"It's too humid for lightning," Todd said with considerable authority. He walked back in from his balcony.
"Is that really part of the equation?" I asked.
"I don't really know."
"Look, there's more lightning," said Anderson.
"We can't even hear the thunder. It's way off," I pointed out.
"Are you really doing this?" Anderson asked Todd.
And so everyone was onboard. Anderson wasn't really concerned about the weather. He was stalling because one of his three fears was heights and we were about to hop the fence at a construction site and climb a 160 foot crane. And, if possible, walk to the very end of the boom.
The activity falls neatly into my favorite quadrant of life experiences. Morally sound but illegal. It's not that I particularly enjoy breaking the law, although there is some thrill to it, but it's more that they make fun things illegal.
Things that are dangerous enough that someone could get sued, but safe enough that someone with common sense would never get hurt.
The crane hovered over a demolished RV park which yielded to a new condo development that had just broken ground. Every time Todd or I would pass it we'd look up at the crane. It had to be climbed.
Cameras in tow, we walked to the fence. A quick look for witnesses or police in either direction passed, we hopped over the fence, and slid into the shadows of the construction site.
So far, so good. As far as I know, police don't look at cranes to see if anyone is climbing them, so our most likely time to be caught was over.
The actual climbing is boring. Cranes are sectional and each twenty foot section has a ladder that leads to the next section. The view became more magnificent with each section.
I've been up a couple cranes in my day. At the top there are two payoffs. One, sometimes the control cabin is unlocked and you can sit in the chair. It has windows 180 degrees in each direction and tons of controls, so when you sit in the chair you feel like you're piloting a spaceship.
Hey, no one's ever accused me of being too mature.
The second payoff is that sometimes the boom of the crane, the horizontal part at the top, has a walkway inside it so that you can walk to the end.
We hit the jackpot. There was a walkway and the door was unlocked.
We started down the walkway. The first obstacle was a giant reel of steel cable that blocked the passage about halfway through.
Either I could slither under it, or I could move to the outside of the crane and shuffle across the side beam. I chose the latter, mainly because it was scary and seemed more fun. It was both of those things, ten or so steps of watching my feet slide across a four inch beam with the backdrop of the RV park 160 feet below.
My stomach got that roller coaster feeling. This is what life is about, I thought. Let go with my hands and I'm dead. You feel alive by contrast.
After I got past the reel I swung back onto the path in the middle of the boom and kept walking. Any fear of that type of section was totally demolished by climbing on the outside.
Near the end, the path changed again. To cross the last thirty feet, it would be necessary to go back on the outside. This was a lot scarier because we were now so far out that every move sent shockwaves of movement through the whole beam, and because it was at least four times longer than the previous outside section.
I ducked under the railing and went on the outside. Not so bad. I looked down, as if to reinforce that what I was doing was scary. Christmas lights flickered under trees in the RV park. I was high up. I focused on making sure that three appendages were touching the crane at all times.
Could our 450 pounds or so cause the crane to tilt forward? Probably not, but if so, I planned my course of action. I would straddle a vertical beam and hold on for dear life. Further thought made me realize that this crane probably doesn't even have that axis.
Finally we made it out to the end and sat with our feet dangling off the edge. It's the most perfect view of Austin you can have, not impeded on any side.
After half on hour of singing songs, joking around, watching bats fly a few feet away, and taking pictures, we headed back. No one was afraid anymore as we gingerly hopped across the outside.
Anderson recited a good quote:
"There's a difference between living and actually being alive."
I couldn't agree more.
Here are some photos. They're mostly poor quality because it was just moonlight and I have no flash.
Hum. Very impressive. Big balls for a man no? WOW! How old are you? But the fearless come in all shapes, sizes, appearances, sexes and ages don't they?
"There's a difference between living and being alive." Your friend hit it home to what I have been thinking about lately.
What's the point of fearing, obsessing over the little phobias, when doing something exciting, being fearless (or stupid) depending on your view makes you feel alive?
I remember once for the fun of it I walked outside in my PJS and walked down the road from my house near an store and an park, I felt so... silly yes, but the feeling you get when you are doing something out of the oridinary just because you want to do it and denying any bit of fear in you. Doesn't it feel so excellent? It makes you think, I think.
thank you for this post, I wonder when you wrote it, probably ages ago. Very inspiring. Very inspiring.
You know I also walked in the woods at three OClock in the morning once, all alone, walked miles in the winter without a coat with only my imagination and the sun to warm me and when I tell my mother these things sometimes she just raises an eyebrow. I wonder why I haven't done anything amusing to myself in a few months, I did shave my head though. Whenever someone of the opposite sex looks at me or even of the same sex it's usually admiration of jealousy of my balls! Even though I don't have any. I prefer men to women. Especially fearless men like you of course unless you are not a man and pretending to be a man with a very cool internet intendity. But then that would be just parania. Anyway very inspiring. Good post. Very thought provocking. And awesome.
I was walking past a crane the other day and your blog post motivated me to do it. And yeah, the cabin was unlocked but we couldnt walk to the end of it. :(
"If I fall now, I'm dead."
I also have that feeling when I'm riding my bike and a truck overtakes me, just a tiny bit to the left, or when a train passes along the platform.
None the less: wicked ish man!
i approve! i had a very similar encounter with a 130ft. water tower! it really is thrilling especially getting to that point of "if i fall now. i am dead."
Reading this took my breath away. Tynan, you need to write a definitive book on how to BE you. Not just the pick up thing... everything.
...i think i love you. Or i hate you. Regardless, you have the biggest balls of probably anyone i have encountered before. Gahh.
Oooh how the ladies love alliteration! Really all I want to do is write about living in the RV, but every day I would just write "man! this is great!", so I'll write about something else. Anyway, I have very little power in the RV at the moment... I have to run the generator which uses a lot of gas. I bought an awesome solar panel that will provide me with non stop electron flow, but it doesn't get installed for another week. Anyway - on with the story.
This happened a while back, but I never got around to posting it because I'm a jerk.
Todd, Jonah, and I were hanging out on the roof of the condo, admiring the skyline. The skyline these days is packed with construction cranes just begging to be climbed. That night we obliged.
On February 14th, Dan Edwardes, Stephane Vigroux, Chris Keighley, and Julie Angel came down to Central Park for a day-long workshop. Artem, Charlie and I showed up at Heckscher Park (an area in Central Park) around 10AM, and there were already a good 20 or 30 people there. We warmed up, did some small balance and precision drills for a while, until around 11. A group of four people walked up to us, and one spoke in a British accent "So.. are you guys Traceurs?"
After a (long) series of introductions, we hung around Heckscher for a bit longer, waiting for more people to show up, and then the day began.
We began with some light joint work: neck, shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle stretching. We then went for a short jog forwards, backwards, and to both sides. We slowed to a stop then Dan dropped to his hands and feet, and began to QM around the area we had just jogged. At about the halfway point, we continued QMing backwards.
Then we ran into our first problem. The Park Police decided that what we were doing 'could endanger the kids (of which there weren't any around...)' and 'adults weren't allowed to play in the park.' So we asked them nicely where we could train, and they directed us towards a baseball field. So we moved there.
After doing some (read: a lot) of squat work, we went back to some more QM. This time, we were doing a couple different levels of sideways QM. We started by just moving left and right in the QM position. We later incorporated leg lifts, both holding it still and moving the leg up and down, into the workout. About this time we ran into problem number 2. The Park Police came by and decided that we were "risking the children" again (keep in mind, this was a fenced in field, and there were no kids in sight, let alone on this side of the fence.)