That First Drop is a Doozie!
Recently I climbed an extremely long and lofty stairway to heaven..well, it wasn’t quite that profound…but the countless steps did take me to the top of what will (for now) be Canada’s tallest roller coaster. The Leviathan, at Canada’s Wonderland just north of Toronto, is the kind of attraction designed to defibrillate even the most jaded roller coaster nut. From the top of the first climb you plummet at an angle of about 80 degrees at a speed of 90 mph. At this velocity, screams don’t actually emit from the human form. They simply turn around and dive back down the throat.
I have no personal goals or ambitions to climb anything high. I may want to sail an ocean someday but there’s no overwhelming drive to escape the earth’s atmosphere. Everybody’s got their thing, right?
I did the prerequisite amount of climbing when I was a child and, frankly, it brought me nothing but pain and discomfort. I remember clambering up a very high tree once to get a look at the eggs inside a hawk’s nest. The problem was I didn’t know how to get down. My father eventually found me by tracing my steps to the trunk and spent an eternity talking me out of my wayward perch.
I also recall ascending the rickety steps into a friend’s treehouse only to suddenly impale the top of my scalp on a protruding (and rusty) nail. I just hung there, stuck on the nail with blood streaming down my face, until a neighbour (who happened to be a nurse) came to the rescue. Truth be told, I was far more fearful of the ensuing tetanus shot than I was of the head injury.
And then there was my journey to the edge of Mexico’s famed Copper Canyon. I was producing a documentary and wanted the cameraman to get a shot of me peering over the edge into the most unimaginable chasm. (The Copper Canyon is four times the size of the Grand Canyon.) The shooter set up the camera from about half a mile away and gave some hand signals to start me moving, but once I got to within a yard or so of the edge, I froze….and my knees began to buckle. We got the shot and I stumbled back as fast as I could but I always consider that this moment could have been my very last appearance on camera…just a long steady shot of a tiny man pitching into the abyss.
So, I don’t get any kind of high from being on high. I don’t how many steps there were to get to the 306 foot pinnacle of The Leviathan. My thighs were on fire. My hamstrings twanged. It was a fantastic view, that’s for sure, and apparently I will be one of the first media people aboard the first day of the coaster. I’m not a coaster kook. I’m not one of those people who will go out of their way to lose their lunch on the latest version of a vomitron.
Once you’re strapped into one of these things you’re basically just hanging on to your entrails. It’ll take a little more than three minutes to do the circuit. How hard could it be? Once you hit the top and hurtle like a peregrine falcon toward earth, the hardest part has got to be over. Right? Anyway, I’ll give it a shot at the end of the week and give you an update.
You know, there is really nothing quite so reckless as an old guy with very little to lose.