I’m a list maker. Granted, after having kids, it becomes harder and harder to actually cross anything off any of my given lists, but when I do, it’s quite a feeling. That’s why I was intrigued by Catherine’s idea to come up with an Austin Bucket List for 2014. This wouldn’t be a list of all the things my kid needed to do before kindergarten, or all of the places to take your kids around the world before they grow up (yes, I own that book), but just a short list of things I want to get out and do this year. One or so per month. Set the bar low — isn’t that the hallmark of parenting?
I’m generally a pretty laid-back kind of gal, but I’m not a fan of heights. Sky diving? No way, Jose! I remember even getting freaked out as a kid when we were all the way at the top of the Eiffel Tower. So, who knows why I decided to put ziplining on my bucket list.
When an email landed in my inbox with a deal to zipline Lake Travis, I forwarded it to some of my lady friends to see if anyone was game. I got two takers, so it looked as though this might actually happen. A few months went by, and we realized that if we didn’t use the voucher by the end of school, a) it would be boiling hot to go and b) it would be harder logistically to get away. So, the Monday of the last week of school the three of us headed out to Lake Travis Zipline Adventures in Volente.
It was about a half hour drive from my house near the Arboretum to get there on a weekday morning. The duration of the experience depends on how many people are signed up. We were asked to arrive half an hour before our “zip” to get all signed in. You do need to sign a waiver in advance, not surprisingly. Then, the zipping itself lasted about two hours for our group of seven. So, we left my house at 8:30am and were done right before noon. The company encourages you to make a day out of it, but since it was the last week of school, we opted to stay about a half hour after we were done. By the way, if you are thinking about doing this with the kids, you might want to know that participants must weigh at least 70 pounds.
Pretty soon after we arrived, our group headed down to the Lake in a van. Seeing Lake Travis so low is a little depressing, but because of recent rains, things were still looking pretty green, so that was nice. It was clear that the last zipline was designed to have you cross water, which is, sadly, no longer there. The enthusiasm and friendliness of our guides, Vanessa and Yeti, were contagious and helped me keep my mind off of the drought and the insanity of being twenty stories up approaching speeds of over 50 miles per hour.
Once we were all harnessed in, we began the hike up to our first zip. There are five ziplines of varying lengths during the standard Zipline Tour, ranging from 250 feet all the way to 2,800 feet long (Yeti let us know that there is also a night zip with glowsticks and headlamps). The first two lines are shorter, and help ease you into the experience. The last zip is the longest, and one of the longest ziplines in the whole state. I probably would have preferred to receive this information AFTER our adventure.
When I woke up in the morning, I thought to myself, What was I thinking? Why did I sign up for this? I wasn’t petrified, but I was certainly not too thrilled to think about confronting my fears. But, it turned out to be so much easier than I imagined! I’m not sure exactly why — whether it was the adrenaline or the laid-back attitude of the guides, but it was a great mix of exhilarating and fun. I’m sure it helped to be with these lovely ladies.
We were very lucky to have gone early and to have cloudy skies during our first few zips. I can imagine ziplining in August would be pretty brutal unless you went very early. Even on a cooler day, I was quite sweaty at the end. We were never rushed and yet we also weren’t bored. Since each line can only hold one person at a time, there is definitely some waiting time in between each person zipping. During the down time the guides took photos of us, which were available for purchase, but they were also happy to take photos with our own cameras, which was nice (note to self: next time wear shorts with pockets instead of athletic shorts so there is a place for my camera).
The last zip (which lasts about 40 seconds, by the way) landed us on a platform which had picnic tables and drinks. We weren’t really in the mood for a beer, so we headed back to turn our harnesses back in and got into the van to go to where our cars were parked. We ventured over to the edge of the parking lot, which had steps to lead down to the Lake. There was a really nice area with hotel-style lawn chairs and ottomans in the shade which had a nice breeze. There was also a grassy area which would work well for throwing a football or frisbee with your kids (closer to the restrooms was a disc golf hole and beanbag toss stations as well).
As I already mentioned, we didn’t plan to stay, so we didn’t have bathing suits on to test the water, but it appeared to be a relatively gradual entry into the Lake at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t an obvious swimming area, but it was calm water and no boats were going in and out, despite the fact that there were a few docks nearby. I could certainly see bringing the fam and hanging out for an hour or two pre- or post-zip.
We had packed lunches, which we ate on the car ride home. The ziplines got a thumbs up from all three of us, although none of us felt like we had to go back anytime soon to do it again. We also agreed that we wouldn’t likely pay full price (keep in mind, however, we are all stay at home or part-time work at home moms, so no double incomes here…plus we need to save some money for our bonbons!) That said, it was certainly the most fun I have had on a Monday while my son was in school. Going ziplining may not have conquered my fear of heights, but it certainly allowed me to check another item off my Bucket List. Bam!
Have you ever done a zipline? If you’ve zipped with your family, did you do it locally? What’s on your Austin Bucket List?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 7-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]