Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vacation, Day 5 - Nanaimo

We had stopped by the Wildplay Element Park in Nanaimo the prior day, but they'd already quit doing the ropes course for the day, so we said we'd be back the next day.  However, on the way south, I wanted to check out a place I'd seen a sign for the night before when we went to dinner--Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery, all lumped together at the beautiful Morningstar Farm.

The farm is small, but immaculate and well-run, and welcoming to tourists.

We toured the calf barn, where babies just separated from their mamas live.  I don't like this part of dairy farming, but these babies didn't seem traumatized in the least, and this guy was very happy to have his ears scratched.

You can't read it, but the words at the bottom of the sign that says "Maternity Pens" says "where the real work happens."

Not sure if this mama was still pregnant, or recently post-partum, but check out that hip bone!

They also had four horses for their own pleasure (the sign mentioned trail riding, but they also had a lot of ribbons from little local shows), bunnies, goats, a cat we didn't see, and some weird creatures that looked like the ugliest turkeys you ever saw, but with bills like ducks.

They have a creamery, and Nathan and I tasted a variety of cheeses.  I chose a firmer cheese, and we both chose a spreadable cheese with berries in it to buy.  But then I realized I didn't have the ice chest with me, and we were heading to Nanaimo and wouldn't be "home" for hours, so we needed to eat the cheese right away.  We went to a grocery store, chose some bread and bought a sharp knife that would also work to spread the soft cheese.  The firm cheese was REALLY stinky, but tasted good.  However, it stunk up the car for the rest of the trip!

We ate the cheeses and bread in the car in the parking lot, then headed to Nanaimo.

When we got to Nanaimo and the play park, the guy remembered us from the day before, and looked shocked, probably because he assumed we wouldn't be back.  I grilled him on the different activities they have, both to determine which I wanted to pay for and for which of us, and to estimate how long we'd be there.  The guy said the zip lines took about 40 minutes, and scheduled us both for those and Nathan for the ropes course 40 minutes after.  We had some time to kill before our appointed time, so we stood under the bungee jumping bridge and watched both that activity and people zip-lining.

This zip line goes under the bridge along the top of the canyon wall.  This guy stopped "zipping" and had to be towed in by a "guide."

A guy and a bunch of kids (all his?  family friends?) were standing there, too, and it turns out a daughter and son of his were both bungee jumping, so Nathan and I stood and watched and cheered for them, too.  There was very little hesitation--they were very brave.  This is the son's jump:

Soon enough, it was our turn to get put into harnesses.  Their harnesses are all one size, but adjustable.  I had reviewed on their website that I did happen to fall under their weight limit, but hadn't actually gotten out a tape measure to see if I would FIT in the harnesses (they give their waist and leg measurements on the website, too).  So it was embarrassing enough trying to wriggle into the harness, but could have been exponentially MORE embarrassing if I ended up not fitting.  I did fit, luckily (though not comfortably).

We were given a demo on how to "zip," then taken to the top of the first zipline.

This is the view down the first zipline, way up high over the river.

People under 100 pounds had to go tandem with a guide.  Nathan is slightly under 100 pounds, but they let him go solo on the first line because it's fast enough.  Here's a kid going solo with the first guide to go, though.

My view just before departing on the first zipline

I asked how many ziplines there were.  Apparently only two.  So when the guy at the counter said it would take 40 minutes, he was counting getting fitted with the harnesses, going through the "training," and waiting at the top and/or bottom of each zipline for the group to finish.  So that was disappointing, but honestly, I'm still glad I paid the $25 each to do it.  Once.  This is the view of the bungee jumpers from the bottom of the second zipline, where I waited for Nathan to come down.

This is a pair of guys jumping, bear-hugging each other.  Also, apparently this is the only legit bungee jumping place in North America that will calculate the rope length to dip you in the water according to your desires--just your hair, just the top of your head, or all the way up to your waist.

I got photos of Nathan coming down this zip line toward me:

All but one of the people/pairs in our group stopped before arriving at the platform and had to be towed in by the guides.  Tandem riders got pulled in hand-over-hand by the guide they were with.  Those of us flying solo had a guide slide out to us, latch one of their carabiners to our pulley, and tow us in.  Could have been very humiliating if I was the only one with that problem, but I wasn't, so...only mildly embarrassing.  :-)

After only a few more minutes, it was time for Nathan to gear up for the ropes course.  The harnesses were similar, but with slightly different gear.

They also had to go through a brief training session, to remind everyone that they always needed to have at least one carabiner around the orange guide cable at all times, and showed how to hook up the pulled and rest the carabiners safely on the "tail."  The guide watched the people do a small and low course to make sure everyone was following instructions, then everyone was turned loose.  There were rules about how many people could be on a platform at a time (three) or on a "game" (one), but as long as those rules were followed, you proceeded at your own pace without a guide.  People could even pass each other if they wanted, at the platforms.  A guide or two watched from the ground, but otherwise it was fairly independent.

One of the training obstacles

When I saw the first real obstacle, I was SO glad I hadn't opted to do the ropes course myself (not that I ever seriously considered it--I know my limits!).

Nathan starts off on the first real obstacle

The first zipline (there are a lot!) on the course--check out how expert he looks already:

Nathan hamming it up on some swinging logs:

More videos:

He's looking like this is really easy!

One of the longest ziplines on the course:

This was one of the coolest obstacles:

This was probably the second hardest obstacle:

This was intended to be THE hardest obstacle, I think (shovel handles dangling like stirrups), but Nathan had his own way of tackling it:

Okay, that's all the videos.  How about some still photos for those prone to dizziness?

These were all hinged, but free-moving so they were quite squirmy

Nathan LOVED the ropes course.  I think it was the right balance of fun and challenging, with the fun ziplines dispersed between the more challenging obstacles to provide a break.  His hands got really sore, partly because of all the extra hand-over-hand completion of obstacles not really meant to be done that way :-) but he was very glad he'd done it.  He looked really at ease up there, too.

After all that fun, we got a late lunch/early dinner, then headed back to our resort, where Nathan did some more swimming (and watersliding), even though it was rather cold out.  In fact, when I went to watch him and see how he was doing, he was BLUE.   Not just his lips or under his eyes, but even the skin on his torso was visibly blue.  I made him come in and take a hot shower, and we stayed in the rest of the night.  The next day was going to be a busy one!

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