Today we celebrated my daughter’s birthday in high style. A couple of weeks ago I put together my Bucket List and I had “zip lining” on it. When Chablis saw it, she said she’d like to try it also. I told her that if she could find some place close to home to do it, then I’d take her for her birthday. Well, the “Queen of Research” got busy, did just that and upped the ante a bit.
Enter “Lake Geneva Canopy Tours” which is located, where else, in Lake Geneva Wisconsin.
Not only was it Zip Lining, it was also a tree canopy tour. Chablis invited her brother to join us, so we left the house today at 7 am, stuck the new Lady Gaga cd into the dash and rocked the whole 90 minute drive to Lake Geneva.
Upon arrival we were directed to ground zero where we were joined by 2 more guests. Our group consisted of 5 guests and 2 guides. All the equipment was laid out on the floor...
We were helped into all the gear, which consisted of leg and shoulder harnesses, leather gloves and safety helmets.
Then they handed each of us a magic marker and told us to write nicknames on our partners’ helmets. We were then referred to by our nicknames the entire tour. Chablis was named “Birthday Princess,” Tony was called “Estaban” which is Chablis’ favorite nickname for him and I became “Byrd” since that is what my kids
jokingly lovingly call me in the morning when my hair is sticking up in the air.
“Psycho” and “Boss” rounded out our group.
We all piled into the Ranger and were driven to the training center where we spent about 20 minutes going over hand signals, instructions and procedures like proper hand placement, braking, parking and emergency retrieval. Then each of us was strapped onto the practice cable for a test swing and asked to demonstrate all the proper maneuvers.
Once Dave and Will were satisfied that we knew what we were doing, we headed down a wooded path to the first stage.
The Canopy Tour consists of 8 zip lines through the trees, 5 sky bridges and several floating staircases. Zip is the operative word here – you really sail through the air on some of them. The first zip line was named “Butterfly” and it was a short line, not very high off the ground, and designed for you to get used to the procedures.
Each zip line has a special name, like "The Beast" or "Turkey" and each has a varying degree of height and length.
My favorite zip line on the course itself was 840 feet long. For each zip line you stand on the deck, your guide snaps your carabineers to the cable, you get the ok to go, lift your feet and glide off into space. It’s surprisingly smooth and quick.
One of the guides is always on the opposite side waiting for you and he gives you hand signals when to start applying the brakes. It’s really quite simple.
I have to say that I was impressed by 2 things – first of all, the guides. We had Dave and Will and they were very friendly, liked to joke around with all the guests and put everyone at ease. Halfway through the tour they lead everyone in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Chablis. I think she will always remember having 6 people singing happy birthday to her while strapped to a cable, 50 ft. high up in the trees. The 2nd thing I really liked was the safety factor. They are extremely safety conscious. Each person has 2 safety straps and you are attached at all times by at least one of them. As the guides move you from cable to cable, they first unhook one strap and then hook it to the next cable and then they unhook and rehook the 2nd strap. They are constantly checking straps and counting them. I felt very safe and secure the entire time.
The hanging bridges were fun to scramble across and the winding staircases were really neat. They all took us to higher levels and again, we were always safely strapped to a cable when traversing any of them.
The entire canopy tour and zip lining took about 2 hours. I think 5 people was a perfect size group – easy to manage and by the end of the tour we felt like old friends with the guides as well as the other folks. We all took turns going first or last and there was plenty of time for photo opportunities.
Look Ma - No Hands!!
Yeah, I can tell these are my kids!
But we weren’t done yet! Usually the Racing Zip lines are a separate deal at a different price, but Canopy Tours is running a special right now and we got to do it for free at the end of our tour!! The 1100 ft. zip line is total excitement. Here's the tower and the view from the top is breathtaking.
2 of you get to go at the same time, on separate cables.
They hook you up, tell you to go and you run off the end of the deck into thin air. Here's our guide showing us how to take the leap of faith!
OMG-Talk about your heart pumping! Chablis and Tony take the plunge...
You sail down the cable at around 40 mph. AWESOME! I loved it – it was my favorite part.
Afterwards you head back to ground zero and get out of the gear. We filled out a short questionnaire and stuffed some money in the tip jar for our well-deserving guides. They worked hard, but the tips were not solicited in any way. That's totally up to you to leave them a tip.
We really had a great time. The weather was about 70 degrees and sunny, but they will do tours in the snow and also when it’s raining as long as it’s not lightening. Halfway through the tour they offered us free water bottles, which was much appreciated and a nice touch on their part. I thought the whole thing was well run and very professional. It was a great experience for us. I want to do it again! Thanks again to Lake Geneva Canopy Tours for a fun day!
Afterwards we stopped at Popeye’s on Lake Geneva for BBQ pork sandwiches for lunch ....
and then headed home for birthday cake...
It was a wonderful birthday adventure for Chablis and I got to scratch something off my bucket list. I like the way that worked out! Happy Birthday Bee!