Greetings From Old People Camp

'Little Old Ladies' go zip lining through a vineyard

Special to The TribuneJanuary 30, 2014 

‘Holy ----,” muttered Louise, as she gazed out at the zip line that stretched 1,200 feet across the canyon. We were on an OPC field trip, just off the bus and emotions were running hot. But I get ahead of myself ...

In my experience, if you don’t get LOLs (little old ladies) off their butts once in awhile, they get stoveup, and I felt that the Old People Camp girls were spending way too much time in the craft shack throwing back shots and bagging on their children. It was up to me, as activities director, to get them moving. Besides, my bucket list needed some serious attention, and when I engage in EXTREME sports, I like to take other people down with me.

I contacted Margarita Adventures, located in, surprise surprise, Santa Margarita — that cute little burg over the grade. I mentioned to the friendly voice on the phone that I wanted to bring some of my “fit” (I used the term loosely) geezer friends to experience the five impressive-sounding zip lines. I told Nanci, my new best friend, that zip lining had, heretofore, not been high on my list of things to do before I kicked the bucket, but I was reconsidering because it sounded a lot safer than skydiving. She assured me that it was and that they had not lost anyone yet. The “girls” capped the tequila and we booked a tour for eight — my daughter going along as chaperone.

On gig day, I was relieved that Sue from SLO did not wear her Medicare card encased in plastic dangling from a cord around her neck, and Ann had left her feather boa at home. The weather was drought-be-damned beautiful, and upon our arrival in Santa Margaritaville, Nanci gave us a warm welcome and pointed us toward the paperwork. The waiver included signing away our life as we knew it, and listed the normal sports risks, including, but not limited to: Falling from as high as 100 feet, slamming into an employee or a platform, potential wild animal encounters, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, reptile attacks, meteor showers, Bigfoot assaults, swarming insects and polar ice melts (I may have made up a couple of those).

Signed, sealed and delivered, we boarded the bus, and Gary, our personable tour guide/driver, expounded on the history of the Santa Margarita Ranch’s 17,000 acres. He also enthused over the wine industry, the abundant wildlife, the cattle business and the fact that the bulls had recently been released for some speed dating. Hmmm. Nothing says euphemism like dating and bovine hookups.

Arriving at the first line o’ zipping, we donned our helmets, gloves and attractive, gluteous maximus-enhancing mountain climber-type harnesses. Atop my head sat a helmet cam — a rental I deemed necessary for complete documentation of our wilderness experience. I figured that if I didn’t emerge on the other side, the camera would provide a personal “black box” for inquisitive relatives. Gary ran through last-minute instructions and we snapped our potentially final group photos.

What followed was a glorious combination of adrenaline surge and uproarious laughter. Zipping the light fantastic through trees and across vineyards — and for the truly courageous, “starfishing,” a spread eagled, look-mano-hands glide through the sky. As Miss P from Tennessee was heard to exclaim, “YEE-HA!!!!”

A little post-zip wine tasting and lunch rounded out a perfect day, and I have to agree with my friend Joyce when she said, “The waiver was the scariest part.” I felt just peachy when I got home, but I figured I’d let the muscles marinate overnight before I judged the state of my old lady body.

On the morrow, I checked in with the crew. We had all come through in stellar shape. But I like to imagine what the conversation might have been like had Ann worn her feathers ....

She was bereft. Her red boa was lost somewhere between zip-a-dee and doodah. I consoled her gently and said, “Not to worry. It’s gone to a better place. One of those ranch heifers probably has it draped over her withers and she’s making goo goo eyes at Mr. Speed Dater as we speak. Think of that splash of red catching the next zip liner’s eye as she sweeps by overhead ...”

Really though, my road trip friend Sally summed it best when she texted the following day, “I feel young and daring.” Now, that’s truly a memorable senior moment.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs. Email her at suzdavis489@yahoo.com.

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