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Zipping through the Bucket List

27 Dec Posted by in • Guest Writers | Comments Off on Zipping through the Bucket List
Zipping through the Bucket  List

Okay, people, winter is nigh and you might be thinking of a trip to a place like Costa Rica or some other lush forested locale where you might be tempted to relax, sit by the pool, go to a spa, or try the current vacation craze, a zip line adventure. May the force be with you.

When my mate suggested we do a zip line through the trees in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I knew it was way outside my comfort zone, but I had read the brochure. “Family fun.” “Ages 9 and up”. “A stunning view over the tree canopy.”  “Several zip line adventures, from beginner to pro!”

How bad could it be? I don’t know what I pictured. Maybe a starter zip, a zipline light, a mini-zip. I felt sure we’d be on the bunny slope of zip lines.

I was buttressed into my gear, complete with helmet and body harness, then lectured on safety by a Paul Bunyan-like 20-year old. When the instructor offered advice about controlling flight speed, reality bit. For me, was the “appropriate clothing” suggested by the brochure a diaper?

Nervous and weighed down by gear, I toddled off to the zip site. Then the guide said “For the first zip we will launch from the ground.”

FIRST??  I saw the enormity of my blunder.

The guides attached me and my industrial strength canvas harness to a block and tackle pulley system, on a cable between the ground and a teeny tiny platform on a tree a mile down the mountainside. I was about to zip into the next zip code.

“Stand on this boulder, crouch to a sitting position and gently push off,” said Big Foot the guide. Great, I can’t do squats at the gym and I’m supposed to squat on a rock? I felt like a Sumo wrestler trying for the lotus position.

“And if you feel yourself spinning right or left, simply turn into the spin, like a car turning into a skid in the snow.” Crap. I never understood that concept. .

I could feel the muscular guide’s open hand on my back, gently suggesting it was time for me to slide my scrunched- up torso off the boulder and down over the trees.

Zippedy do- daaauuugggghhhhh!!!!!!

I hit the air, the harness locked to the cable and I was off, semi-squatting, screaming, arms in the air, hanging by my thighs and crotch. What part of the word zip didn’t you understand, you moron?  God, don’t let me pee!

I started to spin, helpless to right myself, zipping backwards toward the tree platform. “Incoming! Incoming!” I howled, sure I’d wipe out the unfortunate mountain man poised to snag me.

Apparently there was a wood block rigged to stop my forward motion, which, when I hit it, sounded like a gunshot. But no such luck. Unshot, marginally alive, I was passed, like a sack of Idaho potatoes, from one athlete to another to get rigged for a second zip.

When my spouse landed on the platform behind me, I spat ““I’m going to kill you!” just as the guide instructed me to jump off.

I gaped at the tree tops below. I was supposed to leap into mid-air, trusting the skinny cable to keep me from free fall?  I’d rather die than bungee jump. I can’t even jump into a swimming pool for pity’s sake, much less sky dive! What am I doing here?

“I can’t do this.” I muttered.

“You have to,” said Sasquatch. There’s no other way down.”

By this time, zippers were piling up behind me as I stared, paralyzed, into the void.

“But I can’t…. Auuuggghhhhh!!!!!” Jumped or pushed? We’ll never know.

What beautiful tree canopy??? With my eyes shut I could have been zipping over the county dump. And it’s funny about gravity. The featherweight nine year olds had time to look around, but this big dyke came zipping down the line like a freakin’ space shuttle.

Zooming into the next outpost, hands in a death grip at the harness holds, praying I wouldn’t kill anybody, I wound up suspended in mid air, swinging like a fresh side of beef.

I mouthed “I’m going to kill you” to my mate, who appeared, dangling behind me, refusing to make eye contact.

Mentally, I filed for divorce as I was once again shuttled between a gaggle of outdoorsmen, who unclipped my cables, re-clipped me to other cables and hinged me to the zip line. Had anyone ever become unhinged?  Physically, I mean. I was already mentally unhinged.

“Get ready for Zip Three!” yelled a bulky teenage guide, who suddenly grabbed me and tightened my harness so thoroughly I wanted to ask if he’d at least buy me dinner first.

“Off you go!” he hollered, sending me down the mountain at lightning speed. This time I faced forward,  and, picking up speed, screamed  “Cowabunga!” hoping not to have a coronary. I opened one eye to see trees flying by and a look of terror on the face of the poor schnook waiting to break my fall.

Thud!. I practically flattened him, but he kept us both upright and rigged me for zip four.  As I clenched my eyes and prepared for takeoff, I heard him say to the person I was formerly married to, “Things are getting better. This time she didn’t say she was going to kill you.”

Okay, so I came shrieking in for yet another klutzy crash landing, then had myself shackled and lashed to the line for the final zip. This time, the ride was tricky. I zipped down, then, by gravity, zipped up because the line stretched back up to a high tree. From there, gravity sent me down again, like a skateboarder on a half pipe, not that I’d know from experience. I zipped back up and down two more times like Cirque du Soliel before settling in the middle of the cable, hanging like a pair of underpants on a clothes line. That’s so they could yell “smile!” and take a picture.

When they got a ladder to offload me, my legs were rubber, my arms felt like lead, and even my hair was clenched. But I was happy to be on the ground, not in it.

“Well, what did you think?” ventured my spouse. “Are you proud you did it?”

Truth is, yes, I was proud. Quite pleased with myself, actually. And at least New Hampshire’s motto, Live Free Or Die, was not put to the test.

“You want to go again?”

“Zip it,” I said. “From now on I do my own bucket list, you do yours.”

“What’s next on your list?”

“Zipping through a bucket of martinis.”

And so I did, safe in in the knowledge that I don’t need a cardiac stress test. Been there, done that. Cowabunga.

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