Adventure – Bucket List

In an effort to live life to the fullest, I am checking many adventures off my bucket list. I am excited to share with you my experiences.

I rarely remember my dreams. I assume I dream at night, but when I wake up, I remember nothing. One of the dreams I remember having growing up is flying. I never read comic books, so I don’t know where it came from, but it was exhilarating. Recently I had the opportunity to get as close as I could to flying – zip lining. At the Don Strange Ranch in Waring, I got to live out my dreams safely strapped into a harness.

I have never been afraid of heights. As a kid I used to climb on top of the house and jump off the roof onto the trampoline. Of course, my mother quickly put a stop to that, but I have always been “that” crazy kid – always finding new ways to get in trouble doing something dangerous. I’m sure I came close to giving my mother a heart attack many times, but I had to get that adrenaline rush.

Things haven’t changed much since I’ve slightly grown up. I’m still risking my life to get that blood pumping moment. Which brings me back to the zip lining. As I look up at the cables connected between the tower and the anchor poles my heart begins to race. This isn’t the backyard rope swing. This is the big leagues.

Before flying, though, the “package deal” starts out at the climbing tower. I have learned quite quickly that I have little to no upper body strength. Sure as a kid I used to climb trees, work on a farm and was active in high school athletics. I had some definition, but never really built up much muscle mass. Since graduating high school, my arm muscles haven’t gotten any better. Seeing as I don’t work out anymore, they are closer to non-existent. While standing at the base of the climbing tower, I knew I was going to have a hard time.

Sure you’re harnessed and tethered, but climbing is an upper body sport – that of which I don’t have. Don Strange Ranch is actually the only handicapped accessible climbing tower and zip line in the South. With this in mind, I gathered up my courage (and what little strength I have) and started to climb. I was good for about three hand holds. I never knew my arms could shake so much!

Half way up the tower, my nerves started to get to me. Even secured by harness, my mind started playing tricks on me – making me think I was going to fall. Not one to quit, I pushed through the freak out and gradually made it all the way to the top and rang the cow bell. The view from up high was spectacular – the Hill Country in Spring is truly alive and lush. I was congratulating myself when I realized I had to then get down and trust that the guy who had my rope was not going to drop me while rappelling. Luckily it takes less time to get down than it did to climb up.

Even though the climbing tower was thrilling, I was there to fly. While waiting for my turn, others launches themselves off the platform and immediately flipped upside-down. No, they weren’t falling – this was on purpose, although I have no clue why anyone would want to do that. Finally it was my turn and my excitement built as I climbed the rope ladder to the base tower.

Once on top of the tower, which seemed a lot closer to the ground when I was looking up at it, my nerves started revving up again. As I waited on this swaying structure, I kept repeating – “This is safe. This is safe.” Fortunately my friend Matt saved me from myself. Since the tower has two zip lines, we decided to race, which helped diminish the nerves. Me being the overly competitive type, I leaned back as far as possible on the tower to get as much power behind my takeoff. (I also made sure I counted off to get that slight advantage of knowing when three way coming.)

As I counted off, I forgot all about the nerves and just let go. I threw myself off the platform and was overcome with pure exhilaration. The ground speeding by, the wind making me squint – none of it could destroy my absolute joy – I was flying. All I could do was giggle uncontrollably while Matt flipped upside-down. It was a dream come true (except for the harness digging into my legs). And then it was over way too soon. I wish I could take another run, but the group was off to enjoy burgers – as they were part of the package – at the Waring General Store.

We also had the option to kayak the Guadalupe River, but I was barely sitting upright. The adrenaline had worn off while I was sitting enjoying my burger and my arms were useless. There was no way I would have been able to paddle, especially upstream. That night I slept like a rock, but the morning was difficult. Every muscle in my body screamed as I literally rolled out of bed. (I made a mental note to up my workouts.)

Until technology has advanced enough for everyone to have their own personal jetpacks or transportation is accomplished, zip lining is a great alternative – for now. I think the next step to living out my flying dream is logical: skydiving here I come!

By Leah Bredemeyer
leah@hillcountryexplore.com



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