For Christmas this past year, I gave my Dad tickets for the two of us to do a zipline tour together with the stipulation that it must be done when it was warmer.  I’m not exactly what you would call the “outdoorsy” type and he actually owns snow shoes so I recognized the need to be quite specific.

I found out later that he was excited about it….but was terrified of heights.  I had no idea!  My reaction, after disbelief because he is very athletic, was SUCK IT UP because I have RA.

Fast forward to yesterday: the end result was that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

I didn’t know really what to expect- I figured we’d be zipping along through the woods for like an hour and that would be it.  We were both pretty surprised when we checked in and found out it was a four hour trip.

Four hours?  Hmmmm….

We checked in, geared up, met our guides (one of which was an extra in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean but alas doesn’t know Johnny Depp’s phone number), and we were off.

The first line was maybe 20 feet off the ground and maybe 100 feet long.  Easy, schmeezy.  When we got to the second platform, they showed us how to use our gloves to brake and warned of the importance of sticking your hands BEHIND the pulley so that it wouldn’t eat your fingers.  This stuck with me…and later was to blame for me barrelling into a platform full speed and the guide having to tackle me.  No way was I sticking my poor little fingers anywhere near that pulley!  And I have a big bruise on my leg to prove it.

We zipped all through the woods for probably an hour and a half- Dad did GREAT with his fear of heights- until we came to…(insert foreboding music)…a high ropes course.  All I could see were Burmese bridges, plank bridges, cargo nets, swinging bridges.  EEK.

The swinging bridge was first and I made it quite clear that the person who shook the bridge while I was on it would be summarily pitched from the next platform, thank you very much.

I made it through all those bridges and then rappelled (!!!) back to the ground.  We took a quick water break and then ascended another letter to yet ANOTHER hellish bridge.

I tried to find a picture of it but just imagine a rope ladder with one cable on the left for support that goes up 20 feet to another platform.  My Dad went first.  He did ok until he hit the middle- he leaned out the wrong way, surfed a little, lost his balance, and hung upside down tangled up in the bridge for a good five minutes before the guides could untangle him.  It was all fun and games…until I realized I had to go next.

I was nervous.  I really really didn’t want to do it.  But I didn’t want to miss out on the last part of it because I knew my Dad wouldn’t finish either if I dropped out.  So I stepped out gingerly.  I kept my feet as far to the right as I possibly could and leaned forward into the support cable until I was almost in a pushup position.  (Note: I do NOT do pushups.) I balanced myself in this way the whole way up, which I made without falling.

At the top, I had to sit down for a few minutes because my legs and my arms were shaking so bad.

Last bridge was a plank bridge which seems easy except that the slats and arm pieces were obviously made for someone substantially taller than 5’6 and I found myself having to basically propel myself forward and hope for the best on many of them.  I made that too!

It kinda hit me on the last platform when I was rappelling 50 feet back to the ground.  Had I known what that course was, I never would’ve done it.  I never would’ve done it because I never would’ve thought that I COULD do it.  Hell, this time last year, I am positive I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Maybe part of it is because I have always been a girly girl and girly girls do not rappell?

But I totally did. RA and all.

Therefore, I am NITRO.

7 responses »

  1. Wowowowowowow AmandaJohn! You ARE nitro! What an amazing accomplishment, completing an obstacle course like that! Many eons ago, when I was in basic training for the Air Force, we were compelled to run an obstacle course–and we wouldn’t graduate basic if we failed completing any of the obstacles or gods forbid, the course itself. Like your Dad, I’m a complete wuss when it comes to heights. But so determined was I not to have to stay in basic any longer–or to have to run the course AGAIN–I did it in spite of having to climb 40 foot, tilted fences, rapelle on a rope down a cliff, and crawl under barbed wire as fast as possible, all while running between obstacles. My demise came when I had to swing by my hands across bars (like in grade school) over a pond. In February. The bars were spaced widely, I guess to accomodate the men’s longer reach. I lost momentum, missed the bar in the middle… and SPLOOSH. When I crawled out of the pond, soaked to my underwear, there was the instructor. Ohmygod, thinks I. I just FAILED. He looked at me for a moment, arms crossed, then grinned. “Go on,” he said, wiping that quick grin off his face. “You passed.”

    If I hadn’t been so exhausted, I’d have kissed his boots. And what I came away with was that I was much, much tougher than I’d ever thought I was. Facing and completing that course, even with the fall at the end, gave me a new self-confidence that has stayed with me to this day.

    Needless to say, this was about eight years before I got RA. My hat’s off to you, completing that zipline course WITH rheumatoid arthritis–and without the prospect of another two weeks of military basic training as a super-motivation. You’ll never forget this, AmandaJohn. And neither will your Dad. What a wonderful, cool thing to do! I’m very impressed. 😉

  2. Gooood job! Sounds really fun and I bet the memories are now at the top of you and your Dad’s list!
    I so agree that not thinking too much is crucial for us RAers! hahaha
    I went to NYC over Thanksgiving last year to celebrate my 50th. A wonderful gift from my wonderful man! Months before I worried and worried and worried… can I do this, will all the walking be too much, will the cold effect me negatively (I have lived in Florida 17yrs now), what if I flare before/during…
    The 2 things that kept me on track was 1) it was a gift my sweetie worked hard to make happen and 2) it was to make my life dream come true. I grew up dreaming one day I’d go to the Macy’s parade and this was it!
    I too had a great experience, survived and in fact did better than just survive! I impressed myself and had FUN! The cold was not an issue, I physically did fine (even walked 1 day from 37th to 72nd and then through Central Park!) and no flare! (Oh and I fell in love with NYC too 🙂
    We are going back in September and this time I am just excited! No wondering, worrying, wasting energy.
    I bet for your next adventure, you’ll do the same!

  3. Nitro Girl! I looooove it! I will be calling you that from now on! Good on you for doing it. It’s amazing what we can do we we don’t tell ourselves we can’t… 🙂 L

  4. I’d like to know where you did this too. I’ve been on a zipline several times while living in CR. Now that I’m back in the US, I’d love to do this again!

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