Sunday, July 29, 2007

If you hate heights - avoid cable cars!

This is my advice to all others like me who are afraid of heights. Here's a little back ground, I have never been a fan of heights from the days of not being able to jump off the high dive as a kid, to hating driving over bridges as an adult. My fear has not seemed to simmer with time, it seems to get progressively worse. Hence this weekend

So this weekend with the gang (our 7:11 running club) we took a bus to the French Town of Chamonix (pronouned ShA-mo-knee.) In the winter it is a huge Alpine skiing resort and in the summer it is a great little tourist town, great for hikers and mountain climbers. It also has access to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, it's 4,808 meters high. From Charmonix you can take a cable car up to 3842 meters, about 13,000 feet. And that's what the group decided to do, I gave some subtle protests, but my husband gave me the look that said don't be a baby, you are going. And despite my best effort to convince everyone that we should take the train to the glacier first, I did not protest enough. The next thing I know I am waiting in line to board a cable car.

As I wait to board this cable car, I get this over whelming fear as everyone else is laughing and joking about it falling. Yuck, yuck, yuckity... The next thing I know, I am crying under my sunglasses, trying not to be noticed. Which became difficult do to the fact that the tears, where now rolling down my cheek. I get on the cable car, and firmly plant myself on the pole. Then I try to calm down, which didn't happen. I am not sob (the silent kind) trying not to draw attention to my ridiculousness. All of the group, including my husband who realized that I was not faking the fear, started to promise me things. By the end of the ride I had two outfits from Anthropologie and they don't need to be on sale. So then other people on the cable car who had started to not really paid attention to me because they were looking out the windows to the spectacular views, now noticed this silly American with sunglasses on and tears pouring down her face. They begin to point and laugh at me. Yes, it is humiliating. I am starting to be able to laugh at it, but so far it's only a small chuckle. Not nearly as funny as anyone else finds it.

What I didn't know about this cable car trip is it isn't just one cable car. You get to a certain point and then get off and head to another immediately to head further up the mountain. I was horrified. The second trip was even more terrifying than the first, why well now we are over cliffs of rock that are straight down drops 100s of meters. It was windy and when we finally get to the top the car slammed into the side of the mountain, and everyone gasped as I almost collapsed to the floor. As soon as the doors opened I was off of that car as fast as possible.

I get off this cable car and what do I have to do, cross a freaking wooden bridge thousands of feet up in the air and the worst part is you can see holes in this bridge. It was like my worst nightmare. Everyone else is la-de-dah fine, because clearly I am only nut job on the trip. They are all walking around the mountain on these wooden decks that hang off the side of the mountain. No thank you! I stayed in the cave. Then after about 15 minutes, I said screw this, I am heading for the cafeteria/bar. This is Europe so every cafeteria serves beer and that is exactly what I needed. I had several, one of every flavor. Yes it was only noon, but desperate times calls from desperate measures. I have learned if you have a true fear and you let your husband talk you into taking a cable car up a freaking mountain and there is no way to get off this mountain besides going back down in the cable car and I couldn't live there, I needed to get some courage to get back down. So I opted for liquid kind. And it helped. I was scared on the way down but no more tears.

We actually stopped on the way down and went hiking. That I really enjoyed. We ended up at the blue lake, which is glacier water. Robert (pronounced Robear) from Ohio and Joe (aka Dusty Booth) also from Ohio, where the only ones brave enough to wade in, I did not. But I think I would have liked to do more hiking but we had to get back to the train station to catch our bus. Our 108 Chf bus, with a very cranky baby, who cried the entire 1.5 hour ride home.

Once we got back to town, we walked around the cute little shops. I really liked the town and could have spent more time there and less time on the freaking cable car. But who is keeping track. Despite everything, I really had a good time and I am really enjoying my new fun friends.

So how do we top off our trip up the mountain, well today we spent 4 hours at the laundromat in the red light district. Yes there are only two laundromats in Geneva, and only one is open on Sunday. It was really interesting to watch all the ladies of the nights walk by on Sunday. Our favorite was the Granny Tranny. There is more to come but it is 12 am and I need to get up by 7:11 in order to maintain my status in the club. (Pictures to follow.)


Anonymous said...

I can empathize with your heights issue. On my visit to Switzerland, I was forced to take a ski lift up the mountain in the Alps. It didn't go nearly as high as your cable cars, but with this I was sitting on a little bench seat, attached to a cable, moving up the mountain above the trees. The worst was when we'd get to a support tower, the chair would jump, and it'd feel like it was coming off of the cable. As if that wasn't bad enough, it was my first time snowboarding (and last), and I fell every ten feet for half of the mountain, then I got smart and hiked down the rest. Your story does have a happy ending though, the delicious beer. Ummmmmmmmmm, beeeeeeeeeeeer, is there nothing it can't do...

Anonymous said...

I don't think I have ever crossed the Mackinac bridge and taken in the sights - head in lap all the way!!! I soooo sympathize with you Jenny. I managed to talk my husband out of a trip on the Algoma railroad, on our honeymoon, when I realized the only way to get to the station was on a rail bridge about 7000 ft in the air and it was wooden!!!! We are so glad to hear you are having a good time! Wish we were there too! Things went well here in St. Clair this weekend with 275 barrels of beer being consumed! You were working on that! Have a good time.