Plan now for summer fun, from being a NASCAR driver to a movie extra

Are you ready for a change from the same old summer travel plans? Make your vacation memorable and unique. Photo: Segway across the Golden Gate Bridge

FORT WORTH, Texas, January 7, 2013 — Happy New Year one and all! It is time for new beginnings and the chance to try new things.

January may seem a bit early to think about a holiday trip, but it’s never too early to start planning for it. If you’re looking not to do Disney again or another equally average excursion this is a list you need to see and start to plan and save.

The Internet is chock-full of offbeat expeditions and activities. First is a list of unusual things to try. Some of them may require travel while others do not. The second one is a roster of places to explore away from home.

Things to do:

1. Water Jet Pack — Remember the jet pack strapped to the back of James Bond? Now you can try one too. Not the heat-jet kind but the water-jet kind. Venues include Lake Havasu, Arizona and there are several in Florida. Jet Lev Southwest includes Newport Beach, California and Honolulu, Hawaii.

NASCAR racing

2. 0 Gravity Flights — Did you ever watch astronauts floating around and wonder what that would be like? Here’s your chance: Zero G and Incredible Adventures offer this opportunity. Incredible Adventures also offers a number of other “once in a lifetime” experiences such as a submarine adventure and a firefighting adventure.

3. Be A Movie Extra — Until a friend of mine did this I didn’t know it was possible outside of Hollywood. Look in the general help section of your local newspaper under “TV/Movie Extras” or click on these links: TV/Film or

4. Be a NASCAR Driver for a day — NASCAR offers the average person a chance to drive an actual racecar on a NASCAR track. The NASCAR Racing Experience is a must for any die-hard fan. There are eleven tracks around the country to choose from.

5. Fly a Fighter Jet — Here’s your chance to fly in an L-39 military jet; offers the unique experience of going up with an experienced fighter pilot in Texas, New York, Florida or California.

6. Meet your favorite celebrity Elite Adventure Tours offers a variety of experiences in Los Angeles including time with your favorite VIP. With the help from top Hollywood agents, this group could arrange a tour of Los Angeles for you with your favorite star.  

Places to go:

Find a diamond and retire

1. San Francisco Electric Car/Bike TourGo Car Tours offers an open air, computer guided, story-telling car in which to explore the historic city, courtesy of 21st century technology. For the more daring traveler, one can cross the Golden Gate Bridge on an electric bike or Segway via the Electric Tour Company.

2. Crater of Diamonds State Park — Treasure hunt at the only diamond mine in the world that is open to the public. The site states, “Any diamonds, semi-precious stones, rocks, or minerals you unearth are yours to keep, regardless of their value.” It’s located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

3. Rent An Island (worldwide) — It is not as expensive as it seems. Split the cost among friends and the price isn’t necessarily any more expensive than a hotel – and you get the whole island to yourself. Private Islands Online and Rent My are good places to start.

Your own tropical island

3. The Algonquin Hotel in New York City — Literary giants Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber and several others gathered here every day for ten years at the famous “Round Table” of this luxurious hotel. The motley group literally shaped 20th Century literature. It is also close to Times Square and 42nd Street. 

4. Masted Ship Tour of ChicagoTall Ship Adventures has several excursions to choose from including working the Tall Ship Windy as they did in days of yore. A great family excursion, the ship boards at Navy Pier, another wonderful place to traverse.  

5. Niagara Falls —

Niagara Falls at night

Once a top honeymoon destination, the falls are still a sight to behold. Niagara Falls State Park, N.Y. is America’s oldest state park and is where you can get closer to the falls than anywhere else. Also, according to Trip Advisor there are lots of other activities in the region as well.

6. Fort Donelson, Tennessee — The first decisive Union victory of the Civil War was the capture of Fort Donelson. It was not the bloodiest engagement, but it was one of the most important battles of the war. See actual cabins that the soldiers lived in, visit Fort Donelson National Cemetery and other nearby attractions. 

7. Forestiere Underground Gardens — Sicilian Immigrant Baldassare Forestiere created and lived in an underground Mediterranean oasis in Fresno, California. The three levels, modeled after timeworn catacombs, resemble architecture like that of ancient Rome. The temperature below is also 10-30 degrees cooler where fruit bearing trees, shrubs and vines grow.

If you are in the mood to try something different for vacation this year, this list is a good start. Click on the links provided for more in-depth information about each place and activity.

No matter the place, budget, season, likes or dislikes, there is adventure waiting for anyone who looks for it. Step out of the ordinary in 2013 and gather experiences of a lifetime. It’s a big world full of activities you never thought of before. Go have fun. As Walt Whitman said in his poem Untold Want:  

“The untold want by life and land ne’er granted, 
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”

Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at The Washington Times, her blog Sustenance For The Mind, and the writing group she belongs to at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group. Join her on  Twitter and Facebook.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Claire Hickey

Claire has held a Texas Cosmetology License, Certification in Surgical Technology and has decorated cakes professionally. She believes that life is a banquet to be experienced and wants to learn and do as much as possible while she’s here. This Stay @ Home Mom has always loved to write and thanks to the Communities @ The Washington Times has got her chance. Her curiosity and writing lead her to create her column based on “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought provoking pieces that enrich her readers. A proud member and Treasurer for the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group she is currently working on her first novel.  


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