Monday, August 12, 2013

Something Different

My daughter planned a vacation for herself to the Grand Canyon, and I shamelessly invited myself along.

Since this was my daughter's vacation from years of hard work at multiple jobs while taking a full-time course load in college, I let her plan everything and I just went along for the ride.  First on her itinerary was participating in an adventure course just south of Flagstaff.  I opted out of this activity, knowing that I wasn't in the right physical shape to perform it, and knowing that I don't do well with heights.

The set up was similar to a military training camp, but the entire obstacle course was in the trees with each section increasing in altitude and difficulty.  I discovered that I gave birth to a ninja warrior.  My daughter tackled those obstacles like they were second nature to her.  I was blown away.  Not only did she have the stamina, coordination, agility, strength, balance, fitness, speed, and bravery to tackle the course, but she was smart enough to figure out how to do it without help from the guides.

There were a lot of ladders to climb up and down between sections on the course...

There were a lot of logs, ropes, nets, wires, and planks in the sky...

This kind of gives you an idea of how high the course was in the trees...

There were lots of zip lines that got increasingly higher, steeper and faster...

There were also a few rescues taking place...

Many people got so far in the course only to discover that they were exhausted and their muscles wouldn't work anymore, so they were stuck.  Other people froze in fear.  According to one guide, all of this is common and expected.  Some days he had rescued as many as 16 people.  They have a rule that if you ask to be helped down from the course, you were done for the day and you couldn't get your money back.  This is probably a fair rule, because with each rescue, the participants in line behind it have to wait as long as 15 minutes while standing on planks in the trees until they could move forward again.

Rescues consisted of lowering people down with a rope and pulley system.  The rescues were actually pretty quick, because the guides knew what they were doing, but it could be bummer if you got stuck behind someone who was scared and frozen in place, or just moving at the slow rate of one step per minute, but who refused to quit or be rescued.  That happened to my daughter in two sections of the course, but the guides pulled the problem aside and let everyone pass.  Sometimes people would get so wrapped up in their own predicament that they didn't think to step aside and yield to others on their own.  It was kind of like being stuck behind a slow moving motor home going uphill while the driver putts past a bunch of turnouts despite having a line of 20 cars behind him.  (I'm so glad I don't work in Lake Tahoe anymore.)

While rescues took place, I occupied myself by taking pictures of squirrels...


I suspect the squirrels were all laughing at the humans struggling to climb trees.

I've been encouraging my daughter to try out for TV shows like The Amazing Race...

This guide cracked me up swinging upside down from a rescue rope...

We were all waiting for one lady to get over her panic attack and finish the course.  She was so close to finishing that the guides would not rescue her.  Everyone wanted her to feel the accomplishment of overcoming her fears and completing the thing.  So, the other participants just stood quietly in the trees while she rested and tried to gather the strength to move to the finish line.  Each time she made progress, we applauded.  Happily, she did finish, and I've never heard such an uncontrolled river of tears as I did when she climbed down the last ladder.  I was worried that she might have had a nervous breakdown.

The hanging rings looked like the hardest obstacle.  A lot of people did the splits in them.  My daughter's foot slipped all the way through one of the rings and I got scared for her.  Imagine getting your foot stuck in the stirrup, only your horse is up in the tree tops.  She obviously had safety ropes and a harness to catch her if she fell, but I'm sure the whole situation plays with your mind.  A lot of people would panic.  She just laughed over her predicament and figured out how to free herself.

The last zip line to the end of the course...

I couldn't believe that she could even walk to the car after doing all that for three hours straight, but the next day we took a bicycle tour at the Grand Canyon...

Our guide was a lot of fun, really smart, and made sure that we had a good time.  Next time you visit the Grand Canyon, I recommend forking out the cash for a bicycle tour, because the amount and quality of information that the guides give you about the geology, ecology, and history of the Grand Canyon rivals anything you could learn in a semester of college.

This rock overhang is called "The Diving Board"...

No one jumped from it on this day.

Tourists coming down a trail...

On our way back to the bike rental shop, our guide warned us that we were about to approach an elk, and we would need to pass it slowly and quietly.  He said that during mating season in October, the males will chase and attack anything that moves, especially bicyclists.  It turned out to be a huge thousand-pound bull, and it was surrounded by tourists taking pictures.  One man was only about 10-feet from it.  Our guide explained that people often get impaled by elk when behaving foolishly around them.  I guess some tourists don't realize that they are wild animals.  They think they are trained for their entertainment.  He told us a story of a woman who tried putting her child on the back of an elk to take a picture, and complained to some park employee when the elk wouldn't hold still.

The park was getting crowded as we were finishing our ride.  Our ride out consisted of passing one park ranger and just a few other bicyclists and hikers along the path, but our ride back in consisted of a lot of ringing of bicycle bells, a lot of "Excuse mes", and some braking to avoid hitting those who ignored us.  There were so many languages being spoken that the bell seemed to work best to get people's attention.

We had to go fast, because the route was hilly, and it helped to have speed before going uphill, but at the same time there were some switchbacks, so we had to gauge how fast we could make the hairpin turns without wiping out.  I didn't get enough power on a couple of hills and had to abandon ship and walk my bike the rest of the way, so it's much more enjoyable when the bike paths are not crowded.  For that reason, I recommend early morning reservations.

When we drove into the park around 9:00 AM, we only had about four cars in front of us at the pay station, but on our way out in the afternoon, the cars were lined up for miles trying to get in.

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch on our way out, and it had the most amazing tables and chairs...

Their menu said that all their spices were mild and we would have to make a special order if we wanted anything stronger.  I ordered prawns, and I didn't see if the menu included anything about spices for that item.  I believe it just said they were dipped in garlic.  Boy, was I shocked when I bit into the first one.  My mouth was burning like crazy.  Pepper makes my nose itch, so it took me forever to eat them in between all the scratching I had to do to relieve myself.  I think eating those spicy prawns was the scariest part of the trip for me.  They tasted good, but I think I would have rather tried to sit on the back of that bull or zip-lined from a plank 60-feet up in the tree tops.  Okay... maybe not.

9 comments:

Laura said...

Wow - sounds like a great trip with your daughter! I've zip-lined once or twice before, but all of that climbing/pulling stuff would be hard!

I love the pic of you and your daughter - you should get that one framed! :-)

The Grand Canyon is on my list of places to visit - I'll get there some day!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Laura - I like that picture too. The guide took it for us, and he framed it well with nice symmetry. What I find fascinating is how the earth actually looks round in a lot of the long distance Grand Canyon shots I got.

Cut-N-Jump said...

How fun!

Depending on the restaurant and the type of food they serve- all of it can be spicey. Los Dos Molinos (sp?) in town has food like that. Even their green corn tamales pack a bit of a kick to them, but damn the food is good.

Los Gringos Locos as you know is good, Costa Vida by our place is really good and there are several others in town with little to no heat unless you ask for it.

Cindy D. said...

Wow your daughter is quite the amazing young lady! I think you are right, she should go on the Amazing race. Clearly she is smart, and athletic, so if she could find a partner with those same skills, they could do well.

I love the picture of the two of you as well. You both look really happy, and that is always awesome.

Great post!

Katharine Swan said...

What a fantastic trip! I love your pictures, especially of your daughter's adventure course. It looks like you both had a great time on your vacation!

Dreaming said...

Oh, to be young again and have all kinds of energy! Great pictures

Kristen said...

What an awesome post! Thank you for the follow :) I am excited to have found another great blog to read. Today's post was so fun to read - took me back to the ropes course I did at summer camp in the Appalachian Mountains. I have a horrible freeze and panic reaction to hights, so the course was a huge challenge fighting shaking kneecaps the whole way. But, man, overcoming that primal fear was a huge adrenaline rush, and taking the leap off the final platform to a zipline on a trapeeze will live in my mind forever. You are definitely a cool mother daughter team!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Looks like a lot of fun.

I always want to do cool and fun stuff like that but just never seem to make the time. But I keep making plans so hopefully one of these years I'll get around to doing something like that. :-)

Sam said...

The Grand Canyon is one of my favorite parks to work at. ...and I know that restaurant. Try to do a mule ride at least half way down one day - absolutely awesome!

Sam