Friday, May 10, 2013

Zippin' Right Along

Gators and Friends Zip-lining Adventure
Who says there is nothing to do in Shreveport-Bossier? Whoever it was, doesn't know what they are talking about. Besides the awesome bowling facility that is Holiday Lanes (shameless plug), there's an awesome attraction just west of our area: Gators and Friends. If you haven't been to Gators and Friends, it's an exotic haven for alligators, camels, llama's and other animals that you may not have ever seen. But, I don't want to really talk about the animals right now.

Today I experienced the newest addition at their outdoor adventures: Zip-lining! This adventure has been officially insured and open to the public since yesterday, so I felt like I was one of the lucky firsts in our area to experience an adventure over alligators.

I serve on the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau Attractions Association with Jim, the proprietor of Gator and Friends. I knew the zip-line adventure was coming to our area. I also knew that the zip-line would go over alligators, which created a thrill and a bit of fear in me.What I didn't know was how cool the actual venue would be. I drove out thinking there would be one cable that simply allowed you to zip over a couple of gators. Oh my, no! There are seven, count them, seven towers that whiz over alligators, Claude the Camel, frolicking ponies and a massive Scottish cow.

Arriving at Gators and Friends, I kind of pushed my fear down into my belly. I have decided that I want to start doing the things that scare me. As I was suiting up in the safety gear, I actually didn't feel any fear, but before starting I still asked my guide, Kent, the question "if I'm too scared after the first zip, can I climb down and walk back to base?". The answer was "yes", but I could tell it really was "no". It's only when I began climbing the first tower that I started feeling a little queasy. Kent assured me that I would have a blast and in the end, he was right. Safety is a top priority with Gators and Friends and at no time did I ever feel concerned. Before you knew it we were all zippin' right along.

The seven zip-line towers are strategically placed throughout the park to give you a glimpse of both the menagerie and the wooded scenery. Each tower seems to get a little higher than the last and it is an exhilarating feeling as you glide from one to the next. Although, I will admit that a few foul words escaped my mouth as I hurtled toward the approaching towers. Amazingly, I had no feelings of fear, even at the heights that we climbed. Scaling the tower steps was probably more frightening than the whole adventure, but moderate overall. Imagine a spiraling staircase as tall as a pine tree - a tad wobbly, to say the least.

My Zip-Lining Gang
There were three other tourists from the Fort Worth area that were in my zip-lining gang. We became instant friends. We had so much fun, singing and joking along the way. Encouraging each other and whooping it up. The last tower (#7) is a double cable that allows two people to race over the alligator pit. This was too much fun. We noticed bubbles in the pond below and joked that it might be the last zip-liners being eaten by the gators. Our guides, Kent, Summer and Olga were super awesome and kept us safe and sound. In fact, Kent was so sweet and kept telling me how excited he was that I came out and faced my fear. He was a fabulous guide and made me feel proud of myself. The only way the adventure could have been better is to have a video or photo of myself actually zippin' right along, as proof that I did it. Jim says this may be a feature added at a later time.

Since it's only been open since yesterday, my guess is that most of you haven't been yet. Get your booty over there now! It's really an amazing adventure that you don't want to miss. Gators and Friends is located 10 miles west of Shreveport, just off of Interstate 20 at 11441 Hwy 80, Greenwood, Louisiana.  

(Zipline Pricing: Regular price is $70 but have an introductory reduced price special on weekdays (Mon-Fri) of "half-price" $35 through May 31, 2013. Call (318) 938-1199 to schedule a tour.)

Keep on livin' it up!
Robin Rials Williams

UPDATE - I went back again on May 24 with my daughter and friend (my new favorite activity). Not only was I a first customer, but I was the first repeat customer. How cool is that? Here's a video of my second adventure. (sorry about the portrait video orientation)



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