Monday, July 9, 2012

the only thing to fear... being more than two feet off the ground. And having to find a way to get down.

Yep, I'm terrified of heights - even tiny ones. It's not the going up; it's the looking/coming down that gets me. I can stand on a desk in my classroom, and I have to hold on to something to climb down. It makes me a bit nauseous to climb a ladder for any task. I don't like looking over the edge of anything. Several years ago, Lovey and I stopped by Petite Jean Mountain to have a quick look. He hopped around on those rocks like a mountain goat. I crawled out a tiny way on a ledge for him to snap a quick picture, and he had to come out and get me - I was frozen in my tracks. So imagine my family's surprise when I suggested that we do some ziplining during our camping trip this year.

It's something I've always wanted to do. And this year just a few miles down the road from our campground there is a new place to do it. Rowdy Adventures is just off the interstate at the Okalona exit. Because there were fifteen in our group, we got a small discount on our ticket prices. There are 14 lines - it takes about two hours to complete all of them.

We had no idea what to expect before going. We pulled up to a large parking lot in front of a big cabin and some sort of wooden structure backed by the interstate on one side and woods on the other.

After signing our lives away, we paid our fees and went out to prepare for our adventure. My sister and her oldest daughter came to see us off. They took a few pictures while we "trained" for the real lines. After that no cameras were allowed.

Harnesses, helmets, and gloves were lined up waiting for us outside. The guides got a hint of what was to come right away. We had lots of discussion during this stage of the adventure. I'm sure they were already arguing over who had to take us on the course. Right away, we had to have some bigger helmets - we are some big headed people.

And no one really listened when the guides were giving directions of how to get into the harness. We are a hands-on do it our way kind of family.

We also do things in our own time. The guides were telling us to grab harnesses and helmets, but we were reading the rules, talking to each other, and making jokes about heads not fitting in the helmets.

It was nice that they gave me the same harness as the younger girls, but my but is MUCH bigger than theirs, and I quickly sent the guy in to find me a bigger harness.

The getting harnessed and helmeted was not a quick process. We laugh a lot. We talk a lot.

And there was lots of discussion of where to place parts in the harness. Brandon and Dusty had us all cracking up.

Can you tell we are family? No one plans to dress alike - it just happens.
The girls' discussions were about where to put the ponytail in the helmet.

Once we were all harnessed up, the guides tried to put us into two groups. They did the 1,2,1,2 count-off technique.

They counted, and we just stood there looking at them.

Their system was flawed. It separated mommas from babies, husbands from wives, and boyfriends from girlfriends. We quickly arranged our own two groups, and then they put us back together for a group picture.

Then it was the top of the wall and a training zip line. This is the point where my family thought I might turn around. And believe me, I thought about it.

From the moment I left that top step, I clung to a wire. The two's had to go to the far end of the platform which meant me moving on down.

That platform was crowded with all 15 of us and several guides up there. But I was so consumed with looking down and across to the other platform that I didn't even have time to consider the crowd - that would have really bothered me had I thought about it at the time.

We did listen a bit more when the guides were discussing the actual zipping rules.

I don't know exactly when, but my group let the guides know that I was scared of heights. The guides were careful to make certain that I was okay with each and every slide.  But they didn't check on me nearly as much as my group did. My group was the young couples - Dusty and Leah, Brandon and Laura, and Luke and Emily.

After everyone had a quick training zip, we were ready for the actual course. Melissia, Brooke, baby Eli,  and the cameras headed back to camp. It was a short walk to our first line.

Just like the training slide, the leaving the platform was the hard part. I loved the ride. The landings were always interesting, but they didn't bother me. I just had work up enough nerve to go off that edge.

 One guide was on the take-off platform and one guide was on the landing platform. The guides hooked us to the cable and caught us at the end, hooking us to the tree if we were off of the ground.

before my training zip
I never felt unsafe. I was scared of the edges. I was nervous on the platforms. But I knew I was safe.

From the beginning, the guides would run and jump off of the platforms. The brave souls in our groups did some of that running and jumping too. Not me, I crept to the edge of each platform, sat in my harness, and pushed myself away from the edge.Sometimes I even had to scoonch myself to the edge. I never felt rushed by the "push you off" guide. And the "catching" guide always checked that I was okay when I reached the landing platform.

There were ground to ground zips, ground to tree zips, tree to tree zips, and tree to ground zips. Some zips were really long. Some were really fast. Some were really high. And after pushing away from the platform, all were fun.

I had my own little cheering section. With each line, there was someone encouraging me at take off and someone high-fiving me at the landing. Dusty, Leah, and Brandon spent a big part of their day checking on me. I'm not going to lie - there was a tear or two shed.  About middle ways of the lines, we zipped to a tree platform, climbed a ladder even higher into the tree, and made a short zip into  another tree. Nineteen people zipping onto a tree platform, climbing a ladder, zipping twenty feet to another platform, and zipping away from that tree. It was scary. The damn ladder was the worst part. I hate climbing a ladder on the ground, and climbing one in a treetop is truly pushing my limits. but again, the guides were constantly reassuring me, checking that I was okay, and offering to help me up the ladder. I got a tad bit dizzy going up, but I knew that I was attached and wasn't going to fall. The platform at the top of the ladder was tiny. TINY! And it was in the top of the tree, so it swayed with each take off and landing. Dusty wrapped his arms around me and held me close to the tree - and we were always connected to the tree with a safety line.

By the last few lines several people were zipping upside down. Needless to say, it wasn't me. But I did get brave enough to step of the last two platforms - not run and jump, just step without sitting and scooting. On the long line across the river, I got turned around and couldn't get turned back. Just as I was turning, I realized that I might hit the platform sideways and let myself turn backwards instead. I heard the guide yelling, and it took me a second to realize what he was saying, "Feet up! Feet up!" Just then one shoe went flying and one calf smacked into the platform. I think Leah actually reached me before the catching guide did, both of them asking if I was okay and lifting me back to my feet. It was a glancing blow and not too painful. I was fine. And thankfully, Laynie's shoe didn't end up in the river (Abby wore my shoes, and I borrowed a pair of Laynie's). The last line was a quick ride back across the river onto a sandy shore. I made it on my feet.

Along the way there were little signs with sayings, several about conquering fears. There was one that I really liked. Leah and Laura both said, "That should be the title of your blog post." And I can't remember what it was. For a short time, I left my fear of heights behind me. I'm not sure that I'm ready to climb any ladders, but I am ready to go back for more ziplining.

Some things you might want to know if you go:
*Wear closed toe shoes.
*Long gym shorts might be more comfortable even if it is above 100.
*No phones or cameras on the ziplines.
*Rowdy Adventures provides three water breaks during the 14 lines. You will be ready for the water when you reach a waterbreak.
*If possible, go with a group. I wouldn't want to do it with strangers.
*There is quite a bit of walking between some of the lines.