Getting in the swing of it on Fathers DayJun 20, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
"Here's a tip for you," is what I thought we would hear this Fathers Day weekend.
Instead, we were asked, at the very last second, "Are you afraid of heights?"
No, I'm not afraid of heights.
Daughter Courtney's understated response was, "No, but this is different."
Slowly, ever so slowly, our two-seater seat began to lean -- the "tip" I thought the young operator would surly encourage us with had begun.
We were experiencing the Terror-Dactyl, Courtney's Fathers Day gift to me.
It's something we had talked about for sometime but decided over the holiday season that this would be the year. It was a compromise of sorts.
I'm the self-proclaimed thrill-seeker in the family and I've failed in my quest to recruit a companion to repeat my now 15-years-ago free-falling skydiving jump.
So the Terror-Dactyl, a long swing over a deep canyon, was a solid compromise.
We started the thrill ride looking straight forward, across beautiful Williams Canyon in Manitou Springs, Colo., founded for its scenic setting and natural mineral springs near the base of Pikes Peak.
A few seconds later, strapped in with a lap belt and shoulder harness with two hand grips, the "tip" was complete, and we no longer could enjoy the canyon walls on the far side.
However, 200-feet down, the canyon floor was in full view below us.
Just moments earlier, an older staffer of the Cave of the Winds park had asked us if we had noticed the alcoves and under ledges along the cliffs on the canyon's far side.
To us, at a distance, they looked steeper but similar to some of the walls in Wind River Canyon.
It's the alcoves he wanted us to focus on before our swing ride which would, at 100 miles-per-hour, rocket us toward.
"Practice," he said, and I chuckled.
That was after I had pointed out that the latch to the last gate we walked through before sitting in our swing was attached to the steel post with duct tape.
By now, our tipping complete, we could only see straight down.
The ramp that we had walked on before getting strapped in had been moved safely out of our way.
Gravity was not allowing our backs to feel the back of the swing. Instead, all of our body's pressure was being absorbed by just three straps.
Our feet were dangling over nothing.
My daughter's advice was clear and forceful when she said, "Grab the thing," referring to the hand grips on our chest harness. I had wanted to do the ride not holding on, but I grabbed my right hand-hold just as gravity's release sent us plummeting toward the canyon floor.
Our swing ride lasted just under three minutes. We guessed, because we answered the "afraid of heights" question in the negative, and since lines waiting for the ride had yet to form in the early morning, that our operator gave us a few extra moments to enjoy the incredible view on a memorable Fathers Day weekend.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!