Travel Brochure Finds: People Who Can Fly And More From Colorado

Travel brochures tout tourist-oriented destinations that commonly offer plenty of things to do. Any given place on the planet might have historic significance, a natural wonder of some sort or man-made things to see and do that draw visitors from around the world. The state of Colorado is no exception.

Racks of colorful travel brochures with a variety of attractions can be found in hotels, airports, restaurants and most public places. Stopping a couple days in the Denver area recently, we found some travel brochures that jumped off the rack saying, “take me.” Surely, that’s what they are designed to do; catch our attention over a hundred other brochures competing for our limited time in town.

It’s interesting though, how just one of those brochures can open up an entirely different experience; in this case, one that literally fell out of the sky.

Indoor Skydiving at SkyVenture Colorado in Denver simulates the free-fall part of a sky dive, the time between jumping out of a plane until the parachute is opened – what is commonly referred to as “flying.”

The SkyVenture wind tunnel facility does it so well, that avid and pro skydivers go there to practice what they might do during free fall, in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Jumping out of a plane, skydivers get about 50 to 60 seconds until they need to deploy their parachute (called a “canopy”). To practice a routine or formation, many of these “drops” are needed and without a wind tunnel that means landing, repacking their parachute, getting back in a plane, taking off and jumping out all over again.

They don’t mind that; in fact, they pretty much live for it. But the Sky Venture wind tunnel allows skydivers to practice efficiently, often with other knowledgeable skydivers looking on, providing helpful tips and feedback.

We were there for something else though.

It was an event that was something new at SkyVenture Colorado, a wind tunnel wedding, believed to be the first-ever. The ceremony, officiated by Native American Douglas Spotted Eagle, joined my daughter Sydney to my new son-in-law Barry.

Both experienced skydivers from different backgrounds, their paths crossed via skydiving.

Sydney Owen, a recent USF graduate, was climbing the corporate ladder at rapid speeds on a path to epic success when skydiving entered the picture. To feed her passion for the sport, she left the corporate world behind and started her own millennial-focused PR firm. Based at Southern California’s Skydive Elsinore, Sydney has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane 300+ times.

Barry Williams
, the Director of Elsinore Elevate Advanced Bodyflight at Skydive Elsinore with an extensive pedigree (AFF-I, USPA C/E, FAA Sr. Rigger, for readers in the know), has over 6000 jumps.

Frankly, having anything to do with “Pro Skydiving” was not on my original top-ten list of “Wishes For Our Children.”

But “Be Happy,” “Impact Those Around You” and “Find Someone To Share Your Life With” were probably in the top three and skydiving managed to make hitting all of them possible. Pictured here, their “first dance” after the ceremony.

The SkyVenture Colorado brochure lists a number of services they render, but “life changing event” is not mentioned. It kind of makes one wonder what other attractions might have to offer, beyond the brochure headlines.

Let’s take a look at some other Colorado offerings found on brochure racks throughout the state.

Also flight-oriented, Glider Rides in Boulder, Colorado, are not the small, lightweight hang gliders that these high-performance aircraft are often confused with.

Here an FAA-certified commercial pilot tows the glider, you and another pilot to a suitable altitude. Once there, the glider pilot releases the towline, allowing the aircraft to soar effortlessly and silently with no engine noise. Passengers can take the controls for a portion of the flight or just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Back on solid ground, the Downtown Aquarium in Denver features Diving With The Sharks in which visitors dive into the aquarium’s sunken shipwreck exhibit where they experience Sand Tiger Sharks, Brown Sharks, Zebra Sharks and Barracudas.

Another experience available, Swim With The Fish, lets kids ages 6 and up snorkel with the facilities 350-pound Grouper, Moray Eels and more.

Also water-oriented, Raft Colorado, run by Raft masters since 1989 offers a variety of raft adventures and specializes in group experiences. On the Arkansas River in Canon City and Clear Creek in Idaho Springs, Colorado, Raft Masters provides all the equipment and safety training.

Beginners to advanced rafters at Clear Creek experience some of the best and most exciting whitewater, about 30 minutes away from Denver. Arkansas river programs boast spectacular scenery on America’s most popular rafting river.

Package deals include a Rail & Raft offering that begins with a scenic round-trip train ride through Royal Gorge. After an included buffet lunch, choose an afternoon raft trip on either Bighorn Sheep Canyon or Royal Gorge. A Boat & Bridge package combines Royal Gorge Bridge and Park with a half-day raft trip.

Video of the Day – Slopeflying in Stryn, Norway

If you’ve watched a Youtube video of wingsuit flying in the past few years, there’s a good chance it’s courtesy of Joakim Sommer. The 25 year-old Norwegian has been making a name for himself by capturing a special wingsuit technique known as proximity flying.

If you’re asking yourself “why is he getting closer to the cliffs?!” – that’s the point. Proximity fliers like Sommer jump off the most scenic mountaintops in the world and aim to skim slopes while only meters above trees, waterfalls, and rock spires – all while capturing everything in 1080p.

This specific flight takes place in Styrn, Norway; a town of 7,000 residents that’s usually written up for its fjords and year-round glacier skiing.

For more videos, check out ‘Jokke’s’ website & Youtube channel, including a series of proximity flights dubbed Dream Lines I & II.

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.