So there I was, staring down seven stories at a mulch landing pad. The word “Splat” was playfully dug into the ground. But, this was no joke. I had agreed and PAID to jump off of this 70 foot tower. A tower that I quickly realized, I had grown quite fond of not jumping out of. As the people ahead, one by one, pray and jump, I sense my turn quickly approaching. Don’t look scared, your wife is watching, my brain keeps telling me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear it over my heavy breathing and pounding heart.
It was my turn, now.
They clipped the life line to my harness as I stepped up to the platform.
Again, my brain tried to talk me through it. “Your fine. They did it and so can you. Ready, 1,2,3, JUMP!” it said. My legs weren’t listening.
I tried to jump, but my legs didn’t know how to throw me off a building. So, instead they did nothing.
“Oh Sh!t!” I yelled as I leapt.
A fly wheel above my head whooshed as it slowed my decent and gently placed me on the ground. WOOOHOOO! I was ready for anything now.
This was the beginning of an absolute success of an anniversary zip lining adventure.
Wait a second. Before you get upset at me for taking my wife into the woods (again), and pushing her off a 7 story tower, for our first anniversary. This was her idea. An idea I was totally behind, but her idea none the less. She found the place and booked the reservations. She was into it. I promise.
The facility is called Forever Florida and it is great. They call it a Zipline Thrill Park, but it’s more than that. It is also a preserve with deer, pigs, horses, gators, peacock, turkey, etc., roaming the property. They offer more or less adventuress zipline packages, as well as camping, horseback riding and a combo of both camping and horseback where you horseback out to camp, stay the night and horseback back the next day. It’s out in the middle of beautiful cattle country in St. Cloud, Florida.
On the way up, my wife Becca, admitted to being a little nervous. I, in all my bravado, was not. We checked in and waited for our group to be called. Other’s from our group bantered and joked about how scared they were and that they hoped they would make it back alive. Becca seemed relaxed, but still admitted to being nervous. I was unfazed, calm, cool and collected, for now. I was going to do this and look good doing it.
We didn’t know anyone in our group, but everyone seemed and turned out to be friendly and ready for some fun. They piled us onto a huge, lifted, open-air bus, as tall as the double-deckers in London but without a bottom floor. These things looked, sounded and drove like they were homemade by drunk swamp people. I’m pretty sure they were. It all added to the ambiance and fun. We were driven through a natural Florida preserve and shown all sorts of animals.
To get to the ziplines we had to travel a well worn but overgrown road. The giant open air buses were sure to hit every protruding branch which whipped and slapped us the majority of the drive. As we turned the last few bends in the road, we saw the towers peeking over the treetops. They were huge. For the first time so far, a flutter began in the pit of my stomach. We arrived, debarked the “swamp bus” and split into two groups: the Zipline Tour People and the Adventure Pack People. We were with the adventure pack people, who were the minority of the original group. We were given harnesses and helmets, told bad scare tactic jokes and led to the tower.
First things first, we had to climb the 7 story tower’s stairs. This was the only way up and was necessary for every ride. After the adrenalin kicked in (which was immediate), I didn’t notice the climb. As we got to the top, I did notice how much the tower swayed in the wind. It wasn’t a windy day, but the tower teetered and swayed +/- 2 feet in either direction. This really added to the scare factor.
The first ride was the Panther Pounce. As I described, this is a controlled, 70″ drop straight down. This was the hardest to muster up the courage for, the least rollercoaster like, but most fun of them all. It literally brought the biggest, toughest looking guy in our group, to his knees from fear. But, after a lot of drama, almost everyone took the plunge, including the big ol’ scaredy-cat and my beautiful and excited bride. She made sure I went first, which gave her the security to jump next. She squealed with excitement as she jumped. But, her drop was a bit anticlimactic as she was barely heavy enough to pull the line down, let alone with any speed. She didn’t seem to notice as she excitedly skipped away from her landing, smiling from ear to ear.
Now the adrenalin is really pumping and its back up the tower for round two. This time, it’s the Rattlesnake Rollercoaster, which our guide Christian, claimed is the longest and highest zipline rollercoaster in the world. That was fun too, but a bit violent. The harness you have to wear is not easy on the boys (if you know what I mean). Again, Becca wasn’t heavy enough and almost got stuck out in the middle of the course. But, she made it and with a steady smile. The fear was gone and we were really having fun. The whole group was.
Once again, up the stairs to the third and final ride, The Peregrine Plunge. This was an easy but fast one. Two straight, dueling ziplines. It’s a drag race. I could see it in her eyes, she wanted to win. This was going to be good. She decided the left track would be faster and made sure to take that side. We were hooked up and ready.
1,2,3, Go! We were off!
She had the eye of a tiger but the weight of a mouse. I blew past her within the first few yards and enjoyed the ride as she kicked and flailed behind me at a lame attempt to gain speed. Eventually, she finally met me at the finish line where I boasted my lead. I was immediately corrected as she explained, “yeah, well I still won.” I wasn’t sure how she had won, but she said she did, which I accepted in exchange for a kiss.
What a day.
Happy First Anniversary, Baby!
Thank you Rebecca, for your enthusiasm and adventuress spirit. I am thankful for every moment we spend together. I am truly a lucky man.
I Love You.
Thank you to Christian, Heather and all the people at Forever Florida. We had a great time and will definitely be back again.