What do Superman, Tarzan and a soaring eagle have in common? An unfettered ability to defy gravity and gain a bird’s eye view of the world, that’s what. Maybe you and I can’t morph into a Super Hero, a jungle character or a mighty bird, but we can shake off the shackles of gravity with these two Coeur d’Alene aerial adventures.
Flightseeing with Brooks Seaplane
Brooks Sea Plane has been wowing residents and visitors alike since 1946 with flightseeing excursions over sparkling, 25-mile long Lake Coeur d’Alene. Business owner and pilot Grant Brooks, a droll and comfortingly composed man who has logged thousands of flight hours, comes by his skills naturally. He took over the family business from his father who started taking visitors and residents flightseeing over North Idaho 70 years ago.
As our Cessna 206 banked along the lake, Grant named the bays and coves, pointed out Dennis Franz’s house (remember Andy Sipowicz of NYPD Blue?) and footballer John Elway’s estate, dozens of mansions and a few private airstrips. We flew over the second most populated city on the lake, the tiny hamlet of Harrison (population 300) and the entrance to the Chain Lakes, a serpentine collection of ten lakes that break off from the Coeur d’Alene River. Silver Mountain, Mount Spokane and Schweitzer Mountain, three of the regions four ski hills, came into view as we headed east then north.
If you’re a little nervous about hitting the airways in a small plane, read the letter from an Oregon woman that Grant proudly displays on his dockside office wall. The writer admitted to being petrified before they took off but was so wowed by the experience that she’s become a seasoned air traveler, jetting back and forth across the U.S. to visit family and friends – all thanks to Grant Brooks seaplane ride.
Admit it, you’ve always wanted to soar with the eagles. Brooks Sea Plane’s 40-mile, 20-minute flightseeing excursion is $70 for adults, $35 for children under 10. To book your altitude adjustment, call 208-664-2842 or go to www.brooks-seaplane.com.
Zip Lining with Timberline Adventures
Treetop platforms, suspension bridges and densely forested spaces made us feel like we were walking into the pages of Swiss Family Robinson. The big difference, of course, were the helmets and harnesses that we had donned in Timberline Adventures’ downtown Coeur d’Alene office. Oh, and the fact that we were not shipwrecked but had been transported to Timberline’s zip lining playground by van and UTV. UTV’s, open-air utility task vehicles, carry four to six people and are impervious to rutted dirt roads. They’re the perfect backcountry workhorse to transport zip liners the final mile deep into Timberline’s 117-mile property.
But never mind the particulars. As soon as we started soaring through the air high above Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Beauty Bay from one zip line platform to another, adrenalin kicked in and it was easy to forget to-do lists and life below. With the Rathdrum Prairie and Mt. Spokane in the distance, we glided a total of seven zip lines and crossed three suspension bridges on the two-and-a-half tour. The grand finale is a 1,600 foot long line suspended 400 feet above the ground. That’s more than four times the length of a football field, and believe me, you realize how far that is when you have to squint hard to see the next zipper heading your way.
I’ve zipped in the Caribbean where little things like client orientation, triple checking equipment, communicating from guide to guide, and safely coming in for a landing seem to be an afterthought. Before I knew there was any other way, I once zipped with a company that dispensed leather gloves along with helmets and harnesses. We were instructed to brake ourselves by holding onto the line above our heads. The palms of the gloves were searing hot at the end of each run.
Timberline, on the other hand, is big on safety and smooth landings. Their guides go through rigorous training, offer solid pre-zip orientation and are in constant radio contact from platform to platform. A solid braking system operated by the guide on the receiving platform assures that you glide into each stop. “Coming in hot” – too fast or out of control — does not happen with Timberline.
Zipping can be a family affair and kids as young as 7-years old are permitted to ride. Nervous youngsters can tandem with a guide but gutsy little guys and girls can solo.
“Mom, let’s just do this all day! was the one of the best things I ever heard,” says our Timberline guide Jake Kaut, a University of Idaho student on his second summer working for Timberline. “Some of the kids are scared but they get past that pretty quick,” he says. “And it’s good to conquer your fears at a young age.” I’d say it’s good to conquer your fears at any age.
Timberline Adventures is open from April till October (depending on weather). Tours are $99 per person. Details at www.ziptimberline.com or call 208-820-2080.