Saturday, August 25, 2012


Today Wayne, Maya, and I impulsively decided to do the Zip Wild challenge course at Northwest Trek.  All I have to say is "WOW!!"

I am afraid of heights.  I did not want to do this.  However, if I ever want to be on The Amazing Race, I have to be able to do stuff like this (and even more extreme).

When the first obstacle we encountered was a 30-foot rock wall we had to climb, I knew I was in over my head.  Holy shit.  30-feet is high!  Maya went before me or Wayne, and she was so confident--until she got about halfway up.  Halfway up, she had a hard time finding footing, so she was kind of stuck.  She got through it, though!  I was so impressed!  My baby is almost 12, and she is getting so grown.

I got about 2/3 of the way up the wall before I froze.  I simply didn't know where to put my foot!  I wanted to stop right then, but I actually found my footing and continued on.  Once I got to the top, I had to go ahead of Maya, which meant I was the first one from our trio to go on one of the ziplines.  Did I mention that I am afraid of heights?  I didn't care that I was secured by a harness and safety lines.  Nope.  I did not want to do it.  I have to say, the staff who works at the challenge course is really encouraging (even though one of the guys smelled like weed).  A staff member, who was probably 18, was on the ground encouraging me to jump off the platform to do the zipline.  I thought, well, here goes nothing...

and I went.  Ohmygosh.  That was exhilarating!  The setting is absolutely perfect for a zipline challenge course.  Northwest Trek is situated within 500 acres that was donated 40 years ago, and the area where the challenge course is located is lush with greenery and has plenty of tall trees (doug fir) to work with.

I cannot reiterate enough how impressed I was by Maya's strength and courage during this course.  There were a few times that I thought she would not go any further, but she just plowed ahead.  Totally proved me wrong.  Luckily, I was ahead of her and Wayne was behind her because there is no way that I could encourage her the way Wayne did while also trying to keep my own self going ahead.  I pretty much abandoned Maya to let him handle her.  He had no qualms about the course, so I knew it wouldn't overtax his psyche to have that role with her.

On the very first zipline, Maya didn't quite make it to the platform, so she actually went backwards all the way to the middle of the zipline, which was really far.  She had to go hand-over-hand and pull herself back to the platform; however, she noticed a deer in the underbrush, so rather than freak out that she was stuck halfway into a zipline hanging 30+ feet in the air, she was screaming, "I SEE A DEER!!  THERE"S A DEER!!!"  She was so excited, and the deer was completely unimpressed. Maya got back to the platform, and that was the last zipline issue she had.

There was one part that I just wanted to skip.  I simply did not want to do it at all, but I eventually got through it.  This area was also where Maya had the most trouble; she cried.  But she powered through it faster than I was able to go!  I was so proud of her.

When we did the final zipline, I was so relieved.  So happy.  I was also so proud that all of us got through it! Maya and I had huge surges of adrenaline throughout the course.  It was, at times, overwhelming.  I don't think Wayne was as ruffled as we were.  He's always so calm and confident.

After the zipline, we went on the tram.  We have been to Northwest Trek probably 10 times (or more) in our lives, but this had to be the best tram tour ever.  The bison are in rut, and rut makes animals particularly unpredictable.  There was a bull bison in the middle of the tram path, and he would not move.  He was protecting a cow bison, and he just would not move for anything.  The tram driver kept saying, "I don't want to piss him off!"  It was so funny. The keeper had to drive out in his truck and get the bison to move, which they finally did.  We saw moose, mountain goats, big horn sheep, caribou, elk, and more, I'm sure.  Deer.  Yes, lots of deer :-)

Once we finished the tram tour, we were ready to leave.  We were hungry, and to be honest, I was a little post-adrenaline exhausted. We finished our perfect day (and it really was) with dinner at Red Robin and frozen yogurt at Menchie's.

I would highly recommend the zipline challenge course at Northwest Trek; it's expensive ($40/person + regular admission costs), but it was really worth every penny.  It's too bad that one can't pay for only the zipline challenge course since we really didn't check out the Trek except for the tram, which we did only because it began right after we finished the zipline challenge course. I'm glad we went on the tram tour, but I would have been happy to leave right after finishing the course.

Would we do it again?  Yes! Northwest Trek has completed an Extreme Challenge Course, which will be open in September, but the staff has already done it several times.  We saw some of the obstacles, and they do look very challenging.  I don't know if my old heart is up for an extreme challenge!!  However, I think Wayne is already planning for all of us to go.  I honestly thought the ziplines were going to be the hardest part of this experience, but the obstacles were definitely harder for me.

As I said earlier, I was very impressed with the staff.  They were helpful, knowledgeable, and encouraging.  When Maya was stuck, a staff member came right to the area where we were, and she just kept encouraging Maya.  Once Maya was back on the platform, the staff member radioed back to whomever that she was safe on the platform. It feels like you're out there by yourself (or with your group), but really, there is always staff quietly watching to make sure everything is okay.  When you have doubts ("I can't do this!"), they are great at making sure they know you can do it, which really boosts one's confidence.

I'm so glad Wayne made us do this, and I'm really happy that I didn't whine my way out of doing it.

Waiting to start

The test course before you begin the real course

Test course, again, with the rock wall in the background

Test course. The girl behind Wayne had to go three times because she kept forgetting to attach both her caribiners to the safety line.

Starting the rock wall.


Maya stuck in the middle of the zipline.

Getting ready to walk the tightrope.

Yelling at me, "STOP VIDEORECORDING ME!"  

Walking the tightrope.  

Wayne, the last zipline.

Touching ground again after 90 minutes in the trees!

We survived...and we'd do it again!

Friday, August 17, 2012

summer roadtrip

Tuesday at 2am i left my home in Washington and headed with my youngest daughter (11) and my niece (12) to Lake Tahoe to stay a few days with my oldest daughter, who turned 22 today, and her boyfriend.  They rented a vacation home for the week and offered to have us stay with them for some of the time.

It was so much fun, and the timing was perfect-- it was a few comfortable 80* days at Lake Tahoe compared to hot as hell, record-breaking high temp days in Washington.

I have never driven so far (13-15 hours) solo before, but it wasn't so bad.  We left early in the morning and stopped at VooDoo Doughnut in Portland on the way down (at about 4:30am there is no line, btw).  The girls were freaked out a bit because, I don't know if you are aware or not, Portland has a bit of a homeless situation.  Lots and lots of homeless folks.  They line up along the sidewalks in their blankets/sleeping bags.  Maya was really freaked out; I don't know how to mellow her out about homeless people.  She worked at the Mission this spring and was really afraid of the homeless men and women that were served there.  I had to assuage her fears that no homeless person was going to attack us (???).

We stopped again in Ashland for lunch, which I had packed.  Ashland was quaint.  It was very Leavenworthy.  We eventually found our way to Lithia Park, which was beautiful.  I wish we had more time to enjoy the space, but we were trying to get to California as quickly as possible.  I was so afraid of falling asleep, so i took a few catnaps on the way.  I have always been one to fall asleep in the car, so i was hyper-aware of my sleepiness level while driving.  i did not want to doze off.

We finally arrived in Truckee, California, where we met Paige and Harrison at the home of a guy Harrison knows, so we could load his paddleboards on my van.  From there, Paige drove us to the house they were staying in at Tahoe Vista.  It was a great little house tucked up in the woods.

I really loved Lake Tahoe.  I was sad that my husband couldn't come, too, but I told him already I want us to have a family vacation there next year-- all our girls and their respective beaus.

We stayed there Tuesday-Friday.  We left today (Friday) but only drove halfway home.  My awesome husband reserved a room for us at a hotel in a town half-way to home--with an outdoor pool ;-) It was 100* when we arrived here, so a dip in the pool after a long drive was absolutely perfect.