Exchanging comfort for a spine-tingling summer

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 30, 2014 at 2:53 p.m.

It’s 5 a.m. on a May morning, and I’m drifting over the lunar landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey, in a hot air balloon.

Below us, the Dali-esque rock formations give the terrain a surrealistic look — millions of years of volcanos, earthquakes, erosion and the designs of man have whittled the soft stone into an other-worldly wonderland.

The sensation of floating above the earth is as peaceful as a lullaby. And the view is so starkly beautiful, it erases all other thought as I try to take it in.

Well, one thought does manage to arise, just as our balloon descends uncomfortably close to the treetops: What on earth am I doing here?

A good question: Even days before, you could have made the safest of bets I would not be in this wicker basket, far above my comfort zone. Studies confirm risk-taking behavior is an inherited trait. And I, most definitely and without regret, lack it.

What was different this time was just that word: regret. I sensed that if I let my fear rob me of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I would deeply regret it later.

I still have no desire to jump out of airplanes or scale Mt. Everest, but since then, I’ve wondered what other adventures out there might be worth risking.

And that’s what our “Third Annual Summer Hot List: Adventure Awaits” is all about: Throwing off your comfort in exchange for a little adrenaline, a glimpse of the unknown and that sense of freedom and energy that comes from pushing beyond the routine ... Like Reid and Jesse Fleming, parents of three young sons — and he a former Florida linebacker — who never went zip-lining before they tried it for our cover shoot at The Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tour in Ocala.

Inside this issue, we offer 29 summer adventures, each with its own thrill rating, each with a bit of that certain something to get your blood racing, and each less than a day’s drive away. There’s something here to tempt that little bit of the daredevil lurking inside us all.

It’s more than a love of adventure that motivates Ron Farb to climb mountains. Farb and his wife, Dianne, started Climb for Cancer out of love for his sister, Harriet, and the many others affected by the disease. Read about the Farbs’ journey and how you can help on page 60.

We also offer some seasonal guidance: enough grilling recipes from area experts to get you into tailgating season; stylish cover-ups that will keep you comfortable poolside, and tips on how to pack light.

There’s lots more inside and we hope you enjoy it all. Adventure awaits!

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