Wednesday, October 12, 2011

VULCAN, part two

Yesterday I promised you more of the story.  Today's blog is full of adventure and thrills.  It starts where we left off, yesterday, at the Vulcan Center
Here,  you may not only learn the history of the statue and of the city of Birmingham, but also buy tickets to visit the top of the pedestal using either the steps or elevator.  I rode the glass elevator. When it opened at the top you have the choice of immediately riding it back down to the safety of the ground floor or you may behave much like the daredevil, Evel Knievel, and step out onto the grating which (I'm sure, jokingly) is referred to as a floor. Being in  an elevator filled with  insane people with no fear of death, I gathered my pride and stepped onto the grating, shakily making my way to the inner wall. 
Vulcan's sandstone pedestal. Note that if you can see up through the grating a visitor above sees through, as well
At this point I must tell my more sensible readers that the inner wall had no handrail. No, it was merely hand-carved sandstone from which we, more sanely cautious tourists were expected to walk around a giant metal man looking out at spectacular views of Birmingham, Alabama. 
It is a view not easily seen with one's eyes closed.
While my husband, Jeff and his cousin, Mike (very manly, somewhat immortal men who need no fear or caution to save them) casually sauntered around the statue. I cautiously also started walking.  As I rounded a corner toward the hill's front the wind picked up.  I used my brain along with a strong dose of caution, closed my eyes tightly then became one with the sandstone which I held tightly as I bravely inched back to where I had started.** At one point I heard our cousin, Scarlett meekly calling her husband, "Mike? Mike?" Scarlett is about as smart as they come and knew better than to step out of the stairwell without the support of an immortal such as Mike. 
After looking up to take in a immodest view of a god's well formed  backside I regained my courage and started around the other side of the statue, irrationally believing that it would be better on this side.  Once again I did alright until 'rounding the edge toward the front of the hill.  There was that obnoxious breeze again. I knew that if I proceeded that I, a mere mortal, would be lifted off the pedestal, blown over the railing, off of Red Mountain where I would be cast across the city of Birmingham until I was dropped in a splattering splash upon some car-filled parking lot.  With that thought firmly planted, I did the only sane thing and started sinking to the ground trembling like a jellyfish as an ocean of tears forced themselves from my fiercely clinched eye lids. I heard a slight laugh from Scarlett who still hovered by the stairwell, waiting for help from her human savior in the form of Mike.  I on the other hand, was thinking more eternal thoughts. 
View of wooded neighborhoods around Red Mountain
Her chuckling quickly turned to sympathy once she realized that I, often a jokester, was not anywhere close to humor.  My own hero,  hearing my distress, arrived to lift me in his arms and fly me safely  to the ground (well, hold me as I struggled to remain upright and walk back to the elevator) where I could once again use my mouth to form actual, understandable words. 
If you have read much of this travel blog then you know I don't do well where I can see just how high up I am. I really believe that my brain doesn't do so great at grabbing on the the idea of perception.

  I am, a child of the Earth, not the sky.
The self-wounding of my pride was quickly forgotten while we enjoyed watching children slide down the hill on sheets of cardboard. It looked fun though the cardboard looked small. My own sense of adventure was assuaged as I held my shirt to my sides and rolled down the hill.  I had no fear of falling for the Earth is my home and falling was my goal.
A nature girl tries to restore her sense of control
There was no splattering, no parking lot splashed with my remains, only a bit of grass to be dusted off and an equilibrium to be restored. 
**If a handrail had been present on the inside wall I am sure that I could have done it.  I could have held on with a strength that would have shamed the breeze.


Out on the prairie said...

A good story, sorry to hear your fear of heights.You were really up there.My neighbor has a hard time even getting on a step ladder.

Beyond My Garden said...

prairie, I try to laugh about it - once I can breath regularly, that is.

Andrea said...

Hi Nellie, i had to read first PartI before i can comment here. I was looking for the height of that structure you climbed. Like you i have this fear too, reason why i can't try the zipline. I remember my feeling when we climbed the Kuala Lumpur Tower and the platform up there has sides of glass. My knees literally wobbled, feel like i will stumble and melt. But because you write very well, you can relay to us and we smiled, though i feel it deeply, hahaha! BTW, our local term for volcano is 'bulkan', same meaning isn't it!

Beyond My Garden said...

Oh Andrea, I am so glad you told us about "bulcan" I love word history. Yes, Vulcan was thrown first into a volcano and its fires are among those he tends in the myth. "v" sound often becomes the "B" sound. Thank you for the information.
I think our height fear is a trait we share with many women and some men.

Jeannelle said...

I enjoyed your Vulcan tour! Interesting photos and info!