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zippety-do-dahing along by Leah Jean
Jeff, thanx for asking that question about Patricia's dog's name. I kind of wondered about that too. And just read your new entry. Snickered about the bear poo. Yes, the deer love my apple tree when in season and they leave LOTS of little reminders. Uck!

All of this beautiful cool weather up here in Maryland lately is just wonderful. The ground is still saturated though from all the rains though. But it is nice to run around the yard since the ground is soft. That is also good because I plan on digging in it today. Bought a metal trellis that has been sitting in my laundry room for a few months because of the rain. I'm tired of negotiating around it when doing laundry so I swear I will get it into the backyard this long 3 day weekend. Just hope my feet last though because I injured one foot while doing the zip lines and white water rafting trip about a month ago and it is still hurting. And speaking of ...

Have you all heard of a new fun thing to do called zip lining? If not, let me tell you about our crazy adventure about a month ago. Four of us (Kelly, Hannah, Andy, and I) from work went over near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to spend a morning doing zip lining and the afternoon doing white water rafting. If you want to take a look at the zip line web site go to view photos of the "tour". Otherwise, it would take me too long to describe what we did and saw. Let's just say that it was definitely an experience ... and again ... not for the faint of heart. We were very surprised at how intensive and scary the zip lining was. We were literally among the tree tops! All of the equipment and setup was pretty much brand new and had cost about 3 million to create. Each individual harness cost $1000. BTW, the things weighed about 15 lbs each due to the heavy duty straps and the 2 metal roller contraptions that hooked onto the zip lines in front and back of you. It was kind of like wearing parachute rigging. [I think that it could be a little uncomfortable for the guys if you weren't careful.] ;) If you go to the web site you can get an idea of the distances that the lines and bridges were. The heights were scary! Kelly (the marathon runnger) is (was?) scared of heights. It took her about 15-20 minutes just to jump onto the first very short zip line. [We did have to jump off a boulder that was a little slipper.] But once she got moving there was little hesitation after that. It was pretty safe though because we were always hooked onto something while on platforms, ladders, bridges, or zip lines. The two guides were very safety conscious and sometimes communicated with each other over radios: one at the start of a zip line, ladder, or bridge and the other at the other end.

The zip lines were really fun once we relaxed and got the hang of it. One line you couldn't even see the end of because the cable dipped under the tree canopy and came back up to the next platform. Couldn't even see the platform. You definitely had to trust the equipment. To get to the beginning of the tour you had to walk all the way under the lines, bridges, and platforms to the other end. We were about half way through the tour when some new zippers were walking down under us. Our male guide (he was such a nut) told us to scream like we were really scared when we zipped! Well, Andy did yell but it certainly wouldn't have freightened anyone. I did manage a "Geromino!" once. What was funny though was that Hannah is a petite Asian woman only about 110 lbs. Well, you have to be 120 lbs to make sure you pick up enough speed zipping down to get back up the end of the cable. So she had to double with either one of us or a guide. She doubled with Kelly who is also a skinny but taller person. Afterwords, Hannah laughingly said that Kelly was gripping her too hard around her waist with her legs! And Kelly has strong legs since she's a runer.

The cable bridges were a bit tricky though. Unfortunately about 1/3 of the way thru the tour it started lightly raining. So we stepped a little more careful because things got a little slippery. I only slipped once on the cable bridge though. [You were literally walking on a cable and had to turn your feet sideways to negotiate it.] Plus the more people that got on a bridge at a time, the more they swayed. That made it even harder.

The worst part was the ladders. There were at least 4 double extended ladders going from one already high up platform to the one about 20 feet above it. The platforms, BTW, were fixed to sets of 3 telephone poles cabled together. And they swayed some! So if someone wanted to be a real butthead they could shift their weight back and forth to increase the swaying. We didn't do that though because of Kelly. [We were just happy enough she was with us!] Okay, some of you are thinking, climbing ladders ain't that big of a deal. Well, these ladders went straight up, were on high up slightly swaying platforms, the rungs were wet from rain, and we were carrying 15 lbs of harness with the "rollers" extending out about 4 inches from our waists that ran into or got kind of snagged on things. Plus there were 2 ladders side by side so 2 of you climbed at the same time right next to each other. And yes, we did have cables attached to our harnesses when we climbed so if we fell off we wouldn't fall (we hoped). But it was still awfully scary! I climbed with Kelly and, man, that woman climbed fast! I had to rush to keep up with her! [She's obviously in better shape and carrying a lot less body weight.] But, as we both agreed later, we got thru it quicker because it was making us both very nervous! I got to admit that I almost stalled on the first ladder set but Kelly kept me moving. Maybe that's why they made you do it in doubles.

And that was only the morning!

Then we did rafting on the large Shenandoah River ... which met with the Potomac River at one point. Fortunately this river was a whole lot more peaceful than the one in Pennsylvania. Which was good because we were in individual inflated rafts called Duckies. They are kind of like kayaks because you use a double paddle. Unfortunately Hannah had never rowed in her life and was already tired from the zip line tour. She definitely had problems in the calmer 1st 1.5 miles where you had to row to move. When we got into the faster flowing parts she did better. But it was fun. The sun finally came out about the last half of that trip and everything was beautiful. We saw herons and someone saw a bald eagle. We all negotiated the rapids (level 3 at the most) without too much difficulty and no one turned over. I did get stuck going the wrong direction once around a small island though so a guide had to get out of his duckie and push me back in the other direction. Fortunately I was too busy to be embaressed. The biggest problem with rafting (besides listening to Hannah complain about her tired arms) was the shallowness of the water. This was a very very wide river which was at a lower water level ... in spite of all the rains we had been having. Lots and lots of rocks (mainly very large boulders) were sticking up all over the place so we were constantly getting stuck on them. Remember what I had said about bouncing up and down on our Pennsylvania white water trip to get off rocks? Well, we did a lot of that here. Fortunately I also found that I could stick a foot out of my raft and give myself a push too at times. But I had to be very careful not to fall out of the raft. Once Andy was following a ways behind me in his raft, got stuck, and then yelled at me, "why didn't you tell me there was a rock there?" Laughingly I retorted, "didn't you notice that I was stuck?" Guess we were all too busy looking for rocks below the water surface to pay attention to such little things. There were several times that we tried to stay exactly behind the guides as they wormed their ways between the hazards. But most of the time people got blown off course by strong currents, rapids, or inexperienced rowers doing stupid things. The most fun was a series of rapids at the end which were rough but not treacherous. Got a face full of water a few times between a few good dips. Par for the course. But the not so fun part was carrying our duckies at the end of the trip up a very steep trail. Unfortunately I was paired with petite little Hannah carrying our duckies and she did make an awfully valiant attempt. Fortunately some of the trail guides and other youngsters came back down to help some of us wimpier (and older) people. That last part might have been where I strained my foot. Or it could have been on the zip line ladders. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm thinking of running over to a local park later today (see to check out a "new adventure". It is supposed to be the "largest aerial park in North America" and looks like fun. [Hopefully not quite as high up and scary as the Harpers Ferry one!] Andy has been out of town though for the last few weeks so we haven't made it over yet. I'll keep you all posted.

Ya'll take care! [I'm trying to.]


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