Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Testing My Fear of Heights

I'm sure everybody is just dying to hear what I did on my summer vacation to Colorado. But you may actually be entertained, so stick around for a few minutes and read this little post.

Let me first give you some background. When I was a baby, my dad threw me up in the air like most dads do...once. And he caught me too...once. After my father caught me, I grabbed on to his chest hairs with my itty bitty fingers. Dad said he believes I may have sprouted claws on my toes as well because I was stuck to him with all fours like some kind of marsupial clinging for dear life. I'm sure he got a nice patchy waxing when he finally disengaged me. So folks just didn't toss me when I was little unless they wanted to get a thrill out of torturing a baby. And some did. I guess even before I could walk, I had a keen instinct about the proper placement of the human foot upon the ground, and that G-forces were not my friend. I haven't changed. I have always hated the feeling of falling. For a while I hated being called a chicken but I got over it.

I wouldn't have been such a fun passenger for my Uncle Ralph, who had been quite a fighter pilot in Vietnam, when he used to take family members up in his plane for kicks. This week he told the story of how he took my cousin and her husband on strafing runs on their wedding day. Basically he took the plane high, turned, then dropped them drastically, buzzing innocent civilians on the ground. One farmer even took cover under his truck after my dear uncle got a little too close. He said at one point he forgot he was in a small plane, and was back in his fighter jet in Vietnam. He took it straight up until he felt like it was beginning to drop back, realized where he was, and had to figure out how to correct the plane before they plunged to their deaths. My cousin was totally pumped from the adventure. Her husband didn't last long. Never met him. I needed a paper bag to breathe into just hearing the story.

This same fear kept me from climbing 100 feet to the top of Bishop's Castle (which you just have to see).

And I didn't scramble up on the rocks when I met with Stacy (yay) at the Garden of the Gods either.

While visiting discovered we have two things in common. You can see in the picture above that we both have freckles on our necks where a charm should be. What you can't see is that we both share a terrible fear of falling.

So we ambled around on the concrete path, and stood far back on the high balconies overlooking the cliffs.

So why did I get on that helicopter to take my family on a scenic trip over the Royal Gorge? Because I figured with two little kids, and a tight seat belt I was safe. I also thought you had to pay extra for the special post-traumatic-stress-disorder ride.

Here I am in blissful ignorance. Sitting with my back to the pilot, who is also a Vietnam vet, with a face full of burn scars to prove it. I had no idea I was about to do a helicopter pilot's remake of the Uncle Ralph Flashback.

After this picture was taken, I hear in my headset "Let me know if this gets too intense for anybody, and I'll take it down a notch." A half second later, he takes the chopper up 45 degrees, banks to the right, and drops us at a 90 degree angle into the gorge. It's amazing how quickly one's ability to speak can become hampered by involuntary bloodcurdling screams. Coincidentally, I believe it may be exactly one half second. Of course I wanted to tell him "Excuse me sir, but this is a bit too intense for me, and I would like for you to take it down a notch, please." But instead, I clenched my eyes shut, and screamed until I ran out of air, reloaded, then screamed until I ran out of air again. My family tells me I did this three times. Hubby actually had time to make the decision about whether move the mik on my headset or to take a picture while I was in the midst of this deafening hysteria.

That is one hell of a deep gorge.

No, he didn't get the photo. He decided to save everybody's ears, and move my microphone. I've never screamed like that in my life.

Yes, Colorado was ridiculously beautiful.

Thankfully, I got to see the rest of it from a steady upright position.


Still Stacy said...

Dood, you are not sane. I wouldn't take that ride for free.

Michele said...

Sadly, it cost $225.

Preston Taylor Holmes said...

The other thing you two have in common is that you're both gorgeous. Aw yeah.