Learn to Paddle Board!

Yes, you can learn to paddle board right here in NYC!  The New York Kayak Company is located on Pier 40 (West Houston and West Street) and this is their first summer of Stand Up Paddle Boarding instruction and tours.  I have really enjoyed learning to surf so I had to give this other popular sport a try.

I signed up for Intro to Paddle Boarding through Urban Escapes.  We had a 2 hour lesson followed by a pizza dinner on the end of the pier.  The ratio was 2 people for each paddle board, which meant lots of opportunities to get out and work on improving your skills.  NY Kayak and Co. also offers Intro to Paddle Boarding classes for $25 on Wednesdays.  More people are in those classes so the ratio is usually closer to 3 or 4 people sharing time for each board.  For an introduction to the sport though, it is definitely a great deal to get yourself out on the water.  Because paddle boarding is such a workout, it is better to take breaks when you are starting out and you will not mind handing the board to someone else in between tries. 

The scenery was beautiful and the sun was in the process of setting during our lesson.  Getting on the board from the dock was the easiest part.  Then once you row yourself far enough away from the dock, the goal is to stand up in a fluid motion so that you can then continue to balance and row yourself along.  As a beginner, it was an amazing experience.  There were more waves than I expected due to passing boats on the Hudson, thus balance was quite a challenge.  I could feel every muscle working to maintain my stance.  It is better to keep your board moving through the water to prevent yourself from falling.  Between trying to stay standing up, steering and rowing over waves I was very focused on my efforts.  With more practice, I am sure I would be a bit more relaxed than I was this first time.

Once you are more comfortable and experienced with stand up paddle boarding, NY Kayak and Co. has paddle boarding trips where you can venture out further than Pier 40.  It was mentioned that going out towards the Statue of Liberty would be one of the tours they offer.  I am not at the skill level for that yet but perhaps with more practice I will be.

Urban Escapes will be offering another intro course in September (for those interested click here).  You can view the current schedule of Stand Up Paddle Boarding offerings from NY Kayak and Co. by clicking here.

Advertisements

Paintball Is a Blast!

Up until last weekend, the only gun I have ever fired was a water gun.  That all changed when I joined Urban Escapes on one of their Paintball and Beer Tasting day trips.  We met at 9am close to Port Authority and arrived at the NJ paintball park at around 11am.

We had been told to wear lots of layers for padding and the only items we were given were a face mask, a paint gun and 500 paintballs each.  Once our group was divided up into two teams, it was time for the first game (where the rules were set that if you got shot once then you were out).

In all, we played on three different terrains: a junk yard, a castle, and the forest (my favorite area was the junk yard).  During these games, each team would get a chance to start at different sides of the terrain and we discovered there were definite advantages to certain areas.  After the official games were over, it was time to finish off all of our paintballs by playing a wilder game.  In this last round, you were out when you called yourself out, so you could get shot as many times as you were able to stand it.  This is where I got a little frustrated because some trigger happy players shot me after I had already called myself out (and that’s when I got my worst battle wounds).

All in all though, paintball was intense at times but lots of fun.  Urban Escapes does a great job at planning the perfect day trip.  After we changed out of our paint covered clothes and into something more presentable, it was time for lunch.  Included in the cost of the trip, we enjoyed a salad bar, pizza, pasta and beverages.  To make things even better, as our welts made themselves more visible, we were able to help numb our pain at our next stop – beer tasting at Cricket Hill Brewery (also in NJ).

The beer selection at Cricket Hill was great and the brewmasters were really fun while being informative.  We were able to sample quite a bit of their selection, relax and mingle, and then make our purchases before it was time to get on the bus and head back to NYC.  If you ever wanted to try paintball, this is a great way to do it.  Urban Escapes has other dates scheduled for this popular trip, so definitely sign up before they sell out!

Extreme Snow Tubing Day Trip

This day trip is not your average snow tubing event.  I went with Urban Escapes this past weekend on their extreme snow tubing and beer tasting day trip.  Having been to snow tubing areas that went straight down on narrow tracks and got a bit tiring after an hour, I can honestly say that this extreme snow tubing track was never anything but an adventure! 

After meeting in the city at 9am, our bus arrived at the Woodbury, CT  snow tubing area at around 11:30am.  Our group was given colored bandanas to wear so that we could identify who was in the group and mingle with each other throughout the day.  There were many tracks to choose from.  Most of the tracks were on one side of the street, which had all different track levels from beginner to black diamond.  Since this was the main area, the line got long rather quickly.  Luckily, Urban Escapes had reserved a track  that only our group could access.  After waiting through the long line for the other tracks, I decided to head to the other side of the street to try out the area reserved for the group. 

The track reserved for our group was longer than the others and was labeled both green for beginner and black diamond depending on where you launched yourself.  Even at the beginner launching section, I still found myself flying down the hill through the twists and turns.  From the black diamond launch, the momentum down the hill was intense.  There were turns where you would fly and catch air as you made your way down.  At this particular snow tubing park, they recommended that you go face first and so that you could drag your legs on the ground if you wanted to slow your speed.  I found that even when I dragged my legs, I was still going quite fast down the track.  We had a few people in our group that really embraced the speed of the track and kept their legs up, tried running starts and really flew in the air on the way down.  Helmet rentals are offered for $10 and I highly recommend them.  There is a lot of speed involved in extreme snow tubing and you want to be as safe as possible. 

We stopped for lunch as a group at 1pm.  Everyone had been given a choice of two different sandwiches that were provided by Urban Escapes while there was also a grill serving fries and grilled cheeses at the lodge if you were craving something warmer. After lunch we went back out to snow tube until it was time to depart for our next destination at 3pm.  Our day was only half over because now it was time to go beer tasting! 

About an hour away from Woodbury, CT, you will find the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company located in Pleasantville, NY.  The tasting room was full of people but we were ushered straight to the back area of the brewery where the beer is actually brewed.  Prior to the actual tasting, we heard an overview of microbrewing and how beer comes to be.  Our tasting included 5 different beers and we were given the opportunity to order growlers of our favorites.  As a beer lover, I thought Captain Lawrence Brewery had some fantastic offerings.  This explains why the tasting room was so full of other happy beer tasters.  Once the growler orders were complete, it was time to head home.  For our group, the bus ride back to the city was very festive as many chose to enjoy their growlers on the trip back.  We arrived back in NYC at approximately 7pm.

This was my first trip with Urban Escapes and it was a lot of fun.  Our guides were very friendly and fun to hang out with during all of the activities.  This is a relatively new company and I will plan to go on more adventures with them in the future.  There are other future snow tubing and beer tasting events that you can sign up for but I recommend doing so quickly as they usually sell out.