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Fly the Queasy Skies 

Being hauled along behind a boat and underneath a parachute made me laugh. I held on tight, too. But mostly, I laughed.

click to enlarge Michael Bowen laughing like a child - JORDAN BEAUCHAMP
  • Jordan Beauchamp
  • Michael Bowen laughing like a child

A football field’s length above the aquamarine expanse of Lake Coeur d’Alene, nestled among the nylon straps of a harness that is, I hope, reasonably secure, hangs my ass.

Exposed to the breeze, it dangles defenselessly, with nothing but a few clips and cords attaching it (and the rest of me) to the oversized bed sheet above.

It can feel a bit precarious, this parasailing business.

Actually, though, my ass isn’t worried. In fact, I’ve been laughing it off ever since I slid off the end of Coeur d’Alene Parasail’s motorboat, wrapped in that harness, suspended from a 30-foot parachute in all the colors of the rainbow.

Right from liftoff, I was laughing like I hadn’t in months. (Anxious laughter, sure, but little-boy giggly, too.) The owner-operators of CdA Parasail, brothers Jamin and Reuben Rodriguez, strap you into the harness beneath the chute, and you sit with your legs out in front of you. The boat speeds up a bit, they winch you out on the steel cable, and suddenly you’re rising backwards. First you feel some spray, then the wind shifts and surges whoa, I hope this thing Why is he turning the boat?

I may not be as stable up here as I had hoped.

But the boat chugs along, the chute gathers the wind, and I sit suspended in between, my legs swinging and kicking in glee.

It’s quiet up here. Not entirely peaceful: I’m very much aware that the steel umbilical cord curving in a long arc beneath me is my only connection to the motorboat below.

I shout to the ant-people down in the boat, but they can’t hear me. So tiny. Silly earthbound fools, they know not yet what it is to soar like a god.

I peer down at my minions and survey the vast expanse of my domain. I am the emperor of all Coeur d’Alene! Floating well above the roofline of my resort-castle, I can see well to the north, where the river bends past the collegiate campus and on to the far western lands of Spokane.

I may be like a god, but I also remember Reuben warning me to keep the nylon straps below the middle of my thighs, without creeping back and leaving me seatless. Gods who soar through the sky do not wish to experience what he described as “a massive wedgie.”

I whoop and holler some more, feel my arms grow tired from holding on tight. They begin to winch me back in, and I say farewell to the panorama over which I held sway.

In the final approach, Jamin slows the boat slightly, just enough to dip my ankles in the lake. For a brief, waterskiing moment, I am being baptized in the waters of Coeur d’Alene. Then he surges again, popping me back up out of the water.

And then I stick the landing, right on the back of the boat. (So will everyone else, but still.)

While others take their turns and go aloft, I enjoy the ride around the lake, which is nearly as much fun as the parasailing itself. Over to Casco Bay we ride, past Tubbs Hill, up close to the Floating Green.

And it’s pretty awesome, when viewed from the boat: I was up there that far? And that small?

But all the while, while others float skyward, my little-boy self is tugging at my sleeve: Can we go again?

Coeur d’Alene Parasail and Watersports Daily (excluding Saturdays), every hour on the hour from 10 am-7 pm; reservations strongly suggested $60 for eight minutes; $90 for tandem rides Independence Point dock between the CdA Resort and City Park, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho cdaparasail.net (208) 765-2999 For rates ranging up to $15 an hour, rent paddle boats, aqua cycles, kayaks and double kayaks.

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