Ziplining Into 16-Years

Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.  ~Ian Fleming

Aunt Heather Piper & Kyle pre ziplining 8-2-17

Me & Kyle … pre-zipline prep. Seven Springs. 8/2/2017

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.

Kyle unhooking ziplining 8-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle sticking the landing & getting unhooked to zip another line. Seven Springs 8/2/2017

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.

Kyle hanging from a zipline 8-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle ziplining! Seven Springs. 8/2/2017

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.

Kyle ziplining 8-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle getting ready to stick the landing… ziplining at Seven Springs. 8/2/2017

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.

Kyle ziplining through the Laurel Mountains 8-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle ziplining! 1st one to go… 8/2/2017

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!

Kyle getting his zipline instructions 8-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle getting instructions before taking the plunge.. our first zip liner! 8/2/2017

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.

 

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posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone and have No Comments

Snowboarding – the Beginning…

We all started snowboarding in the beginning as a family just to be closer together, go on trips.  It was our soccer, but instead of dad yelling at me from the sideline he is there riding with me and hitting the jumps even before I am hitting them.  ~Shaun White

Kyle-Casey-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Snowboarding-2009

Me, Casey & Kyle taking a break from snowboarding. The Foggy Goggle fireplace is the best! 7 Springs 2009

Snowboarding has become something of our thing between me and Kyle, starting him when he was three years old.  One snowy day at my parents house, I decided to strapped my snowboard on and ride it down my uncle’s field.  Kyle was fascinated by the sport.  S0 I placed his little feet between my binding on the board, held his hands and rode him down through the powder.  Kyle just loved it!  Now I wasn’t going fast, or doing anything special.  We just rode the one side of the board and fell over into piles of snow when we felt like the run was done.  He seriously had a blast!  We both walked up and down the hill and I strapped myself in and out of my bindings countless times that day.  On a side note, I was beat!  My legs and arms got a workout!   We rode past sunset and all the way into night.  Kyle didn’t want to stop, he wouldn’t admit he was getting cold and wet, but I knew better.  Since we started in my parents yard and passed over the driveway before heading down the field, sometimes I would get stuck on the driveway.  Dad joined in on the unplanned fun and assisted us by giving me little pushes to get us going.  That one random fun day started Kyle’s love of snowboarding.  In fact, at one point Kyle looked up at me and said, “Aiya I’m a snowboarder!”  With a huge proud grin spanning my face, I encouragingly said, “Yes you are buddy!”

Kyle-Snowboarding-Snowshoe-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2010

Kyle throws me a smile while riding the chairlift at Snowshoe WV… snowboarding fun! 2010

A bit small and young to be riding, I decided to try Kyle out anyway.  I figured he was low to the ground and pretty patted so what could it hurt?  Kyle really enjoyed snowboarding or at least the idea of it.  When he was four years old, I took him up on the slopes to officially ride his first run.  He was fearless and loved it!  Since I never taught a youngster to ride before, I thought it might be better to get him an instructor.  That was his Christmas gift, I purchased him instructor lessons and his jacket, bibs and gloves.

His first lesson was at Hidden Valley.  As soon as he reached the top of the Bunny Slope, we strapped him in and helped Kyle to his feet.  Instantly, he stretched one arm out in front and one behind himself, like he was giving us a yoga pose.  He turned to the instructor and said, “Let me go!”  A very puzzled and shocked instructor looked at me, I shrugged and gave the nod.  Kyle went down the run and even did a little jump, only maybe a inch from the ground, but never lost composure.  When he eventually crashed in a pile of snow, he gave me the biggest grin from his tiny little round head.  I knew he was hooked!

Kyle-Snowboarding-7-Springs-2009-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle ready to get on the chairlift at 7 Springs 2009

A year later when Kyle turned five I took him back up to the slopes.  Since he was a little man, I’ve always and still do, rent his boots and board.  Trying to keep up with repurchasing his gear year-over-year to coinside with his growth spurts just seemed silly.  Plus, I never knew if he was going to change his mind and decide he didn’t want to be a boarding dude anymore.  So far so good, he still loved snowboarding and was having a blast.

One trip to Seven Springs had me in stitches.  Kyle was riding down the bottom of Fawn, and every time he would crash I helped to his feet, so to speak.  Kyle’s swimming instructor, who also happened to be a ski instructor was there with us.  She was along for the ride, and I’m sure for the pure humor of the day.  It only takes an instant for something to happen.  In this case it was one of the funniest sights ever seen on the mountain.

As Kyle rolled into the powder, I helped him up and literally helped him right out of his boot, which were incidentally strapped into the bindings, attached to the snowboard.  Again, Kyle was pretty young and little to be snowboarding, which means his boots didn’t quite fit him.   We had to settle for the smallest boots and board they had, but even with thick socks the boots were still too big.  So needless to say, the gravity and the slick snow did their job and allowed the board to continue on its course of action, without Kyle.  It was hilarious!  The boots were still perfectly strapped onto the board as it ran away from us.  Just then, Kyle in his bright blue winter socks and wearing his helmet that looked like a planet sitting on his tiny shoulders, were running down the slope after the escaped.  It was the funniest sight!  This little guy of about three feet, wearing Smurf blue socks, a noggin that was too big for his frame (his head was always large and round) and his little limbs sticking out from his sides like he was Ralphie in the Christmas Story, was working his way toward the runaway snowboard.  I was dying!  Not being able to assist Kyle, as the onlookers saw, I was laying in the middle of the trail laughing so hard, tears fell from my eyes.  I will say it again, that was one of the funniest sights!  I wasn’t the only one who found humor in the event that unfolded in front of me, so did my companions and those directly above us on the chairlift.

Eventually, someone further down the path saw the possessed snowboard and stopped it.  Kyle ran to claim his board and waited for me to gain composure and ride down to him to start it all over.  Kyle didn’t seemed phased by what happened.  Probably because he didn’t know, that wasn’t suppose to happen.  At least he wasn’t afraid of it happening again.

To this day, I still can see that story unfold right before my eyes, as if I was watching a rerun on TV.  When Kyle and I were riding this past weekend, I brought that story up again.  He kind of remembered it, but still loved hearing the story retold, as it has been every year since.

For the next couple of years, Kyle’s Christmas gift included a season pass to Seven Springs.  He always seemed pleased with that gesture.  Ever since that faithful day, with the use of my parents yard and my uncle’s field, Kyle always wanted to snowboard with me.  I will admit, secretly I wanted him to enjoy snowboarding as much as I do.  I couldn’t be happier!  He’s the coolest!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Snowboarding? Not Yet!

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  ~ Anonymous

Kyle sitting on ski lift in Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Waiting for another run. Snowshoe, West Virginia c. 2010

You know, I am definitely more of a cool weather girl.  I tend to favor fall and winter over the heat and humidity.  You know what?  I think Kyle is the same. He hates being overheated and sweaty, he tends to be a salt water covered kid, all year round.  Sometimes perspiration  just pours from his head.  Even when he was a tiny little baby, I used to walk around with him in a papoose type of baby carrier.  I would place him in this backwards type of book bag, hanging off of my chest.  I loved it, he was safe and my hands were free.  Man, did Kyle make me hot!  It wasn’t too bad in the winter, he was like my space heater, but in the summer it was rough.  I’m not really a sweaty person, which doesn’t do me any good when I run, but having Kyle lay on me and radiate heat, makes my body start to sweat.

Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Stacey, me, Kyle and Casey (cousins) Snowshoe, WV 2011

Off of that tangent and onto another… Lately we’ve had unseasonable weather.  It’s been in the 50’s and rainy, except this week, which is just cold with a hint of snow.  I will admit, during the dog days of summer, I do wish for winter.  I enjoy all seasons, but I love snow!  I don’t know if it’s from me or not, but Kyle always wishes for the snow to fall too.  He loves to sled ride and be my little snowboarder buddy.  I started Kyle out on a board when he was three years old.  Taking him on my snowboard in front of my parents house, which is on a slight down hill that opens up into my uncle’s field, that was the easiest way to start him out.  I had Kyle stand in the middle of the board while I was strapped in, holding his hands.  We would go down the hill and eventually fall over into the fluffy snow.  We had a blast!!  Sometimes, during our trek across the driveway, before getting any momentum, we would get stuck and dad would stand there to give my shoulder a push and get us going again.

Going down hill wasn’t so bad, not that that’s a surprise.  But it was tough unstrapping my bindings and carrying my board up the hill while holding Kyle’s hand.  He had a hard time walking in the deep snow.  Those little legs where just long enough to get up over the snow, let along make them move up a hill covered in snow.  It was all totally worth it!  We must have made at least 20 runs before calling it day.  In fact, we kept it up in the dark.  Dad turned on the spotlights along side the house so we could see.  We rode until I realized Kyle’s gloves were pretty wet and his hands were getting cold.  He didn’t want to go in, but I told him I would make us hot chocolate and we would warm up.  Reluctantly he agreed.  Even though my body felt like I ran a marathon, not that I know what that feels like, but I can only imagine.

Kyle snowboarding at Hidden Valley Aunt Heather Piper

Taking a break from snowboarding at Hidden Valley. c. 2010

Now back to the present day, last Wednesday to be exact.  As Kyle and I watched the news, showing a brief clip about the town in Alaska that was dumped with 18 feet of  snow, (Yep, not inches, we’re talking feet)  it was funny, I could see Kyle’s brain trying to comprehend what he heard, making sure he understood what the news anchor reported.  I said, “Did you hear that?  They have 18 to 20 feet of snow.  Not inches, FEET!”  Putting a real emphasis on FEET.  His eyes were in shock and then he turned his head toward the front door, threw up his hands and gave a ‘Where’s our snow?’ gesture.  Meanwhile, it was raining pretty hard outside.  I said, “I guess it’s all in Alaska.”  I knew what his response was all about.  You see, Kyle looks forward to hanging with me on the mountain, as do I.  It’s hard enough to maintain patience for myself when I’m waiting on the snow, but trying to be patient with Kyle is an almost unrealistic task.

Recently we did start receiving snow, which I knew would eventually come and currently go.  But I must say, those 18 feet seem like more fun than our couple of inches and light dusting.  I’m really blessed and happy that Kyle and I have our hobby together.  Maybe that’s why I look forward to winter.  I get to hang with my Narrow in God’s country.

Check out the Cordova Alaska snow situation.

http://auntheather.com/2011/lighting-up-the-holiday/

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments
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