I stepped up to the edge of the wooden platform and felt the ropes tugging on me. The harness was tight, but I was still nervous. I turned and looked up the hill behind me.
Uncle Roger was up there watching. I gave him a look that would obviously tell him how incredibly nervous I was to throw my body off of a cliff as I was about to do, but not so nervous that I would back out of the deal. That was the whole reason to go to Catalina Island this past weekend, after all. I swallowed loudly with Uncle Jim, the Producer of the show, standing at my side. He was harnessed too, and I was fairly certain he wouldn't be far behind me once he passed off the video camera to my Uncle.
I took a deep breath and barely remember the guide counting to three as she put a slight amount of pressure on the small of my back, urging me onward. I stepped out over the edge...
"If ever there was a chance to step off a cliff and not die, this would be it," I thought to myself.
I nearly held my breath, but instead managed to breath out slowly as my feet left the platform and I huddled into the Cannonball formation as I was told to do. There I was watching all around me as my body was flung gracefully from one side of the green canyon to the other as fluid as a bird in flight. I opened my mouth and screamed as loud as I could, not in fear but in the pure thrill of the moment. When I ran out of breath, I sucked in another mouthful (completely ignoring the bug I inhaled) and screamed again. I echoed all the way across the canyon, overjoyed at the momentum and propulsion. Physics was truly a wonderful thing.
There were 6 platforms in total, meaning a whole 5 zip-lines from one platform to another. I didn't scream on the second line nearly as much, though I did do my signature scream-giggle that I always seem to let loose with on roller coasters. On the third, the guides encouraged us to scream, so I let loose with a whopper. It was faster than the others had been, so screaming came naturally.
Each time I walked to the edge of the platform and jumped into the abyss, I half way thought I would fall, but in no time at all I was flinging myself off with a running start at the edge. I felt like the fearless teenager I once knew myself to be, bold in the face of danger, laughing when others would cry, never afraid to try anything at least twice. I was a kid again, thanks to my Uncle Roger.
On the very last platform, they encouraged us to play around a bit, but never to take both hands off of the zip line handles over us. I instantly knew what I was going to do.
Just as I flung myself off of the platform, I switched hands and turned around completely. Then I removed one and began to wave directly at the camera, and at Uncle Jim holding it. I waved for a while, completely backwards and hurdling through a wooded terrain towards a platform not 20 seconds away from me. Finally I turned back around and air-walked the rest of the way in to the finish line.
The Zip Line tour at Catalina Island was an incredible adventure and one I'll likely never forget as long as I live. The next time I have an out-of-town guest with me, I know that's something we won't miss out on. I'll have to make our reservations way in advance though, they're usually booked solid.
Be sure to catch the episode on "Out and About with Roger Martin" when it airs soon!