Face Your Fears

Well you’ve all heard about the wonderful and exciting time that was had at the Biltmore Estate for the last time with Julianna’s pass. Well, that was *nothing* compared to what was experienced at, yes, the United States National Whitewater Center located right here in Charlotte!!!! Wow!

So in a nutshell, here’s the deal: We (meaning the ‘fun crowd’) started the day with French toast, strawberries and maple syrup… I know, you’re envious already. 🙂 After that we were told that we were driving to a remote location somewhere in NC, but we didn’t have any specifics. So after a quick cleanup and the brushing of teeth, we jumped into “Goose” er, the “Old Grey Goose” and set off. We were in the car for what seemed like minutes with the Beach Boys to accompany us, and in no time arrived at the USNWC and couldn’t wait to hear what we were doing. However, it seems that the main building of the whitewater center was at the end of a long, winding, tree-enclosed, deserted path down which we drove. During the bumpy ride we heard rumors and startling ideas of “build your own canoe”, “hide and seek wide-ranged”, “hiking up steep trails” and such-what. Pete and I didn’t exactly fall for this, but we were afraid that these suggestions would be close to the truth. Thankfully when we parked we were pleasantly surprised to hear that it was nothing of the sort. Not whitewater-rafting, not canoeing <sigh of relief>, no, we were going to do the zipline! Now, at first you may think we were disapointed, but I assure you this was not the case. Anyway, there are two ziplines: One is 100 feet long, 32 feet in the air, the other is 1100 feet long, 57 feet up. No elevators. We were slightly relieved when we were informed that we were to do the “baby one”… and it was not babyish I assure you. Actually, I was a little frightened when we were finally next to it.

Our assistants were Kelly and Amber, who were so sweet and helpful. Thank goodness this wasn’t the kind where you’re just hanging on (for dear life!) to the little handle thing… but, we were in harnesses <gasp!>. Yeah, they’re embarrassing because your pants get bunched up, and your shirt rides up your back making it look strained and pulled, and you have to keep pulling it down, and the straps are so tight (for safety, not by choice) that you look entirely too dweeby to be seen with a group of respected friends, but it’s really not so bad when you’re with your brother, and your sisters, and two people who see it all day long. Anyway, enough said about the harnesses, although it’s important to say that the two (I hate to say it) “wimps” (Morgan and Christine), were un-tastefully snapping pictures… mostly of us putting on the harness (and anyone who’s been rock-climbing or ziplining or any kind of hanging sport, knows that is the worst part to take pictures at).

So basically it’s this tree-house 32 feet in the air, supported by these HUGE trees which have those ‘rock-climbing grips’ attached to it, so Pete and I climbed up together (the whole time racing each other) and were instructed on how to do it. We sat down on the edge, and looked down. Down into the cleared forest where we saw the tiny specks of three people: Morgan, Christine, and Kelly. We waved, and there was some small hand-motion back which was so far away we could hardly see (at least that’s what it felt like). We then leaned forward and fell off the edge. It was a true test of manhood for us, because when you’re sitting down, your harness is completely slack, so when you fall, you really feel like you’re going to fall straight down and die. But a second after the lean-off, we sank into our harnesses and gripped the rope tightly as we swung down easily to the ground. It didn’t feel like as far as I had imagined, but it’s like you get double the fun because you get the entire hour that you’ve paid for. So after many successful and painless jumps, we did it with eyes closed, and hands free. It was *SO-MUCH-FUN*!!!

After an hour of “zip-lining,” we got t-shirts at the main center, and walked away from the joys of the USNWC. As we were on the steps descending to “Goose”, it is notable that we saw our cousins the Stelzls who were there to take pictures of the water! So we departed and drove to Panera (Ballantyne) where we had a fantastic lunch and worked on editing a few pictures taken at the zipline. We have plans to make one into a big poster and framed or something.

Then we headed home, after a long, fun, dehydrating, exciting, eventful, profitable, and all in all FANTASTIC day at the US National Whitewater Center. Oh, and next time, we’re going for the big one. 😉

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