Last Friday, my sister Kathleen and I, along with some of her former co-workers and 50 other brave souls, met bright and early at the YMCA in O'Fallon, MO, for a bus trip to the Trout Lodge at the YMCA of the Ozarks in Potosi, MO.
The day started out great. The early morning weather was sunny and mild with just a hint of clouds. Before we boarded the bus, our hosts at the Y provided fruit juice, bottled water, and brown paper sacks of snacks for our trip.
Due to an accident on the highway, the bus ride took longer than expected, but we enjoyed a movie on the way.
Because of our late arrival, Kathleen and I weren't able to participate in the GEO-caching event that had already begun. In a nutshell, the task involves taking a GPS tracker and making your way through the woods using longitude and latitude markings to find landmarks. Maybe next time.
Instead, we joined some friends for a pontoon ride around the lake. Our pontoon driver/guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She pointed out special features of the lodge, the horse trail ride path, and the location of a pair of eagles' nest. Her passion came through as we rode across the lake.
During lunch, the weather took a turn for nasty, but we were safely inside the glassed-in dining room, with a spectacular view of the lake, as hummingbirds flitted about their feeders and lightning zigzagged across the dark sky.
Also during lunch we debated if we should try the zip lines. We decided if it rained we wouldn't do it. By the time we finished eating, the sun reappeared and clouds fluttered away -- so did our excuse.
Our group of ten was last to go, so after walking about half a mile to the launch site, we were able to observe the first group and get some tips before getting harnessed up and ready to soar.
When Kathleen took to the platform I watched for her reaction. For years she's wanted to try zip-riding, but has been talked out of it. But after seeing men and women in the first group in ages ranging from their 40s to their 80s take to the platform, she worked up her courage, and so did I.
After putting on a helmet, we were instructed to run from a platform down an incline, where we would be launched. After a successful first trip she was handed a noodle to try and hit a red-white-and-blue target at the end of the ride. After hitting the target, she returned with a huge smile and a thumbs up.
So far, so good.
My first trip was amazing. I ran off the platform and down the incline and was lifted into the sky. My ride lasted only a few minutes, but the view was lovely. Zipping past evergreens and the winding trail below, I had a great view of the dogwoods in bloom.
Not to be outdone by my sister, I decided to try my luck at hitting the target with a noodle and opted for blue to match my helmet. Just before my ride began I asked for final instructions on how to hold the noodle while also holding onto the rope.
Um. I was so focused on my hands I forgot about my feet. I made it off the platform then stumbled on the incline.
I scraped the top of my right foot and twisted my left knee--the one I've had surgery on. Ouch!
But I persevered. Although my dignity took a hit, I held onto the noodle, swatted but missed, the target, and finished the ride.
After removing my helmet and harness and being treated for a flesh wound, I hobbled back to the lodge. My knee swelled up, and it has been painful to walk on, and much to my disappointment I missed the Heart Walk on Saturday.
You might wonder: Would she do it again?
Yep. I would. It was an amazing experience, a feeling of gliding through the fresh air among tall trees with the ground below.
But next time I think I'll skip the noodle.