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Barf or Fly – Ziplining in Kauai

The crayon boxes missed a color. A color called Kauai green. This is not the green you get with sprinklers in the night. This is the color you get when it rains every single day. It is the color of lushness. On this soothing island where you can hear things grow, feel your hair curl, and smell the fragrance of nature, I was lulled into a great adventure.

My husband and teenage daughter love outdoor sports. I do not. On a past trip to see the desert in bloom, my daughter told me about the mall she saw on the way. I was instructed to go there while they went hiking – I would just slow them down. But this trip was going to be different. I had been working out regularly and felt strong. We were going to zip line together.

Earlier in the week, my husband and daughter went snorkeling, paddle boarding and surfing. Since I don’t like the water, I developed a new outdoor skill. I could hold a Mai Tai with one hand, a paperback with the other, all while lying on a chaise lounge by the pool. I call this sip lining.

The great zip lining day had arrived. My confidence was high. We had two young guides who had an infectious comedy routine going between them. I felt at ease and joined in with the joking around.

This sport requires a lot of equipment. You step into a harness that you might see on a construction worker or rock climber. Then a bunch of heavy metal clasps are hooked to the front of the harness. I almost toppled over. By dragging one arm on the ground, I could have completed my impersonation of a skinny Quasimodo.

But wait, one more piece of safety equipment. We needed to put on a helmet! Lucky for me, I was having a bad hair day and was wearing my Red Sox cap. I did not want to put one of those helmets directly on my head. They have been previously worn, like bowling shoes. If my fear of cooties wasn’t bad enough, my fear of head B.O. was even worse. Sudden movements of your head sent very unpleasant wafts of the deadly helmet gas down to your unsuspecting nostrils.

Hard Hat for Zip Lining

Wearing the Stinky Hard Hart

I joined the other Bob the Builders and climbed into the safari truck. We took a short ride to the property where the zip lining takes place. I thought we were wearing closed-toe shoes to protect our feet while zip lining. There was another reason. The field we had to walk through to reach the first zip line ride was a cow pasture. It had big mama cows and their little calves. It was darling to see until the guides told us to watch our step. Being a city gal, I had only heard of cow pies before. I hadn’t actually expected cow poo to be as big as a pie.

Watch Out for Cowpies!

With each step carefully placed, we made our way to the first zip line platform. Our guides translated the Hawaiian name for zip line number one “Keiki” to the English word “baby.” As I inched closer, I observed there was nothing babyish about it. We were up at the tree tops, where the birds fly. All I could imagine was an old Batman scene. Batman is on the roof of a high rise building. He needs to catch the bad guy on the roof of the other building. Batman pulls his cable shooter from his belt. With an expert aim, he shoots it over to the roof of the adjacent high rise. He hooks himself on the cable, leaps off the building, floats for a few long seconds and lands without smashing one bone of his body into the concrete. I was not Batman. I was a misguided woman who thought zip lining was a cable attached to some tree trunks over a path you could touch with your closed toe shoes.

Marc Zip Lining

My Husband Zip Lining

One of the guides hooked himself on to the cable. He explained how to get enough momentum to get to the other platform. He would be there to catch us. In our group of ten, my husband volunteered to go first. He ran off the platform and zipped through the air like Peter Pan in Neverland. My daughter floated across like a lithe Tinkerbell. The rest of the group, calmly – or with screams – made it across. I was the only one left – a Wendy Bird with broken wings. I started chanting quietly, I don’t believe in zip lining, I don’t, I don’t.

Linsdsey Zip Lining

Tinkerbell Zip Lining

As I backed away from the platform, I willed myself to camouflage into the scenery like some Predator special effect. The invisibility trick worked only part way. Just my face turned a lovely shade of Kauai green. The remaining guide made no effort to change my mind.

“You are not doing this are you?”

I replied with an appropriate groan and started my walk of shame back to the safari truck. Evidently, letting a green-faced hunchback woman walk solo through a cow pie field to wait it out is not protocol, and the guide called in for rescue. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of walking through a cow pie landmine when I felt like shit.

After the humiliating ride back to the zip lining office, I had time to reflect on what went wrong. I had the swagger, I had the gear, but I had no idea what I signed up for. How could I have miscalculated this so poorly? Maybe the 72 hour cancellation fee with no refunds for any reason should’ve been a good clue.

As I waited for my breathing to slow down and the knots in my stomach to unravel, I returned to my Earthling pallor. During this decompression, it hit me. I was ok with it all. I am neither courageous nor cowardly. I am just me. I had a choice to make, and I made the one that worked for me. No guilt trip on how much money was wasted. I had an adventure; it just had a different outcome.

My family was gentle on me when they returned. I think, in retrospect, they were amazed I even agreed to do this. So the “Mom is a chicken” teasing was at a minimum. But don’t get me started on chickens. There are so many dang chickens or roosters or whatever goes cock a doodle doo all day and night in Kauai, I’ve thought about inventing another adventure sport. Have you ever heard of chicken zipping? The end result is similar to coq au vin but with a little twist!

Chickens In Kauai

Crazy Chickens in Kauai