How to Conquer Fear by Careening Down a Mountain (aka “Oh, Stowe, 2.0!”)

You can go back again. Sort of.

Five years ago we uprooted our family, rented out our house in California and hit the road for adventure, leaving grand decisions about where we would live for another day. On this journey, my husband’s great instincts led us to Stowe, Vermont, which our sons would later declare their “favorite place on earth.”

At the time, that designation had a lot to do with the Alpine Slide at the Stowe Mountain Resort, an old-fashioned ride that required a chairlift up, then a plastic race car down.

The boys had asked repeatedly to return. Finally, the time was right. Only after I booked our flights did I learn that Alpine Slide was no more — too dangerous, and made of asbestos.

That was probably for the best, because how could the reality ever match my boys’ memories? Fortunately, the Alpine Slide ride had recently been replaced by bigger, better attractions, including the longest zipline in the United States, two miles long, over three segments.

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Was I nervous? Um, yeah. But nervousness was not an excuse not to do it. In fact, it was the main reason to do it. Sure, if I thought it was truly dangerous, or if I thought I’d be miserable, I would not do it. But simple fear needs to be beat back, because the more I practice fear-conquering in a recreational setting, the more it will become habit in real life.

To make sure it was safe, I sent my kids first.

(The zipline, by the way, was baby stuff compared to the Tree-top Ropes Course in terms of conquering fear. I’ll try to bring myself to describe that experience in another post.)

Stowe lived up to its memory as one of our favorite places. It is more than the zipline, of course. It is more even than its considerable beauty. Stowe’s mountain town holds a certain creativity and charm and history and green mountains and ice cream and a stream and one of my favorite bike paths in the country.

 

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One of many sculpture installations in town

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At the risk of sounding like a commercial (and I assure you I’m not getting anything free for this post, folks, just sharing the info), there was also our historic hotel, the Green Mountain Inn, right in town, with its lovely swimming pool, and a fire pit where other hotel guests roasted marshmallows and shared their wine.

Throughout the town, a feeling swam through me, a sense of “aren’t we all so lucky to be here?” I felt relief that the magical place we’d loved had stayed magical. Or perhaps it was simply relief that I’d survived the zipline.

I’m already dreaming about our return.

 

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