Extreme travel: Riding Verrückt, the world’s tallest water slide

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “I think I see something menacing out there,” said Ken, one of the travel writers on our Extreme Kansas City press trip, as our van turned into the drive at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kan. A 79-year-old writer from Tennessee, Ken had been fairly quiet on the first two days of the trip so his quip surprised us and the understated delivery of his words made us laugh.

For those of us preparing to ride Verrückt, ours was a nervous laugh. “Something menacing” looked downright threatening as I walked toward the wooden tower jutting into the otherwise flat landscape. The ride is twice as high as Kansas City code officials normally allow structures. This whole area had been farmland before it was developed a decade ago into Village West, a shopping, dining and entertainment district that is now Kansas’ No. 1 tourism destination.

We were there at 9:45 to go down the slide before the gates opened to the public at 10 a.m. Our guide, Layne, walked us past the line of hundreds waiting to get into the park. They weren’t there to get the first tube for the lazy river; they were there early to ensure they got to go down the world’s tallest water slide that opened in mid-July. As Layne took us through the gate that would be opening in just a few minutes he said, “Excuse me, coming through with some reporters.” A man shouted from the crowd: “Those look like your friends.”

Schlitterbahn is a family-owned and operated company started in New Braunfels, Texas, which has a German heritage, thus the name that translates to “slippery road.” Verrückt means “insane” in German.

Surprisingly, there were no waivers to sign. Instead, a ride staffer read aloud a warning about all that could happen to us on the ride, including “mental damage,” and we had to verbally acknowledge that we understood the risks. We then stood on a scale to determine if our group of three riders fell within the 400 and 550 pound range. We did, so we were given wrist bands and a handwritten No. 1 to represent the first raft of the day.

We were then sent up the tower’s 264 spiral stairway built from recycled railroad tankers. When you reach the top you are higher than Niagara Falls or the Statue of Liberty, and there’s a great view of Kansas Speedway and the Village West development to the west and the Kansas City skyline to the east. It’s hard to appreciate the view, though, when you’re thinking about your options for getting down.

The staff calls a Code 528 (264 steps up + 264 steps down) if a rider chickens out and chooses to walk. Our group decided to follow-through and were asked to step once more on a scale. Both scales we stepped on do not show a weight, just a red or green light.

Even though we’d just met, the three of us had wanted to ride together because neither me or Kathleen wanted to be in front and Tina actually wanted to be in front. We knew that we would be placed in the raft lightest in front to heaviest in back. Just by looking at each other we were certain Tina would get the seat she wanted. I ate a muffin AND a scone for breakfast just in case I needed a couple pounds to make my way to at least the middle seat ;-)

Since we didn’t actually know each others’ weight and the ride staff was insistent we ride in the correct order, I blurted out my weight and we were all able to take our spots in the raft. I ended up in the middle seat, which turned out to be the driest spot!

Once seated in the rubber raft that is on a conveyor belt, I was instructed to pull two velcro straps across myself. Just to be safe, I asked one of the ride staff to make sure I was strapped in correctly. I wanted to be strapped in as tight as possible! At this point, my breathing was getting pretty quick. I was trying to think of ways to stall us from going…asking questions. I don’t recall all that was said to us but what I do remember is: hold onto the rope or handles that line the inside of the raft and do not put your arms up or outside the raft at any time. Seriously, someone is going to do that?!? I was white-knuckling the “oh-shit” handles as soon as I saw them in the raft.

Kathleen, seated behind me, said exactly what I was thinking: “Shit. Shit. Shit. Why do I do this?”

As I was sitting in the raft 168 feet and 7 inches above the ground, all I could see in front of us was sky. No ride structure, no water … just sky and netting. That meant this ride was going straight down. This was the mental damage portion of the ride.

“Shit. Shit. Shit. Why do I do this?”

A gate swung open and our raft moved forward, slowly at first and then there was a push and suddenly our entire raft tilted down. It felt like being at the edge of a building and being pushed over the side. The screaming started immediately and I was determined to keep my eyes open even though the instinct was to shut them. At some point, water was spraying in my face but I tried to keep at least one eye open.The front and back passengers got wet but not completely soaked. My hair got a little wet on one side and my feet and legs got wet when stepping into the pool of water at the end of the ride to get out.

What did I see? Nothing that I can remember! The entire ride is over in 18 seconds and travels the distance of two football fields. That’s a lot of blur.

Here’s what Schlitterbahn officials tell me I did:

  • that very first terrifying part was a free-fall of 17 stories in 4 seconds. We were traveling at a 60-degree angle and at about 50 miles per hour.
  • the raft hit a 22-degree dip and slowed down before blaster jets propelled us up a 55-foot hill that is considered the world’s largest uphill water slide. What goes up must come down, so there was then a 5-story plummet to end the ride.

Before I traveled from Wichita to Kansas City to ride Verrückt, I had several people shake their heads when I told them what I was doing. Someone swore there was no netting on the ride. Several told me about video they’d watched of rafts launching in one direction and riders being tossed in another direction on the hill portion of the ride. Many told me they would pee themselves if they went on the ride. All of this was fueled by the fact that the ride opening had been postponed from Memorial Day to mid-July.

(1) There is netting.

(2) That video was during development of the ride and before $1 million in design revisions were incorporated. Schlitterbahn likes to say the ride is “safe dangerous.”

(3) I did not pee myself.

After I had stopped screaming and the ride had stopped, my first reaction was: I would totally ride Verrückt again!

So are you ready to do it??? If so, you have only this weekend to get your scream on. The park closes after Labor Day and reopens in May 2015.

Verruckt Schlitterbahn water slide

<photo> Our group on the initial drop. This is about where your brain and vocal cords sync up and the screaming starts.

Verruckt Schlitterbahn water slide

<photo> Our group nearing the base of the drop; the raft plummets 17 stories in 4 seconds on this part of the ride.

Verruckt Schlitterbahn water slide

<photo> Our group blasting down the 5-story hill, which is considered the tallest uphill water slide.

Verruckt Schlitterbahn water slide

<photo> This photo is courtesy of Schlitterbahn because we were not allowed to take our cameras with us on the ride. I wanted you to see what it was like on the most terrifying part of the ride…right before you free-fall.

 

Disclosure: I was invited to ride Verrückt as part of a press trip; however, all opinions are my own. Schlitterbahn did not tell me to tell you I didn’t pee my pants. I really didn’t pee my pants.

Posted in travel

#Schummer14: Day 27-28 recap ~ the end of Summer of Schnyder 

#schummer14 driving home midwestOur last two days of the Summer of Schnyder (#schummer14) road trip were spent driving through familiar territory – from Cincinnati, Ohio, we went across Indiana, Illinois (which we passed through at the beginning of the trip, although farther north) and then into my home state of Missouri and finally Kansas.

We arrived in my hometown of Columbia, Mo., on Sunday afternoon in time to have dinner with my step-dad, my nephew and his wife and my sister-in-law at G&D, a small, family-owned steakhouse that opened a year before I was born. I remember having meals here every Friday night with my parents and aunt & uncle in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Since I wasn’t sure exactly when we would get to Columbia, I didn’t make plans with anyone ahead of time, I just texted a few people on my way into town. I was able to see a couple of friends briefly but it didn’t look like my schedule was going to work out with my dad, who lives about an hour northwest of Columbia. It turned out he had a doctor’s appointment in Columbia on Monday morning so he wouldn’t be home for us to stop by and see. Since he doesn’t have a cell phone, it would be hard to coordinate in the morning not knowing exactly how long his appointment would go. I talked to him on the phone and we just decided that I would get back in the fall and see him then.

When I woke up Monday morning, it was bothering me that I wasn’t going to get to see my dad. So I told Lee I wanted to just drive by the doctor’s office and maybe if it wasn’t a real big place we would see my dad’s car and we could wait for about 30 minutes to see if his appointment went quickly. We were trying to time leaving the hotel with when my dad’s appointment started. While we waited, Lee made a phone call to turn our cable back on. It should have been a quick call but Cox Communications made it a difficult process and transferred Lee to two people. Finally, I told him we needed to go so we would have to chance the call dropping as we took the elevator (it didn’t). We headed to the address of the doctor’s office and as soon as I turned the corner I see that it’s right next to one of the huge hospitals and there are huge parking garages and multiple buildings. “Well, there’s no way we will find his car here,” I said, as I turned by the building to turn around and head back out. As we drove by the building Lee spotted my dad standing outside waiting for his car to be brought to him! What are the chances?!? Lee jumped out of the car to go tell my dad we were there and to coordinate where we could meet up for breakfast. Getting to have breakfast with him made my day!

On the way out of town we drove by Memorial Stadium, home of the Missouri Tigers. I couldn’t believe how much the renovations during the off-season have changed the profile of the stadium. Can’t wait to catch a game there this fall!

After breakfast we drove home to Wichita. As a sign that we weren’t yet sick of each other, we actually took the long way home. We’ve never done this before and I highly recommend getting off the major highways in Kansas, either if you’re a Kansan or a visitor passing through the state. We followed part of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway from Emporia down to I-35 just east of Wichita. It was a beautifully, sunny day and it was nice to not feel like we were in a rush to get where we were going, even after 28 days in the car together.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> A sure sign we were getting back to the real midwest — Sonic drive-thrus!

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> I didn’t catch a photo of the super moon in Columbia but the sky earlier in the evening was beautiful.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Me and my step-dad Charles.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Me and my dad, Jim.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Flint Hills of Kansas.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Reflection of our vehicle.

#schummer14 driving home midwest

<photo> Lee driving us the long way home through the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in College, Family, Friends, Lee, travel

#Schummer14: Day 25-26 recap of Summer of Schnyder ~ Cincinnati, Ohio

#schummer14 Cincinnati Ohio

We made another change to our Summer of Schnyder itinerary by altering our route home. Instead of going through Cleveland, we went straight to Cincinnati because we realized that we didn’t really have time to do much there (and Lee had already been there for a baseball game).

Lee had been to Cincinnati years ago and saw a game at the old stadium; I’d never been. But the main draw was that our friend Melissa had recently moved there and we wanted to hang out with her for a few days.

We arrived on a Friday in time for a late lunch at Dewey’s Pizza, where we had tasty pizza even though their salads looked yummy. These kinds of choices – I’ll let you decide if they were good or bad – were the theme for the entire weekend!

The three of us went to a Cincinnati Reds game that night at Great American Ball Park. We parked at Newport on the Levee in Kentucky and walked across the bridge to the stadium. It was a really nice stadium with great views, and I liked that there were a lot of local food options in the stadium. Lee had a burger from regional fast food chain Frisch’s Big Boy and I went with a Skyline cheese coney. Lee loved his burger, I wouldn’t get the coney again. The Cincinnati-style chili is too sweet for me and the amount of cheese on this tiny hot dog was insane. Next time I’ll go with the $16 helmet nachos. We watched these being made and they looked good & messy: they fill a full-size plastic batting helmet with chips and then pour on ladles of salsa and cheese.

We stuck around for fireworks after the game and were surprised to get to see 20 Reds legends take the field while the pyro team was preparing. The next night was an induction into the Reds Hall of Fame so all of these guys were back for that. It was neat to see the Griffeys and Johnny Bench, and I realized I should have worn my Baseball Bunch t-shirt (I wore it the next day)!

Saturday we had lunch at Tom+Chee, which Lee and I had seen featured on the TV show Shark Tank. They started as a food truck in Cincinnati and became so popular that they now have storefronts and are starting to franchise. The concept is grilled cheese and tomato soup…they have simple as well as fancy versions. I love grilled cheese sandwiches so I don’t mind paying $6 for a good one with bacon! Yum.

We spent the afternoon at Union Terminal, opened in 1933 for the railroad and now home to several museums along with still being an active train station. I love these old Art Deco buildings. Melissa and I went to the Diana, A Celebration traveling exhibit that had been touring the world since 2003 and was at its final stop before the items return to Princess Di’s sons. Lee checked out the natural history and the Cincinnati history museums.

On the way back to the suburb where Melissa lives, we stopped at a well-known local ice cream shop – Graeter’s. We had A LOT of ice cream during a month of driving in mostly touristy destinations but THIS is the ice cream I am still craving y’all. They offer mail-order and I’m considering it. It is hand-dipped and their specialty is chips … so there’s mint chocolate chip, their best-selling black raspberry chocolate chip and seasonal favorites like the one I had – banana chocolate chip. I was expecting the little hard chocolate chunks that I’m not really a fan of but this was chewy chunks of milk chocolate. Amazingly good. Melissa’s brother told us that they had a unique process that results in each scoop of ice cream having different size chunks so I looked it up on their website. They’ve been in business since 1870 and although they’ve now grown to be a commercial ice cream operation, they still use their small-batch process. They use a French Pot method that involves hand-stirring the chocolate in to create the chips and making just two gallons of ice cream at a time.

That night we had dinner with Melissa’s brother and mother at a restaurant called Flipdaddy’s. As you can see from above, I had blown any calorie counting for the day out of the Ohio River so I decided to go big at dinner: I had a Macdaddy, which was a giant burger topped with grilled macaroni and cheese.

Cincinnati = good friends and good food! They are promising me donuts on my next visit, but first we gotta stop for some Graeter’s. I’m thinking the Reds need to start serving a full-size helmet full of their chocolate chip ice cream!

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Melissa and Lee on the bridge from Kentucky to Ohio with the Cincinnati ballpark and football stadium in the background.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> View from our seats at Great American Ball Park.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> The cauldrons light up when a Cincinnati pitcher strikes out a batter — we saw it happen 11 times!

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> View from the outfield at Great American Ball Park.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Melissa and MeLinda at the game.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Post-game fireworks.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Skyline cheese coney at the ballgame. No, I did not order extra cheese.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Lee with the Big Boy at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Tom+Chee: grilled cheese with bacon and a dipper of tomato soup.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Union Terminal in Cincinnati.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> Some of the Art Deco-ness of the train station in Cincy.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> The traveling Diana exhibit at Union Terminal.

#schummer14 cincinnati ohio

<photo> The Macdaddy burger at Flipdaddy’s — a burger topped with grilled macaroni and cheese.

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel

#Schummer14: Day 24 recap of Summer of Schnyder ~ the long drive toward home starts

#schummer14 road trip northeastWe have been fortunate on the Schummer of Schnyder trip to not have very many days of long driving with no stops – we pretty much went state to state here in the northeast. For example, we had breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and lunch in Portland, Maine, where we spent the rest of the day. Even driving up to our farthest eastern destination – Bar Harbor – was a slow drive winding along the coast of Maine with stops in many of the small harbor towns.

So when Thursday, Aug. 7 came along we were prepared to suck it up and just drive. Well, Lee did the driving and I sat there reading magazines and looking out the window enough to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

We originally planned to have a day and night in Connecticut to explore, but we realized we just didn’t have enough time to really see the state so we’ve shelved having Mystic Pizza for another trip. We also decided against a stop at the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, a destination we decided we could get back to via an airplane trip sometime.

Maybe I should explain here that we only count visiting a state if we spend the night there. So driving through doesn’t count toward on our list of state’s we’ve visited. This would explain why we chose to spend the night in Wheeling, West Virginia, on Day 24 of #Schummer14. We are now only missing: Delaware (both), Connecticut (both), Idaho (both), North Dakota (both), Alaska (both), Oregon  (Lee), Mississippi (Lee), North Carolina (MeLinda).

Our route once we left Cape Cod included 35 minutes through Rhode Island (at a diagonal, it would’ve been much shorter straight across), lengthwise along the coast of Connecticut, then briefly into New York and New Jersey before spending more than three hours on the horrible Pennsylvania Turnpike that incredulously charged us $17 and dumped us out on 14 miles of hell also known as I-70 in West Virginia.

As I posted on Facebook, we were in West Virginia 16 miles and 10 hours and that was 16 miles and 10 hours of my life I will never get back. At the end of a very long driving day, I was pretty annoyed that the Marriott in Wheeling didn’t warn me when I’d talked to them earlier in the day to ask for a quiet room and let them know we’d be arriving late. Clearly this was major ongoing night construction that affected the exit for their hotel as well as closure of the exit before the hotel, removing the alternative route available once drivers realized two miles of I-70 were going to take 45 minutes to get through at 10 p.m. When we mentioned this to the desk clerk the next morning (letting him know it would be a courtesy to tell future guests), his response was: “Oh, I don’t usually go that route.”

My response {in my mind}: You know what route you can go right now, buddy? Yeah, you AND the horse you rode in on.

I have always been a fan of the Kansas Turnpike and now I would consider myself the president of the fan club.

We did enjoy the day overall though. We had beautiful scenery at times, tried TastyKakes for the first time, ate great barbecue in Pennsylvania and saw a gorgeous sunset. After 699 miles, seven states and 14 hours that day, we arrived at our destination tired but safe.

#schummer14 road trip northeast

<Photo> Sorry to my Pennsylvania friends but I guess I didn’t try the right flavor of TastyKake. I had the butterscotch krumpet and it wasn’t anything special. It was like a twinkie with no filling.

#schummer14 road trip northeast

#schummer14 road trip northeast

<photo> I joked on Facebook that this was my favorite photo of West Virginia … on my way out of the state!

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel

#Schummer14: Day 21-23 recap of Summer of Schnyder ~ Cape Cod, Massachusetts

#schummer14 cape codThe subtitle of this post, written jointly by Lee & MeLinda, is:

43 {miles & years}

~~~

We were already three weeks into our month-long road trip from Kansas to Maine and still hadn’t had any completely relaxing days where we laid by the pool or on the beach reading a book all day. We’re not complaining – we were on a 30-day vacation after all; we are just explaining that most of our days were full of activity.

As we drove toward Cape Cod on a Monday morning, Day 21 of our month-long road trip, we figured this might finally be the time to stop for a day and really chill out. We were both feeling tired and optimistic that the accommodations at the Platinum Pebble in West Harwich, Mass., would be the perfect place to take a day off.

Even as we said this plan out loud to each other and then to the operator of the bed & breakfast where we stayed, we knew it was going to be tough to pull off. We both like to explore all these new places we are visiting and there always seems to be another hike we want to do or a ballgame to see.

So did we manage to spend a day doing nothing?? Read on to find out…

Day 1 in Cape Cod (Day 21 of the trip):

The drive to Cape Cod from Providence, Rhode Island, was very short. We made a stop at a museum MeLinda had read about while researching the trip: the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., just as you get to Cape Cod. We spent about three hours having lunch and walking the grounds, which included a windmill, many small gardens, big bug sculptures and a very cool antique car display.

From here, the drive over to where we were staying while in Cape Cod took about 45 minutes. (Everyone says to think of Cape Cod as an arm bent upward as if you are flexing your bicep. If you do that, consider that we drove in from the shoulder and were staying the elbow area.)

We arrived at the Platinum Pebble mid-afternoon and were given a tour of the property and our room by Simon, who owns the inn with his wife Annabelle. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the inn’s gorgeous and quiet pool with magazines and books in hand. If you keep up with MeLinda on Facebook, you likely read about the pool incident that made this not a completely relaxing afternoon. We’ll share that story again for anyone not on Facebook:

An older couple was at the pool as well and we made small talk. The wife went into their room, which was just off the pool, to take a shower and the man continued doing a walking pattern in the shallow end. I got out to dry off and read poolside. Lee followed five minutes later. The man laid back in the water and made a noise like it hurt, which caused me to look up from my magazine. I was watching the man in the pool as Lee was arranging his towel and about to sit down on the lounger. The man rolled over and it looked like he was trying to lift his body up but couldn’t and then his head went underwater. Even though he was only in 3 feet of water, the man was struggling to lift his face out of the water and I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to be able to lift himself. He started that scary face-down float that until now I’ve only seen in movies. I got Lee’s attention and he jumped back in the pool and lifted the man’s head up and got him to the edge of the pool while I yelled inside the main inn for Simon. Simon & Lee got him out of the pool and into a chair. Lee saved this man’s life! I tear up thinking about what would have happened if we hadn’t been out there and how great Lee always is in a crisis. He amazes me!

We left the pool and the Platinum Pebble in time to grab some dinner along with a special treat for dessert, the always challenging dipped cone. There truly isn’t a correct way to eat a dipped cone without a stream of vanilla goodness dripping down your hands and clothes. Luckily there were no cameras around when we shared this cold mess.

We then headed over to watch a Cape Cod baseball game and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of what is considered the best amateur league in the country. It was basically the size of a high school field and they don’t charge admission. We were seeing one of the better teams in the league along with a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It was a big crowd and the weather was perfect. Several players were from the Midwest and one was from Missouri but didn’t respond when MeLinda yelled M-I-Z as he waited on deck. This led MeLinda to immediately determine he falsified his college status.

So this might look like a lot of activity but for us it was a pretty laid back day!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Lee in front of his favorite auto from this amazing collection: a 1932 Auburn Boattail Speedster dubbed the chick magnet.

Day 1 in Cape Cod (Day 21 of the trip):  The drive to Cape Cod from Providence, Rhode Island, was very short. We made a stop at a museum MeLinda had read about while researching the trip: the Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., just as you get to Cape Cod. We spent about three hours having lunch and walking the grounds, which included a windmill, many small gardens, big bug sculptures and a very cool antique car display.  From here, the drive over to where we were staying while in Cape Cod took about 45 minutes. (Everyone says to think of Cape Cod as an arm bent upward as if you are flexing your bicep. If you do that, consider that we drove in from the shoulder and were staying the elbow area.)  We arrived at the Platinum Pebble mid-afternoon and were given a tour of the property and our room by Simon, who owns the inn with his wife Annabelle. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the inn’s gorgeous and quiet pool with magazines and books in hand. If you keep up with MeLinda on Facebook, you likely read about the pool incident that made this not a completely relaxing afternoon. We’ll share that story again for anyone not on Facebook:  An older couple was at the pool as well and we made small talk. The wife went into their room, which was just off the pool, to take a shower and the man continued doing a walking pattern in the shallow end. I got out to dry off and read poolside. Lee followed five minutes later. The man laid back in the water and made a noise like it hurt, which caused me to look up from my magazine. I was watching the man in the pool as Lee was arranging his towel and about to sit down on the lounger. The man rolled over and it looked like he was trying to lift his body up but couldn’t and then his head went underwater. Even though he was only in 3 feet of water, the man was struggling to lift his face out of the water and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to be able to lift himself. He started that scary face-down float that until now I’ve only seen in movies. I got Lee's attention and he jumped back in the pool and lifted the man's head up and got him to the edge of the pool while I yelled inside the main inn for Simon. Simon & Lee got him out of the pool and into a chair. Lee saved this man's life! I tear up thinking about what would have happened if we hadn't been out there and how great Lee always is in a crisis. He amazes me!  We left the pool and the Platinum Pebble in time to grab some dinner along with a special treat for dessert, the always challenging dipped cone. There truly isn’t a correct way to eat a dipped cone without a stream of vanilla goodness dripping down your hands and clothes. Luckily there were no cameras around when we shared this cold mess.  We then headed over to watch a Cape Cod baseball game and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of what is considered the best amateur league in the country. It was basically the size of a high school field and they don’t charge admission. We were seeing one of the better teams in the league along with a team fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It was a big crowd and the weather was perfect. Several players were from the Midwest and one was from Missouri but didn’t respond when MeLinda yelled M-I-Z as he waited on deck. This led MeLinda to immediately determine he falsified his college status.  So this might look like a lot of activity but for us it was a pretty laid back day!

<photo> Calamari with fries and onion rings at the Kreme ‘n Kone.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Lee: this isn’t going to end well. He was right.

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

Day 2 in Cape Cod (Day 22 of the trip):

We planned to do a bike ride on the morning of our second day and then head to the beach for the rest of the day. After a quick breakfast we grabbed a few bikes from the B&B and started onto the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Our entry point was mile marker two in Harwich and the finish line was mile marker 22 in Wellfleet. Early in our #schummer road trip we had done a 30-mile bike trip, which took more than six hours due to a few bike malfunctions and both of us were drained after that adventure. We were optimistic we could do this one in four hours, including a stop for lunch. Ha!

We started off on the ride around 10 a.m. with two bottles of water and a full backpack (camera). The ride was on relatively smooth terrain with a few gradual hills. The temperature was in the mid 70s.

The first thing we realized is this trail could have been anywhere in the country since there were very few water views unless you stopped and went into each community. We continued to ride on encouraged by the constant reinforcement of mile markers on the road that showed your continued progress.

As the ride continued, the hills got a little harder and the bike traffic increased. You had to be careful you didn’t run over kids stopping on their bikes in the middle of the path. We kept thinking at the end of the trail there would be some great ocean view or at least something that would make this whole trip worthwhile. We were completely wrong and the only view was a parking lot. A good barometer of the scenery in photography stats: MeLinda took less than a dozen photos the entire route.

Dejected and hungry, we headed to Sam’s Deli about two miles back down the path to get some much needed food and drink. At this point we had gone about 23 miles and were starting to feel worn down. Even the power of a black and white cookie from the deli wouldn’t be enough to replenish us.

The ride back was hot (where did all the shade go that we remembered from the ride out?), with the wind in our faces (didn’t remember there being wind at our backs on the way out!) and almost all uphill (at least it seemed that way). It was a true test of our endurance. They always tell you to keep hydrated but it’s tough to remember to drink enough water until it’s too late. MeLinda’s legs started to cramp and on the way back we made several stops picking up bottled water anywhere it was available. We felt bad passing up a lemonade stand set up by two kids, though in Cape Cod I’m sure those kids were already multi-millionaires.

The mile markers worked the opposite on the way back, letting you know every .1 of a mile you still had a long way to go. Once we reached Brewster, just one city away from our B&B, we seemed to pick up the pace and saw the end was near. Though we still had to remember which turn off and our way back to the B&B on city streets. At that point MeLinda was so drained she trusted my directional skills to get us back. Luckily I picked the right turn and we pulled into our B&B around 3 p.m., five hours after we’d started.

Our plan for spending time at the beach was postponed because that pool was only a 50-foot walk from our cottage. In fact, we canceled dinner reservations so we could rest longer.

As we laid by the pool trying to rebuild the strength to eat, we did the math on our journey and that’s when we realized it was 43 miles … ironically, MeLinda would be turning 43 years old the next day. Lee has decided this will be the new standard for celebrating MeLinda’s birthdays; he is thinking a 44-mile float trip down the Amazon in 2015.

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> This was the most scenic part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail & it was within the first two miles of the 43-mile ride!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> We still have to cycle all the way back 22 miles!!

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

Day 3 in Cape Cod (Day 23 of the trip):

This was our last full day in Cape Cod (we needed to get up the next morning and start a long drive west) and there was still so much we hadn’t seen on our first visit here. We wanted to sightsee and we also wanted time at the beach, so we decided to combine them.

We started with a leisurely drive up Route 6 toward the tip of Cape Cod. Along the way we stopped at the National Seashore visitor’s center for some helpful tips: beaches that offer parking with our National Parks pass, when to see seals and where to see the lighthouse that’s on the bag of Cape Cod potato chips (made elsewhere in Cape Cod).

We had lunch harbor-side in Provincetown and MeLinda climbed the 116 steps and 60 ramps to the top of 252-foot high Pilgrim Monument (the pilgrims spent five weeks here before sailing on to Plymouth) for views of the town, water and dunes.

We then left the commercial craziness of this little tourist town and went to the beaches. First we walked about two miles to an area where we saw hundreds of seals sunning – so worth the hike through mostly soft sand! Then we went and sat at Race Point Beach, where we saw a few more seals swimming by.

The drive back down to Harwich had heavy traffic but we were entertained by a beautiful rainbow and a stop to enjoy dessert before dinner – it was MeLinda’s birthday so ice cream before dinner was acceptable!

We enjoyed seeing this part of the island but were glad that we had chosen to stay at an inn in a less hectic area of Cape Cod.

Overall, we’d say we succeeded in not cramming too much into our Cape Cod stay but we failed in taking a day off. Even when you try to rest sometimes it just doesn’t happen, but at least we enjoyed almost every minute of it.

#schummer14 cape cod

 

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Nauset Lighthouse, which is the one featured on the Cape Cod potato chip bags.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> A flamboyant pilgrim giving us a history lesson on Provincetown as we eat lunch on the harbor.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Pilgrim Tower in Provincetown.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Climbing up the inside of Pilgrim Tower.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Random piano on the beach in Provincetown.

#schummer14 cape cod

<photo> Finally saw seals on the trip! Saw hundreds sunning themselves at low tide and then a few swimming by as well.

 

 

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

#schummer14 cape cod

~~~

#Schummer14 – Lee & MeLinda Schnyder are turning their home in Wichita, Kan., over to a friend and taking a month-long road trip. They’ll travel from Kansas to Ontario and Quebec, Canada; then through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The trip home will include stops in Ohio and Missouri. Beyond the blog, you can follow #Schummer14 on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Posted in Lee, travel