The Utah Olympic Park: With Pictures!

Back when we were still in the planning stages of the family reunion I went to in Utah last week, my sister brought up the idea of going to the Utah Olympic Park as one of the activities we could do. I’d never even heard of it before, but after going to the website and poking around for a bit, I knew it would be a great activity. For one thing, TRC has wanted to go on a zip line for years, so this would bring that dream to fruition.

My initial plan had been to get us each one or two rides and just be done at that. But then when we got there, I realized that going on one or two rides just wouldn’t take that long, and there wasn’t too much of a difference between paying for that for all of us, and just getting the kids and me day passes. (Denisa took one for the team and stayed with MC through most of the day, with the exception of one zip line ride she went on.) It cost us $160 for the day–much more than I’d anticipated, but I really feel like it ended up being more than worth it. (If I’d paid individually for all the rides I went on, it would have been that much for just me.) And after I looked over all the of the offerings they had, I felt like I was up for any of them. Except the 65 foot drop, because bungie isn’t my thing. Period. Ever.

The complex they have out there by Park City is pretty amazing. There’s a pool you can ski jump into doing all sorts of tricks, and both of the ski jumps operate year round–we got to watch the Canadian national team practice. Some people are simply insane, is all I have to say about that.

First up? One of the zip lines, which began a theme that carried through most of the day for me: the power of kid peer pressure to get me to do things I might not normally do. DC really wanted to go on the zip line when we were at the bottom. I rode up with her, and when we got to the top, I was surprised at how far down it all looked.


DC started to get scared very quickly. Truth be told, I wasn’t feeling too calm myself. But I was in full Dad form, and so I told her it would be okay, and on we went. They put you in all these harnesses before you zip line down, and the whole time the only thing between you and that fall is a steel door you have to put your knees against. But then the door swings wide, and you’re sailing down the zip line and it’s all fun and games until you realize that zip line has a brake based on weight, and you’re really too heavy for it to allow you to go very fast, and your six year old daughter is just zooming down while you’ve reached a slow crawl.

Maybe it’s time for me to go on a diet again.

In any case, after that first exhilarating rush, it was smooth sailing. DC and TRC went on just about anything. The alpine slide (where DC took the “you might flip if you go too fast” a little too literally–I was behind her, and she was riding that brake pretty hard) came next.


After that, the kids wanted to go on the ropes course. I’d never done one, but we picked the easiest, and it didn’t look too bad. There was a weight limit that I barely squeaked under (seriously people, I need to go on a diet again.), and so I decided to go with them. Very glad I did. TRC zipped off through the course without a care in the world. I found out later he just started treating each obstacle as its own little zip line, and he’d launch himself across on his pulley. DC and I went with the “pretend we have no pulley” approach.


When you do it that way, it becomes quite a bit more difficult. Not for me necessarily, but certainly for a certain six year old. I was so impressed by how she’d attack each obstacle slowly and deliberately and without fear, only needing me to coax her on now and then. Denisa was following down below, offering words of encouragement as well. If I’d known how tricky some of those obstacles were going to be, I don’t think I would have let DC go.


She was doing great until we came to this one:


You have to crawl sidewise from plank to plank, and they’re quite far apart for someone her size. A few times she decided she wanted to give up and go back, but with parental support, she made it through the whole thing. Very proud papa moment, and a good reminder that sometimes the things we think our kids aren’t up to are things they can actually overcome.

It was blazing hot and sunny that day, and we were all slowly morphing into baked potatoes, so Denisa took the kids home after lunch. I stayed on with my brother in law and three nieces because zip lines. I mean . . . family unity! What did they want to do first? The 65 foot drop. It was my ten year old niece CL who suggested it with such a sunny smile and eager twinkle in her eyes. Everyone else was all over the idea. So what did I do?

I said let’s go check it out, despite my misgivings.

We got over there, and 65 feet didn’t seem so bad. And it wasn’t bungie–it was some device that slowed you down through gremlins or magic or friction or something. And everyone else was going to jump, so I just lemminged along with them. Ten year old peer pressure: it still gets me every time.

You hike up to a spot where you zip line across to the platform. I insisted on going first to show how unafraid I was. And when I got to the platform, I discovered that 65 feet from the bottom looks much shorter than 65 feet from the top.


That was when I came up with a very simple solution: don’t think about where you’re jumping or what you’re about to do. Don’t think about the dangers or the height.

Just jump.

Which is what I did. I can’t recommend it as an approach to all life’s problems, but I will say it comes in very handy in certain situations. The trick is knowing when to trot it out. The ordeal was much less traumatic than I thought it would be, and I’m glad I did it.

All in all, a very fun day at the park. Families hanging out, kids getting to know each other, and me doing my best to pretend I wasn’t scared of anything. Sort of like me at most writing conferences, actually. In fact, I think I’d take the 65 foot drop over most late night parties at conventions. I don’t do talking with strangers. And yet I do the same thing with that–I just go out and force myself to do it.

Maybe it’s an approach that applies to more situations than I initially gave it credit for. Food for thought.

Any of you been to the Park? Any questions for me? I’d love to answer them . . .

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