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Chapter 3: Zipping toward better health

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This is this is the third in a series of literacy enhancement articles that will appear biweekly in The Sentinel-News.

“May I have another apple?” I asked Mom as we traveled down the Mountain Parkway.

“You’ve eaten two, son,” Mom said. “I’m afraid more will hurt your belly.”

“The oatmeal and grapefruit were good, but they aren’t sticking to my ribs like a bacon-egg biscuit does,” I replied.

“My oatmeal was yummy,” Chloe said, “especially topped with honey. Besides, remember what Doc said about co-letter-straw?”

“It’s pronounced koe-LESS-tuh-rawl, sweetie” Mom said as she and Dad smiled.

“You’re right, Chloe,” I answered, thankful my sister cared about our health – and thankful Doc said I didn’t have to give up stuff for the rest of my life. I imagined sopping up my egg with Mom’s homemade biscuits when I saw “Exit 33: Slade/Beattyville.”

Dad took the exit ramp and pulled into the service station at 7:58 a.m. We spotted a canary yellow four-door pickup truck in the parking lot.

“Sam must be here!” I announced, unbuckling my seat belt. Instead of Sam, a pretty girl about 20 years old appeared.

“You must be Woody,” the girl said.

“Yes, ma’am?” I answered, waiting for the rest of my family. “Where’s Sam?”

“You’re looking at her,” she said with a gorgeous smile. “Sam is short for Samantha. And since you’re wondering, I’m as strong as any man,” she said, winking at me. “Hop in your car and follow me.”

“Hey, gang,” Sam said in a chipper voice when we arrived at our destination.

“Welcome to Red River Gorge. Most of the gorge is located inside Daniel Boone National Forest and has been designated a National Natural Landmark.”

“It’s beautiful, even though we’re in the middle of nowhere,” I said, trying to decide where we were.

“The gorge can be split into two different sections,” Sam told us, trying to help us get our bearings. “The upper section starts to the north of the town of Campton and finishes at the county line of Wolfe and Menifee counties.

The lower section begins at the Wolfe-Menifee county line and goes almost to Indian Creek in Powell County. The gorge features high sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls and natural bridges.

One of the world’s top rock-climbing destinations, the gorge has more than 100 natural sandstone arches – more than any other place except the Rocky Mountains.”

“We’ve never climbed rocks before,” Chloe informed Sam.

“We’re not going to be rock-climbing today, sweetheart. We’re going to zip-line!”

I didn’t know what zipper lining was, but Mom’s and Dad’s eyes became very large.

“Everyone needs to wear these harnesses, helmets and gloves – and empty all of your pockets. Once you’re ready I’ll explain everything,” Sam said.

We obeyed Sam’s orders. “Uh, Miss Sam, my equipment’s broken,” I told her. “There aren’t any zippers on here.”

Sam smiled, shook her head and explained.

“A zip line was originally used as a method of transportation where other methods are not practical, but today it is also used for recreation. Zip lines are created by stringing a strong cable between two points – in this case trees – and attaching a pulley to the cable. To use the zip line, we will attach you to the pulley and launch you across to the other side. Since you’re newbies, we are going to put you on the line that is only 330 feet across. Once we launch you, you’ll pick up speed and will travel around 50 miles an hour before you stop. Once you see the
other tree, start tapping the line with your glove. That’s your brake and will make you stop,” Sam explained, as if she was telling us how to ride a tricycle. “Any questions?” she asked.

 “How many zip lines are in Kentucky?” Dad asked.

“Currently there are at least six places in the state to zip,” Sam said, “but we’re adding new places all the time.”

“How is this exercise?” Chloe asked.

“It strengthens our muscles and gets the adrenaline pumping,” Sam explained. “Besides, we don’t want to start with strenuous activities since you aren’t in shape.”

I had a more important question.

“Uh, how high are we?”

“About 250 feet over the gorge,” Sam said as my tummy did somersaults.

With that, Sam attached our family to the pulleys, and before I knew it I was soaring across the gorge to the other side. Even though it was fast, I was still aware of my major mistake.

 

For more about the series including audio versions of each chapter, visit www.kypress.com.