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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Drift Away In A Float Tank!

It had been a week from hell. The quick onset of a mystery illness gave me quite a scare and had me in the hospital for 4 1/2 days last week. I had to cancel a family picnic on Daniel Island and a much anticipated trip to Daufuskie on Friday with the Facebook group Charleston History Before 1945.   But — the following Saturday I was treated to 4 fabulous hours of pampering. It was the most phenomenal recovery that I have ever experienced. So what did I do?  I floated.
Yep, I went floating. Not the clubhouse or backyard pool type of floating where the sun is beating down on you and someone does a cannon ball and totally screws up your chi.  No — I floated in a facility that offers floating as undisturbed ultimate relaxation. Glo Spa, Charleston's first and only float tank facility and — it's in our very own East Cooper neighborhood.
I was apprehensive at first. It sounded kind of gimmicky so I Googled it. Sensory deprivation floating tanks are actually not a new concept at all. The flotation tank was developed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist. During his training in psychoanalysis at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Lilly commenced experiments with sensory deprivation and neurophysiology.
The appeal to me was simple. I am a floater, part mermaid you see. My fascination with tub buoyancy started with my first (by myself, without brother or sister) bath. It was an old claw foot tub. I filled it to the rim and let it swallow me up. Floating. The only sound was my heartbeat and the occasional drip from the old faucet. Everything went away and I became semi-weightless. However, something always intervened, bringing this nirvana to a screeching halt. The water would get cold, the phone would ring, someone would beat on the door to get in....
So— the idea that someone could offer me a solid hour of tranquil nothingness was a no-brainer. I'm all in. Owner Steve Eppell conversed with me about the experience and the totality of making it a full spa day.
All of the services are A la carte.  I participated in the combo of 1/2 hour steam room, 1 hour float tank and ended with a 1 hour massage.
Every single thing was set up and in place. No need to take anything! The facility was clean and systematic — a visually and sensually soothing environment.
I am going to include their website so that I don't elongate on the procedure and factual side in lieu of offering my personal experience. Here is what to expect from the float tank.....Nothing!  Nothing is wonderful!  Your brain registers the 93.5 degree water temperature as skin receptor neutral. Combine this with darkness and lack of gravity and you won't know where your body ends and the water begins.
The float tanks are designed to mimic (as closely as possible) sensory deprivation. So, no clothes (unless you actually want to wear them) no jewelry, no hair clips. Nothing but you, the water and darkness — complete darkness. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face. I put in some ear plugs laid back and totally let go. So what do you do with just yourself when nothing but the sound of your heartbeat is infiltrating your brain for an hour?  I left myself drift out to sea, flitted back and forth with the awe of weightlessness and then actually created a new character for my novel and two new rabbit trails to run down in the adventures of the plot.
I am a restless creature and didn't imagine that I would stay the entire hour. I was surprised when the gentle music filled the chamber signaling the time was over. I showered, dried off and put on another warm robe and headed to my massage. I tried to talk myself out of the massage. Which would have been a huge mistake! I have never —I repeat, NEVER had such a healing, therapeutic and holistic massage... ever. Kelci Eppel, my hats off to you, that was truly a religious experience. I  walked out of Glo Spa feeling like Gumby on Prozac and questioned momentarily my ability to drive.
Cleanliness?  Top notch!  The water filtration started immediately after my timer signaled I was done. There were fabulous showers, fresh bath robes for each room, towels, spa shoes, ear plugs, infused water. Top of the line shampoo's, conditioners, soap and lotions.
Hours later I tried to think if there was anything that could even have been improved upon. Zilch. My only disappointment was that the experience was so good that I was a little let down when I opened the door to leave and found myself in a parking lot and not the balcony of a paradise tropical location with someone fanning me and feeding me grapes. The serenity and peace along with the holistic benefits of the steam, float and massage were ethereal.
~Seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them~  Joseph Henry
Glow Spa
Call Steve Eppel (owner)
320 W Coleman Blvd #H
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Monday, May 19, 2014

Carolina Zip Lines Canopy Tour and Hanging Rock Mountain Area, NC

Lord knows I am a Sandlapper, both a cum ya and a been ya.  But when the call for slanted ground comes, I think of my sister Carolina where I lived for over a quarter of a century.
Nestled in the foothills of Stokes County, N.C. is my beloved mountain, Sauratown Mountain —  specifically Hanging Rock. Many a morning I would head out to run errands only to be distracted by the blue black shadow at the fork in the road. Minutes later I would be lying flat on a cliff overhang near the falls.
Hanging Rock State Park host’s; waterfalls’,hiking trails, vista's and tundra that take the breath away, a pristine lake with sandy "beach" front, cabins, campground, canoeing and fishing.  A stones throw away and you could be zip lining, Dan River tubing or horseback riding. It is often tag lined "The mountain away from the mountains" in comparison to the looming silhouette of Blue Ridge Parkway in the distance.
 A country mile or two down Hwy 66 you can taste award winning wines and view phenomenal art at Germanton Art Gallery and Winery.
Don't leave the area without a step back into time at Priddy's General Store in Danbury. The store has been in operation for nearly a century. Pop a Cheerwine bottle top and rock in the rocking chairs on the porch or pull out the checkerboard for a slow game. Don't miss the laid back bluegrass picking on Friday nights. Buy yourself a RC Cola and a Moon Pie and drive a quarter mile to the Danbury to watch the old man Dan River slip over the rocks and bends at Danbury State Park.
All this and more hidden in the side by side sleepy little towns of Danbury, Germanton and Walnut Cove.  All are located off of NC Route 66, not the infamous 66, but I can’t imagine a stretch worthier to be included. Towns where vegetables are left on colored tablecloths’ by farmers with a sign that says "Take some, leave some."
If  you want to pick up the pace a tad, a short drive north you have Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy — Andy Griffiths proposed Mayberry and hometown. A 30 minute ride east and you are walking the centuries old cobble stoned streets of Old Salem, the historic Moravian village in Winston-Salem.
Don and I lived in the valley of Walnut Cove ten minutes from that summit before moving back to Charleston almost four years ago. We returned this past fall to go zip lining  at Carolina Zip Line Canopy tours. It was bittersweet pulling into our old hometown. We fell quiet as both of us dealt with an inconsolable loss of sorts. It subsided as we drove those familiar switchback turns off of Hwy 66. Majestic poplars in gold and crimson canopied above and spread petals as a flower girl would in lieu of our arrival.
Rubbernecking the beautiful drop offs and deep valley's, we almost missed the dirt drive at Nickell Farm Road. We were greeted first by the bleating goats and clucking chickens in their barnyard near a centuries old stable house. A rocky clay path led us to the Welcome Center of Carolina Zip Lines Canopy Tour. Before we got to the door we heard a noise that sounded like a huge bee was coming through the trees right at us. Overhead a zip liner whizzed by to land on the platform.
We were warmly greeted inside by owner Keith Bollman who told me that Barbara would be down in a bit. We went through instructions, harnessing and greetings with the other zippers.
Barbara Bollman came in and welcomed us with a broad beautiful smile and the hug of a neighbor. Keith and Barbara are equally jovial and fun. Their love for each other and the life and lives that they have created in these hills is evident. The Bollman’s have 12 children and scores of grands.
Barbara gave me the back yard tour excitedly telling me of their plans for the zip line and property.
Lea McQuinn and Seth Boyette were our tour leaders. We felt confident with their expertise and knew we were going to have a good time. The two had a rapport that kept the entire gang giggling with them all morning, they’re practical jokers as well.
Safety and instruction were thorough, but not so elongated that you felt you spent your morning in monotonous orientation. In minutes we were headed to the tree's. It was a nice uphill hike through dense leaf paths to our starting point. A couple of the Bollman family dogs guided as well, but their curiosity had them deserting us minutes in. Once in the trees’ and platforms we talked with our new friends while awaiting our turn to zip.
What an awesome feeling as we glided through the canopies. Lea tells us that many times they have glided alongside deer in the valley by the creek. It is just beautiful and the zips aren't so fast that you can't enjoy the loveliness of the slide show. The finale of our zip was a two cabled race to the bottom. Lea radioed in to Keith and he skipped out to come catch. There is always a guide at the other end to keep your face from splatting a tree. Lea and I raced down on side by side cables...over the valley. I think she let me win.
We dropped our safety belts and said our goodbyes. As we left another group was coming in, they searched our face for gestures of experience— like we do when the crowd lets out of a movie we are going to see.  
My husband and I both enjoyed the zip line tour and the crew immensely. I have new friends there. In Barbara's words  "Ziplines Canopy Tour was constructed by Universal Zipline Technologies (UZT) who builds worldwide from the USA, Canada and throughout South America. UZT also inspects, certifies and provides guide safety training. These standards follow ACCT standards and certifications. Our guides are the best in the industry. Not only do they have hours of training, and safety, they are also the most enjoyable people to be around. You will feel safe and secure, not to mention having the time of your life with our staff , your friends and family. You will also make new friends on your tour that sometimes go beyond your two hour experience as you exchange pictures, videos and memories with each other.”
I am excited to say that many of the plans that Keith and Barbara anticipated for the Carolina Zip Lines Canopy Tour are coming to fruition. There are hiking trails being built and Disc golf courses.
Oh! They now have helmets with cameras on them and the sd card is included in your tour! Oh let's see, new accommodations’ are coming,  Tipi's!  Yes stay the night in a Tipi on the property or — if the comfort of a bed in a century old home on site is more your cup of tea, you can saunter right on over after your zip line tour. in the Bed and breakfast in their previous home.
Life is good in the tree's.