P.H. = Me being bounced off the ramp with a kick to the chest.  (Don’t worry.  We have changed the way we brake since this happened)

I lied. There are a few more guides that I have yet to introduce. I sincerely appologize.

I haven’t worked much with Amanda (she usually works on my days off) but from what I can tell she is a very sincere and polite individual. She has a quiet confidence that make all the zip liners trust her.  Along with a few of the other guides, Amanda is also a firefighter when she isn’t working at Foxfire Mountain, so she knows how to keep cool during intense situations (not that she gets many out on the lines). 

Name:  Amanda

Nickname:  AO

Birthday:  March 14

Favorite Trick:  Everything

Funniest Guide Story:  After one of my tours, a customer gave me a very unusual tip.  It was half a jar of moonshine.

Finally!  We have reached the end of the guides (at least the fully trained guides) and I have saved one of the most important guides for last.

Amy!

Amy is basically the head guide here at Foxfire Mountain.  She keeps all the other guides in line (which isn’t always the easiest job).  But she does it in such a fun way.  She is extremely enthusiastic and goes around the property singing songs and cracking cheesy jokes.  For example:  How do you wake up Lady Gaga?  Pokerface!  Since she is in charge of all the guides, she doesn’t get much time to go out on the lines herself.  But when she does she just lights up the whole tour with her attitude. 

Name:  Amy

Nickname:  Tinkerbell

Birthday:  July 16

Favorite Trick:  Helicopter

Funniest Guide Story:  This man was going down the line.  The guide gave him the signal to flair out and he did it perfectly.  Then the guide starting patting his head.  So the man started patting his head.  When he got to the platform, he wondered why the brake didn’t work.