Daily Archives: July 13, 2010

My latest adventure in the air (this was safer than skydiving)

I’m not exactly sure how my fear schedule got reversed from that of most people.

I thought it was supposed to be that you had no fear when you were a kid, and as you got older you got more cautious.
I seem to be going the other way in my life. When I was a kid I was scared of all kinds of things, and now in my mid-30s, I’ll try stuff I never would’ve done.
That’s how I found myself, with my lovely wife, soaring 50 feet above the ground on a Zipline, flying 25 miles per hour toward a platform 600 feet away.

Or, you know, a typical Saturday.
It all started, as so many inspired ideas do, with an episode of “Run’s House.” The Simmons clan was doing a zipline adventure in Hawaii, and Julie and I both saw it and thought it looked cool. Then she remembered that a friend of hers from work told her about this cool Zipline Safari you can go on through the wilderness of Florida.

“Awesome!” I exclaimed. For the historical record, she was enthusiastic about it, too.
So last Saturday we drove 2 hours to St. Cloud, Fla., and go on our adventure. First you take a 15-minute bumpy ride into the wild on a jalopy that I swear was used in the 1940s. Then, the two of us joined a group of eight others in front of Matt and Anna, our Ecoguides for the day. We put on the equipment (it took like 20 minutes, seriously; these safety harnesses had more interconnecting, locking metal than you could imagine), and then climbed the stairs for our first zip. (Is it called a zip? See, I don’t know the terminology).

On the first zipline I was scared, quite a bit. Even though I knew, in my head, that there was no way the line was going to break and I was going to plunge to my death, it still felt dangerous basically walking off a platform.

But damn, soaring through the air and trees did feel good, if I could just stop clutching the damn rope so tight.
By the end of the second zipline, I felt much more confident, and my grip got looser. I saw some amazing trees, a few deer, and quite frankly, the only scary part after the first jump was the huge tower of stairs we had to climb, which was kind of unsteady.

I don’t want to say zipline riding is like skydiving, because it’s not. It is kind of like flying though, and you feel incredibly serene just riding above the ground like that.
As for my wife, well, she didn’t get quite the thrill out of it I did. She was freaking out immediately after the first jump, and after the second one she was shaking like a Mike Tyson opponent before the fight.
She was ready to quit before the fourth one, which was the longest and highest. But she soldiered on, and made it through the whole course.
Of course, I’d have better luck getting her to watch an entire NFL game with me, than doing it again. But hey, ziplines aren’t for everybody.
I totally recommend it, if you’re in Florida anytime soon. The guides are incredibly helpful and safety-conscious, you see great animals like porcupines, tortoises and macaws, and it’s an absolute thrill to float above trees every once in a while. Here’s the website for the place.

But one tip: Not a good idea to crash into your guide at 25 miles per hour, backward. Trust me on that one.

Still, it’s safer than doing this: