Twenty-four years—two and nearly a half decades—had changed almost everything, and I barely recognized the place. No longer was there a single small parking lot and a residential house converted to a gift shop poised near the end of the suspension bridge.
The entire area had been turned into one humongous tourist attraction, and the hefty entrance price of $35.95 each almost dissuaded me from facing my long-ago fears, but I plunked down my credit card and moved through the turnstile.
In addition to the suspension bridge, there was now a “First Peoples” exhibit, a Cliff Walk, a Tree-top Adventure, several snack bars, a rather large and high-end gift shop, an espresso stand, live music area, Story Centre, Raptor’s Ridge, First Aid station and a number of very well-maintained restrooms.
Kids could use their “passport” to collect six activity/event “stamps” and receive a “I Made It” certificate at Guest Services, but I didn’t have the time to hit all six stamp stops. (Never mind that my chronological age might indicate I’m not a kid any more—that’s totally irrelevant!)
But being that I’d just plunked down a sizeable entry fee, I decided to do as much as I could in the short time I had for the visit. I took a glossy map brochure to plan my attack in an efficient manner.
Kai’palano (First Peoples) Exhibit, Cliff Walk, Gift Shop, Snack Bar, Restroom, Suspension Bridge, Treetop Adventure, Espresso Stand—that should do it!
And so the adventure began. Not the expected “walk across the bridge and back” quick stop to reclaim my dignity, but several hours at the mercy of nature’s incredible grasp.