Friday, November 15, 2013

my date with liberty (otherwise known as how to climb a corkscrew)

Heights and I DO NOT get along.  I've made it a point throughout my entire life to avoid these extremes and have gladly kept my feet on the ground while family and friends have reached for the stars.  (Fortunately for me, they've shared their fabulous photos of trips to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Rockefeller Plaza, etc, etc!)  That said, I've missed out on some incredible views and several months ago decided to take the plunge: purchase crown access tickets to the Statue of Liberty!  I've been to Liberty Island twice, however both times I've only gone up as far as the pedestal.  This time around my dad and brother wanted to go all the way, and since it was only an extra $3 I figured I could back out at the last minute with minimal financial damage.  :-)

Finally, the day came.  It was a sunny Tuesday morning, and I was determined to finish the day knowing I had conquered this fear.  I even decided to disclose my ambition to the world and posted the following on Facebook - Today's objective: conquer extreme dislike of heights and climb to the top of Lady Liberty. Everything went smoothly, and when we climbed to the pedestal I made it a point to NOT look up. I knew if I saw how far it was to the top I would lose my resolve and all would be lost.

After walking around the base of the lovely lady and taking several photos, it was time.  We showed our crown reservation wristbands to the park ranger on duty, and he slowly and very deliberately gave us the following instructions: take your time, watch your head, and use the handrails.  I remember thinking that sounded a little odd.  I mean, really, what's so hard about climbing a few hundred stairs?  There were over one hundred to get to the pedestal, and I wasn't too out of breath after that set so I wasn't very concerned. Now, have you see this page?  I swear I read the info about how to book tickets, locker requirements, number of steps, etc, but somehow I have absolutely no recollection about this staircase.  Double helix? What the heck is that?  Well, it took about ninety seconds to figure out, and let me tell you, I was having some serious second thoughts about this expedition.  The stairs were steep, staircase dark, and handrails were an absolute must.  About halfway up we stopped for a little meeting and the discussion began.  "Do you think we should continue?"  "I'm freaking out." "I'm not too sure about this."  "Can we go down the up?" You get the idea.  I was already feeling very out of my element and wasn't too sure how stable this staircase really was.  I honestly didn't think I could do it and didn't really care if it was against the rules to go down the wrong way.  Not to mention how foolish I might look.  Did. Not. Matter.  Fortunately, about this time, Adam decided he had come all this way and was going to make it to the top.  He grabbed hold of the handrail and went for it.  His action gave me the courage to continue, and Dad followed suit.  Something about all these stairs reminded Dad of a song he sang on long car trips as a child: 99 bottles of beer on the wall / 99 bottles of beer / take one down and pass it around / 98 bottles of beer on the wall.  Well, as a joke he started singing it, I picked it up, and crazy as it sounds that song was my lifesaver. It distracted me long enough to not think about how high up I really was (and how there was nothing on the other side of the barrier) and let me focus on the lyrics (which I usually mess up).  The next thing I knew I was there!!!

Proof I did indeed make it to the top.  (I look so proud of myself. :-/)

Unfortunately, the view left much to be desired. Yes, you could see part of the harbor, but it wasn't the pretty part, and in order to see the torch and tablet you had to literally get down on your knees to see out those windows.  For someone already sure the catwalk she was standing on was unstable, the idea of bending way over wasn't exactly the best idea. :-)  We stayed in the crown area for several minutes (I may or may not have hung onto a supporting beam for dear life) and chatted with the two park rangers stationed at the top.  When two other brave souls arrived for their moment of glory in the crown we decided it was time to go down. I honestly thought this part would be easier, but it was WORSE!  Not only was the incline extremely steep, but you couldn't see the steps. I gripped both handrails and felt my way down hoping I could correctly judge where the next step was.  Arriving at the pedestal level was the best feeling ever.  The three of us walked outside for some fresh air and congratulated ourselves on this seriously amazing accomplishment.  I did it -- and survived with quite the story to tell -- but who knew the experience would be so crazy!

Looking up

Looking down (this was the section that actually had lights)

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