I had a dream last night involving a group of friends I like to go on adventures with and it reminded me of real-life experiences with them. One planned a trip to Iceland with me at a moment's notice, I spent a week in Nicaragua with three of them, and all of them spent a weekend with me a few years ago in exotic...Pigeon Forge, TN.
That may not sound like much of an adventure, but we went there specifically to do this:
That is a Zorb. And there are places you can pay to get in one and roll down a hill. And since my favorite justification for most of my weird ideas is - "Because I haven't done it before. Obviously.", I proceeded to recruit friends for ZORBAPALOOZA 2008.
I'm actually from Tennessee and am very familiar with Pigeon Forge and all it's cheesy, southern, touristy glory. So just taking a group of my urban DC friends there was adventure enough. They giggled at the accents and said things in awe like "I never knew a place like this EXISTED!" But the main reason we went was to try Zorbing.
There are about 8 of us that go, and as our car (the Girl Car) rounds the bend, we look over to the right and see a hillside full of what look like Human-size Gerbil Balls. Then we look in front of us (at The Boy Car) and see four arms simulateously shoot out of windows in a collective "YES!" fist pump of excitement. We have arrived.
And apparently, all you need to create a Zorbing place is:
1. A hill
2. A few Zorb "Wranglers" - aka, kids to push you down the hill
3. Zorbs. Which cost about $10,000 a piece.
And you can go down "wet" or "dry". Dry, you get harnassed in and flip over and over with the Zorb. Wet, you get thrown in with some water, and up to two other friends, and slip around in the zorb all the way down the hill.
I did a dry run first. I kept my eyes open, thinking I'd see the whole hillside on my roll. But instead, it quickly became a never-ending series of - Grass!...Sky!...Grass!...Sky! As the Zorb BOUNCES, taking you along for the ride against your will. It feels violent and I start giggling uncontrollably. But to my friends, taking video, it just looks like a smooth roll with something inside that sounds like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh every 2 seconds. That video shall not be viewed here.
My giggling DID finally cease, however, when my Grass! Sky! series became Brown Wood! Sky! which I figured meant I was about to stop, since this is where the ride should end:
...But then I see Grass! again. So I immediately fear I've somehow JUMPED the ending, and am careening towards my friends instead. So my Tigger-like "hoo hoos!" give way to panic. But then I stop here instead and everything is fine afterall:
Everything is fine, that is, until our last Wet Run. Here's where having a friend who is 6'7, his sister who is probably 5'9, and myself in a giant ball with water is not such a great idea. We all have giraffe limbs and I'm surprised one of us didn't end up with a black eye.
But you know what we did end up with?
A popped Zorb.
Like, the $10,000 Zorb.
At a place where no one has popped a Zorb before. We are THAT good.
In fairness, it wasn't our fault. After we squeezed ourselves into the Zorb and are waiting like excited Poodles to start our decent, we feel the Zorb Wrangler give a shove....then we don't move. He shoves a couple more times, then backs up a few feet and takes a running lunge, shouldering us out of the cattle gate we need to push through to get started.
So I'm happily hoo hoo'ing again, dodging elbows, heads, knees, etc. and we get to the end where they typically take a photo of you in the Zorb before you exit (which looks creepily similar to how babies come into the world so there will be no video of THAT here either). And instead of a photo, the Wranglers anxiously motion for us to Get Out. And of course, I'm all "but what about our phot..." "Get Out!! No Photo"
Turns out, on that last shove through the gate, the Zorb had snagged and was steadily losing air all the way down. While I was dejected at the loss of a photo op, the Wranglers were fearing our suffocation.
Death-risk and all, I'd absolutly do it again. But before I do, there's several other weird things on my list (Volcano Surfing, Riding Elephants through Thailand, running Tough Mudder where you get hit by electric shocks...) because: I haven't done those things before.