ziplines and jam sandwiches
Thursday, June 10 2010
location: Lily Pad Out 'n' About Satellite Treesort, soutwest of Cave Junction, Oregon
It's easy to forget you're sleeping in a treehouse when it's as solid and well-appointed as the one we were sleeping in. But occasionally a breeze would blow through and the tree would rock back and forth. We wouldn't feel anything, but we'd hear an odd knocking sound, as if there was someone standing on the suspension bridge wishing to tell us about the Church of Latter Day Saints. The only real downside to our treehouse was its preposterous toilet situation. I'm a vegan and I usually have to shit something like three or four times a day. When I'm traveling it's a lot less, but I didn't really want to have to set off into the woods every time nature called. It would have been much better had there been a toilet (my brownhouse for example) outside the treehouse for me to use. Sandy had told us about six vegetarians who had commandeered the treehouse before us, and I couldn't help but wonder what it was like never being more than an hour on either side of someone stinking the place up.
At least the shower was separate from the treehouse. I was up early and had a delightful shower experience after making like a bear in the woods. Later I had to go visit Sandy's house to get some coffee filters, as there were none in the treehouse.
Today Gretchen and I walked over to the center of the treesort to participate in a course of ziplines (similar to what we'd done in South Africa, but even less educational). There had been predictions of rain for this afternoon, so we'd signed up for that time slot, hoping the families would stay away. But the weather turned out to be gorgeous, and the zipline slots were all full. Nearly all of the participants were family groups. Gretchen and I would be the only childless adults participating (other than the staff).
We started out on a simple course, only a couple feet above the ground. It looked like the cable might be as much as 5/8 inch thick and so could support tons of weight. Being clipped onto the cable with our pulleys only took a few seconds, and the staffers were experts at doing it quickly and safely. The delay came as we waited for the launch and then the subsequent unhooking of whoever had just flown. Eventually, though, our group had spread out over a range of launching and landing pads (some on platforms way up in trees), and it was possible for the staff to keep things moving more quickly. Some of the runs were hundreds of feet long and we'd develop speeds as high as forty miles per hour. It never felt especially dangerous, though judging from the sound, the pulleys seemed to be getting a workout.
Some of the kids participating were surprisingly young, like six or seven. When you're that age, everything is amazing and new, and it seemed like the ziplines should be mind-blowing. Indeed, judging by their roller-coaster-ride screams as they flew from one tree to another, they were having a great time. One little boy did complain to his mother about the need to go poopy, but there was no facility nearby, we were in the woods, and he was neither a bear nor a pope. So his mother shrugged as if to say, "Try to hold it, son!"
After the ziplining, one of the staffers tried to sell on trying the Tarzan Swing for another $15. We asked if we could go and do something else for awhile and come back to do it after all the others ahead of us in line had done it, and he said sure.
So we took a little break over at the main office, taking advantage of the free WiFi and toilets surrounded by walls (as opposed to curtains). Gretchen complained about the shoddy vegan breakfast we'd had this morning, so she managed to get some money knocked off our room price. We were also allowed to raid the refrigerator in the industrial kitchen. There wasn't much to work with, so we ended up eating jam sandwiches. Oddly, though, the vibe coming from the staffer allowed us to raid the kitchen was one of crankiness (as opposed to hippie grooviness). (She'd already ended up Gretchen's non-sympatico list after it turned out that her Pit Bull was actually a purebred boxer she'd bought from a breeder.) I fed part of my sandwich to the chickens because it was so fun to hold little pieces of it above their heads and have them jump for it.
Despite the 15 or 20 minutes we'd spent away from the zipline area, we still ended up waiting a long time as a gaggle of little girls had their turn on the Tarzan Swing. (The wait was long enough for me to assemble a bouquet of flowers for Gretchen.) Each participant had a turn being hooked up to a long rope attached to a cable strung between two trees. She'd grab a pair of loops attached to a rope that went up over a pulley high in a tree and the other end of that rope would be pulled by a guy driving a golf cart. When the joy-seeker reached an appropriate height, she'd be told to let go, and then she would free fall about twenty feet and then shoot out high overhead and swing back and forth several times. It seemed to me that the ground and the trees were being avoided by fairly narrow tolerances and I'm no fan of the free fall, so I wimped out. But when her turn came Gretchen gave it a try and, judging from her involuntary whooping and hollering, she seemed to enjoy herself.
A number of vicious dogs barked at us as we walked back to the Lily Pad. One was off leash and started coming towards us on Takilma Road, but then he saw a squirrel and decided it was more interesting. He dashed into the woods and we could hear it screaming as he tore it apart.
After eating our second dinner of vegan fast food from Eugene's food carts, we watched the movie Good Will Hunting on my little laptop. I'd don't really know why I had it in my movie collection or why I'd decided to bring it on this trip, but there it was (and Gretchen loves it, despite the often-incompetent performance of Robin Williams). Tonight I figured out why I don't much like the movie. It starts out with such promise: the story of a lowly janitor (played by Matt Damon) possessed with an incredible mind. But then it just sort of drops that idea and spends entirely too much time focusing on Matt Damon's soul. I was interested in his character's mind, but didn't really care one way or the other about his goddamn soul.
The countryside on the walk to the Treesort along Page Creek Road.
Gretchen waiting to zipline!
Gretchen on a zipline.
Ridey horses made of inside-out tires near the zipline area. It's something to do while waiting for the Tarzan Swing.
Gretchen prepares to ride the Tarzan Swing.
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