Pop goes the tweezle (Entry #13)

After the swim/run brick in Coventry, Lynne thought it would be fun to scoot over to Storrs, CT to the new zip-line adventure park that recently opened.  Of course, what else should we do after swimming a 1/2 mile and running 3 miles?  Climb around the trees?  Sure!  I’ve tested my physical state, why not test my mental state as well.

We’d been there a few weeks earlier for our 8-year old son Eli’s birthday party.  I spent the entire time on terra firma because, as everyone knows, someone needs to stay behind to take photos, escort kids to the bathroom and shout encouragement.  It had NOTHING to do with the fact that I have some issues with unprotected heights, tightropes and jumping off platforms hoping that fabric straps will hold me.

But, Lynne didn’t want me to miss out on the all the fun she had with the kids…and thought it would be a good addition to my “Year of Living Uncomfortably” repertoire.

On my way to change after the workout, I realized something very important.  I had no underwear.  In my haste to get out of the house, I had packed everything I needed for the workout, but had forgotten one vital garment for the post-workout.

Luckily, CVS carries underwear (left at the hair-care products, right at the giant bag of Sour Patch Kids, next to the pantyhose in case you need them as well).  The selection isn’t grand, but they had the right size, so I wasn’t complaining.

We made our way to the adventure park and had the same safety session instructor from Eli’s party.  Rick remembered me and quickly ran us through our paces, showing us the “tweezle” connectors that made up our safety harness.  Basically, this device has two clasps, one of which is locked at all times.  To move from one section to the next, you take the unlocked clasp and attach it to the next safety wire.  Then you push the locked clasp against the tweezle, which unlocks it while simultaneously locking the other clasp.  Brilliant.

He then sent us on our way.  We started on the entry level course.  The entire park is up in the trees, with a platform on one tree leading to an “element” you have to navigate to get across to get to the next platform on the next tree.  This repeats until you get to the end of the course via a zip line or some sort of lowering mechanism.

So, it goes like this:  Platform.  Tweezle.  Element.  Platform.  Tweezle.  Element. and so on.

For me it was more like this:  Platform.  Platform.  Deep breath.  E-L-E-M-E-N-T.  Deeper breath.  Shaky hands on tweezle.  Repeat.

Almost all of the elements had some form of instability built into their design.  Some had handholds, some were total leaps of faith (and I’m an atheist), others were almost like doing a Rubik’s Cube, 20-feet off the ground.

While it was fun, I also found myself getting very focused.  My balance, foot placement and core strength were challenged.  Sweat pored from my brow.  My eyes focused not on how high I was off the ground (high enough), but more on each step, hand placement and how close I was to the next platform.  My feet and legs strained to keep me upright on the sawed off logs that served as footholds.

By the time we had completed two courses, I was mentally and physically exhausted.  Lynne, the energizer bunny, decided to do one more run, tackling the blue course, which was higher off the ground and had much more challenging elements.  Needless to say, I made the right move stopping when I did.

With Rick’s encouragement, Lynne navigated the course, enjoyed two long zip lines and trusted me just enough to get her down at the end of the course.  It was a proud spousal moment when I told her to just jump off the platform and trust that the device she was attached to would magically lower her to the ground.

We finished, happy but tired and very, very hungry.  Luckily, my trusted Yelp app on my iPhone directed us to a small Mediterranean restaurant called Sara’s Pockets in Storrs.  Run by an older, friendly, Greek fellow, we ordered food and sat down.  I asked Lynne if she thought it would be weird if I laid down on the floor I was so exhausted.

The man brought over our food accompanied by several repetitions of his catchphrase “Big Pleasure.”  The food was amazing and we savored the meal as we talked about our adventure.

After that, we drove home, both of us exhausted.  I showered and collapsed into my bed, thinking about my full morning of swimming, running and zipping.  “Big pleasure” indeed.

Published June 28, 2013