Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where Did These Stairs Come From?

Well, dear readers and loyal subjects, Tuesday was my birthday.  And this year, I spent it in a truly spectacular fashion by hiking the Great Wall of China!  I mean, it’s hard to think of a more fabulous way to spend your birthday!  It’s definitely memorable!  And, as I do every day, I learned some things.  I would like to take this opportunity, however, to say that spending your birthday visiting the Great Wall of China does NOT suck!  Finding out that it’s really not that much of a wall but more of a Great Freaking Steep Staircase… sort of does.

This whole trip started out just beautifully!  We went about an hour and a half out of Beijing to the section of the wall we were visiting, and it turns out there were two options of how to get up to the wall.  One was to ride a large enclosed cable car up.  The other was to ride an open ski lift up.  Guess which one the Queen picked.  (Hint:  If you ride the ski lift, you can actually ride a toboggan/luge back down!)  You got it!  There was no WAY I was missing the opportunity to ride that ski lift then luge back down the mountain!  I was ecstatic!!!  The way I saw it, this day just couldn’t get better!  That was before I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest.

So we headed up on the ski lift and the views were breath taking.  I loved every second of it.  I was actually giddy here!  We made it to the top and took off up some stairs to get to the wall itself.  Only the stairs never really seemed to stop.  In my mind, the wall was something you walked along.  You know… kind of like a gently sloping street.  But it turns out that there is nothing gently sloping about this thing!  The wall runs along the tops of the mountains like a dragon, and it would appear that you’re expected to climb up and down the dragon’s back.  The entire section of the wall that I saw was nothing but stairs!  But really, how bad could it be.

Here I am soon after arriving and evaluating the wall/staircase.  There were shallow stairs in areas and there were very high, steep stairs in others.  I felt like the nice little shallow stairs were GREATLY out numbered by the steep stairs!  And by high, I mean these things were nearly to my knees.  I was seriously hauling myself up some stairs!  It didn’t take long before I was huffing and puffing in that dainty, regal way that I sometimes do.  Oh and I kept wondering if someone would come and air lift me off the wall if I did actually have a heart attack up there… which I thought was a definite possibility. 

So when did I figure out how out of shape I was?  That would be when the 70-something woman passed me… while holding onto the arm of her guide.  Yeah, that’s just not a warm, fuzzy sort of experience on your birthday.  I’d have been embarrassed if I weren’t still concentrating on NOT dying.  On the plus side, I am now seriously committed to a new exercise program.  I am obviously WAY out of shape here.  Well… curvy is a shape, isn’t it?  Yeah, I thought so.  Anyway, here I am about the time I was trying to convince MPH to have the Coast Guard come get me and carry me back down again.  Yeah, I know there was no coast to guard there, but I’ve always been fond of the uniforms.

On the bright side, I didn’t actually die up there.  I did survive climbing the Wall, and as a perk, I got to luge back down the mountain again!  That totally rocked!  I took off on that toboggan and was just flying down the mountain yelling “Wheeeeeeee!” all the way.  Well, all the way until I caught up with the woman in front of me who didn’t seem to be as intent on breaking mock 3 as I was.  Too bad.  I was doing well until then.  It was still an awesome birthday!

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