Video of the Day: Paraplegic girl bungee jumps in Whistler

Traveling with disabilities poses its own set of challenges. However, challenges can be overcome. That’s what makes this video so inspiring. Not one to let her paralysis keep her from enjoying an adventure, this paraplegic woman bungee jumped – with her wheelchair – off a bridge in Whistler, BC. The next time you’re feeling skittish about hitting the road, trying something new or testing your limits, remember this girl. I’m pretty sure she could kick my ass.
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Skyscraper as theme park: Architect re-imagines thrill rides on a vertical scale

Can you imagine a theme park in the middle of Manhattan? Finding the capital to acquire the land and raise the buildings on it to create the necessary open space would be nearly impossible.

But what if that theme park could be built vertically, as a theme park skyscraper?

That’s the idea behind architect Ju-Hyun Kim’s vertical theme park prototypes. Kim says in order to be eco-friendly and save the world from more sprawl, the theme parks of tomorrow need to be built in the middle of cities:

Instead of sprawling parks with giant footprints, stack the park into a skyscraper. The altitude will only add to the speed and excitement of rides, and the view of the surrounding dense urban environment will be incredible. There’ll be so much more to see from the top of the carousel and roller coaster on the perimeter. Best of all, it will be easily reached by public transportation, and the environmental impact will be minimal. Now is the time to build the joyful destination for families’ perfect day out at the center of cities.

Kim’s vertical theme park would be broken into five sections:

  • Vertigo World, which would include a carousel and observation deck at the top of the theme park skyscraper
  • Fast Land, including a flume ride and a rollercoaster
  • 360 World, with a Ferris Wheel and sky promenade
  • Abyss City, a bungee jumping platform
  • Elsewhere Universe, a geodesic dome with a gravity-free zone

Though very different from Kim’s vision, theme-park pioneer Walt Disney also considered building a vertical theme park in a city’s downtown. Fifty years ago, Disney was planning a River Front Square on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis. The five-story indoor attraction’s plans are said to have included a walk-through pirate ship, audio-animatronic exhibits and a haunted house.

But the St. Louis plans for a metropolitan Disney theme park were scrapped, and the second Disney theme park — the Magic Kingdom — was built outdoors, horizontally, on part of a sprawling 40-square-mile swampy area now known as Walt Disney World.

You can see all the prototypes from Kim’s vertical theme park proposal at ArchDaily.

Three exciting winter deals from the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts wants to host you for ski season and is offering some great deals this season. So, instead of just hitting your old standby or scrambling at the last minute, go upscale this time. The Four Seasons is delivering bargains from Jackson Hole to Whistler, BC. Chances are, there’s a great one waiting for you.

Skiing in Jackson Hole – This resort is hosting the first annual How-to-Heli Camp. You’ll be able to get to the virgin trails of the Teton mountains, delivering for skiers a real expedition through fresh snow … with no lines! The camp comes with two days of on-mountain instruction, lift tickets, a day of heli-skiing and four nights in the Four Seasons. The camp runs from February 3 – 7, 2009 and starts at USD 2,975.00 per person based on double occupancy.

Ice climbing in Whistler – Demonstrate your physical prowess with waterfall ice climbing (don’t worry, you’ll have a guide) … all it takes is a heft dose of courage and the $466 (USD) for a personal climb. Skiing’s a blast, but this will kick your adrenaline into overdrive.

Bungee jump into Cheakamus Canyon – drop into the canyon and trigger an unparalleled thrill. Plunge 160 feet toward the Cheakamus River; it probably won’t occur to you that it’s glacier-fed, but that will be interesting later. Book it through the Whistler concierge, at $115 a pop.

No Wrong Turns: Insurance for a Road Trip

Before we left on this trip, I just about had a nervous breakdown when it seemed like no insurance company would cover us. Most places won’t insure for more than 6 months at a time and when I mentioned we were driving to South America the usual response was silence followed by an incredulous “You’re driving?”
Turned out the insurance options are quite limited for a long road trip…who knew?

The company we chose, or I guess I should say they chose us since they agreed to insure us, is STA Travel. Unlike the average insurance company, they are focused on the backpacking set and they offer travel insurance for up to 13 months. STA offers assistance to backpackers in numerous countries.

I chatted with a very helpful customer service agent who walked me though their standard plan. Not only will they cover up to $1500 of lost or stolen baggage but, if you upgrade your plan for a measly $5.50, you can apply this chunk of cash to electronics such as laptops, ipods, cameras, etc. The majority of travel insurance companies refuse to cover these types of items at all. But if you have homeowners insurance your personal computer is covered under it and American citizens can insure their computers with a company called Safeware.

STA also offers Adventure Sports Coverage, a great option for those into extreme sports. Thrill-seekers should be sure to read the fine print as not all adventure sports are covered. According to Justin, my STA buddy, one stipulation is that you must be attached to the ground. For instance, if you bungee jump you are covered because technically you are attached to the ground but, if you want to skydive (why you’d jump out of a plane at 13,000 feet is beyond me) you would be out of luck since you are hurtling towards the ground rather than being attached to it. Either way it is imperative that travelers fully understand what their insurance plans will cover-no one wants to end up in a foreign hospital with a shwackload of medical bills to pay. On that note you can also upgrade your medical coverage, again for a mere $5.50, to provide emergency evacuation.

Since we live in a rather precarious time with terrorist acts becoming more common, I inquired about coverage related to terrorism should something unpredictable happen. Apparently, you can purchase the Protection Plan, which covers your evacuation costs if this type of incident occurred. But any trouble due to an “act of war” is not covered. So if you see tanks rolling in my suggestion would be to roll yourself right out of there.

“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.