Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tree Frog Canopy Tours

Photos by OHventures and Tree Frog Canopy Tours

21899 Wally Road
Glenmont, OH 44628
(740) 599-2662

Zip lining is not for the squeamish - especially when you're talking about the tallest, fastest, and longest zip line in all of Ohio! Tree Frog Canopy Tours in Glenmont, Holmes County, holds that title with its highest point at 120 feet, its fastest clocked speed at 52 miles per hour, and over 4,000 feet of pure fun and adrenaline (the individual cables ranging from 145 feet to 1,100 feet long). 

The only zip lining complex in the northern part of the state (others available being Ozone Zipline Adventures in Lebanon, Valley Zipline Tours in Lancaster, and Hocking Hills Canopy Tours in Rockbridge to name a few), Tree Frog Canopy Tours treats visitors as they are led through the forest via seven ziplines, two sky bridges, and two 50-foot rappels. It was certainly an adventure I could not turn down.

A group of six of us (me, Greg, Steve, Ryan, Marc, and Stacey) arrived on Labor Day weekend ready and roaring to go. Driving through the winding roads of the Mohican Country, we lost all phone service (something to keep in mind if you are trying to find your way with a GPS). The main office for Tree Frog were in a large lodge directly down the street from the famous Tree House Cabins.

You must make reservations prior to your zipline tour in order to ensure your spot. Groups can be as large as 8 individuals, all of whom must be at least 10 years in age and between 75-250 pounds in weight. 

Our tour took place at 1:30 PM, but we were required to arrive a half an hour early so that we could sign waivers and get suited up in our harnesses and helmets. Our tour guides were named Matt and Dan, two hilarious guys that eased any fears or hesitations we might have had, by cracking jokes and calming our nerves.

Not only were they personable, but the guides were extremely professional as well. All of the guides were trained to meet the standards of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), a rigorous certification program to ensure that they are equipped with the essential knowledge when taking guests like us on our treetop treks.  

We were soon taken to the start of the zip line course by riding an ATV to the top of a large hill in the thick woods. There, we discovered a mini zipline that was no more than 8 feet off the ground and a few yards in length. This is where we did our practice runs so we could get used to sitting in the harness and practice the braking techniques. 

After this crash course, it was time to ZIP! I will admit, I was a bit shaky on the first platform. It is only natural to be afraid of being up so high with nothing but a cable holding you up. But, I just had to remind myself that we were 100% safe. Once I had that in my head, it was smooth sailing! One by one, we each stood at the edge of the platform, lifted our legs and off we went, zooming to the next platform! One of the guides would stand on the other platform to let you know when to put the brakes on so you didn't go barreling into the tree. It was a good system!

This is the ONLY zipline tour in Ohio that uses a dual cable system for faster speeds and smoother rides. This was evident as we progressed through the course, zipping on longer and longer cables along the way. The group became more comfortable as we went along, and we started incorporating fun moves in the mix, such as the cannonball! 

Another added touch at Tree Frog Canopy Tous that you can't find at most other zip line establishments was the rappelling platforms! Here, we had to lower ourselves from the 50-foot and 60-foot platforms down to the ground by using a rope attached to our harness and a pulley system. Again, the hardest part is trusting that you can dangle over the edge of the platform. Once you conquer that fear inside your head, you can let go and enjoy the ride! The rappelling might actually have been my favorite part of the tour.

In all, the experience at Tree Frog Canopy Tours was unlike any other zip line adventure I have ever embarked on. If you are looking for something a little different, Tree Frog Canopy Tours also offers Night Zips with glow-in-the-dark and moonlit elements. You also can purchase a photo CD of your experience, or rent a GoPro camera to fasten to yourself and record the trip from a one-of-a-kind vantage point! 

If this is on your bucket list, I highly suggest you book your tour NOW. Don't let the fear of heights get in your way of enjoying this exciting, safe, and unique thrill.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Discover Bon Appetit Appalachia!

Throw out your preconceived notions about Appalachia, because a new campaign has been launched with the goal of attracting visitors and generating interest in the area through the power of food. The project is entitled Bon Appetit Appalachia, and it was created by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in order to bust myths surrounding the 13-state, 205,000-square-mile region.

Bon Appetit Appalachia accomplishes this by showcasing amazing innovations that an influx of farmers are introducing to the scene, creating things that are true to Appalachia: resourceful and ingenius.

A total of 32 Ohio counties are considered Appalachian, ranging as far as Southeast Clermont County, to as far as Northeast Ashtabula County.

Dozens of locations within Ohio's Applachian foothills are distinctive local food destinations selected as part of Bon Appetit Appalachia (see full map)! These include:

I had the privilege to witness a glimpse (and sample a taste) of the farm-to-fork concept on a recent visit to Athens County - the setting for a large number of these culinary destinations in the state. The two main stops on my excursion were Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, and the aforementioned Casa Nueva.

Jackie O's embodies the Bon Appetit Appalachia concept in a number of ways, as evidenced by its slogan: "sustainable crafted with a purpose." This incredibly popular brand has a great presence in the area, with both its downtown brewpub and the nearby taproom and production facility.

A visit to the production facility gave me a behind-the-scenes look at how the local beers are brewed, using 100 percent locally grown black walnuts, pawpaws, hops, apples, quinces, peaches, coffee, and raspberries (which lends itself to its biggest seller, Raspberry Wheat). Not only can you enjoy this amazing beer at these two locations in Athens, but you can now find Jackie O's at approximately 1,200 bars and stores from Canton to Cincinnati.

Without a doubt, the main course and the leading star of the booming foodie scene and locavore movement in Athens (and perhaps all of Ohio) is Casa Nueva. This Mexican-inspired restaurant has been serving dishes consisting of 99 percent local ingredients, since 1985. Using only local ingredients (most from within a 30-mile radius, but extending to a 150-mile radius if needed) ensures freshness, and keeps money within the community.

I chowed down on a rolled chicken enchilada topped with black bean salsa, with a small cheese empanada and jasmine rice on the side. It blew my mind to know that this was completely local, and gave me pride to be a part of Bon Appetit Appalachia!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Birthday Bash Dash 5K Photo Blog

Who: 400+ runners & walkers, 70 volunteers, and countless spectators
What: Birthday Bash Dash 5K
Where: City of Stow, Summit County
When: August 30, 2014
Why: To celebrate an active lifestyle, and to benefit Muffins for Mammograms & SEEF
How: Months of training, dedication, and planning.

Photos by OHventures, AGMC, and Compass Media

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birthday Bash Dash 5K Video

Tim Frankish of Infocus Studios LLC created an amazing video that captures the essence and excitement that took place during the Akron General Birthday Bash Dash 5K on August 30. The video is truly amazing, complete with overhead shots of the runners and views from inside the Wellness Trails.