Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We Went To Canada, and I Did the CN Tower Edgewalk with My Kid!

Y'all, bonding with teenagers can be hard.

They're really sullen, for a really large amount of time.

When they're not sullen, they're, like, ON, enthusiastic and crazy and boisterous and kind of like toddlers in that they want you right that second. If you miss that second, they're gone. I'm not always great at getting into the connection zone when my kid needs that, because I'm an introvert and people, even my own kids, sometimes, are hard.

So, yeah. You've got to be open to them the second that they decide that they want to connect, for that full second that they want it, even if it's super intense, and you've got to be constantly looking for other ways to connect. And since they're older, it's nice to find ways for you to connect as people, not just parent and kid.

Since one of the things that you can almost guarantee that a teenager will love is risk-taking, one guaranteed way to connect with them is to join in with them and do something adventurous.

Like this:

This is the CN Tower. It's 1,815 feet tall, the ninth tallest tower in the world and the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. On the roof of the restaurant, 1,168 feet up, there's an outside pathway called the Edgewalk. If you've got a teenager who loves big adventures and perceived risk, and you're fairly chill and you want to connect with her, you can sign up to strap yourself to a BUNCH of safety equipment and walk all the way around the CN Tower.

On the outside. No railing.

Of COURSE we did it!

Matt and Syd dropped us off bright and early on our last morning in Toronto, and they went off to safety of the children's museum. Will and I took advantage of the early morning and zoomed our way through the security line (when we left just a few hours later, the line was soooooooo long!), and met the rest of our group.

Will was the only kid in our group, and so chill that the staff kept checking in with her, asking questions designed to see if she really wanted to be there or if I was making her (which sounds awful, but after the walk, as we were stripping out of our gear,  there was a teenager in the next group who literally got caught trying to flee. It apparently happens!). Finally I hissed, "Start showing some enthusiasm! They think I'm holding you hostage!"

She remained by far the most mellow person in our group, but at least stopped acting like she was there under duress. I swear, the whole thing was her idea! There was another couple there, for whom one of them the Edgewalk WAS a surprise. I eavesdropped on them as the guy was trying to tell the woman that he didn't want to, and the woman was all, "Oh, come on! Just yesterday you were bragging about all the times you went rappelling!" Oops!

For those who are already freaking out about just the idea of walking around outside the top of a giant tower,  you might be mildly reassured to learn that there are probably more safety systems than astronauts have. We all got subjected to a metal detector and a pat-down. I had to take out the single hoop earring that I've worn continually since I was probably sixteen; it was so old and brittle that it broke, poor thing. No watches, no wedding rings. Every one of us, even Will, took a breathalyzer. We zipped up into a full jumpsuit, and the necklaces that our locker keys were on were locked onto carabiners at the back of each jumpsuit. We had to let them pull hard on our shoes, and if the shoes came off when they pulled, we had to borrow a pair of lace-up shoes that wouldn't pull off. We were helped into a harness, and every person who walked by, I feel like, checked that harness, as often as not finding a way to tighten it one more millimeter.

We rode an elevator to the top, got our harnesses checked another couple of times, and then we were strapped to an overhead track. The track ran a continuous course out the door, around the entire tower, and back inside where it curved around. Once you were hooked in you simply walked the course of the track.  We were hooked by a static rope to a carabiner in the front of our harness. The rope was a specific length, so you couldn't fall far, and the carabiner attaching it to our harness was locked, and then a staff member zip-tied the lock so that you couldn't fiddle with it, and then he cut the ends of the zip-tie off so that you couldn't fiddle with THAT. On the back of our harnesses, where we couldn't reach it, we were strapped to another rope, this one with one of those devices that seat belts have, the kind that have plenty of give with a gentle pull, but that lock with a sharp pull. There is NO falling off the CN Tower!

I really liked observing the psychology of this activity. All of the staff members are super high-energy, enthusiastic, and positive, to buoy you into a positive frame of mind, if you weren't already there. They also keep the pace fast, with very little sit-and-wait time, so that you don't have a chance to get crazy inside your head. Our walk leader immediately learned all our names and used them often, so that we felt involved and taken care of. When we were all geared up, we walked through one public area on our way to our dedicated elevator, and our passage was announced by one staff member shouting, "Edge walkers coming through!" and then clapping, so that everyone nearby also clapped as we passed, feeling like total ballers. And when we were out on the very edge of the tower itself, 1,168 feet up, our walk leader kept us busy, alternating the walk with lots of different activities, most of which we did in turns so that everyone could support and cheer each other on--and so there was just enough peer pressure to perform!

Here's what it looked like, courtesy of our walk leader's GoPro:

And here's what it felt like to be 1,168 feet in the sky!

It was an awesome experience. Awe-inspiring. Magical. We saw cars the size of ants. Pedestrians that were tiny dots. Planes took off from a nearby runway, and we watched them from above. It was exhilarating for me, and even my chill kid was amped. She was fearless, and the walk leader commented several times that she just jumped right into every activity, never had to be cajoled, my bold, brave girl.

But did it work? Did we bond?

Yeah, I'd say we bonded:

Our Edgewalk tickets included VIP passes to the rest of the CN Tower, and that was perfect as Will and I only had a couple of hours to explore, so hopping to the front of every single long, long, LONG line was much appreciated. We saw it all!

This is from the SkyPod, a VIP observation point even higher than the standard observation deck. It's the only one that's above the Edgewalk, and you can look down and see them!

The standard observation deck is below the Edgewalk and the restaurant, BUT it has a glass floor--

--and an outside area that's enclosed by tons of screening. You can get a much better view if you just walk up a couple of floors and strap yourself to the track.

Eventually, Will and I tired of the crowds inside, and so hiked around downtown Toronto for a bit before we met up with everyone else:

Can you see the edge walkers?

There are some in the below photo, too, but I didn't zoom in, so they're the same tiny dots that we seem to them!

And just in case you think that we got away without doing anything else weird in Toronto, I need to tell you that after Matt and Syd picked us up, we drove over to the Poop Cafe for ice cream. I didn't bring my camera, which I regret, but yes, EVERYTHING was toilet-themed. The kids sat on toilets at our table, whereas Matt and I shared a poop-shaped couch. My waffle with peanut butter ice cream on top also featured a marzipan poop. Matt and the kids all got ridiculous milkshakes, with cookies or cotton candy stuck on top and sprinkles all down the side glued on with marshmallow. Like, SERIOUSLY ridiculous milkshakes, the kind that food bloggers make as a joke. It was absolutely nuts, and I'm 100% positive that we all staggered away with sugar poisoning.

Fortunately, all we had to do was rest our bellies in the car, because we were on our way to Niagara Falls!

P.S. Little Free Libraries don't build themselves--my kid builds them, for her Girl Scout Silver Award project! Buy magazine subscriptions and chocolate from her, and give our troop the money that it needs to do even MORE cool stuff this year!

P.P.S. Want to know all the weird adventures that happen upon us? Check out my Craft Knife Facebook page!

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