My trip to Florida earlier this month for the #PCBeachBucketList challenge was full of a lot of firsts: first time diving in the Gulf, first time taking a helicopter ride and first time doing SUP Yoga.
On social media, people seemed shocked that I’d never been in a helicopter before, which beckons the question: What do you people do exactly where helicopter rides are a part of your everyday life? Truth be told, because my biggest fear in life (uh, after great white sharks) is small, confined spaces, I’d never really cared to try it before. And then I got the opportunity to do so—and with friends at that—and I shoved any intimidation I had to the back of my mind.
I had no cause to be concerned: the helicopter cab, while small, was open on one side and that coastal breeze felt magnificent. Jade, Christy and I went up together with Panhandle Helicopter, and I can’t say enough nice things about those lovely people. JR, the owner, is a trip, and I think we could have sat there forever listening to his stories if we didn’t have a schedule to maintain.
Once in the air, it was smooth sailing. Others had warned me I might get a bit motion sick—me who vomits on a half-hour ferry ride—but I didn’t feel a thing. I loved that we had a female pilot and that she was so quick to circle around if we missed a photo opp or wanted to see something a bit more closely.
And I was surprised how low we actually flew, somewhere just around 200 feet above land.
The view of the 27 miles of coastline spanning Panama City Beach was just WOW.
I’ve been coming to the Gulf Coast my entire life, but the color of that water never ceases to impress me.
We saw everything: rays, pods of dolphins, schooling fish, a turtle or two, even some nurse sharks.
It never occurred to me that you’d be able to pick out individual marine life in the ocean so far below.
I couldn’t believe it took me 31 years to make it up in a chopper—what was I waiting for?
In a funny twist of events, I’ll actually be up in a helicopter again in just one week…and with this girl once more.
On my last morning in town after Jade and the crew had left me behind to return to their respective homes, I got my balance on with a little standup paddleboard yoga. Now I’ve done SUP plenty of times across the US and Caribbean, but I’d never attempted yoga on a board before.
It was super fun. And also super hard. It’s interesting how the easiest poses on land (like bridge) become impossible on the board. Instead, I focused on my favorites in the classroom, like headstand and tree, that luckily I was able to ace on the SUP. Unfortunately, my instructor, while awesome and pretty and charming and sweet, did not know how to operate a GoPro and thus got no proof of my various headstand poses. So instead just pretend I’m on the water here in paradise rather practicing on the grass in my backyard:
If you want to read more about the SUP Yoga experience, I documented it over here for Travel Mindset. And Mermaid Heather is the sweetest; definitely take a class or private lesson with her if you happen to be in PCB.