Good Friday morning ...
When I was a kid ... we called it a cable slide.
Today it's called a zipline. Essentially, it's the same thing ... just a little more sophisticated.
Back then ... it was a sloping length of used half-inch cable (greased to the max with ball bearing grease), stretched maybe 100 feet across a marshy, muddy creek between a huge, straight-up Southern Pine on one side and an old, gnarly Red Oak on the other.
Today ... it is a taut stainless steel cable stretched between old-growth Ponderosa Pines or a stand of tall Western Aspens ... perhaps stretching through a tunnel of low-growing pines or crisscrossing above a churning river, swollen with spring snowmelt or zipping across a canyon, down a mountain, or through a canopy of trees.
Back then ... a short, foot-long piece of one-inch pipe (also greased to the max) would slide along the cable from the high end of the slide to the low end, with a dangling pull-back rope attached for retrieving the pipe to the start position.
Today ... the zipline is an elaborately designed pulley, with patented braking system, that glides on top of the cable providing a smooth, effortless ride and eliminating the need for riders to slow down by grasping the cable with leather gloves.
Back then ... you mounted the cable slide by climbing a makeshift ladder of wooden slats nailed into the trunk of the tree to which the cable was attached ... then grasped the greased pipe with both gloved hands while kicking off from the tree with either one or two feet.
Today ... you don a padded, full-body Petzel harness designed for search-and-rescue workers, cover your head with a special helmet and your feet with close-toed shoes ... then mount a manufactured platform that hugs the host tree without the use of invasive bolts.
Back then ... it was a cheap (read that as FREE), take-as-many-rides-as-you-want
Today ... the sport of sailing through the air while tethered to a steel cable is big business with some 400 commercial zipline operations worldwide, including 175 in Costa Rica alone. The length and height of the lines vary as does the duration of the ride (90 seconds is the longest) and the cost (from $39 for a half hour to $125 for two hours ... of course waiting in line counts toward your time).
Back then ... it was about as safe as a group of country bumpkins could make it without getting too fancy ... requiring little skill but lots of guts and gumption and a loud boyish yell when casting off the tree or dropping off into the muddy creek below midway through the descent.
Today ... it is an OSHA approved, adrenaline addict's dream-come-true with adventure packages taking you from the mountains of New Hampshire to those of Hawaii, from the tundra of Alaska to the peaks of Idaho ... and costing as much as $329 per day.
As I think back on that boyhood cable slide ... it was a pretty good, year-after-year deal! It was nothing elaborate, mind you ... but provided hour-after-hour, day-after-day enjoyment for long periods of time and was then left dormant for months at a time until once again we got that zany urge to experience the joy of taking off like Tarzan. It was not seen, way back then, as it is today ... as a means of "communing with nature" or confronting our fears or sharpening our teamwork skills ... though I am sure all these aptitudes were subtlely tested and developed. More to our boyhood liking ... our cable slide was just pure, unadulterated, good-time fun for Randy Schiemann, Mike Pierce and myself and an occasional wild ride for city-slickers-turned-country-d
Such childhood memories flourish in my mind some days and it's a good thing! The day soon comes when childhood memories from sixty years ago fade and "strong men stoop ... and songs grow faint ... and desire is no longer stirred" ... as the Preacher relates it in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes.
My joy is knowing that right now there are boys and girls building their own childhood memories that will one day be the theme of their reminiscence. And further joy comes in knowing that somewhere in this wide world, there are some adventuresome boys who will invent their own homemade cable slide and will come to enjoy the ride of their young lives!
"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them.'" [Ecclesiastes 12:1]
Have a great weekend in the Lord ... perhaps remembering some of your own childhood memories ... but more importantly "remembering your Creator."