How I Overcame My Fear of Roller Coasters and Zip Lining
I loved 5th grade. It meant being the oldest and coolest (or so we thought) in our elementary school. We also went on a multi-overnight trip to the outdoor learning center. I loved exploring the outdoors with my classmates.
Then it came time to zipline.
Climbing up, I came face-to-face with the hand grip … and a grip of reality. It was a simple zipline. Just grab and go. No belts. No helmets. The wire wasn't high off the ground and it was a short ride that ended on a bale of hay.
What did I do? Climbed back down.
That was the first of many escapes.
One of my favorite places to go in the hot, hot, hot Texas summer was Six Flags Over Texas Amusement Park. However, I balked at riding on the roller coasters.
Instead, I played it safe with the antique cars, Conquistador (swinging Spanish ship), El Sombrero (giant spinning hat), and the water rides.
An unexpected surprise at summer camp
When I was 12 or 13, I went to a summer camp in Colorado. I loved riding horses there and waking up to brisk mornings. One day, I hiked with a group. We stopped and began donning harnesses, gloves, and helmets.
It turned out we were to rappel from a short cliff.
Then it was my turn.
Unhurriedly, I walked to the edge of the cliff and turned my back, taking no notice of the ground below. It felt like time moved slower than rush hour traffic. I stood frozen in time, so it felt.
Finally, I nudged my feet back, taking teeny steps.
A few more steps. (All this happened in mere seconds, but it felt like 10 minutes.)
There I was on the top of the edge, parallel to the ground. My body turned rigid. My heartrate accelerated.
Eventually, I weakly pushed off.
By the time I reached the halfway point, my confidence kicked in. And I pushed off harder as I floated toward the ground.
At long last, my feet hit the ground.
Elation. Relief. Pride.
That landing opened the door to the next challenge.
Another trip to Six Flags. This time, I pushed myself to head to the line for the mini Mine Train, the ideal roller coaster for first-timers. It stayed low and slow compared to the biggies.
And I loved it! So I went on it again.
It built my confidence.
Eventually, I worked my way up to the regular Mine Train and the Shock Wave with its double loops that sent riders flying upside down.
Since then, I've visited many amusement parks and enjoyed all the rides. Well, except the ones that spun fast. It wasn't an issue of fear, but one of vertigo.
All those years later, I never forgot that zipline in 5th grade. I had been searching for an opportunity to try it again.
A gym where we held my older son's birthday party had a small one. Instead of landing in a haystack, you landed in a giant foam pit. Easy stuff.
Then, my younger son's Boy Scout Troop had a family campout. By this point, I was a mom of three celebrating my 25th anniversary a couple of weeks later.
What do you know? The camp had twin ziplines. A simple one high off the ground. We had to wear helmets, gear, the works.
My husband, our son, and I lined up for it. The young'un went first. He promptly stepped down and skipped it. Just like his mama in 5th grade.
Oh, boy. Talk about making me more nervous.
I was going to do this … side-by-side with my husband.
And we did.
Opening the flood gates on adventures
I loved the experience!
That was the little zipline that could.
Not long after that, I went to a ropes slash zipline course out of town.
I loved that more than the ornery zipline! It lasted longer and mixed it up between zipping and climbing.
Then, GoApe announced it planned to open a location in Plano where I lived. (!!!)
In its grand opening summer, I ziplined and climbed happily ever after three times at GoApe Plano.
It built my adventurous spirit and prepared me for a hardcore zipline a few hours away from home. Unlike GoApe where you had nice and safe landing spots on the ground, you landed high in up in a tree. This meant braking yourself AND at the right time.
I survived! OK, so one landing caused my friend's and my hearts to skip a beat.
I did it thanks to all the practice at GoApe.
No more stepping down like I did in 5th grade.
When's the next adventure?
Meryl K. Evans is a digital marketing pro from Plano in the Lone Star State. When not experimenting with content, she ziplines, goes to GoApe, gets her Orangetheory Fitness fix, relishes books, fancies geeky stuff, and recalls useless facts.
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