Fear Factor: Adrenaline Edition

If I stick to the classic ‘Fear Factor’ format, this post should be about fear-defying stunts. I generally try to avoid doing those, but into every life a little adrenaline must drip (or, in my case, surge like a tidal bore). So I asked myself, “What are the scariest things I’ve ever experienced?”

After ruling out politicians and 1980s boy bands I was left with a ragtag collection of memories, but I never remember being abjectly terrified. That’s probably because I’ve lived a charmed life and all the potentially dangerous situations turned out to be lucky near-misses. Still, they were seriously butt-puckering at the time.

The earliest scary situation I remember was when I was a young teenager on the farm. We were always wary of skunks, not only because of their fearsome stink but also because they often carried rabies. When they rambled through minding their own business we gave them a wide berth, but if one seemed unusually aggressive, Dad would shoot it just to be on the safe side.

I was home alone one day when a skunk marched up bold as brass. I’ll never forget staring at that skunk over the trembling gunsights, holding off until the last second to pull the trigger… and then I didn’t have to. The skunk turned and wandered away, leaving me shaking like a leaf.

As a young adult I narrowly avoided a couple of fights when I got cornered in remote places by guys much larger than me. Nothing pumps up the old adrenal glands like facing a fight you know you can’t win. Fortunately they were cowards, and when they realized I was going to fight them anyway they backed off. Whew.

Anybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle knows there’s nothing quite like the horrifying weightlessness when gravity turns against you in a high-side. Aydan’s wild ride in Book 2 is based on the time I almost high-sided on a street bike, complete with the dragging footpeg throwing up sparks. But my guardian angel was working overtime that day (and every day, I suspect) so I pulled out of the turn unscathed and went home to change my underwear.

Then there was the time I was riding a dirt bike up a steep trail of loose shale with a cliff on one side and a hillside on the other. Getting up was a challenge, but coming down was truly scary. Especially when my brakes failed. Fortunately I was near the bottom and I hadn’t been going very fast, so I turned into the side of the hill and jolted anticlimactically to a stop.

Experiences like accidentally skiing onto a double-black-diamond downhill run or watching a tornado bear down on me were good for a few extra heartbeats, but either I’m not wired for panic or else I’m too stupid to react with appropriate fear. I got down the mountain, the tornado skipped harmlessly overhead, my guardian angel developed a drinking problem, and I puttered off happily to my next adventure.

But everything except the skiing and the tornado happened when I was young and foolish. These days I get all the adrenaline I need from crawling out the window onto our second-floor roof to wash the third-floor windows. (Okay, so now I’m old and foolish. Never mind.)

But that’s about all the fear factor I want!

* * *

P.S. I’m on the road today, so I’ll reply to comments tomorrow – ‘talk’ to you then!

41 thoughts on “Fear Factor: Adrenaline Edition

  1. I’m beginning to think that the most scary things that have happened is life itself! During the last 2-3 weeks we’ve had just one too many things break down. 2 cars, 1 refrigerator, 1 chest freezer and this morning, the last insult was my garbage disposal. sheesh
    As for just myself, well, my Mama always said that I wasn’t stupid, I just did some stupid things once in a while. There were so many times that I had lapses of good sense it would take way too long to tell it. I do believe that the stupidest thing and the one that for all intents and purposes should have gotten me killed was a blind date. A friend of mine and her (newly found) boyfriend, brought another fella so we could all go on a wonderful picnic and cave spotting. In Northern Calif., in the hills around Bodega Bay there are many old caves that miners used to work. Long abandoned of course and many had never been closed off. Somehow the picnic never happened and we wound up just climbing around the hills and locating caves. I should have thought something was wrong when there was no picnic basket, the fellas were a little on the quiet side, they both looked a little older than teens. My friend and I were both 16. Neither one of them wanted to talk much about just “which school do you go to?” I think one mumbled something about only going part time. Sure. Anyway, we got to one cave that had a pretty tall and wide opening so we went inside. Uh-Huh, we did. My friends date had a couple of metal boxes with him and some climbing gear. The guy I was “with”(?) had a couple lanterns and another metal box that had chemicals for mineral testing. At least I knew that was right as I had seen those before. Another moment of tension when I thought about rope, chemicals of any kind, lanterns etc. I just wasn’t really feeling the fun of adventure right then. We walked a ways more and came to a ladder leading down to a lower level. Looking back I just can’t imagine why it never occurred to me that we weren’t marking our way. We go down the ladder, it was wood, and of course not that strong. The last one down, my friends date, broke through the middle rung and fell the rest of the way, scraping his back badly and it was bleeding. Also now full of dirt and dusty stuff. We were in a lower level, apparently no way back up. We walked for a ways that was straight looking for another way up. The path curved and we turned to go back another way. Back the way we came and continued for a bit past the beginning point. There was a shelf like ridge/shelf along the wall about 7 feet from the floor over our heads. By now we are all sweating profusely, the fella with the bleeding back really did look bad, he’d been limping for a while now, and probably the smell of fear was radiating off of us pretty strong. We waited for a bit, sitting down to rest and get calm. It was just so deathly still. All of us heard a sound at the same time so it wasn’t my imagination. It was a growl, low, guttural and just not a good sound at all. We got up in one motion and slowly walked back again to our starting point by the broken ladder. We heard the sound of padded feet hitting the dirt and I’ll admit my friend and I both had tears coming down our dirty faces. We didn’t hear movement tho’ but then we did hear more small sounds of loud “meowing”(?) Is that the sound that Cougar cubs make? We had nothing we could do but wait and pray, cry and feel increasingly sick. I rather imagine it was a mountain cat and her cubs and she was not willing to share space. She, thankfully, decided to stay with her cubs and just watch. We were there for another good hour when we saw a light and heard voices above us. Too afraid to shout, whispering loudly wasn’t working but panic was beginning to set in. Finally some one overhead shouted down to us and we did respond. We asked them to hurry, we didn’t think we were alone down here and one of us was hurt and bleeding. 4 people had found us after spotting the car down by the highway and some others had seen us go into the cave but not come out! They lowered a rope ladder and helped us out. After we got some aid and got cleaned up we made our way home. At that time my Father was working out of town. I was lucky. I did tell my Mama and she tore several patches off me. Then she cried. I think I regretted that most of all. The thought that I made my Mom cry and that my lack of better judgement made her disappointed in me. Of all the other dumb things I have done, that was, in fact, the worst one. Now you can imagine why my Guardian Angels all retired, and truly earned their wings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is terrifying! So many ways it could have gone wrong (and almost did). You must have an elite class of guardian angels! It’s too bad your mechanical/electrical devices don’t seem to be under their protection (or maybe they all made a suicide pact). Hope your run of bad luck ends soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve wondered for years about that whole situation. I suppose it warrants an award for one of those “What Were You Thinking” things. Or rather ‘what were you NOT thinking’. It does seem that from that one experience I grew up, mentally, a LOT. I believe the whole idiocy of so many things, from every angle, that could have gone wrong, left me with perhaps a maturity that was leaps and bounds beyond my years. Not that I didn’t do other “stupid” things, but none that matched that one. Every time I see someone using a rope ladder, real life or movie, I get a small catch in my throat and a shiver up my spine.
        As for the luck end of things, the appliances breaking down were already 20 years old! I told hubby nothing lasts forever and believe me, we milk these things for all they got! LOL We have them replaced and one fixed and the cars will run a bit longer till we get them traded in. (one car I’ve already wanted to push off a pier somewhere to make it an artificial reef!)
        Like that old song says “Never give up, never give up, never give up……that ship!”
        My motto is and will forever be.. Hang in There.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Excellent motto! I’ve heard of ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, but maybe if you’re lucky, whatever doesn’t kill you also makes you smarter. I try to learn from my mistakes – my goal is to avoid dying of my own stupidity. 😉

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          • Yeah, the “makes you stronger” thing definitely is true. I still wonder sometimes tho’ just why things turned out the way they did. Why didn’t I wind up on a milk carton or a flyer on a post somewhere. There were situations that under normal circumstances should have been the end of me. I’m still here, still going through each day and listening, looking, waiting for something. My Mom crying tho’ will always haunt me. She was blind and was a strong and smart woman. Crying, to her, was a sign of weakness. (at least crying in front of someone was. I knew she did her own share of it in private) I think I mentioned one time that when a Braille teacher asked her how she handled it, she said that “some people cry a lot, I swear a lot!” She did too. The fact that I failed her in any way that caused her to cry in front of me, well it still makes me shake my head. You are so right too, dying of my own stupidity would just be the ultimate salt in the wound! Jeez. OH, and I’d have to spend the rest of eternity hiding from my Guardian Angels. They’d all be chasing me to kick my stupid butt all over the heaven’s. 🙂

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            • LOL! After all their hard work, you’re right; you’d be hearing about it for sure.

              It is a terrible feeling to know you’ve let someone down like that, though. I think we’ve probably all had that experience as kids – the parental yelling just rolls off our backs, but when the yelling stops and we can see they’re truly disappointed… ouch. I’d like to think they understood and forgave us, though – they probably did the same to their parents; and so on up the generational line. (Your mom sounds like an amazing woman!)

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              • Yep, Mom was one of a kind for sure. My parents never yelled at us. Never! If my sister and I were arguing or hollering at each other (an it did happen often) all my Dad had to do was to stand up and put his pipe in the holder. Instant and total silence. When he got through staring a hole through both of us, he sat down and sis and I went our separate ways. Now Mom, when it was just she and we kids, she’d blow a whistle. LOL She carried a police whistle in her pocket. We’d go to her “table”, the table was the conference area. No questions, we’d just go there and sit. She had a way of staring at each one of us. How she pinpointed where each of us were was spooky. By the time she got through “explaining” why arguing with each other was unacceptable, we’d be believers. Years later I realized that her hearing was exceptional. If we sniffed in another room she could tell which room and where we were in it. LOL

                Liked by 1 person

                • Wow! I always used to think my mom had eyes in the back of her head, but your mom had her beat hands down. My dad was similar to yours – he rarely got involved in any disciplinary stuff, but there was never any yelling. He just had to give us the ‘look’. I’d love to be able to emulate that!

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    • Yep, I think skunk stories are one of those things that all kids brought up in rural areas have in common. I’ll never forget the time two skunks tangled under my grandparents’ house – even a year later you could still smell a faint hint of skunk as soon as you walked in the door. Nasty!

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  2. Having an Inner Superhero also helps in fearsome situations, Diane. Your Six-Pack persona works instinctively, even if her cape appears slightly backwards afterwards. There’s nothing like a burst of adrenaline to kick-start the inner hero, you know.

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  3. Ten of us were packing into some high lakes in Colorado above timberline a hunnerd or two years ago. My dad was taking my brother-in-law and some of his employees and me camping for ten days or so, and the only way to get into this wilderness area slice of heaven was to walk or use horses. Dad was a horseman all his life and it was a fifteen mile trek, all seriously uphill, so we packed in on horseback. The nag he was riding lost its footing on a really treacherous part of the trail and fell off the side of a steep incline. The horse rolled completely over my father–on rocks, no less–at about the ten-mile mark. We all thought Dad was a goner. I was the first one down to him–of course I was, my horse threw me halfway down the mountain in all the excitement, but I hit on my feet and kept running. Everyone thought I did it on purpose, and I never told them otherwise. 🙂

    Anyway, Dad was okay. Banged up, of course, but nothing broken. He dragged the horse back up onto the trail, kicked it about a dozen times to get its attention again, mounted up, and we all went camping and fishing at the most exquisitely beautiful remote lakes I’ve ever seen. I rode the wretched thing back down ten days later. Miserable animal. It was a rental. We brought eight good ones with us in trailers, and rented the rest of them locally. Candidates for the glue factory, the lot of ’em.

    Dad was the horseman. I love horsepower, but I like mine on wheels, not hooves. Any number of horses, the more the better; any number of wheels, two and up, makes no difference at all. 🙂

    Then there was the time a tie rod end broke and my buddy and I bounced and rolled 600 feet down the side of a steep mountain…and hung up on a bush with part of the car hanging over the edge of a 200 foot straight drop.

    And a whole pile of other stuff that’s just too depressing to even think about.

    Bryant’s Law (yeah, another one): Never drive faster than your Guardian Angel can fly. More words to live by. Trust me.

    And the draft line ith thtill moving, I thee. Mahvelouth, thithter!

    327k and 662 pageth for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulationth – you’re just crankin’ it out! And your adrenaline moments make mine look like a nice relaxing holiday – yikes! I think you must have a flock of guardian angels.

      I’m definitely going to adopt Bryant’s Law!

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  4. The only thing I can think of was about 25 years ago riding my Honda Shadow and remembering what I forgot to pick up in town before going home. I took a wide turn on the highway and hit sand on the shoulder which caused the bike to slide out from under me. I nearly instantly picked it up and was back on it in a split second. I don’t know if it was fear of injury or fear of being seen as a putz, but normally I couldn’t pick up something that heavy that quickly.

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    • Adrenaline is an amazing thing, isn’t it? That happened to a friend of mine, too – he rode a big Harley-Davidson. One minute he’s waving politely to a nice little old lady and letting her go ahead, next minute she slams on the brakes in front of him and he’s lying there in the parking lot. He jumps up, yanks the bike upright, and rides away all in the space of a few seconds, then a few miles down the road realizes he’s got a broken wrist…

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      • The only time I ever laid my bike (completely) down was after creeping through a shallow puddle of water going around a corner at an intersection in a little town we lived in after I got out of the Army a hunnerd or two years ago. On my way to work after getting out of class, wearing my “nice” clothes, trying hard not to splash them with road grime. Was completely through the water, rolled on a little bit of throttle, and the back end came around and out from under me completely. So there I wuz, sitting in the street, looking at my bike over on its side. I did what your friend did. I jumped up before someone else came around the corner and ran me over, jerked my bike up, hopped on, and gunned it into a parking lot to assess the damage.

        One small scratch on the bike, and a torn back pocket on my nice pants. Quick trip back home to fix the wardrobe malfunction and back to work–via a different and dryer route–and all was well.

        Hated the pants being a total loss. It was back in the early ’70s. They were part of my best leisure suit ensemble. But fer cryin out loud, don’t let that get around. I got an image to maintain, after all.

        About the bike: It was a used Honda CB-350. Very used, come to find out. And moderately ab-used, too. Front forks were bent, so it had a tendency to kick into a sort of death-wobble at unpredictable times. Or not so unpredictable. Usually when in heavy traffic at high speeds. And then there was the time the front tire went flat at 70 mph in traffic because the moron who owned it before me used electrical tape over the spokes inside the rim instead of a thick rubber “snake belly” to protect the inner tube from the spoke nuts. And I found out that if you have a little woodruff key left over after an engine rebuild, the alternator won’t charge the battery, and you’ll have to push the bike two miles back to the house in the middle of the night. I could go on and on.

        I still keep the motorcycle addendum to my driver’s license, but I haven’t owned a bike since I managed to foist, er, resell, yeah, that’s it, resell that one many decades ago. If a friend offers, I’ll gladly accept and take his bike around the block a few times. By then, I’ve gotten it out of my system again for another few years, and I’m all better. Method to the madness, and all that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The leisure suit is buried forever in the confidential files. We shall not speak of it again.

          The CB-350 was a pretty good bike if it wasn’t thrashed to shit, but the one you had sounds like enough to turn anybody off biking. I didn’t ride at all this past summer (if I can’t pick it up by myself I won’t ride it, and my back’s doing really well but not quite ready for a 600 pound bike yet). I only had a couple of tiny jaunts around the neighbourhood last summer, so I might take a refresher safety course if I’m going to get back in the saddle next year. (Besides, the safety courses are fun – the obstacle course is a blast!) 🙂

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          • The bike was in better shape when I sold it than it was when I bought it. The thing was weather. Just needed something with a top and doors. And a heater. Still do, hence no bike. I’d love to pick up a BMW R90 or R90S, spend a winter giving it a meticulous redo, then fire it up in the late spring and disappear until the late fall. Two things would have to happen first, though. Become single and hit the lottery. In that order. 🙂

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            • LOL! Don’t anticipate the former; don’t expect the latter.

              Weather is an issue here, too. A motorcycle is strictly a recreational vehicle unless you really enjoy being cooked in the sun, pelted with vicious hail, soaked to the skin, frozen to the bone, and blown off the road… all on the same day.

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  5. I’m 60 this year but I vividly remember my “moments of terror” when I was twelve. My friend and I were swimming in a lake when she suddenly noticed we were in deep water… over our heads. She panicked, quit swimming, and grabbed hold of me, trying to climb up on top of me to get her head above water. She was dragging us both deeper and thrashing violently. Sheer terror – I was sure we were both going to drown! Thankfully a nearby adult noticed what was happening and dragged her into shallower water and made sure we were both okay. I really thought my lungs would burst…
    – Maggie J

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  6. Sounds like you’ve had plenty of scares. Yikes. The dirt biking near a cliff would do me in. Not a fan of heights. Then again, me on a dirt bike is as unlikely as me turning down a free sample of chocolate at a Ghirardelli chocolate store. Never gonna happen.

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    • Ah, yes, other people’s driving – always good for a few beads of sweat! And I vividly recall the fear of being caught, too. (I won’t elaborate because I’m not sure what the statute of limitations is on childhood transgressions.)

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  7. I think ive lead a charmed life, never really done anything truly scary, but back in 2003, I had next to no money having not long gone full time after starting the job I’m doing now (when I started I was part time) my mum and I were Christmas shopping in London (I think I bought everyones presents and didnt spend more then £30 which was all I had.
    We had been down to Camden market which was fab, and all over the place looking for quirky things. Anyway we headed back to the hotel which wadnt in a great part of London, and got really lost. We stopped in scary looking shops to ask for directions, the shop owners were really nice and helpful but not always sure where we wanted to be. Anyway after alot of walking we eventually found our way back to the hotel, no harm no foul. And it didn’t stop us from going out the next day.

    we (mum and I) are currently in Holland a lovely little town near the German boarder called Valkenburg, its our 4th time here its great, the town is so compact that it reall doesnt take long to walk from one dnd to the other, mild note of panic last night as we looked the wrong way trying to find the hotel, but as I said its a small town so 2mins later we found it again.

    hope everyone is well, I still doing great still have the hole but its healing nicely

    Hugs to all
    karen xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Either I live a charmed existence or I’m a lily- livered chicken. I’m pretty sure the second option applies. I was once at a circus and when the high wire acrobat was about to do some gravity-defying stunt, I was the only idiot in the audience to scream, “Don’t do it!”

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