Thursday, August 13, 2009
Pushing Limits and Facing Demons in a Chevy
My kid is still sleeping and I wish I were too, but I just can't afford to waste that kind of time anymore. I will admit however, I am a little tuckered out after the whirlwind that was my life over the past 48 hrs. Emma and I were invited to participate in the "Chevy Equinox Wonderland Adventure". The idea was to spend two days participating in activities that were perhaps a bit out of your comfort zone. It sounded like something I was keen to try, so I said "We're in!" For years now, I have sworn off amusement park rides as several summers ago, we took Emma to a big one in Lake George, New York and she dragged me onto this brutal spinning thing so many times, I tore a ligament in my rib cage that still bothers me to this day. So when the first "activity' involved Behemoth, Canada's biggest roller coaster, at Canada's Wonderland, I started to wonder if I was really so keen after all! The nice folks organizing this adventure assured us it was not an absolute pre-requisite, but I succumbed to a little peer-pressure from my good friend and fellow blogger, Cindy - aka - Halifax Broad and got in the long and winding line to what I feared was certain death. (If not death, then some form of projectile vomit all over the other passengers.) Even my 14 year old daughter had the sense to say no to this first feat and was happy to hop on a few other less terrifying rides while her mother faced her demons. Fortunately, I did manage to keep the contents of my stomach inside me, but my throat was sore for hours later from the screaming that started with the first vertical drop and didn't end until the last. I only opened my eyes once or twice when cornering, and prayed the entire time for it to end...and I am not one to pray as you know. After completing that totally "out of my comfort zone" step in the two day odyssey, I must say, I felt I was ready for anything. What could be worse? Legs all rubbery and shaky after getting off, I wiped away a few hysterical tears and moved on. Would I recommend the ride? Sure - to my worst enemies - absolutely! I know there are people who actually enjoy this type of terror, but I, alas, am not one. I am glad I did it - proving to myself I could, but I'm pretty sure I won't be heading back down that track any time soon. After a nice lunch, we were given the keys to our brand new 2010 Chevy Equinoxes and loaded up with our gear (golf clubs, tennis racquets, luggage etc.) with room to spare, for the remainder of the adventure - heading to Muskoka. First stop, Maple Lane Farms in Bracebridge for a little horseback trail-riding. There were more sedate activities offered - a peaceful boat cruise or a yoga class, but in keeping with the theme, I chose horse-back riding, and I'll tell you why. When I was about 12, I stupidly saddled and rode an unbroken horse. After about 20 yards, the thing bolted, I hung on for dear life until the horse stopped and started to buck wildly, until I was thrown. As if that wasn't bad enough, it then proceeded to give me a hard kick in the thigh just to make his point and I sported a nice black and blue horse hoof impression for weeks afterward. That was the last time I was on a horse. I have always been afraid of them since. It was time to face yet another of my demons. The four of us were assigned our "gentle" beasts, helmeted up and mounted them. Their names were Kramer, Willy, Mickey and my horse - FLASH. "You've got to be kidding me," I said. "Oh, no, don't worry, he's not like his name at all," I was assured by our trail ride leader, Deanna. I tried to believe her. As I sat on Flash, got my instructions on how to work the reins and the staff worked to adjust the stirrups, I tried to image myself in a calm place, not wanting Flash to sense my fear. He reared his head back, one evil eye gazing back at me, checking to see what kind of human he had to spend the next 90 minutes hauling around. It really was kind of evil - his eye - not all sweet and docile like some animals - I felt uneasy. As much as I tried, I did not feel all "Nice horsey - here's a sugar cube horsey" - all "my little pony" sweet-like toward him. It was as though he looked at me and said, "Remember who's in charge here - bitch." I was sunk. We moved along slowly, all four of us inexperienced riders getting a feel for our animals, the horses, tucked in closely in a line behind one another. I couldn't understand why Flash wanted his face so close into Kramer's butt, surely not the most pleasant smelling part of his anatomy, but Deanna explained they do that so the swish of the horse's tail ahead of them helps keep the flies cleared from their eyes. The flies apparently more annoying than any aroma that may be wafting their way. The trail followed along until we reached the edge of a wooded area, and a path into the forest, the recent rains, leaving large patches of muddy areas that the horses managed to make their way through. I was nervous going through those patches, imagining the horse's legs sinking so deep in the muck, they might never get out, or worse, at that moment, being thrown off into the oozing wet goo myself. At about the half way point in the journey, Emma's horse, Willy, who was in the rear, decided he wanted to break away from the group and take the opposite fork in the trail. I turned to see the two of them heading up an embankment, Emma calling out "Deanna - Willy is going the wrong way - what should I do?" My daughter was in trouble and I was helpless to do anything. My husband had warned us ahead of time that horses are unpredictable and I was now eating his words. The drama ended fairly quickly as Deanna shouted instructions to Emma and Willy sort of side-stepped down the slope and got back in line with the rest of us, but it made me edgy. We headed back into the woods after that and as we came out, had to cross a stream which apparently the horses actually enjoy, but they needed a little convincing at first. So there we were, all "Wow - just like a scene out of Brokeback Mountain" - minus the gay sex and on our way back toward the stables. As we headed through some long grassy areas and some spindly trees, Flash suddenly started rearing his head, jumped out of the line, shaking his head back and forth, turning in circles and generally acting all crazed and now I was the one calling out to Deanna. "There's something wrong with Flash - he's freaking out here - what should I do?" She turned and looked toward us and before I knew it she was off her horse and running over. She took him by his bit and worked to calm him. "What was that all about?" I asked, my heart pounding with fear. She figured he probably got stung by a bee - that was her best guess. I rode the rest of the way back to the stables, waiting for something to happen again, but we made it back without incident and by now my butt was ready to dismount. Not quite as bad as a spinning class, but too much longer and I would have had something to really complain about. Next stop in our Chevy Equinox - Windermere House on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka. Cindy and I are both avid tennis players, so we had our racquets with us and hoped to find time to play before dinner. There were a couple of young race-car drivers (aged 19 & 21) on the adventure who challenged us to a match. I asked one of them what his rating was and he didn't know what I was talking about so I knew we stood a chance. Truly a case of Cougars vs. Cubs - and we had the Ace in our pocket. We knew it, but they didn't. We had a laugh when they asked us how and when we met and it turned out to be before they were born. The 19 yr-old was a dead ringer for a young Richard Gere and that became his name to me for the rest of the adventure. He fancied his serve was modelled after Andy Roddick, but Cindy and I figured his six-pack was more accurately closer in style. So sue me - it was hard not to notice. I may be married, but I'm not dead. We had fun pouncing the boys (on the court) - they were humbled, and it was time to head up to our beautiful rooms to get showered and ready for dinner. Emma had been chilling after her afternoon playing cowgirl and we were ready for a little R & R on the terrace looking out over the lake. Our hosts were waiting, gracious as ever, sushi ordered and interested to hear about our adventure so far. Windermere House is a fabulous place to stay in Muskoka if you are looking for the perfect retreat from the city. It has been completely re-built since the fire a few years ago and it is four star all the way. No complaints about our accommodation - that's for sure. Dinner in a private room followed and we soon realized the day had drained us - it was time for sleep. Breakfast was coming early, followed by an 8:15 tee time, so this adventurous gal was ready for some shut-eye. Now I will admit, and any of you who know me, will agree, golf is not exactly out of my comfort zone - but hey - two out of three ain't bad! It was out of Emma's zone though, so it wasn't entirely cheating! She does not golf (yet) however, she sure enjoyed driving the golf cart and even tried putting a little. I must have been unfocused out there, because I had a pretty dismal round but I so enjoyed the company (Cindy & Jack) and the course (Windermere Golf & Country Club), it didn't matter. The day was hot and after 18, it was time to head back to the resort and load up the Equinox again for the drive back to the city. If we could have, it would have been great to stay longer, but it was time to go and the open road was calling. The drive was easy and quick (the vehicle was nice and peppy) and comfortable, the satellite radio keeping us awake and entertained on the way back to Canada's Wonderland bringing the adventure full circle. It was a great experience for this "mommy blogger" and one my daughter will never forget. I have to give two thumbs up to the organizers and thank all the sponsors - it was a great adventure.