Thursday, September 4, 2014

Zip the Line...

The Facts

On our anniversary trip, we went ziplining.

His Side

I would consider myself a pretty adventurous guy. Someone without an adventurous spirit doesn’t move all the way across the country leaving everything he’s ever known behind to chase a dream that he knows is nearly impossible to achieve. In case you don’t know what I’m referring to, I did that. The reason I mention that is because Kristi and I recently went on a different kind of adventure:  ziplining. I, being the more adventurous type, was very excited about the trip while Kristi was very nervous. She was so nervous that, when I asked her for a mint from her purse on the way up to the venue, all she could muster is a quiet “hold on.” I felt a little bad that Kristi was so nervous about it and I kept trying to reassure her that we would be safe and it would be fun. She didn’t want to talk about it. But, we had already paid, so we were going!

As we got suited up, our wonderful guides, Jake and Charlotte, reiterated that what we were about to do was inherently dangerous and made us all give a thumbs up if we were still willing to do it. By putting our thumbs in the air, we were telling them that, if we get hurt or killed, it’s on us. Fun… 

After we got suited up, we headed to “ground school” which is really just a short piece of wire to show you how the equipment works and for you to practice the things they have been telling you are important:  how you position your body while zipping, how the “zip stop” works, etc. They stressed the importance of staying straight on the line and not coming in at an angle. With how much emphasis they were putting on this aspect, I thought something terrible would happen if I didn’t come in straight. So, on my first zip, I was solely focused on keeping my body straight. It was nerve wracking. As I got more accustomed to the process, though, I realized it’s not as big of a deal as it seemed. So, by the third or fourth line, I felt like a pro and I got to fully experience the joys of ziplining. Those joys mostly involve looking around at the scenery while zipping. There were some fantastic views and, at one point, Jake told is that the “things below us that look like shrubs are actually about 200 foot tall trees.” Looking down was fun as well. 

It got to the point where I was doing some of the fun things they suggested on certain lines. One of the lines had a great photo opportunity so they suggested you turn and strike a pose as you take off. I just did a boring thumbs up, but I would have never turned toward the camera or anything on my first few zips. On the shortest line of the day, they challenged us to see if we could hold our breath the whole way, close our eyes the whole way, or yell the whole way. I closed my eyes AND yelled the whole way. It was exhilarating! 

If you can’t tell, I loved the ziplining part and was thrilled that Kristi was loving it, too. What I didn’t like, though, were the repels. I didn’t realize I was afraid of heights until those moments. It may not be that I am afraid of heights, it may be more about the fact that I was standing on the edge of a platform looking down a huge drop and then the platform moves! It’s unsettling. Then you get hooked up to this pulley system engineered by the Germans and just step off the platform. I put a lot of faith in German engineering that day and I survived. 

You may be thinking about ziplining but don’t think it’s safe. Well, I’ve only experienced this one location, but it was very safe. Our guides were very entertaining and hilarious and kept the entire day fun while still staying very focused on safety. They messed around a lot but not with safety measures. Another piece of advice if you’re thinking of going on a similar journey:  don’t do an outing with just a few ziplines. As I mentioned, I only really got comfortable after the first two or three. If you only do two or three, you probably won’t get to experience the full joys of the experience because you will still be getting used to how you position your body and everything.

It was an amazingly fun experience and I would go again! A little added bonus, though, was getting to tell Kristi “I told you so!” when she loved it. 

Her Side

Our ziplining adventure started off on a bit of a precarious foot. I wanted to back out. I was nervous and uncertain and was starting to think it wasn’t the best of ideas. As usual, Nolan has this endearing way of convincing me everything will be okay. Also, he reminded me that we had already paid for the excursion… and money talks. So, out the door we went. By this time, my nerves were on a roller coaster ride of their own. I was contemplating the safety of what we were about to do. Should we call our parents and let them know? You know, in case something goes wrong and we get injured… or worse. I’ll admit that my nervousness manifested itself in mild nausea. Nolan kept trying to talk to me and all I could manage was sticking my hand out as to signify that now was not a good time to converse. At one point he asked for a mint from my purse and all I managed was to mutter “not right now, give me a minute.” I’m pretty sure he knew something was up at that point. I managed to control my nerves and was even able to drag myself out of the car when we got to our destination. I had succumbed to the fact that there was no backing out because we had already paid for it and this was something that Nolan was really looking forward to doing.

We donned our gear and headed to “Ground School,” which wasn’t a school at all; but we did learn the basics necessary for a safe and fun trip. There were a total of seven of us zipping and we had two instructors to help us along the way. I made some nervous chatter with a few of the other adventure goers, which ultimately served to get my mind off of the impending… fun I was going to have.  Yep, I said it:  FUN. As soon as I was hooked up to the course and it was my turn on deck, I got excited. The only part I was leery about was taking the first step off of the platform to ride the line… with only a forest of trees beneath me to break my fall (or my legs if we’re being realistic).

It’s probably a good time to mention that the zipline tour we chose boasted to be the steepest and fastest in the country. It had eleven ziplines, three rappels, and a sky bridge all jammed into a three and a half hour time window. Our guides were Charlotte and Jake and they were a hoot! They made sure we had fun, but were certain to make sure all safety protocols were followed as well. The repeated phrase of the day was “Zip check, Jake” and a reply from Jake of “Zip stop set, Charlotte”. Occasionally they would get fancy and say something like “Zippity stoppity checkity, Jakety”… yea, they liked to have fun.

The views from the trees (which is where we were zipping, rappelling, and crossing a sky bridge) were breathtaking! We did encounter a large number of spiders on our adventure and they were sizeable. Some people even kept trying to mess with them, which is something I wasn’t fond of. I think I might have threatened one of the other zipliners that if he messed with the spider I would throw him off of the platform which was approximately two hundred feet in the air. Oh, don’t worry it wouldn’t have worked because we were all tethered safely to the tree. And then there was the SNAKE, oh my… the snake. At our first rappel of the day, our guide Jake went down first to help us as we descended. Before he made it to the platform I heard a surprised sounding noise come from below and he confirmed there was a snake waiting for him near the platform. No joke, I considered aborting this whole ziplining mission at that point. I didn’t sign up to play with or be near snakes. Well, he moved the snake out of the way and I told Nolan that, if we encountered the snake, he would be giving me a piggy back ride. Thankfully no piggy back ride had to be given. Phew!

We finished out our three and a half our adventure and I was a bit sad when it was over. Since ziplining is only effective when done going downhill, they were kind enough to have a van waiting for us at the bottom so we didn’t have to hike back up. Thanks, guys!

This adventure was definitely something that got me out of my comfort zone and, for that, I’m thankful! Life is more fun when you live on the edge a little (and within certain boundaries). Well maybe when you live within a slightly larger “box” than what you’re used to. So, if you’re looking for an exhilarating, invigorating adventure to do, I would highly recommend ziplining!!

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