Fear

Fear, true fear, ultimately comes from the emotional part of our brain.

Personally, I think it was how we died in a previous life and our spirit stored it that way so we wouldn’t, you know, taunt a lion, again, get stung by a bee and die from an allergic reaction, or climb to the top of a mountain to see the view only to slip and fall 10,000 ft to splat on the rocks below.

So, while the Jet boat ride in Whistler was fun, I have to say, ¾ of us were all a little nervous about this whole zip-lining thing.

Oh, we’d all been on a zip-line before and I found it scary at first, but ultimately kinda exhilarating. This one, however, looked simply terrifying.

It was called the Sasquatch and went for 2.2 km. You’d reach speeds of 120kmh (or faster if you were a heavy beast like me.)

When The-Youngest told us he wanted to do it, we said, no. Actually, I think we said hell no. But foolishly, we gave both boys the power to do one thing they wanted to do in Whistler and this was his thing. The-Oldest, as you may recall from the last post, wanted to play the piano.

The-Youngest showed us youtube videos to make us less scared. He got a pamphlet saying what fun it would be. He read testimonials and pointed out that no one has died.

So we relented.

Yes, that’s the Sasquatch zip-line

It really wasn’t until we were at the base of the mountain looking up at a line of red balloon-like markers spanning the two peaks, that we realized what this ride was about. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said, wow, I guess they don’t want planes flying between the peaks or they’re worried about the nearby gondola.

No, The-Youngest said, “That’s showing where the zip-line is.”

My eye began to twitch at that.

Getting geared up

But a deal is a deal, we took the van up to the zip-line point, climbed a huge freaking tower and stood there looking at the drop, the zip-line sagging straight down.

We all went pale except for The-Oldest who shrugged and said he thought it would be scarier.

Are you kidding me?

I was terrified.

Being afraid of heights, standing there, looking down, I couldn’t simply override my lizard brain with a whole litany of logic.

No one’s died.

It’ll be over quick.

I’m attached to a solid steel cable.

Even the Dune Litany failed me. I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to wash through me. And when it is gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Well, all and good for some Dune prophet but it didn’t help me one bit. I was still terrified.

So was The-Youngest. And The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, both pale as ghosts, but despite their keen desire to find a reason to turn back, they didn’t.

They took the plunge.

Then came my turn (and The-Oldest’s.)

He got hooked up and marched down the steps and stood on the brink of doom like it was nothing.

Me, I was shaking.

By the time the doors opened, I was shaking a lot.

Now for some people, this is no big deal. They’d do it naked, hanging upside down with a roman candle sparkling from their butt while singing Ave Maria.

Fear, true fear, cannot be decimated with logic

Me? Well. Each step I took downwards was, perhaps, the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Scarier than pitching my novels, though I had similarly sweaty palms. Scarier than going on a date at 50 years old, though in both cases, my heart pounded in my chest like it wanted to leap out and run away, have a beer, and watch other idiots do this.

When I reached the last step, the guide said, ok, on three.

 

Three.

My sphincter clenched so hard that I nearly created a black hole.

Two.

My mouth went completely dry which makes sense since all the liquid in my body had gone to make sure my palms were so wet that I couldn’t hold on to anything, which totally doesn’t make we wonder if we did evolve from monkeys who would surely need good dry palms to swing away from tigers or Green Peace or something.

One.

My life flashed before my eyes.

It was, not surprisingly, rather dull.

Go!

I went.

I didn’t scream. I didn’t wet myself. I didn’t even close my eyes. I got mad. Mad that I was so scared. Mad to use up all that fight or flight energy. Mad because I had to jump off a flipping tower and travel at the speed of a falling sack of bricks.

But being mad allowed me to actually enjoy the ride.

I did. All the way to the bottom.

But, as we gathered on the other tower, The-Oldest saying he found it boring, that he should have gone upside down and taken pictures, The-Youngest bouncing up and down with unbridled glee, wanting to do it again, can we, can we do it again, The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World looked at me and I looked at her and we said, shit, never, ever, ever, again.

Because, despite us both surviving, there comes a point in your life where being terrified isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Fear, in the end, didn’t defeat us, didn’t kill us, but man did it make us appreciate a nice chair on a beach somewhere. Drink with an umbrella in hand.

Vegas – Buses, Fountains and Pianists

Fremont Street. Could be fun for adults, but for kids...?
Fremont Street. Could be fun for adults, but for kids…?

Finally arrived at vintage Vegas. Fremont Street. Older. A bit sleazier. Worst place to see in the daylight. Like the Vegas Strip with a hangover.

Not super impressed. Too early for neon. No virtual airplanes overhead. Lots of people. Not really kid friendly. Limited places to eat that weren’t deep in a casino. No tables on the sidewalk to sit and watch the world go by.

Different Vegas.

Didn’t go on zip-line. Wasn’t sure it was even operating. Didn’t go into casinos. We’d seen enough casinos. Saw iconic neon signs. Took pictures of iconic neon signs. Saw at least two concert areas set up. Should be a rocking place at night. Saw a magician do magic. For free. But you get what you pay for here. It wasn’t super awesome.

No jets overhead. What?
No jets overhead. What?

Lots of street vendors. Lots of guys being statues. Lots of homeless wandering around looking for a quick steal.

Kept boys from seeing banana hammock guys with their bums exposed. Kept boys from touching anything. Kept boys from seeing girls in S&M leather. At least this time around. Kept boys from going more than 6” from us. Just a bad vibe about the place.

Totally different to see it with children in tow. Could have been fun if it was just the two adults (or 1.45 adults. Not sure I am an adult.)

Stayed an hour. Then found bus back. Worried we took the wrong bus. Very full. Had to stand. When our stop came up, staggered to the middle to press the next-stop button. The-Youngest asked, “Why? There’s a button a foot away?” Didn’t see it.

Back at the room, sore feet, sweaty, glad to have my wallet still. Glad we didn’t lose the boys.

Took a shower. So exhausted fell right asleep after shower.

Still a MUST-SEE in Vegas. the fountains at the Bellagio.
Still a MUST-SEE in Vegas. the fountains at the Bellagio.

Woke up. Off to Bellagio for fountains. Dark out. Bus full. Got off at right spot. Chalked up a win on that one. Had to wait a bit. Played the ‘

Had to wait a bit. Played the ‘one word’ game. “This” “Story” “Begins” “With” “A” “Fart.” Ended up with a story about farts. This is what you get when you include The-Youngest in such things. Or me.

Fountains amazing. Oldest didn’t recognize music, vowed to figure it out. Sounded all classical music to me, but what do I know.

Beside it, Cosmo Hotel lit up to music. Hadn’t seen that before. Kinda cool, too.

Planned to get bus to Venetian. Ended up walking. The streets were alive. Saw more of real Vegas in 20 min than we had the entire trip.

So many people dressed up on the Vegas Strip at night.
So many people dressed up on the Vegas Strip at night.

Saw a street preacher. He sermonized about sin. A good topic for a place like this. Saw 2 people dressed up as the guy from the hangover with the baby. Attacked by

Saw 2 people dressed up as the guy from the hangover with the baby.

Attacked by blue stuffy mascot. Nearly pushed him away. Oldest jumped-scared by Chewbacca. Or guy in Chewbacca costume. We’re not sure where Chewy goes to gamble.

Steered clear of two girls in leather and fishnets who you could take pictures with. Wondered if they were the same ones from Fremont. Saw Transformers, Mickey Mouse, lots of frozen snowmen and princesses.

Saw lots of old guys with super hot wives, so I fit in. Saw lots of bachelorette parties, girls with t-shirts that said, ‘bride’ or ‘maid of honor’, or in groups with tight black dresses. Saw men on bachelor crawls with suits, attitude, all looking confused, and all oddly taller than me. When did I shrink to Yoda size?

Women in groups do the follow-me thing pretty well. Men are like the human version of the chaos theory – going every possible way.

Went on epic quest to find piano man in Venitian. Talked to lady at the front of hotel, said to go to St Marks. Found a flutist, accordion player and guitarist at St Marks. The-Oldest massively disappointed. No piano man.

Ate at food court. Pizza person recognized The-Youngest from last night. Asked if he wanted a cheese pizza, again. The-Youngest said yes. He would say that every night if asked.

Tried to find a different way home. Went in search of another bridge to cross.

That route brought us to the piano player!

The pianist we'd been searching for!
The pianist we’d been searching for!

We grabbed a seat and listened. The-Oldest vibrated in with excitement. He wanted to see how the pianist’s hands moved. Got super shy. I went with him. To stand behind pianist. Like fans. Or serial killers. Or both.

Watched how a master’s fingers worked on the keys. The-Oldest super impressed. Explained every note played to me. Explained why composers chose the notes they did. Explained how he would have done better.

Went back to Treasure Island.

A total success by chance. An epic quest completed.

A great day.

How cool is that?

Time to head home.

*******

Fountains at Bellagio