Some people are thrill-seekers. Adrenaline junkies. Daredevils. Evel Knievels. For them, the quality of life is measured by the number of times “daily” is replaced with “danger”…”ordinary” with “extraordinary”…”routine” with “wild”. We now have TV shows are dedicated to these men and women who seemingly risk their lives on a regular basis. I have watched them on occasion with my jaw dropped and eyes bugged out.
And that’s because I’m not a thrill-seeker…not in the slightest.
Don’t get me wrong…I’d love to strap on a rally car and go flying through the woods of Finland. I’ve joked with a few people that I’d pay $1000 just to ride with rally legend Juha Kankkunen for an hour. But that’s just driving (or riding) quickly. I’m not going to jump off a bridge or a mountain or a building with a parachute as my only means of survival.
Because we’ve been to Estes Park on a few occasions, Dad and I generally try to challenge ourselves with a hike, as it’s something we both enjoy immensely. And we’ve talked about hiking Long’s Peak. But there’s a point in that particular hike where things get a bit treacherous. The path narrows to just a few feet with a 1,000′ drop to oblivion. It’s then, the moment when “enjoyment” is replaced with “yikes, that’s a long way down!”, that the hike ceases to be enjoyable. I don’t need, or want, the risk.
What I’m saying is that, while I might enjoy looking at Niagara Falls, I’m no Annie Edson Taylor.
I guess I don’t know for sure if Ms. Taylor was a daredevil. Maybe she was. Or maybe she was just nuts. What we know for sure was that she was a 63-year-old widowed schoolteacher who didn’t have much money and was looking to cash in on a bit of notoriety. But Annie dispensed with the idea of a cooking show on TV. She decided against starting a quilting business. Cell phone applications for a Droid (there’s money in that, you know)?…leave that to the fraidy-cats.
On October 24, 1901 (which happened to be her birthday), Ms. Taylor strapped herself into a padded barrel and became the first person to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Now Niagara Falls is pretty big. In total, something like 750,000 gallons of water per second go over the edge and drop more than 170′ to the rocks below. But water isn’t people, and it doesn’t care if gets smashed up. Apparently Ms. Taylor didn’t care, either. But over she went, and when they fished the barrel out of the water, a somewhat battered and bruised (but very much alive) Annie Taylor emerged.
These days, stunts like that land one in jail. They might also get you some kind of reality TV show (they have ’em for everything else now). I know Ms. Taylor didn’t get the latter, and I don’t know if they arrested people for daring the Falls in 1901. But hopefully, she served herself an extra big piece of cake that night…I think she earned it.
Happy Birthday to you, Annie Edson Taylor…Happy Birthday to you.