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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Five: Orlando, Part One

Theresa Neuhoff Audia, a sportswriter at The News-Herald, will be blogging while on her trip to Orlando, Florida from Jan. 21-28.

Today was one of the best days of my life.
I woke up at 6 a.m. to prepare for my first adventure of the day - hang gliding at Wallaby Ranch in nearby Davenport.
When my husband and I arrived at the 500-acre ranch, we were greeted by a knowledgeable, friendly staff who made us feel comfortable from the start.
Before we knew it, the owner of the ranch, Malcom, arrived to give us a quick tour. Soon, we were driving on a golf cart to the launch site.
My guide Steve and I rode tandem on the hang glider. He and I were strapped into the glider and before I knew it, a towplane took us over 2,000 feet in the air. Once we were released from the towplane, Steve and I went free-flying over a dew-covered forest with the sun shining brilliantly in the background.
It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.
I felt like a bird flying through the air. At times, I was a little scared and my body tensed up, but once I got the hang of it, I relaxed and soaked in the experience.
I could barely see the trees below let along my husband who was taking video of me. The view was once-in-a-lifetime. The thrill made you feel as if you could accomplish anything.
Honestly, I couldn't believe I had the courage to hang glide until I was up in the air. It was like a challenge I made myself do, just to see if I could do it.
Before I knew it, the ride was over. We slowly swayed to the ground at the exact same spot we took off from. Steve, who has been hang gliding for 18 years, ensured we had a smooth landing.
When I got out of the hang glider, my husband, Malcom and a few other employees were there to greet us. It was a great feeling to be safe on the ground.
I'm glad I was able to cross something off my list of life-changing events I've always wanted to do.
It was life changing, because I didn't let fear hold me back from going 2,000 feet in the air.
Instead, I went for it and accomplished something I never dreamed I could.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

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