Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life. ~Ian Fleming
On Wednesday, I surprised Kyle with an adventure to the Laurel Mountains. What did we do? We ziplined at Seven Springs!
I’ve never done it before but I always wanted to and I guessed Kyle concurred with this bucket list item. While it wasn’t as exotic as ziplining in the Amazon, it was a lot of fun. Pennsylvania has a lot of venturesome nooks and crannies worth exploring.
Kyle’s birthday is always a celebration, one we all look forward to every year. The gifts have always varied in price, practicality and complexity, yet the goal has always remained the same, to introduce Kyle to new adventures and opportunities for personal growth. My gifts may not all be extravagant, but they’re always unique and given from the heart.
Sunday was Kyle’s actual birthday and I didn’t tell him his birthday surprise. To keep him on his toes, I simply informed Kyle he was spending Wednesday with me. Instantly, Kyle’s interest was peeked and I gave him a hint to wear tennis shoes and comfortable cloths. It didn’t take long for the gears in his head to begin churning. He enjoys surprises but he can’t handle them. He gave me a look and I stated, “Kyle, have I ever disappointed?” He didn’t answer but knew I always brought my best game.
Missing Kyle in the worst possible way, I picked up my little man midday Tuesday. Pleasantly, I found him in a good mood and not being difficult. We hung out at my parents, since their house was closer to Seven Springs. We ate, watched movies and enjoyed each others company, like the old days when he was a kid. A perfect evening if you ask me.
Funny story. As habit has recently dictated, I switched seats with my new driver midway up the ridge. Instead of having Kyle pull into mom and dad’s driveway, I had him put the car in reverse to go up the hill for additional practice. He certainly found it more challenging. We snaked around a bit and kicked up stones. As I was sitting in the passenger seat, I thought, Dad‘s probably watching and wondering what’s wrong with me? I was right. When we got out of the car, (that was parked very crooked) I saw Dad take note Kyle was the driver. Dad started grinning and said, “I was wondering what the hell was wrong?” Kyle cracked a smile thinking it was funny to fool his pappy.
On Wednesday, Kyle rose from his beauty sleep around 7:30 am. Without prompting him, he jumped in the shower, ate and strapped on his tennis shoes and was ready for his day of fun. He still didn’t know what I had in store for him but he was game for anything.
On our way up the mountain, Kyle started guessing our activity. His first assumption was Caddy Shack for Go Cart riding. Nope. Then, I saw the light bulb. With conviction he said, “Oh, I know, where we’re going. Seven Springs! That’s the only thing up here.” I retort, “Not necessarily buddy, there’s other things to do in the Laurel Mountains.” I must not have been convincing because the next thing I knew, I was unwillingly participating in 20 questions.
By the time we made the right at Sarnelli’s and then the left to take us directly to Seven Springs Kyle knew our final destination, but he didn’t know what we were doing. That stinker pulled up the Seven Springs website and began naming all the activities to get me to bite. Funny enough, the ziplining was on a separate page, which I knew but he didn’t.
While parking the car and on our way to our render-vous point, Kyle kept saying, “I named everything, it has to be one of those.” Maintaining my excitement, I smiled and responded, “Well, that’s not what we’re doing. You didn’t name everything” To only have Kyle retort, “Yes I did. It has to be one of those! We’re going hiking aren’t we?” I laughed. He didn’t say hiking with disdain like he usually does, but not with excitement either.
Kyle wouldn’t let it go. Once we entered the offices to sign in, it dawned on him, he was missing an adventure. Seeing the sign for the Canopy Laurel Ridgeline Zipline Tour his face lit up and confidently he stated, “The only thing I didn’t say was the Canopy tours.” Ding. Ding. You got it! I only smiled and he couldn’t resist giving me a smile back.
Throughout the offices were large wall sized photographs of ziplining experiences. Kyle was pleasantly surprised. Actually, he was seriously excited and couldn’t contain it!
We met the rest of our group and they were very cool people from the Penn State area. In fact, when they heard this was Kyle’s birthday present they joined in wishing him a happy birthday and expressing what a perfect birthday present. We also found out Kyle and this lady (Karen) shared the same birthday. What a neat coincidence.
Normally on the weekends, the ski lift takes the adventure seekers to the spot to begin, unfortunately, we had to take a van. The drive was like riding dune buggies over treacherous terrain, there and back again. After ziplining and on our way back down the hill, Kyle laughed and said, “Did you see him spin out on the gravel around the turn?” It was funny. I said, “You should give him some driving lessons.” Kyle laughed!
At the first platform, the last person up the ladder was to zip first. Kyle, who normally likes to be first, moved slowly and stayed toward the back of the line. I turned to him, “So, you want to go first?” It really wasn’t a question but a confirmation. The rest of the group noticed and cheered for the “birthday kid.” Like I said, great group of people.
Before we took the plunge, I whispered to Kyle, “Watch, I’ll probably project myself into a huge patch of poison ivy.” Kyle snickered and snapped back, “Or a tree.” What? I said, “Why would you say that?” Kyle giggled and the others heard us and chuckled.
I felt like a monkey zipping from one platform to another. The first few were shorter and they progressively got longer and faster. The longest was 1,500 feet and the second longest was 1,400 feet. Because of the way the lines were located on the second to the longest line, it slightly assended to the platform. Meaning, anyone light needed to cannonball their way to keep their speed going to the end. I thought I weighted enough so I was good, not really. I left my legs dangling which slowed me down. I did have to pull myself about 10 feet, while Kyle on the other hand had to pull himself a bit further. He came up about 30 feet short. I’ll give him credit, he never panicked and pulled himself up like a champ. Of course, it helped the group cheered him on. He smiled over the jokes they made, “Kyle did you want more of an adventure?” and “Kyle did you want to get in another workout?” He was good about the teasing.
The course consisted of ziplines, naturally, but also two suspension bridges. The first one, we had to propel ourselves off a platform to access another platform and the bridge. It was made of half logs that were fairly spaced out. The guide instructed us to stay at least three log lengths apart. Granted, we were strapped in, but I didn’t want to slip and get road rash down my legs so I took my time. Kyle, who was behind me. He tried to rush me and stressed me out. He thought he was funny. That stinker!
All in all, we had a blast. I love that Kyle has my adventurous spirit and is fearless. I truly believe he had a great day and enjoyed himself. Of course, it was perfect blue skies and warm weather. How could anyone not have a great time zipping 150 feet in the air over trees and spending a day in nature? Not possible.
Our instructors, Kiarra and Dan, were fabulous. They maintained safety regulations, yet were entertaining and personable. They really made the day special, in addition to our group.
Who was this mysterious extension to our ziplining crew? There was a husband and wife, their 18-year old son, and the wife’s brother and their 79-year old Dad. The grandpap was in better shape than all of us combined. He was amazing. Again, great group.
Now, what to do for Kyle’s 17th birthday? I better start planning now. In the meantime, I asked Kyle is he wanted to come back this fall to do the course again. Yes, of course he does. I thought it would be beautiful with the Autumn leaves.
I did manage to get a couple videos. One of Kyle propelling himself off the platform and one of him ziplining (very short). Enjoy.