Cool Escapes: 7 ways a treetop obstacle course can change your perspective

Looking for fun ways to beat the heat? Our Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald, comes to the rescue!

All this week, at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on News with a Twist, she'll take us along on Cool Escapes that are less than a 2-hour drive from New Orleans.


WHERE: The Zip'N Fun Adventure Park is less than a 90-minute drive from New Orleans, in Gulfport, Mississippi.

The exact address: 17200 16th Street; Gulfport, MS 39501

COST: The Tree Top Adventure (featured in our report) $35; The Junior Adventure (for anyone shorter than 4 feet, 6 inches) $20

COMPANY:  Zip'N Fun Adventure Park

GULFPORT, Mississippi (WGNO) - Disclaimer: During this "Cool Escape" you will probably get very hot and sweaty! But the thrill of flying through the tree tops will give you an unforgettable adrenaline rush. Plus, the breeze through your hair on multiple zip-lines will give you some relief from the summer heat.  Here are seven ways this zany 50-game obstacle course can change your perspective on life:

1. It will take you out of your comfort zone.

Swinging into a rope wall is a frightening challenge for some.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have lived by the motto, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

She was a political trail blazer and the first presidential spouse to speak at a national convention.

I don't believe zip-lines were around during her time, but I bet she would have loved this one. This Gulfport adventure opened in January, 2016.

2. It's a reminder that YOLO (You Only Live Once).

Zip-lines fly above hiking trails and highways.

If you complete the entire two-part Tree Top Adventure Course, you will fly on seven zip-lines. The last one takes you high above the highway, with a view of the Gulf Islands Waterpark, located right next to the Zip'N Fun Course.

Unless this is something you do quite often, you'll probably find yourself thinking, "When is the last time I updated my will?" and "I wonder when was the last time they checked these cables?"

We had help from several friendly guides and this was the best advice I was given: "Don't think, just jump!"

3. You'll find out how physically fit you are... or if you have some work to do!

News with a Twist photographer Derek Felton on the Zip'N Fun Course.

Physical requirements for the main course are as follows: You must be at least four feet, six inches tall and weigh 275 pounds or less.  (There is a Junior Adventure course for adventurous souls who happen to be shorter: You have to be between three feet and five feet to be allowed on that course.)

It's not listed in the rules, but you should be fairly physically fit if you want to succeed on this 50-challenge course.  This is no walk in the park!

Remember to eat a hearty breakfast and stretch before you harness up and begin your tree-top workout.

WGNO Photographer Derek Felton was willing and able to do the whole course carrying his camera gear and our Travel Girl was very grateful.

4. You'll regain (at least temporarily) the "no fear" attitude more commonly found in children.

These rings hang precariously, waiting for the next guest.

Remember when you were a kid and went on the giant roller coaster over and over again? Or when you thought it was a great idea to jump off the roof into the blow-up pool in the backyard?

Once you get comfortable with your squirrel's eye view and feel the adrenaline rush of the first zip-line, you may recall that brave feeling and maybe you'll shout "I'm the king of the world!" as you soar through the sky.

Go ahead, this is a place where your inner child can come out and play.

5. It's a serious test of mind over matter.

Learning to use these clips is key to success on the Zip'N Fun Course.

I reminded myself over and over -- especially in the beginning -- you have to trust the gear.

Harnesses are worn during the entire adventure, and each participant goes to "Safety School" before being allowed on the course. You'll even do a mini-zip-line to check your skills.

6. You'll talk to yourself.

WGNO's Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald, with photographer Derek Felton smiling and sweat-free before they got on the course!

Talking to yourself isn't necessarily a bad thing... you might realize you have a lot to say! Being your own cheerleader is important, whether it's at home, at work or while you're dangling 30 feet above the ground in a forest in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Going on an adventure such as this can be the catalyst for some inspirational thoughts, so pack a journal in your backpack and take the time to reflect after you take off that harness.

P.S. Talk to your friends, too! I probably would have been stuck at that Tarzan-like rope swing for a lot longer if my photographer and the guides hadn't been there to cheer me on.

7. You will be forced to focus.

Concentration is key when you're on the Zip'N Fun Course.

Remember, this isn't a race.

The zip-lines are fun to fly on, but the other 43 challenges will have you performing a physical balancing act live you've never tried before.

Whether you're a high-ranking executive, a weary parent or a multi-tasking teenager, there's no room for distraction once you start clicking along this course. I brought along my cell phone in order to take these photos but this is an opportunity to connect with nature and take a break from e-mail, social media and any other everyday obligations that try to invade your mind.

Look down at the ground below, and give yourself permission to live in the moment.