To Chicken Out

My sister – who I’m pretty sure has met me a time or two (and knows I’m deathly afraid of heights) – gave my family a Heights R Us, Heightstravaganza gift certificate which provided us a set of high-up, hyperventilation-inducing activities at a facility called Cave of the Winds located in Colorado Springs.  [And no, this is an UNPAID shout out…up ‘til now hopefully.  I’m lookin’ at you here, Cave of the Winds.] 

What did these activities include?  The Windwalker Challenge (ropes) Course and The Bat-a-pult (two-person zip line).

Except during a call-ahead-for-more-information, we found out that the Bat-a-pult was down, had been down for a while, and was most likely NOT going to be fixed before they closed for the season.  So they were willing to “trade” our Bat-a-pult tickets for tickets to their newest attraction, something called The Terrordactyl (a freefall “ride” out into the canyon beside which Cave of the Winds is located).  Terrordactyl is  a great name, by the way.  Doesn’t strike fear into the heart or ANYTHING.

So we discussed among ourselves and decided we’d take the trade.  

The only hitch in the giddyup was that Terrordactyl has a weight restriction.  Max of 220 (Hubby was out by a hair) and minimum of 100.  Since Sissy and I were in grave danger of not weighing ENOUGH to partake of the terror (and when I say “Sissy and I” I mean “just Sissy”), we decided to stop at A&W Kentucky Fried Chicken (and no, STILL not paid and now I’m lookin’ at YOU, A&W) for lunch on the way there so that Sissy could drink at least five pounds of rootbeer and thus achieve the weight limit.  This is a completely safe approach to death-defying feats which include weight limits so SHUT IT!

For my part, I ordered two mini chicken sandwiches.  One to eat for lunch.  And one to save for later, after I blew the first chicken sandwich all over the canyon.  Except I forgot about my brilliant plan and ended up eating BOTH chicken sandwiches in one go.  This made me feel worse than ever about the upcoming “adventure” while forever linking chicken sandwiches with fear in my mind.

When we finally got to Cave of the Winds, we decided to “calm our nerves” by going on the Windwalker Challenge Course first.  The theory was that this would buy us some time to screw our courage to the sticking point for the Terrordactyl. 

What exactly IS a Windwalker Challenge Course you ask?  If you picture tightrope walking over the Grand Canyon in gale-force winds then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about.  Yeah, yeah, you’re strapped into a safety harness, blah, blah, blah.  But you’re still on a ropes course three stories tall and cantilevered out over a sheer-drop canyon. 

All this causes my Chicken Sandwich Plan to begin…repeating…on me.  So while Hubby and the kids go up all three flights of rickety rope hell, I go up one flight of stairs, across a beam thing, then go back down the stairs, all the while yelling, “Who is shaking the STAIRS??  STOP SHAKING THE STAIRS!!!”  To which the ropes course attendant politely replies, “Uh, ma’am.  No one is on the stairs with you.” 


Hubby and the kids were up there for an additional 45 minutes after I had abandoned hope (and decided that I now HATE chicken sandwiches).  When they finally came down, it was…duh, duh DUHN!  TIME time, time for the DACTYL dactyl, dactyl of TERROR!  TERROR! TERROR!!!

The plan was that Sissy and I would go first.  Sonny would watch us and see that it was super fun and that we didn’t sheer off and plummet into the canyon and/or accidentally crash into its opposing face and would then ride with either Sissy or I after that, depending on who was up for MORE fun after the first go-round. 

So Sissy and I get strapped in to what I can only describe as a bumper car but without the car.  We’re sitting in non-padded bucket seats and are secured with a total crap shoulder strap in preparation for having the base of the bucket seats pulled up and back until we’re facing straight down INTO the canyon before being released into a freefall that would last until we ALMOST hit the other side of the canyon.  At which point the operator would start winching us up again as we swung back and forth over open space.

Fun, right?

So I’m pantomiming “this is gonna be fun” and “I’m so excited” to Sonny while holding my blow-hole closed so the chicken sandwich doesn’t accidentally come out.  It’s about this time that I realize the ride is shaking in a weird, impromptu earthquake sort of way.  So I look over at Sissy to see if she feels it too.

And when I do, I realize she looks like a Littlest Petshop Puppy.  Her eyes are HUGE.  Huger than the rest of her face.  She’s shaking her head back and forth rapidly.  As I’m wondering how did you DO that;  how did you make your eyes five TIMES bigger than their regular size??  Sissy starts whispering, “No.  Nooo.  [then louder] Noooo! [until finally shouting] NOOOOOOOO!!!!”  Her fear is vibrating the entire ride.

Apparently “someone’s”  courage wasn’t screwed up…quite…high enough.  That elusive rat bastard sticking point!!!  So the ride operator let us out. 

After that, Sonny wouldn’t even LOOK at the contraption, much less go on it.  And me?  I must say that once I’ve screwed my courage to the sticking point, and that point has come and gone?  It never comes again.  Sayonara, Sticking Point.

So Littlest Petshop Puppy and her family left with their tails between their legs.  We did get a new gift certificate and we’ll be back to do the tame(r) Bat-a-pult next spring when the ride reopens. 

I will not be eating chicken sandwiches again.  Ever.  I have discovered a whole new meaning for the phrase, “To Chicken OUT.”

Thanks, Sis.