If I were going to do something on my birthday that was really special, something no one would ever expect me to do, what do you think it would be? If you guessed “Jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” you’d be right! I would never do that.
I did, however, take a zip line tour. I thought that was something I could manage. I’d been a little taken aback when I suggested the zip line to my friends who were coming for the eclipse, and they fired back NO so fast I thought our emails had collided in mid-air. How bad could it be, I wondered?
I’m the most trepid person I know. I won’t even jaywalk. There is a tremendous number of ways to maim yourself or perish altogether, and I have reviewed every one of them, and make a point of avoiding them. I can barely play piano in public. It all seems extreme, but keep in mind that I am a person who tips over while putting on socks, walks into closed doors, and sometimes get a bolus of tap water stuck in my throat.
Dave’s not like me at all. Before they locked him out, he used to climb up to the top of the Fremont Bridge arch, which is located right under the sun. He likes the rush of adrenaline you get from a good scary ride. I think it’s possible a rush of adrenaline could kill me. My cousin Jerry just got on some numbskull ride where they belt you delicately onto a park bench and drop you off a cliff, and I’m sure they have all the logistics worked out for that little number, but if I did it they’d be pulling up a corpse. My bowels and bladder would be empty and my lymph and bile would be looking for a way out too.
They’re careful with the zip lines. Guide has you all harnessed in and strapped to the mothership and all you have to do is sit down in your harness and fly. I had a death grip on my harness even though it was not possible to fall out of it, and if it did fail, it wouldn’t matter what I was holding onto. It would be like Thelma and Louise grabbing the dashboard. “Relax!” he advised. Sure! I made it to the next platform and the guy’s buddy nabbed my knotted-up body out of the air.
|Not a platform. Platforms had no railings.|
It was the platform I wasn’t prepared for. It’s the size of a legal envelope and there are ten people on it. We’re all hooked to the tree in the middle; my fingernails are well into the bark. Plus, it’s moving. “Now I want you all to back up to the very edge of the platform and lean back,” he said, apparently not kidding, because everybody did it. “See how much room we have now?” I did. There was lots of space now next to the tree, so I stayed put.
As soon as I got my breathing under control, they pointed us across an undulating walkway fifty feet in the air, made of gapped toothpicks and dental floss, with no handrail.
I did get more comfortable, but I was still not about to fall backwards off a raised platform, as instructed, or sail on my back with my arms and legs out (“dead man style,” the guide said, thoughtlessly), or anything else other than tip myself gently into the void. I know they’re not going to let me die. I know they’re not even going to let me get hurt. I can see I’m tethered to the cable. It doesn’t matter. I have a longstanding policy of not jumping off of things and it’s done right by me so far. It’s wired in. I see a raised platform like that and I’m looking for the gibbet.
|Note launching motion|
But I don’t understand all those other people on the platform who are turning cartwheels and bouncing like fleas. How is it they’re able to do that? Why are they so brave?
“They’re not brave,” my niece Elizabeth said. Elizabeth came along and, as her birthday present to me, positioned herself as the only person on the tour who was obviously more freaked out than I was. “It’s not brave if you’re not scared. We’re brave.”
Damn straight we are. Next year? I’m going to have two slices of birthday cake, and screw the acid reflux.
It looks like tremendous fun, but that doesn't mean I'll be booking a ziptrip anytime soon. Probably there isn't one near me anyway 🙂
And you don't plan to look!
You are brave. I'm a person who generally never says never, but in this case, I think it's a safe assumption that I would never do it, unless someone were chasing me with intent to kill or maim, and ziplining across the void was the only way to escape this fate. And I can say this since your experience is already fait accompli: just last year, here in Delaware, a woman fell to her death from one of these. Apparently she was not attached properly, though it's unclear whether she was the one who messed with the setup or whether it was the guide's fault. Personally, just driving fast and jaywalking are enough of an adrenaline rush for me!
Eww. It would have to be the guide's fault, I'd think. There's redundancy. Two carabiners snapped on one at a time. I DID hear about people getting their hands sheared off and stuff like that…
I won't do it. I think about all the bugs I might eat or that would sting me. It's like riding a motorcycle with no windscreen.
I have to admit I didn't think about bugs. We don't really have a lot of bugs.
Not for me because when I am up there I want to go slow enough to see all the birds and bugs and stuff as well as take photos. A fast ride no longer makes me jolly.
You do get a fair bunch of time between zips, standing on the platforms while everyone else gets zipped.
Hey thanks! Now if I could just hear from them danged grandchildren, Vera, Chuck, and Dave.
I see what you did there… so now I know you're two years older than me. I. Happy Birthday!
I LOVE ziplining!
Finally! You're the first to say it.
Whenever people have birthdays and start talking about how it is time to put on both belt and suspenders……I usually post the video of Grace Slick singing "You're only Pretty as you Feel", but apparently it is such a loose association that no one gets it……whatever….congrats on doing something outside of your comfort zone.
Every time I hear that song, I bust into "I Feel Pretty." Also, witty and gay.
My family went ziplining while on vacation & I was planning on going, too. Unfortunately, I had injured a foot & was in a wheelchair so I couldn't do it. Damn, I REALLY wanted to!!
They should have been able to rig up that wheelchair.
Oh, what fun!
Right across the river, dude!
My wimpy self would probably chicken out, but it does look like soooo much fun.
Thanks. It was middlin' fun. I was still a little too trepidated to give it my all.
What I heard from Devery who treated Jerry to ziplining by Crater Lake – little details like how the heavier you are the faster you go… and how Jerry always volunteered to be the first including the free fall thing… He was a hero on that one. I love the tall man!!!
Me too! Oh, they had a special ramp at the end of one of the zip lines because some people do not have enough personal avoirdupois to make it all the way and someone has to run down and fetch them. Like my niece. I have video of that too.
I haven't zipped for years, but when we were kids we did daft things with a length of tow-rope and an old shackle…
Shackle? Uh, what were you doing with an old shackle? Duh. Zipping.
It looks like fun but I'm starting to worry about heart attacks, so . . .
Did you enjoy it, even a little bit? I hope so! Happy Birthday, Murr!
I'm worried about heart attacks too, but my stupid doctors are not. Of course, it's not their heart.
My mother jumped out of a plane five years ago. Four years ago she zip lined over a wild animal park. This year she flew in a wind tunnel. She just turned 80. Uh, not to make you feel bad or anything.
Dave did the wind tunnel on his birthday. It looked like a lot of fun. But it's a lot of money for two minutes of fun. I'm guessing your mom had always had a boatload more pluck than I ever will.
Long ago I learned how to fly a perfectly good airplane, but jumping out of it never occurred to me. Zipping through the trees seems like a reasonable thing to do even without beer on board.
You really don't have time for the beer anyway. We had one right afterwards!
I had read that when G. Bush the elder was planning to jump out of a plane for his 90th birthday, someone asked Barbara Bush what she thought. Her answer was, "Either way, it's his last jump."
I always liked her. Even when she said that thing about Geraldine Ferraro.