I just stepped off of the tallest building in Fresno and lived to blog about it.

Posted by Kim Schoelen

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I’m sitting here in a dark office by myself as I type this.  Some things need processing.

In my head I have on loop “ijustrappelledijustrappelledijustrappelledijustrappelled” and I’m grinning from ear to ear.  Nothing is creepier looking, I’d imagine than a girl in the dark maniacally laughing to herself, but that’s what anyone would walk in on right now if they weren’t all still at the Pacific Southwest Building.

Seriously, guys.  I just rappelled.  I just did it.  I never knew if I was afraid of heights or not so I’ve cruised through the past few months wondering if I would just pass out and be up there limply dangling as they had to lower me down. I’m a fainter, what can I say?  It’s not even as glamorous as the Victorian fainting couches of late make it seem, either.

I had an opportunity to go Over the Edge a day early for media day (clearly I’m a celebrity, duh.) so I took it.  I got in line with Bruce Campbell, my absolute favorite radio personality and Police Captain Garner who is probably the nicest person I have ever met.  We three harnessed up, got our helmets fitted and all of those hook-things that keep you attached added on.  That’s right, I just called the most important safety feature of the whole experience a “hook-thing”.  The Over the Edge staff was great, as they prepped us they explained what everything was for.  It’s easy to just casually stand and chat with your BFF’s the radio guy and the Captain when there’s no doubt in your mind that these people totally know what they’re doing and it’s all under control.  That’s why it’s just a “hook thing” to me- they’ve got the technical know how, all I needed to know was what part of the doo-dad to push to make it go.

Once at the top of the building, they pulled us aside one by one to do a training inside off of a step just to get the feel for the hand grips and distributing weight.  That’s when the butterflies started to pop up.  Luckily there wasn’t time for that, as soon as I demonstrated proficiency with the ropes I was unhooked from the demonstation ropes and walking out to my seldom-seen view of Fresno.

I made sure to look over the edge before I went.  I don’t buy into that whole “don’t look down” philosophy.  I want to know exactly what I’m getting myself into.  And then it was automatic.  The Over the Edge staff member asked me to climb up the steps and I did as told.  I found myself swinging my leg over the side, and then both feet were over.  At no time did I have less than two clips on as I was getting over, they actually even have you attached to a third for a brief time just to make sure you have you bearings before you descend.  Even having heard from everyone who went over last year about how safe it was, it still struck me just how safe the whole thing is.

But enough safety talk.  Let’s talk about that moment.

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That moment when it’s not automatic, and you’re there, butt out to the world about to begin lowering yourself.

That moment when you feel the ropes holding you, really holding you.  Your shoes against the wall, toes pointed up at the sky.  It’s you, two ropes and the Pacific Southwest Building.

I’m only certain that other people were around because I could hear my fiancé yelling “GO BURLY” at me, and from in front of me I was instructed to slowly begin letting myself down.  But really, it was all extra noise.  I was so taken with Fresno.

That sounds cheesy, but it’s so true.  For just a little while I was suspended above my entire city, and it was amazing.  The streets that make so much sense when driving them were hard to identify until a landmark is spotted. And then I started to descend.

It’s easy enough, you control your own speed with the hand break and as you come back to the wall you just push off again.  I twisted around so I could take in the view, and let my hip and shoulder push the wall a few times.

I took in the view of Chukchansi Park.  Seriously, Fresno.  We have one heck of a ballpark.  It looks even prettier from 13 stories up.

Look down, smile for the camera, push off again.  I was in my own world.  I was suspended above everything that has been troubling me.  For the first time since my grandma passed away I wasn’t encumbered with sadness or loss.  I was in the moment, weightless.

I paused on the 2nd floor and waved in the window at everyone at The Loft.  I was hoping they’d open the window because I’ve been meaning to stop by and schedule an appointment anyway.

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And then I was down to the ballroom.  It was almost over.  I yelled “DOWNTOWN FRESNO” really loudly, even though I don’t actually remember telling myself to do that.

My feet hit the ground.

Amazing, what a rush.  Immediately I wanted to be at the top again.

Spots are still open for tomorrow’s event, cost is $1,000 to rappel.  You have a month after the fact to keep raising the money so if you don’t think you can scrape it up with 24 hours notice you’re covered.  You get a unique perspective of Fresno and the ooey-gooey good feeling of knowing you’re supporting Downtown, in particular the ice rink.  Or you can just come to hang out and cheer on the rappellers- we’ll have beer, ping pong and a craft fair going on during the event.

This is something every Fresnan should try at least once.

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