KAUAI, Hawaii -- As I hurtled through the sky above a sprawling valley, in view of sapphire waves and verdant mountain slopes, the wind was whipping past me and my eyes were streaming tears.
My lips were peeled back, I was yelling incomprehensibly and my brain was blaring, "This could be the end."
But let me begin at the beginning, before I zoomed down a three-quarter-mile zip line on Kauai, the westernmost of the well-populated Hawaiian Islands.
I had never been to the so-called Garden Island, but I knew it by reputation. Less built up than Maui and Oahu, Kauai is blessed with spectacular hiking trails, secluded beaches and dramatic vistas.
That made it an ideal warm-weather destination to rev up and unwind, while talking to residents opened my eyes to Kauai's history and the consequences of more mainlanders visiting the island.
THROUGH THE AIR AND UP THE COAST
Were I to visit Kauai again, I might concentrate on a particular pastime. But on this trip with friends, I tried both exciting and relaxing activities.
Which brings me back to my midair moment, courtesy of the FlyLine, a special zip line operated by Outfitters Kauai, which also offers kayak, bike and stand-up paddleboard tours.
The company has several zip-line packages. Looking for thrills, we chose the so-called AdrenaLine excursion. It began with a pair of conventional zip lines, which allowed us to soar over the trees.
Then some of us stripped into our swimsuits and jumped off a mini zip line into a water hole hidden in the muggy jungle, where we gaped at tropical plants with fronds longer than my arm.