Anniversary Mystery Date — A Chance to Go Ape!

Tuesday May 31, 2011

Mike & I celebrated our 13th anniversary on Sunday.   Well, we didn’t actually do any celebrating on Sunday, but I told him I had plans to take him on a mystery date on Monday.

On Monday, after an early lunch we dropped the kids off at our first mystery destination — friends with kids similar ages as ours graciously agreed to watch ours during the afternoon so we could have our mystery date.

With the kids taken care of, we headed off to the great unknown (to him).   We headed north on the Beltway into Maryland.  I asked if he had any ideas where we were headed and he was basically clueless.   We headed up I-270 up towards Gaithersburg, then made our way to Rock Creek Regional Park.   He was still clueless until we pulled into the park and saw the “Go Ape” cabin.

What is “Go Ape”, you ask?   Well, to quote them,

Go Ape is an award-winning ropes course of ziplines, rope bridges, tarzan swings and obstacles all set high up in the treetops.

Go Ape!
Rock Creek Regional Park
6129 Needwood Lake Drive, Rockville, MD 20855
(888) 520-7322 ?

We signed up for a 1:30 session and spent about 30+ minutes getting harnessed up and going over safety procedures.    They do an excellent job explaining how to be safe and what you need to know.

Here is Mike, showing off his gear and pretending to be befuddled.


In the next photo, Mike exudes the swagger of a confident lumberjack.


After being properly prepped, we began Stage 1.    There are 5 stages and the first one is low to the ground and done under the supervision of your instructor. It basically gives you a taste of what you’ll do up in the air next and the instructor watches carefully to make sure you understand the proper safety techniques.

Then you move on to Stage 2, which begins the tree top ropes course portion where you are 40 feet up in the air.

Mike went up the rope ladder first, while I waited my turn.


I love ropes course type adventures and have done a few in my younger years, so I was not at all concerned about the “Fear Factor”.  I was a little concerned about how my “late 30-something” body would manage all the physical rigors, but lo and behold, I did okay on that front too.

These signs were posted all of the course as a reminder of the number one safety rule — Always stay attached!


You have two ropes attached to your harness and the way you always stay attached is make sure at least one line is always clipped in at any given time.  For example, you are clipped to a safety rope as you climb the  ladder to get to a platform.  At the top of the platform, you unclip one carabiner from the safety line on the ladder and clip into a steel cable on the platform.  Once that carabiner is secured, you transfer your second, so you are never in a position to free fall.

Most of the activities were fun, but not terribly difficult.  Mike would try to up his level of difficulty by completing the task with no hands.   We had fun going through the course together.





Most of the time we were doing the course, I wasn’t even thinking about the height.   Only when I really stopped to look down did I appreciate how far up we were.


The obstacles we traversed were fun but they weren’t the main attraction, in our minds.    The course had two big highlights.

One was the “Tarzan Swing“.

There were two of these on the course.  In this obstacle, you clip to a rope, then step off the platform and pendulum swing into a vertical cargo net.  Then you have to climb up the net to get your next platform.   We encountered one of these swings at the beginning of the course, and another at the end.

Here’s Mike on the first Tarzan Swing.


Stuck the landing like Spiderman!


The second Tarzan Swing was closer to the end of the course and it was bigger and badder and we were feeling bolder.   Here is Mike has he takes a flying leap:


Then it was my turn.   I wasn’t worried.


Or was I?


Ahh a-a-a-ahhhh a-a-a-ahhhhhhhhhh!  (that’s me doing the Tarzan yell)


I didn’t have sticky fingers like Mike, so instead of hanging on to the net when I crashed into it, I rebounded a bit.  I was too busy laughing to hang on.


Eventually, I came back to the net and climbed my way up.


And yes, this was the physically demanding portion of the challenge.    We loved this swing so much, we went back and did it twice.  Here’s a video clip of Mike’s other Tarzan swing:

(Viewers using an RSS Reader will need to click through to view the video clips)

The other highlight of the course is the zip lines.   There is one zip line at the end of each stage and the last one finishes at the cabin where you first check in.

Here’s Mike going down a zip.


So here’s what you need to know about a zipline — it is designed to spin you around so that by the time you come to earth, you are facing backwards.    Presumably that is safer.  However, it results in you dragging your behind through the wood chips.  Not painful, you just look like an idiot.   If you can rotate your body so you are forward facing at the end you can simply run out the landing and come off looking like a pro.

So, how’d we do?  See for yourself.

First there’s Mike:

Then there’s Kendra:

Graceful, aren’t I?

Here’s a view on the way down:

And finally, here’s my redemption zip:

Yes, I still look like a loon, but I was determined to keep my body forward facing so I could finish strong.

And finish strong we did!


It was a wonderful date and a great way to celebrate 13 years of marriage.   I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll experience together in our next 13 years!

If you have the chance to Go Ape, I highly recommend it!

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3 Responses to Anniversary Mystery Date — A Chance to Go Ape!

  1. 1
    Grandpa says:

    Now that was really cool. Way to go.

  2. 2
    Grandma says:

    Wow, it looks exciting! An adventure right up your alley. Thanks for sharing with all of us readers who aren’t so daring!

  3. 3
    Mel says:

    So proud of you for planning this! And I’m envious, want to do it!
    Happy anniversary!!!

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