An exhilarating zip-line over San Francisco

 

I received an interesting invitation to a media reception from
the British Columbia Tourist Offices to preview a presentation of
their

British Columbia Experience.

It’s sort of a post-Olympic extravaganza open to the public.
I received an interesting invitation to a media reception from the British Columbia Tourist Offices to preview a presentation of their “British Columbia Experience.” It’s sort of a post-Olympic extravaganza open to the public.

They offer performances by the world renowned B.C. Aboriginal group, the Le-La-la Dancers, an interactive video display and a 3-D art installation created on–site for the public by well known artist Kurt Wenner, and a meet-and-greet with 2010 Olympic gold medalists: U.S. speed skater Shani Davis and Canadian ski cross racer Ashleigh McIvor. Then they threw in the clincher for me: an 80-foot hightower that lets you blast off on a 600-foot zip-line over Justin Herman Plaza. That got my attention.

For those not familiar with zip-lining, it’s an adventure activity typically associated with soaring through mountain treetops. It has been compared to being as close to flying as you can get without an airplane.

After the welcome, a sample of the Aboriginal dancers in colorful native dress and a few words by the Olympic gold medal winners – they let me hold their gold medals – I made off for the tower to experience the excitement of the zip-line.

I found myself signing an emergency release (a “What Could Go Wrong While Zip-Lining” type of document), which covered everything that could possibly go wrong. Undaunted, I agreed to hold no one responsible for anything that might happen. And, oh yes, I weigh more than 65 pounds and not more than 275 pounds, and I can climb 100 steps to the top of the tower without hyperventilating.

I was then sent over to the suit-up area, handled by happy, smiling, Canadian experts in the zip-line field, who trussed me up with chains and ropes and huge clips and a helmet. (They weren’t taking any chances.) John, my smiling expert, handed me a thick rope that hung from my rear like a cats tail and sent me on my way up the 100 steps that I was not supposed to hyperventilate on. I kept meeting people coming down that had changed their mind. (Not very encouraging.)

There were some heavy breathers in front and in the back of me and I started to wonder what I had stepped into! Feeling like Rocky, I finally reached the final step at the top with more happy, smiling experts hooking people up on a thin wire, giving last-minute instructions and patting them on the back. Away they went.

My turn. As I looked down, it seemed a sheer 80-foot drop to cement, no trees or nets. This was it.

“Just tuck in when you get near the end,” my smiling, happy expert instructed while hooking me up to the wire. Then there was a tap on the shoulder and away I went. It was pretty exhilarating and I wish it could have lasted a little longer after all the paper signing and getting rigged up. But as they say “the end result is what matters” and I was still in one piece and happy.

I highly recommend an afternoon with “The British Columbian Experience.” The attractions are free, the Canadians are happy and smiling, and the Olympians are friendly and will sign autographs and maybe let you hold their gold medals.

***

Zipping Over The City

What: Urban zip-line ride that was offered during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Meet Olympians, get autographs, see Aboriginal dancers and artists.

Where: Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cost: No charge for any of the events

There is no age limit but riders on the zip-line must weigh more than 65 pounds and no more than 275 pounds.

Through: Sunday

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