Photograph by Kristin Kellogg
Editor’s Note: Compiling each Best of Atlanta issue is a months-long process that involves every member of our staff and a team of trusted freelancers. Before we give a business, service, or destination our stamp of approval, we conduct a test (or two, or three). We pay full price, go anonymously, and do the best to have the same experience you, the reader, would. In these field notes, our testers share their experiences working on Best of Atlanta 2014.
“Okay. If you were going to run and jump onto a skateboard, what foot would you lead with?” asks the athletic-looking youth handing me a helmet.
This . . . this . . . jumping on a skateboard . . . just does not sound like something I would do, so I am not quite sure how to respond.
Let me back up. It’s October. I’m standing next to a grass-lined pond filled with water, and I’m about to be pulled across that water by an elaborate cable system. I’ve been outfitted with a helmet, lifejacket, and wakeboard and have signed a waiver acknowledging that “the Activity can be HAZARDOUS AND INVOLVES THE RISK OF PHYSICAL INJURY AND/OR DEATH.” (Original emphasis.)
Truth be told, I’d be feeling a bit better if this place weren’t called Terminus.
Foreboding name aside, Terminus Wake Park allows those without boats—or boating friends—to wakeboard. Here wakeboarders are pulled by cables, rather than outboard engines. For the uninitiated, wakeboarding is like a hybrid of waterskiing and snowboarding.
Undeterred by my lack of skateboard prowess, the helpful wakeboarding employee runs me through a series of tests to determine which foot is dominant (my right, apparently), in order to correctly position me on a board. Then, I’m off to the beginner’s lake.
The park caters to all levels. Newbies, like me, get step-by-step instruction before setting foot in the water, plus feedback on form as we make our way around the lake. For those who are more advanced, the park offers two more challenging lakes, featuring ramps and rails.
After learning the basics from the instructor, I’m sitting in a lake, strapped to a board, clutching the handle that’s about to be pulled by a cable. Getting your balance on the board is surprisingly easy, if you follow the instructor’s advice and wait for the cable to pull you up out of the water.
Within a few laps, I’m feeling pretty comfortable on the board—though not nearly as comfortable as the seven-year-old who follows me, who breaks out jumps, spins and behind-the-back handle passes.
Anyone over the age of seven should expect to feel sore the next day; this is a serious workout.
Terminus Wake Park: Best Extreme Sport for Beginners, Best of Atlanta 2014