Where to get your high-octane fix.
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Our intrepid writer goes the extra mile—albeit downward—for his story.
It’s 4 pm on a Saturday in June. It’s hot. I mean, the kind of hot in which the sweat doesn’t just bead on your face, it cascades off of it. My enjoyment right now is dampened by the fact that I am in the middle of the woods wearing a hot, full-headed mask, resembling a backless version of a motorcycle helmet, that collects water like a sponge and sticks it against my face. It also doesn’t help that I’m wearing thick army pants, a backpack, and a microfiber camouflage shirt, which, too, is wet with sweat, despite its manufacturer’s guarantees to the contrary. Oh, but I do have one thing going for me: I’m armed!
Sometimes writers get lucky. We get assignments that provide free dinners at BLT to replace what normally would be a night with a paid dinner at KFC. And sometimes, we get really lucky. I got really lucky. This article is about adrenaline rushes: those heart-pounding thrill-seekers’ outings that can be found in and around the county. And yes, Virginia, they do exist. With some help from the editorial staff, I’ve scouted them out, tested them out, and, almost left my lunch with one of them. Here are the results, one kick-butt activity at a time.
Liberty Paintball, Brewster, NY
$25 with own equipment/ $30 with rental
ADRENALINE RATING: ★★★★★
When I mentioned being armed, I should have clarified. I was carrying an olive-dust-colored Invert mini marker with a camouflage-green Stiffi barrel and a Halo hopper. Sound confusing? So does explaining why an “eagle” isn’t a “birdie” to someone who doesn’t play golf. Paintball has a language all its own. And the type of equipment you have can really affect your game. The concept is simple. Two teams start on opposite sides of a field, or woods. Obstacles ranging from pieces of lumber to wholly built houses are put in between the two sides. The object is to capture the other team’s flag. Oh, and you get to shoot at each other with spheres full of paint. If you get hit, you’re out, and, for the love of God, don’t wipe the paint off yourself to fool the refs.
The obvious question is, “Does it hurt when you get hit?” Yes, it does. But if the two teams of ten-year-old girls playing the day I played can stand the pain, I’m sure you can, too. I made my way into a small house, about 25 square feet, with a window just the right size for shooting out of—and then I heard it. I had been spotted and paintball after paintball broke on the outside of my wooden enclave just a few sawdust-filled centimeters from my face. They came from all angles, from what had to have been five guns, at speeds of 20 to 30 paintballs per second. The roar was like a train driving through a thunderstorm. A line of paintballs, so fast it looked like an unbroken chain, came through the window as I ducked down. I was trapped, and I was going to get hit by paint if I didn’t shoot someone fast. So I waited for a split-second pause in the action, and shot back. I took out any gunman I could see. One after another fell. My heart pounded, my grin widened, and then…on my left arm, a painful, sticky wad of blue goo exploded. The worst part of it? I was shot by my own teammate, who had mistaken me for someone on the other team. Still, my heart didn’t stop pounding. There’s nothing like fear plus heat plus competition to get that Saturday adrenaline rush I so deeply love.
Skydive the Ranch, Gardiner, NY
$195 for first tandem jump
ADRENALINE RATING: ★★★★★