If you happen to have a big brother...or maybe you are a big brother...I'd like you to take a moment with me to contemplate the effects a big brother can have on his younger sibling(s).
Let me introduce you to my brother Steve. You need a guy who can tell the greatest of all hunting stories, or make you gullible enough to believe any deaf-defying story he can dream up, he's the one. (I think he read way too many Calvin & Hobbes stories growing up). He once walked me thru a patch of poison ivy, just to see if I was allergic to it, then told me afterwards. Since I didn't break out, he decided I was immune to it. I found out later in life there was a flaw in his hypothesis, I'm definitely allergic to it. Then there would be the times we used to stalk thru our 10 acres of backyard timber pretending to be Indiana Jones and trusty pal Shortround. I would follow that brother of mine anywhere, and do anything he told me to. I think he discovered early on of the influence he had over me. Mostly, he used it in good ways, but every once in awhile he'd test it for fun.
After we were married, Ted and I went out to visit my brother at the Lutheran Camp he worked at in northern Idaho. Once again I found myself stalking thru the woods following my brother's instructions, not realizing we were getting a subliminal marriage seminar along the way. The camp has some fantastic challenge courses, many of which I had run my own campers thru years before when I was a counselor. Since then they had added several high ropes challenges and Steve thought Ted and I would enjoy trying them out. Remember my brother who likes to test my boundaries? Well, this was great fun for him. Ok Julie and Ted, now you need to climb up this tree to that platform 30 feet in the air and jump 5ft to the platform on the next tree over. What!?! Are your serious. Oh wait, the next one is swinging tires, and then comes the flying trapeze, all 30ft in the air. He was in all his glory that day, standing on the ground coaching us thru these elements. I did survive and we were probably a better couple for it, though I've checked it off my list of things I don't need to do again when I visit Idaho.
Two years ago I brought Samantha out to Idaho so she too could experience Camp Lutherhaven. While she was at camp with her cousins, Steve decided to take my nephew and I on a 4-wheeling experience, Idaho style. I was all game since I typically love 4-wheeling. Little did I know how far my brother was going to test my boundaries on this adventure. We took off up the side of the mountain, the views were beautiful, the road was wide, and the dusty trail behind me was all good. Then the road started getting narrower and the cliff to my right started getting steeper. The higher we went, the less pressure I applied to the throttle with my white knuckled thumb. Steve and my nephew had to stop and wait several times because they'd get so far ahead of me. As I was driving along, I kept thinking to myself how easy it would be for me to drive right off the side of this mountain and they would likely never find me amongst the trees down below, I quit looking, it was too far down. Eventually I found myself 95% of the way to the top of the mountain, refused to drive any further, got off the 4-wheeler and walked the rest of the way up. We enjoyed a lovely hotdog lunch over a make-shift fire and an absolutely incredible view of the mountain tops. Then it came time to go back down the mountain. I was sure missing my flat plains of Illinois at this point. I made it, and I'm probably a better person for it. Thanks Steve, for always testing my limits, no matter how old we are. All in the name of good fun, for him anyway.