I must have some Gypsy in my genes because I do love to travel. I get restless if I stay in one place for too long. I like exploring, seeing new places, meeting new people, learning new stuff.
Unfortunately, my bank accounts insist that I be a homebody. House payments, a 9 to 5 job, and roots in the community mean that I have other demands on my time and money. So, my wandering ways have been relegated to the occasional business trip or the very rare vacation.
Lately, however, the explorer in me has been pushing me off the couch and out the door to destinations reachable by a tank full of gas. This, of course, limits me to Central Florida, but it turns out that’s not such a bad thing. Florida has many hidden gems (I don’t count anything Disney as a hidden gem); little places tucked away just around the bend that you might never imagine existed. All one needs to do is look beyond the glare of the theme park lights.
For instance, there’s Wallaby Ranch. I don’t think there are real wallabies there, but what you will find is a hang gliding school where they will take you up to a thousand feet in a tandem glider for US$100 and let you take control. I did this, and I still grin like cheshire cat in heat when I recall the experience. (It was a surprise birthday gift from my wife and daughter, the best gift I’ve ever gotten.)
If you’re an old hand at hang gliding then you can get them to tow you up to a reasonable altitude using a towline and an ultralight aircraft (there is no hang gliding hills or cliffs in Central Florida).
If you prefer to keep your feet closer to earth and have a bit less excitement then you might try Homossasa, Florida. There’s almost nothing in Homossasa, not even a proper stoplight. What they do have is a wonderful printing press museum and a really good Cuban sandwich. Proprietor, museum guide and chef, Joe Anderson, is a walking history book and can easily talk about the technical details and history of offset printing and the local historical landmark, the Yulee Sugar Mill, as well as the subtleties of preparing killer black beans and rice. “This is Old Florida,” Joe will tell you, “before there were paved roads and shopping malls.” He’s right, and it has a charm all its own.
Getting out and about, then, does not necessarily require plane tickets. In fact, you may find that footing it near your own backyard is all you need to alleviate the wanderlust churning inside you. If that’s true then I have an app for you: EveryTrail.
What this app does is offer you suggestions on where to go and what to do in your area that a bit off the beaten path. You can get maps and information about trails, parks, and other not-so-major, but definitely green attractions near you.
Hiking trails, bike trails, state parks, local tours, and more are all there, and include comments from others who have ventured before you. I think that’s my favorite part about EveryTrail: the user’s commentary. People post all sorts of stuff about the attractions and include trip logs with maps and photos of vistas along the route. After reading through some of the comments you begin to get a good sense of the location, which can help you decide if it’s right for you.
The only down side to EveryTrail is that it’s ad supported. If you want to toss the ads you can grab the “pro” version for four bucks, and it supports video.
I’m a fan of EveryTrail and it’s an app that’s staying on my iPhone. Download it and give it a try.
If your budget does allow excursions to places far beyond your zip code, but you’re stuck wondering where to go may I suggest taking a look at The Amateur Traveler Video Podcasts.
These are worth your while because host and videographer, Chris Christensen, does an excellent job describing the places he’s visited, both popular and little known spots most folks would miss. He offers a bit of background about each location as he slowly pans the area. The result is a wonderful, if decidedly amateur look at some really interesting places.
There are 34 episodes of The Amateur Traveler Video Podcast, plenty to give you amble suggestions for you own planned outing. Grab some a see if you agree.
If your travels take you to France or other French speaking countries (there are more than you might think) then brushing up on the native tongue may not be a bad idea. For that I offer French 24/7 Tutor.
This is a simple, but effective, app that includes some basic situational word lists and phrases that you are to remember. To reinforce what you’ve learned the app also offers a nice group of quizzes so that you can test your knowledge.
The list of word/phrase categories is short, but they include much of what you might need if you wake up one morning in downtown Paris. (Happens to me all the time.) I like that the app lets you hear the words or phrases being spoken, and after a few minutes of study you’ll find that you can speak enough French to keep you out of serious trouble.
French 24/7 Tutor is ad supported, but the ads are not obnoxious.
Need to brush up on your basic French? Get French 24/7 Tutor.
Ok, that’s a wrap for this edition. Stop back next week for more Free on iTunes.
More free stuff below with direct links.