Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day Two -- Active Day!

Well, I made up for yesterday's lack of activity today.  Big time.

First, after lunch (I slept in), we piled into the car and headed out to Olympic Park.  Last time I was here, I rode on the Comet -- their bobsled ride (way cool).  This time, I had my eye on the "Xtreme Zip" -- a zipline down the ski jump hill.  It's billed as the "world's steepest zipline."  Kewl.

The process involves riding a ski lift up the hill.  A very slow ski lift.  Which didn't have a safety bar or anything (not that people use them anyway).  But it gave you enough time to think that the only thing between you and a rather unpleasant death is your desire not to die. 

We actually got off the lift above where the ski jumpers get off.  Near the top, there was an "athlete exit," but we went beyond that to the very top.  Where they keep the zip line step-off point.

It's pretty simple -- gravity'll do that.  They've got four harnesses set up -- each on different lines, next to each other.  And the harnesses are leaning against solid wooden gates.  You get in the harness, strap on your seatbelt, and, um, that's about it.  They flip open the gate and gravity takes over, whipping you down the line.  I'm told you hit speeds of 50 mph, but I wasn't really clocking it.

Before riding the zipline, I'd been curious as to how it, y'know, stops.  The ziplines I rode in the rainforest in Alaska were straight across -- and your weight made them dip -- so that they were a bit uphill at the end, which slowed you down.  Here, you're riding way way down and I didn't expect the line to suddenly turn upward at the end.  It was a bit of a mystery -- a mystery solved when I saw the sign right before getting in the harness at the top of the ride.  "This is a very fast ride," it said, "with a sudden stop."

Yeah.  Here I was tooling down the zipline at 50 mph and then they have, like, a solid block at the end of the line, which pretty much stops your zipping experience solid.  Of course, the passenger, being in a harness, has a lot of momentum and keeps swinging -- but it's still not entirely unlike, y'know, cruising along at high speed and then sorta hitting a wall.  My teeth are still rattling.

After that, we drove to Park City Mountain Resort, met up with our skiers and snowboarders, and rode the "Alpine Coaster."  It's a pretty nice ride -- compares very favorably to the Matterhorn at Disneyland.  You're in a car that seats one or two people.  It is pulled on a track, with a cable, way up a hill.  And then, it lets you go down a nice windy track.  It banks a few times, too.  It's a total gravity gig, too -- it isn't like roller coasters where you go down a bit and then go up more -- this is all the way up and all the way down at once.  You have some brakes to control the speed of your car (especially at the end because, again, gravity), but you basically just let loose and ride down the mountain.  Which is totally fun because you're on a track that's pretty much just above a bunch of skiers.  The environment really makes the ride.  (And we'll just skip over the bit where some bratty kid in the car behind me was yelling at me to go faster, and I yelled back at him to "shut up" because I didn't want to hit the car in front of me (and, besides, the car in front of you can go as slow as it damn well pleases so stop whining) and then felt guilty for telling some kid to "shut up," but Peggy said it was OK, 'cause the kid was 12, and someone should tell his rude little self to shut up.)

And then, everyone went back to the condo and I stayed at the resort because I had dinner plans.  I wanted to take a sleigh ride/dinner thing.  (Nobody else wanted to go with me, but I wasn't gonna let that stop me.)  So, I waited around about 45 minutes for the sleighs.  There were about 6 of them, and they each took about 16 people -- but they weren't full -- and we all got in and snuggled under blankets.  (You make friends quick that way.)  They sleighs were each pulled by 2 horses, and we rode right up the "home run" -- the easiest slope to ski down.  (It looked vaguely familiar from last time.)  Note to future skiers:  the horses, um, respond to calls of nature on the slope.  Beware the brown snow. 

We ended up a nice little wooden lodge at the top of the slope.  (It's actually right at the top of the "First Time" ski lift.)  They had fires going and hot apple cider.  I'd expected us all to sit together at big, long tables -- but, no, it was assigned seating with individual tables for each party.  So they put me at a "table for one" right in front of the dude playing guitar and singing.  (I felt obligated to lead the applause for him after every song.)  He played a lot of 60s and 70s music -- heavy on The Eagles, courtesy of the kid at the next table who kept putting money in his tip jar for Eagles tunes.  Some of the little kids got up and danced around, right in front of my table.  Now, when you sign up for the sleigh ride, they tell you to "dress in layers," because the lodge is very warm.  Apparently, one family didn't get that memo, but didn't let them stop them, because one little girl was dancing around in her pink floral long underwear.  Food was decent and the sleigh ride was nifty, but, honestly, for the amount of money they were charging, they shouldn't have also encouraged tips for the musician and sleigh drivers.  Seriously, for that kind of money, they should pay their damn staff. 

So.  Zip line, alpine coaster and sleigh ride.  I'm wiped.

No comments: