Saturday, September 28, 2013

Zip Lining in Hawaii

This piece is excerpted from a more comprehensive discussion of our recent vacation to Kona, Hawaii.  A vacation that included both sons, along with Kit and Kelly.

Midway through our stay there, the five of us headed out for a drive that took us approximately an hour and a half.  I don’t particularly like long drives, but this one was worth it (maybe).  My two sons (I was hoping for girls) decided that the three of us would go “zip lining.”  You know, where you are hanging onto an ancient, heavily worn-out cable and “zipping” along at 200 miles per hour while five miles above the ground.  Okay, that might be a “slight” exaggeration on my part, but that is exactly what I had envisioned when they mentioned zip lining as something to do.  Why I had originally agreed to do such a thing is beyond me?  For three or four days, I kept thinking to myself, “What was I thinking?  Were the boys intentionally trying to induce a heart attack to collect on my non-existent life insurance policy?”  I had all these visions of plus screaming down the hill while wetting my pants.  I kept telling myself, “Remember to bring a change of clothes.  This could prove to be quite embarrassing; especially in front of Kit and Kelly.”   Let’s face it; I had a macho image to uphold, right?

Anyway, the hour of reckoning was soon upon me when we arrived at the site.  The first thing the company had us do was to sign a waiver holding them blameless for any loss of limb or life.  Yikes!  My fears were now compounded ten-fold.  After signing my waiver, I swore, then and there, that I would get even with my sons for what was about to happen.  One by one, the two guides placed each of us in upper-body harnesses, along with an ill-fitting helmet for me that bore evidence of having been riddled with massive dents.  Needless to say, my imagination ran wild as to the source of those dents.  Was I about to add to those dents?  I was only a half-hour away from finding out.  “Lord, have mercy on me,” I prayed over and over.

With the three of us, plus another couple, about to jump into a van that would take us higher up the mountain, I went over to Kit, gave her a kiss and said, “It was nice knowing you.”  Of course, it was easy for her to find humor in those words as she wasn’t the one going zip lining.  It wasn’t her life being put at risk.  She then looked up at me and said, “Yes, it was nice knowing you.”  OMG!  She has obviously been around the boys way too much.

By this time, the guides were starting to get a little tired of my stalling tactics and ordered me into the van.  While in the van, I kept my eyes closed all the way up what had to be the tallest mountain in the world.  It seemed to take forever to get to the first of seven zip lining stations.  Brendan later informed me that the ride was only twenty minutes in duration.  Personally, I think his sense of “time” is way off.  Possibly caused by too many drinks the night before.  That’s my side of the story, and I’m sticking to it.  Perception is reality, you know.

Note:  There were seven “jumping off” platforms in total.  Each one longer and higher (from the ground) than the one before it.  As I stood on the first platform, I could see that it appeared to be at least a mile-long  – even though the sign on the platform read fifty yards.  Whoever made up that sign clearly had no handle on distance.  Most likely, American schooled.  Because I was brought up to let others go first, I was the last of the five to go screaming off the first platform.  The elderly lady who went first never made a whimper.  I’m thinking just maybe she was blind – what you can’t see won’t scare you.  That’s the only excuse I could come up with for her lack of screams on all seven jumps.  Either that or her husband loaded her up with anxiety medications.  I wish I had thought of bringing some.

I begged the guide to allow me to walk to the second platform because I found this first jump to be non-challenging and made for children – something I felt was beneath me.  The next thing I knew was the feeling of a slight push on the back, and away I went flying (ready or not).  What seemed like a one-hour flight on the overhead cable was probably no more than 20 seconds.  As it turned out, it was pretty cool; except for trusting that the cable wouldn’t break.

I won’t bore the reader with the next five jumps.  With each “flying through the air” experience, I gained more confidence as we went along; except for trusting that the cable wouldn’t break.  The seventh and last of the runs was to be the longest and highest.  I’m not sure as to the actual length of the run.  I just knew that I couldn’t see the end of it.  By this time, however, the word “fear” was no longer part of my vocabulary; just the part about trusting that the cable wouldn’t break remained with me.

This last jump would take us directly over a large waterfall that appeared to run to the center of the earth.  In actuality, by the time I was directly overhead, I was a mere 3,000 feet above the bottom of the waterfall.  And to further live up to my “macho man” reputation, I even took a series of pictures with my camera as I sailed over the waterfall – using no hands to hang onto the harness as I snapped the pictures, I might add.  Pretty brave, huh?  Would I do zip lining again?  In a heartbeat.

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