Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New thing #35: Fremont Street Flightlinez

Harnessed up and ready to go!
Fremont Street Flightlinez is a zip line ride that runs for 800 feet right over Fremont Street, a.k.a. Glitter Gulch, the casino area in downtown Las Vegas. We wanted to ride it at night after all the neon lights were in full Vegas mode, but a thunderstorm rolled in early in the evening and lingering lightening shut it down. With our plans foiled we postponed our ride until the last day of our vacation, which also happened to be our 28th wedding anniversary.

Fremont Street is Old Las Vegas, before the current day mega-resorts took up residence on Las Vegas Boulevard just outside the city limits. Shabby casinos vie for attention with street artists, musicians and hustlers along this popular tourist destination. Vintage signs of the neon museum tour are displayed along the street. You can eat a Bypass Burger at the Heart Attack Grill, do some shopping at the Harley store, and ride the Flightlinez.

To get there, Senior and I rode the Deuce, a double decker bus full of loud, drunken tourists, tired casino employees and scary locals beating the heat with a 24-hour ticket to air-conditioned comfort. The seat in front of me was occupied by a huge Samoan man. His neck was tattooed with an eerie pair of woman’s green eyes; the collar of his shirt acting as a veil for the rest of her face. She watched us nearly all the way to our stop.

It was a short walk to the Flightlinez storefront where we weighed in and signed legal disclaimers before purchasing our tickets. Then we took an elevator to the top of a parking garage and joined a line of people waiting turns to suit up in the harnesses. They had a crude yet highly effective numbering system taped to the staging area that kept the lines moving smoothly.  It was pretty funny how many people couldn't figure out directions like "stand on number 3".  When it was our turn, staff members helped us into our harnesses while chatting politely, probably to gauge how nervous the clients are before throwing them off a 67-foot-high platform. We climbed a final flight of stairs onto the launch zone. Safety was a priority and they made sure my harness and lanyard was clipped to the framework at all times. I stuffed my shoes into a bag and promised I would not spit or throw things on the tourists below or try to turn somersaults in my harness (as if!). Then they gave my line a tug and I was off, soaring through the air at speeds we were told reached up to 30 mph.

The ride was surprisingly smooth. The initial drop was the most fun, but other than that it didn’t really get the adrenaline flowing. It felt a lot like being on one of those observation decks with glass floors, looking down at the street below. Pedestrians whooped at you as you zoomed over their heads. Along the way my harness rotated in a slow lazy spin, offering a full 360° view of the surroundings. Senior trailed along behind me on a parallel line. I ended up hitting the end of the line facing backwards, feeling a small jolt when the crew grabbed the harness. They quickly slipped a two-step ladder under my feet to stand on while they secured my gear, then helped me step down off the landing pad. We took off our gear, posed for the requisite touristy pictures, and headed back down to the street.  

The zip line was a lot of fun, and if the line was shorter I would have gone again. Instead we packed up and got ready to head back to the hotel, stopping only to look at those pictures they snapped of our ride. Luckily they came out really awful so there was no temptation to purchase them. Instead we have our memories of a fun and unique way to celebrate another great year together.

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