On Monday, the ranch (the retreat center where Mike works) held their annual employee picnic. It's an opportunity for the employees and their immediate families to spend the day playing. We all signed up for activities ahead of time and employees from the owner's other companies were there to run them.
Mike and I were really looking forward to this day. We have not had much time to ourselves since we moved here, so an entire day of fun sounded like a great idea. We had respite care set up and prayed that the nurse would actually show up (she has canceled on us twice before). Thankfully, she came and we were able to follow our established schedule:
9:00 Safety Videos
11:00 Zip Line/ High Ropes Challenge Course / Rock Wall
1:00 ATV Ride
2:00 Trail Ride on Horses
3:00 SeaDoo Ride
4:00 Speed Boat Ride
It was a pretty full schedule and it was HOT! I believe it was about 125 degrees that day, although that might be a slight exaggeration. We started with a delicious breakfast. Any day that starts with bacon is a good day in my book! Then we watched some safety videos for the ATV's and SeaDoo's. Our first stop, was the paintball course. Mike signed me up for this event and I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to participate.
I was one of only two girls there.
I had heard that those pellets hurt and I was not looking forward to that.
The only gun I have experience using is a squirt gun.
All the other participants have played before and seemed pretty serious about winning.
We were given very little instruction before the first game began. Not even a practice shot!
When the first game started the other team wasted no time firing at us. Mike and I were still trying to figure out how to get our guns to work. I was trying to hide behind everyone else, so there ended up being about 4 of us behind one barrier. Not a good start! It didn't take long for the other team to take us out. I ended up playing 3 games and Mike played 5. I was pretty terrible at it, but I had a lot of fun.
This is a picture of what happened when I got hit with a paintball (this picture really doesn't do it justice - as the days have passed, it really has become very colorful). I have no clue how I managed to get hit in the back of the leg! Mike thinks I was running away, but I can assure you, that was not the case. Maybe the pellet bounced off something. I really have no idea because it happened so fast. The funny thing is, the pellet didn't even break, so I could have stayed in the game, but I didn't realize that until it was too late. Oh well! Mike ended up with a few similar marks on his arm and leg. Our bruises were nothing compared to some that the other guys had, so I guess we should be thankful for that.
Our next stop was the High Ropes Course. We were supposed to squeeze three different activities into this hour, but that did not happen. Mike did an amazing job on the High Ropes. The course consists of four different sections where you are essentially walking on a piece of rope about 25 feet in the air. You are harnessed in and you have other ropes to hang on to. I was watching from the ground and I was terrified! For those that don't know, I am afraid of heights. Actually that is putting it mildly. Heights scare the living daylights out of me!
We ended up skipping the rock wall because there just wasn't time. Plus, Mike said he would not have had the strength to do it after the high ropes (and I wasn't even considering doing the rock wall so I didn't mind skipping that). Our next stop was the zip line. I was determined to do this activity despite my fear of heights. My fear is all about falling. I figured if I was harnessed into something that might alleviate the fear. It was a good theory. To say that I was nervous would be a major understatement.
I was freaking out about climbing the ladder to the platform. Mike and another couple were there and they were all trying to be encouraging, but I thought I was going to hyperventilate. Finally, one of the guys said that the ladder was secure and that was the reassurance that I needed to climb up the rest of the way. Of course, I knew the ladder was secured to the platform, but simply hearing him say it, was all that I needed. I figured the scariest part of the zip line would be standing on the platform and boy was I right! My legs were shaking as I was attached to the line. I basically just tried not to look out, but kept my eyes on the man who was on the platform with me.
I was so glad that I didn't have to stand on the edge of the platform because I didn't think my wobbly legs could handle it. I was hooked to the line and then was told I could go whenever I was ready. I laughed. I was not going to be ready! I told the man that he was going to have to push me off because I was not going to go on my own. He was happy to oblige! Mike was able to catch it on video, so here is the proof that I actually did it:
I was so excited that I went through with it. It was scary, but it was also exhilarating to face a fear. I would probably do it again, but I have no doubt I would be just as scared as the first time.
After this, we had a delicious lunch and then headed out to ride the ATV's. There were 3 couples in our group and we all decided to ride doubles. Thank God we did! I was scared to death the entire time! The trails on the ranch are all very steep and rocky. I could just picture us tipping over and rolling down the hills like dominoes. I don't think I have ever hung on so tight in all of my life! I had blisters on my hands and my arms were so sore by the end of the ride. Mike loved it and I could not wait for it to be over. On a positive note, it was great to see more of the ranch. It really is beautiful!
Our next stop was the barn. While we were on the ATV's, Mike told me we would take some of the same trails with the horses. That was not what I wanted to hear. I thought it would be much more scary on top of a horse. While we were in the barn getting our instructions, two of the horses kind of freaked out and that just added to my fear. I had never been on a horse in my life and I wasn't sure that 2 minutes of instructions would really be enough. I was told that I was given one of the sweetest horses. His name was Curley. And he really was a sweetie! The trail rides are pretty slow and I think the horses know them pretty well. They are so used to following each other that I really had to give very little direction to my horse. Sometimes he would get me a little too close to the tree lines and I would have to move him over. And other times he would start trotting really fast to get some momentum to get up certain hills. He was pretty good about slowing down when asked, though, so it wasn't bad at all. I was a lot less scared on the horse, than the ATV's. I just figured the horse wasn't going to put himself in danger so I could trust him to do what he needed to get over those trails. Mike thought this was one of the most boring parts of the day, but I loved it.
When we finished our horse ride, we were supposed to go for a boat ride, but the boat had already left. So we spent that hour riding the SeaDoo's instead. Again, I rode with Mike instead of by myself. I was exhausted by this time and figured I would rather just ride. I guess I thought it would be more relaxing that way. That was not the case. The entire time, I had to hang on for dear life. Every time Mike accelerated, I would have gone flying off the back of the SeaDoo if I didn't have a tight grip. The creek on the ranch is brown murky water and even though I was boiling hot and sweaty, it didn't look very inviting to me. We followed the creek out to the Ohio River where Mike was really able to let loose. I have no idea how fast we were going, but I know Mike was not holding back at all. This was another ride that Mike loved and I could not wait for it to be over. By this time, my arms were killing me from my death grip on the ATV. Hanging on with all my might so I was not thrown into the Ohio was not my idea of fun. It did cool us off a tiny bit though, so that was nice.
When we finished that, we did go for a quick boat ride before dinner. It was nice to just sit back and relax. Mike did not enjoy the boat ride as much as the SeaDoo's. I felt the opposite. I enjoyed sitting there and not having to hang onto anything. We finished with a delicious dinner and then headed home. We were absolutely exhausted! Between the packed schedule and the heat, we had no energy left. Emily had a good day with the nurse, so I was glad to hear that. Overall, we had a great day on the ranch. We were so thankful to have the opportunity to just play and enjoy some of the activities here on the ranch.
By the way, does anyone get the TV show reference in the blog post title?