Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Wilds

After spending most of last week in Lynchburg doctoring Abbey, we left bright and early Friday morning for the Wilds, a Christian camp in Brevard, NC. We left at 6 am so we'd be sure and be there between 5 and 7 for check-in. What were we thinking, 11 hours for an 8-hour drive? Even with Tony filling his water bottle every half hour, we had way more than enough time.

So we made the last-minute decision to stop in Asheville and see our friends Tom and Karen Wright at their store, Wright's Hearth, Heat, and Home, where they sell woodstoves, pellet stoves, and all kinds of other cool stuff for the home. (They also do gas logs if you live in the area and want them.) Anyway, it didn't take 15 minutes for us to decide we had to have a Big Green Egg

(billed as the "ultimate cooking experience") which we bought and loaded in the trailer with the luggage. In case you've never heard of the Egg, it's a smoker/grill that cooks everything and anything. You can even make hard-cooked eggs that have a little smoky flavor on it. And it uses natural charcoal. We're doing our first Boston butt this weekend.

Anyway, after spending money and fellowshipping a while, we left for Brevard and still got there before 5 o'clock.

We found our cabins/rooms and went exploring and to Cool Beans for coffee before dinner. Here's Marvin, who presides over services in the Fireplace Room at the Lodge.

Friday night we had dinner and the evening service, and collapsed into bed.

Saturday morning we had two sessions (Chris Anderson preached through the entire book of Jonah in two days, and it was amazing, as always.), then lunch and the whole afternoon to play. We started on the Giant Swing, which I had never been on in all my years of going to the Wilds. The Giant Swing is a contraption that pulls you up, strapped in hang-gliding gear, 60 feet (think 6 stories) and then lets go abruptly. And lest you think 60 feet isn't so bad, I suggest you get your perspective from the top. It's very different.

Here are Leah and I getting ready to swing. Leah's excited. I feel like I'm on my death march.

Yes, my eyes are closed in prayer. I was most nervous about the duct tape holding that thing together.

We had just let go of the rolling platform. They have not yet started the machine that pulls you up. We are hanging about 5 feet from the ground. The screaming has already commenced.

More intense screaming, and yes, my eyes are still closed. I opened them occasionally to see how far from the ground we were so I could gauge when the drop would happen. You get no warning, just a click and you're falling. It's easily the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced. Why I have a smile on my face here, I have no idea. Call it altitude-induced stupor. And look how calm Leah is!

Our photographer (I think it was Tess) captured the instant of the click. It's as horrible as it looks. I'm digging my fingernails into Leah's bicep.

Once you get past the initial drop, you could almost call it fun if you believe in the doctrine of suffering.

Cori and Joy were next. This is exactly what I felt when I saw the duct tape.

I'm happy to report we all lived through the swing, and if there had been time, I would totally have done it again.

Next was a hike to the Fourth Falls, which my lame photography skills don't even remotely do justice to. Here's Tony and Cori, whom we dubbed "The Golden Couple."

A few people were brave (or dumb) enough to jump in. Tony said the water was WAY colder than they made it look. Here's Sarah Minnick swimming for the falls. There's a ledge there right under the falls that everybody tries to get on, but the force of the water pushes you off.

Tony kept saying he wasn't going in because he didn't want to hike out in wet clothes. (Hiking in was easy. Coming out is way harder, which you'll see in a minute.) Leah told him, "Oh, just go in! We're not leaving here until 4:30!" which was not exactly true. We had to be back at camp at 4:30.

So in went Tony and Cori, and they swam all the way across to a little ledge on the opposite side.

At which point the guy in charge shouted, "Five minutes! We're leaving in five minutes!" and Leah did a facepalm.

Here's the hike out, which is more of a climb. Years ago somebody had the sense to add ropes and it's a good thing they did or I'd still be sitting down by the falls crying for my mommy.

After we limped back to our rooms and showered, we had dinner, Fun Time (where we laughed so much my face hurt), and then the evening service.

We've been going to The Wilds for 13 years, and there's never been a time when I didn't want to go back. It's just the best place on earth. If you ever get a chance to go—with teens, college & career, ladies, couples, whatever—don't miss it. You'll be glad you went.

Be thankful ~

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