from the

Learning to fly

June 27, 2012 

I hedged a little bit, but Monday night, I found myself strapped to a bungee-type harness thingy and hoisted more than 100 feet in the air for a freefall experience that makes you feel like you’re flying.

That is if flying makes you look like Hannibal Lecter when he was strapped to a dolly, and sort of mixed with a crazed chef in a Kevlar apron.

Yes, I became a guinea pig of sorts feeling that for journalistic authenticity I must experience the thrill ride at NASCAR Speedpark known as the Skycoaster. (Thanks to NASCAR Speedpark and Skycoaster operators for arranging my ride.)

I posted a picture of my exploits on Facebook, and one commenter asked simply: “Why?”

My answer: research.

Yes, with this week’s cover story, we are putting local thrill rides to the test, and I wanted to sample some of the action, so you can’t say I’m some word geek chained to a desk that never steps away from the computer.

But let me back up a little bit.

Surge food writer/restaurant reviewer Becky Billingsley suggested awhile back that with some new diversions in town – specifically the ziplines that have sprouted up – it might be a good idea to do a story on how adrenaline junkies get their fix at the beach.

Great idea, I thought, and put it on the schedule, assuming she was interested in writing said story.

I thought it’d be immense for us to actually ride these rides and report what they are like firsthand, you know a bit of gonzo journalism. And then she informed me that she wasn’t interested in that part – and was simply trying to give me some story ideas, which I had asked for.

So then I was on the hunt for another sucker, er, I mean writer.

Up stepped intrepid correspondent Derrick Bracey, who took the concept and ran with it. And flew with it...and ziplined with it...and sped around the racetrack with it...and rode the waves on an inflatable banana with it...

And if you haven’t noticed, there’s been a spate of adrenaline-fueled activities that have sprouted up at our otherwise laid-back beach, but we hedged our bets that you – the avid Surge reader – would want to know what they’re really like, beyond the hype and regurgitated press releases.

In assigning the story, I told Bracey that I wanted the finished product to feature some sort of scale that readers could easily digest – such as barf-o-meter, or something of the like.

And being the creative scribe that he is, he constructed the Surge-Oh!-Meter, which gauges the said ride/attraction’s affect on heart, mind, and stomach.

So go ahead, and dive in…unless you’re some kind of chicken.


OK, I am a little bit red-in-the-face to admit this, but I must set the record straight for the sake of accuracy.

In last week’s column I wrote about purchasing a copy of the first book in E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” series for my wife to read so she could tell me about it. Only, when I got home Wednesday evening after this paper was already put to bed, I looked on the nightstand and noticed that it wasn’t the first book at all - it was the second installment, “Fifty Shades Darker,” clearly stamped with “II” on the spine. Doh!

I’m not sure how this inattention to detail escaped me – other than I guess I just grabbed the first one on the pile at Costco and never looked at it again – and my wife hadn’t noticed either, but it made more sense to her then that the story seemed liked it started in mid-stream. I have since been informed that I need to provide the first book – for research purposes, of course.

Kent Kimes, Editor

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