When you’re driving north on Route 1 toward Wiscasset, you’re going to see a strange sight on the right. There’s this giant web of ropes and cables with a few people hanging around. Maybe not hanging. They’re balancing on various wires and beams two or three stories off the ground.
That’s when you know you found Monkey C Monkey Do. It bills itself as a family adventure park. The adventure comes from navigating three levels of ropes courses. And there are two zip lines. One starts at 15 feet off the ground and two others run parallel from 40 feet up.
It was created by Bill and Danielle King of Woolwich. They built the park this year because it’s the type of family bonding activity they enjoy with their children and want to bring home to the Midcoast.
To demonstrate, Danielle invited to me to try it. Before I accepted I noticed everyone on the courses wore harnesses attached to overhead cables. OK, looks safe enough.
First came the safety video. In the four minutes, I heard three things you can do in advance for a smoother trip.
First, don’t wear sandals or high heels. Sounds kind of obvious. But you really need something that can be tied or strapped to your feet. Remember you’re up in the air. Gravity is going to try to steal flip flops. I had on trail runners. Not necessary but they have good ankle support. Which is a good thing.
Second, empty your pockets in the car. Cellphones especially. It’s possible to lose the contents of your pockets, and there is a staff member or two below. All the staff members I met are extremely nice and don’t deserved to be pelted with your loose change.
Third, visit the restroom. Once you start a course, you’re committed. There are no side exits or privacy. You have to finish what you start. And like the video says, “No one likes a naughty monkey.”
Next came the harness fitting and ground school. Ground school is a small area where they explain the safety procedures, how to use the harness and buddy system. At all times, we have a buddy. Since I’m alone, I get Tim, a staff member who uses every opportunity to show his enthusiasm for his work.
The biggest role of a buddy is to witness and double check that I’m clipped onto a supporting wire. Above every course is wire designed to support 14,400 pounds. I clip onto that with two “lobster claws” - heavy duty carabiners. Each claw is connected to a strap that is connected to my harness.
Before I unclip, I have to turn to Tim and ask “Permission to unclip one?”
He says “Unclip one,” before I can take it off the wire and clip it onto the target wire.
Then I say “Check one” while sliding the clip along the wire to demonstrate it’s where it’s supposed to be.
Tim returns with his “Check one.”
This is why there are two clips and this little ritual at each transfer. While I’m moving the clip, I still am safely secured by the second lobster claw. When I transfer that one - while going through the same permission ritual - I’m safely secured with the first one. At all times I am secured by at least one clip and in no danger of falling
This is important to note because it epitomizes the attention to detail throughout the park. It starts with Danielle as she coordinates shift changes and carries through to every staff member working their stations in the park.
At anytime, there is at least half a dozen people stationed on the main platform or at stations on the course. On the ground is someone waiting for you at the end of each zip line. Each is attentive, ready to help me and very friendly. This shows how much training they receive and how dedicated everyone is to safety.
With that in mind, I can’t call this a risky activity. They’re not going to let anything happen to me.
So I’m feeling pretty secure when Tim leads me out to the Forest Floor course. It’s about 10 to 15 feet above the ground. What makes it the easiest is the fact that there are plenty of places to grab and support yourself.
That makes a difference because these are dynamic courses. Which means something’s always moving. Usually the step you’re standing on. So you want to steady yourself.
So that’s warm up for Tim and me. For young children, it’s a challenge. Many are happy with that level and the lower zip line. I’m headed for the Lower Canopy course next.
This is done from the same platform so it’s not higher. But the course requires me to walk on wires more than steps. And there are ropes to hold on to - here and there.
This is a good time to admit that I’m balance challenged. So walking tight rope - even with guide ropes - isn’t easy for me. So it’s great to hear the encouraging words from Tim as I stay upright on the course. And the rest of the staff chimes in with their “attaboys.”
The Upper Canopy course is the next level up with less secure hand holds and a few leaps of faith - literally. I don’t know if it’s really harder. Except traversing the cargo nets at this level pretty much kicks my butt.
After all this, the zip line looks relaxing. Really all you have to do is slide 400 feet down the cable. No balance required. You really don’t need to hold on to anything.
So they hook me up the zip line and tell me to launch myself. To do that, I need to step off this platform. Oh. You mean basically jump? Yeah I know I’m safely connected to the cable over my head. So I’m not going to fall 40 feet. But something inside me is telling me not to do it.
But I do it anyway and send myself zipping down the line. There’s no sense of falling. It’s very secure yet liberating. I love the sensation of flying. Although that part of my brain that didn’t want me to launch myself won’t let me let go of my harness.
The second time I do it, I’m able to launch without hesitation. I try letting go of the harness but that’s not so easy. Maybe when I come back.
Yes I would come back. It’s exercise. My arms feel it. I tend to hold on to the harness for stabilization. The staff is incredibly cheery and supportive.
It costs $40 for an adult to spend two hours on the ropes courses and zip lines. That seems like an investment - especially if you have a family. But considering that after two hours you’ve overcome something you didn’t think you could get past and heard constant praise of your tightrope-walking skills, it’ like therapy for a fraction of the cost.
Plus you’re going to have stories to tell the rest of the day.
IF YOU GO
Monkey C Monkey Do
Route 1 (near Route 144), Wiscasset
Zip Line and Giant Swing Tickets Start at $15.00
Special Pricing click here-
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History of Wiscasset Maine Click Here
also see Maine Eastern Railroad - Brunswick, Bath, Wiscasset, Rockland
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