So New Zealand turned out to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and aside from some pretty unhelpful airline personnel, the people were more than friendly and helpful. Even though I didn’t get to play as much as I would have liked to, we saw a lot of the South Island and can honestly say there’s nary a bad view in the place. Wendy and the kids absolutely loved it, and we can’t wait to get back someday. (Problem now is I’ve got about 250 pictures to sort and upload and make sense of…)

Of all the places we visited, however, all the beautiful lakes and cliffs and beaches and parks and mountains and gorges, we all agreed that the highlight of the trip was a place called the Adrenaline Forest which is basically an ever increasing in difficulty set of zip lines and wire-climbs strung across a beautiful pine forest culminating in some very hairy highwire walks about 60 feet in the air. Now, this had absolutely nothing to do with New Zealand per se; they have these spots in the States from what I hear. But this was our first encounter, and with the snow capped mountains off in the distance, and the New Zealand birds singing in the branches, it was pretty amazing.

Basically, you get a harness and two carabiner straps one of which has to be hooked onto a wire at all times in case you fall. So as you keep progressing up, you’re constantly clipping and reclipping with the idea that something will always catch you. That’s fine for the lower elevations, but when you get up to Level 5 (which just opened) you’re working on faith. In all, there are over 60 traverses that you have to make, some are zip lines, some are walking on logs, some even more creative. It was really fun…

…until the last level. I mean, it started out ok, but then there were two highwire walks over about a 75-foot span, uphill, that just busted my psyche. I’m not afraid of heights, but these two humbled me. I had several “Oh *$%^, I can’t do this” moments, and in those instances, I felt very old and very scared. Little half-seconds of panic pulsed through me before my brain reeled me in, told me to keep breathing, keep moving, keep going. If you want to get a sense of what it was like, here’s the last 30 seconds or so of the last, long traverse. Listen to my kids (who had already finished like 30 minutes beforehand) cheer me on way down below, and listen carefully to what I say and look at my eyes right at the end.

Adrenaline.

But here is the thing. As much as I hated those moments, as much as they made me nauseous with fear, I will not soon forget the feeling of pushing through it. Of not getting stuck. Of continuing to move forward, and of sailing through the air on that last, long zip line to the ground. It was a great reminder.

And it’s got me thinking…

(BTW, in case you’re interested, here’s a Wendy-eyed view of one of the zip lines.)