I spent the last day of the old year doing the Shotover Bungee Swing. I jumped from over 300 feet (with a few seconds of free fall) into a canyon. I guess I’m beginning the transformative process of becoming an adrenaline junkie. The chaps who run the Swing are a bunch of wonderfully hilarious hams. Our main man, Harry, looked like Hugh Gran and, after joking about people jumping naked, said “Just as a special treat for the guys, I harness them up with my teeth.” Get the idea of how brilliantly these people combine life-threatening risks and fear with laughter? Here’s another little taste. On the car ride over to the canyon, we watched a video that included quotes of previous jumpers – “Even my shit was scared,” “Find a man that makes me scream like that and I’ll be a very happy woman,” “Doing the tandem swing with my wife saved our marriage,” “The tandem swing was scarier than being chased by orcs”- Frodo. My own contribution, post-Swing, was “If at first you don’t succeed, the canyon swing is not for you.”
I went first! Harry pretend pushed me off and scared Morgan, the other harnesser/sass-master/adrenaline-connoisseur, probably more than me. Whether in retaliation or just for kicks, Morgan also gave me a shove. I tumbled perilously close to the edge. Harry- “WHOA there! At least she was hooked in when I pushed her!” These people are great at instilling confidence.
I leaped from the platform Superman-style. I think I blacked out- I don’t really remember the free fall part. Quite possibly my heart and all other bodily functions ceased to function for a few moments. It was wonderful. But, of course I wanted to really experience the initial feeling of free0fall. Solution? Jump again. The second time, I went tandem with my sister. Now, the canyon swing company names its different types of jumps; you can forward, backward, “pin drop” (you jump sideways), released, single, tandem, etc. I had heard from LOTR tour guide Jim about “Bin Laden Style” where you’re blinded for the jump. Another jump, called “Gimp goes to Hollywood” (I’m not sure who came up with the names0, involves being released from an upside-down position. Being the creative and outlandish soul that I am, I wanted to combine styles and go tandem gimp goes to Hollywood Bin Laden style. But, I was too creative for my own good. The Bin Laden – which I had discovered was not, as I had thought, simply a blindfold placed around the eyes, but involved the jumper getting inside an actual trash bin with Laden’s face painted on it – aspect would not work with my idea for two reasons: 1) they only had one bin, so Karli and I could not BOTH go Bin Laden and 2) apparently bins don’t stay on so well when you’re upside-down. We ended up jumping off backwards. I closed my eyes and thus Bin Laden-ed myself. Without the bin. Being blind for the jump made the free-fall seem much longer and allowed me to focus on the feeling of falling without experiencing the sensory overload that went along with the visual.
After learning that nude jumpers jumped for free, my mother dared me to go naked. Being a cheapskate, I was seriously considering it. Then, I began to suspect that this was another one of her sly ploys to marry me off – “You saw my daughter’s bare skin? Well, now only one thing left to do. You must propose to and marry her.” So I declined.
For your viewing pleasure, some funny canyon swing highlights – Canyon Swing Oscars (check out the guy at the 1:35 mark)
And now for FOOD-RELATED STORIES….
-Dinner last night was eventful enough that I’m writing about it. What you need to know: Throughout this trip, my family has been attempting to acclimate me to alcohol (nasty stuff, or so I used to think). I’m of legal drinking age here in New Zealand. So, at the dinner table I was gifted a glass of wine. I have been warned against drinking on an empty stomach, but now I really get it. In the throes of youth and feelings of invincibility, I had believed myself to be above such natural laws and effects of alcohol. Oh no. I think I got tipsy for the first time last night. I only had a few sips, but I began to feel very light-headed. My brain-to-mouth filter was impaired – I think this happens to most people. Some people chirp happy thoughts, others spout angry rhetoric, and still others seem to be unable to stop voicing gratitude and thanks. In my case, words spewed alternated between ridiculous ridiculousness and profound ridiculousness. I laughed until I cried at a picture of my own face because I thought I looked like a pirate. I can’t find the photo*. I also thought about saying aloud that I saw infinity in a French fry (I’m fairly certain that I did NOT see anything other than white fluff in that tender morsel). I only held back because I thought that my mom would laugh at me. Perhaps the rest of the family caught onto my slap-silly mood because we all ended up loudly singing old girl scout songs at the table.
*Ope… found it
-We are Seattlites. Seattle is the home of Starbucks. By some mathematical property that I can’t quite remember properly, we love Starbucks. Viciously. Loyally. We LOVE it. Against all odds, I heard my Grandma talking about how Starbucks isn’t that good. She said, and I quote, “Starbucks coffee tastes burnt.” I half-expected lightning to rain from the sky and strike the blasphemer.
-If you ever find yourself in Queenstown, check out Bobs Weigh diner. Ferg Burger is the iconic eatery, but Bobs is a hole-in-the-wall gem with delicious food and less line crowding. Mary, the sassy and precious manager, called my father “dodgy.” A quote on the wall reads, “Happiness is not a destination; it is a way of life.”
-At New Year’s Eve dinner I ate myself into food coma. Karli ate herself into somewhere between food coma and food death.
And how did I spend my last minutes of the old year? Writing this. I almost spend the first second of the new year writing this, but then I realized that would be pathetic. I had about 38 seconds to change my activity. I decided to be upside down for the coming new year. Much less pathetic. Maybe that act will turn out to be symbolic.