Thursday, May 26, 2011

Give her a push!

Me . . . . BEFORE.
What do you give a person who has everything for their birthday? An experience, or better yet, an adventure! For Sandy's recent birthday, I took a day off work and we went to the US National Whitewater Center. This amazing facility is where our US athletes train for events like whitewater rafting and kayaking, but it's open to the public and you can do a lot more than that.

For example . . .
  • Adventure ropes courses
  • Ziplining
  • Mountain biking
  • Flatwater kayaking
  • Massive consumption of Fat Tire (if you're into that kind of thing)
I was psyched to go. After all, I love adventure! We started with a ropes course, which was something like 30 feet off the ground (maybe more). They attach a harness to you and tell you not to touch anything metal, then you have to slide across a high wire. Sometimes you've got stable stuff to hold onto like ropes or PVC pipes, and sometimes things are not so stable! I tackled this pretty easily . . . until about midway across the first wire, when I started wobbling and the fear hit me that I was going to fall. Of course, if I'd fallen, the harness would have caught me and the only damage done would have been to my ego (perhaps with some bruises across the tops of my thighs). But I kept going, motivated in part by a thirty-something woman behind me who took two steps out and then completely freaked. (As in: "WAH! I CAN'T DO THIS!) For some reason, her whining and inability to continue motivated me. So across the wires I went. Slowly, but surely. When I was done, my arm muscles were killing me, but there was no time to rest. We immediately got in line for the ziplining.

Me: DURING. "OMG! WTF was I thinking?!!!"
OK, I should say that the ziplining here is the zipline equivalent of a bunny slope. Flying across the rainforest in El Salvador or Costa Rica it is not. But you have to climb a very long rope ladder. I started out pretty fast, but the beginning part is easy. About a third of the way through, the slope became very steep, and soon I was literally climbing one foot at a time, about four inches at a time. Suddenly it seemed like an endless rope ladder. And it was very wobbly. When I got to the top of the rope ladder, I had to hoist myself up onto a platform.

Not so sure I wanna do this anymore. Want my Mommy.
The dude working the platform hooked us up and began explaining what was about to happen. I felt myself reversing in age very quickly, all the way back to age four or so. When finally he asked: "Are you ready?" I replied (or, more accurately, four-year old me replied): "No." I even shook my head like a four-year old.

And I told him to unhook me.

I'm not sure why I couldn't do it. Obviously, I don't have a fear of heights, or I would'nt've been up there in the first place. Maybe it was the sensation of falling. Or just a fear of the unknown. But I couldn't. Sandy (also known as Wonder Woman and G.I. Jane) went on down without me, then yelled at me from the ground. She was trying to videotape me, but I was just sitting up there, as if my butt was glued to the platform. In one of the videos, you can clearly hear Sandy yell "Give her a push!" Now how about that? Tell us what you really think, Sandy!!!

I asked the dude to hook me back up. 

By this time, there's a line of folks coming up behind me, and he's starting to lose his patience. "Ma'am, you're gonna have to decide soon," he told me. "Or you're gonna have to climb back down the ladder."

Climb back down the ladder? What? You've got to be kidding me.

I didn't want to go anywhere near that ladder again. So I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the strap, said something under my breath that rhymed with "Duck Fat" and jumped.

video

It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. In fact, there's only just one little itty-bitty nanosecond when you feel like you're falling. The hydraulic wire system holds you right into place, and you just glide down the wire. It's kind of fun! I even landed on my feet! Unlike my former friend Sandy, who (I'm saying this to try to save my own face even though I know I shouldn't because it was her birthday) fell flat on her bee-hind. I know, because I saw it from up on the platform.

Despite my um, success, I was in shock for about an hour after this experience. I couldn't talk. I couldn't process. It was all I could do to walk away.

Later in the afternoon, we went whitewater rafting. Now THAT was fun (really). Of course, in 90 degree heat, anything involving water is fun, even if you get sloshed around and beaten up. And even if you wake up the next morning with screaming quadriceps muscles, and you can barely walk. Which is exactly what happened to both of us today!

Next year, Sandy's getting an L.L. Bean gift card. Or something like that. :-)