Hamming It Up at Cochon555 Atlanta

Scenes from Sunday’s awesome Cochon555 event at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead.

Cochon555 is “the epic culinary tasting and friendly competition for a cause featuring 5 top chefs (and their farm-raised pigs), 5 barkeeps, 5 sommeliers, and more!

Full disclosure, it was impossible to take good photos while trying to take in everything as there was SO much to take in so I apologize in advance. This is why I need my own personal cameraman!  Continue reading “Hamming It Up at Cochon555 Atlanta”

Driving, Flying and Punching Fear in the Face… Again

Part 2 of a Life Lesson Taught with an Epic Adventure

This past fall, I was invited to a media event for The Great Georgia Air Show. It was an opportunity for us journalist-types to get a sneak peek of the fabulous aircrafts and attractions the event would have in store.

Last year, I went to the same event and I was randomly chosen to take a ride in a World War II fighter plane. This year, there was no random selection… I volunteered. And it wasn’t a fighter plane.

This time I decided to take a ride in a war helicopter… a HU1E flown in Vietnam and Desert Storm. If you’ve seen any war movie like Apocalypse Now or Platoon or even Tropic Thunder, you’ve seen this type of aircraft… It’s the chopper that you often see the soldiers shooting out of… You know… the ones with no doors! (well, there are doors… they just don’t ever close them… ever.) So I (along with a crew of other seemingly fearless journalists) jump up and down going “ME ME ME” when Eddie, our veteran pilot asks “Who’s ready to ride in the Huey?”

Never mind the fact that one of my fellow journalists who took this ride last year regaled us with his version of the adventure riddled with phrases like“There’s nothing but a little mesh seat and a 50 year-old canvas strap to hold you in! HELL NO! I’m NEVER getting on that thing EVER again!”

I happily marched toward that chopper like it was nothing but a harmless carnival carousel… Instagramming pictures with happy little captions about going to ride in the sky with no doors… la di da di da…

Gunner Seats I had not a care in the world sliding into the “gunner’s seat”(little mesh seat) and getting hooked into my seatbelt (50-year-old canvas strap). I didn’t even text my mom and kids like I did before the WWII plane ride when I was positive I was going to meet my maker. My only thought was… How cool is this? A side view!

I must have been having an outer body experience…
Clearly, I was not my usual scared-shitless self. My usual scared-shitless self would have been back in the hangar eating lunch with the other normal scared-shitless people.

The engine roars, the propeller begins to slice the air with that familiar thwacking, and the aircraft levitates from the ground slowly. My gunner seat-mate and I are giggling like pig-tailed school girls (except for him being a guy) snapping photos and waving to those we left behind. The wind picks up with the speed and altitude and my first instinct is to hold on to something…

These are my knees! See... NO DOORS!
These are my knees! See… NO DOORS!

Except there isn’t anything to hold on to.
Like… nothing!
Well maybe the person I’m sitting next to… but
#1 — I don’t know him like that and
#2 — He doesn’t have anything to hold on to either!

Higher and faster we go… flying over the beautiful golf course peppered landscape of Peachtree City. With a kung-fu-vice-grip on my phone, I do the best I can to take as many photos of the breathtaking scenery as I can while my adorable gunner seat-mate FaceTimes his mom!

It was all fun and games… until…
Hard. Bank. Left.
What does hard bank left mean? It means that I am now nearly parallel to the ground in a helicopter with no f-ing doors, devoid of “oh shit” bars, and only a 50-year-old canvas strap keeping me from certain death! This is exactly the point where my usual scared-shitless self-returned…
And the screaming began.

I wasn’t alone.
The only people not screaming were the pilots. And they continued left banking… right banking… going up… diving down… solely for their amusement and our terror-slash-excitement.  Truth be told… I went back and forth between complete fright and complete exhilaration!

Safely back on the ground, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I just had one of the most amazing experiences of my life! More than the chopper ride, it was that I entered into it with no fear… ZERO!

For me, that is unheard of! I mean… my 10 year-old daughter couldn’t even believe that I did it! I could not be more prouder of myself! (and I do not care if that sentence is or is not grammatically correct)

Now, if only I could approach more of my less life-threatening situations this way, right?

Driving, Flying, and Throwing My Comfort Zone to the Wind

Part 1 of a Life Lesson Taught with an Epic Adventure

Nearly two years ago, the lovely folks at Lexus invited me to the reveal of their new 2014 models and a preview of the Great Georgia Air Show. Test driving hot cars against the backdrop of clear, blue skies and vintage aircraft treasures was an ideal way to spend a Monday morning.

I enjoyed speeding around the winding roads of Peachtree City behind the wheel of the oh-so-sexy Lexus IS350. Any opportunity I get to shed the carpool-sticker-clad minivan for a little while, I am all for it! And the frumpy stigma that goes with it… gone in sixty seconds. Riding like the wind… Testing the boundaries of acceptable overages of posted speed limits… Feeling feminine and free…

And that was just the beginning…

When I first arrived at the event, I was asked did I want my name to go in a drawing to get an opportunity to fly in one of the planes on display.
“Sure, why not,” I shrugged because, usually, I don’t win.
My name went into the bowl.
Moments later… my name was drawn.
A few moments later… I was shown what plane I was going to fly in.  A real-live World War II fighter plane… with the machine gun in the back and everything. Cool, right?

Cool, hell!

I have put my name in drawings for exotic trips and new iPads but THIS?
THIS is when my name gets picked?
To meet my death by ancient crop-duster???
Needless to say a little fear… well, terror, started to creep in.

Before it could completely overtake me and persuade me to chicken out, my inner Wonder Woman stepped up…

You are all about adventure, right? Stepping out of your comfort zone… living your best life… doing epic shit, right? Well what could be more adventurously epic than this?

Dammit! She gets me every time! And she had help…

1-UXK21BUi6ko4Ku_GfhtwzgUshering me into the wild blue yonder… the “Maverick” to my“Goose” was none other than the very same “Maverick” to Robin Robert’s “Goose” who took her(literally) for a spin in a fighter plane a few years ago on Good Morning America! The Universeknows Robin Roberts is one of my heroes. It was a divine order. I had to do this. It was meant to be.

Propeller spinning… engine rumbling… I waved goodbye to the spectators and the safety of solid ground.

I never had a fear of flying until 9–11 happened.
On normal, commercial flight… where I am surrounded by a “complete airplane” with a roof and safety mechanisms, I kinda grip the armrests a bit during taxi, take-off, and landing. Don’t get me started on turbulence. I guess watching “Lost” didn’t really help either.

There I was… taxiing to the runway in an antique flying machine with a drop-top, no parachute, and no armrests to grip…
and I am completely fear-free.
All I felt was blessed to be right where I was at that very moment and completely thrilled to be doing something that I may never get to do again!

It was an amazing ride!

1-_WBFIhKtdr3Df6HqKkbxWABelieve it or not… the smoothest take-off and landing I have ever experienced! No barrel rolls or nose dives… but for a civilian in that type of plane… a complete thrill from start to finish.

I felt completely safe… probably because I wasn’t afraid…
Not afraid of dying…
Not afraid of living
And this was one helluva way to feel alive!

Going all “Top Gun” was never on my bucket list but I can see why others have put it on theirs. I am in the infancy stage of thrill-seeking and definitely taking baby-steps with it.

Events like this are the very definition of life beginning at the edge of your comfort zone.

I wanted adventure, and now I’ve had one. I’ve tasted it… and I want more!

Bring it ON!