Standing atop the tower crane on the construction site of Tyler Junior College’s Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center is exhilarating.
I have a healthy fear of heights, but it’s never prevented me from doing things that involve them. In middle school, high school and college, I participated in ropes courses that involved climbing telephone poles, taking “leaps of faith” to a nearby trapeze and riding on a zip line, as the occasional thrill ride at amusement parks.
That said, it’s been a while since I’ve done anything involving heights. So, after agreeing to join some TJC officials on a trip up the crane, I started to question my decision.
Could I really do this? Would I freeze halfway up the ladder? What if the crane rocked a lot? Would I throw up?
As a way of calming myself before the big climb, on Friday morning, I drove by the college on my way to work.
My thought process was that if I could see the crane’s height from my car, it wouldn’t be as scary. And, although this strategy might not have worked for some, it did for me.
As I looked at the crane while driving by on Fifth Street, I estimated that it was about six stories high.
“That’s high,” I thought, “but not that high.”
It seemed about the same height as The Screamin’ Skycoaster ride I had done at Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park in San Antonio years before. So I thought, “I can do this.”
Four hours later, there I was along with Staff Writer Kenneth Dean and a few others.
As I climbed multiple ladders to the top of the 140-foot crane, I kept saying in my head, “one step at a time.”
The climbing part was not as scary as I expected because a metal frame encircles the ladder and another wider enclosure forms the frame of the tower that is holding the crane up. So, somehow, I felt safe climbing.
In addition, instead of one giant ladder going from the ground to the top, there is a series of shorter ladders separated by platforms.
So I climbed a little bit and rested on a platform, climbed some more and rested on a platform.
The higher we got, the more scared I became, but I just kept saying to myself, “one step at a time.”
Once at the top, we got to walk around. The view was incredible. I love landscapes, and seeing Tyler from a different perspective was neat.
We picked out different buildings and landmarks such as Delek Refining, First Presbyterian Church, The University of Texas at Tyler and buildings in downtown Tyler.
One thing that struck me was seeing the colors of the trees from above. There was a beautiful blend of dark green, light green and brown visible.
After snapping some photos and a few of us climbing another small ladder to the “Crow’s Nest,” it was time for the journey down.
I had been a little worried about going down because I thought it was going to be harder and scarier than climbing up, but it wasn’t.
TJC President Dr. Mike Metke went first and then I went. I just kept my mantra, “one step at a time,” running through my head, and before I knew it, I was on the ground.
Overall, it was a great experience, allowing me to be outside, see the city and landscape from high above and learn some things about the life of a tower crane operator.
The thing I love the most about being a journalist is the opportunity to meet people, try new things and constantly learn. The crane experience allowed me to do all three, and I am thankful for that.