Monday, 30 January 2012

PART 3 Clouds Hurt

We fall forever; turning summersaults above the clouds, when I look down all I see is a white fluffy blanket, what a rush. Farmer is with us the whole time capturing on film this experience. Every expression all the way down is captured for me to relive again and again. Soon we hit the clouds and let me tell you they hurt. The temperature drops and we begin to be pelted by ice pellets. All around is whiteness. Once we break the clouds the North Shore comes into view, the mountains, the ocean with the white caps and the airfield where we will be landing. Farmer waves goodbye as Wyatt opens our parachute and up we go. Another, change, this time to peace and calm. I look straight down my body at the ground below  It is like standing on a piece of glass and looking at the land far below your feet, that is when I realized that the only thing holding me in place is the harness I am wearing and being strapped to Wyatt.

I tease Wyatt about going right then left as he deftly steers the glider in circles. He whispers in my ear that I am being cheeky and so that I should take over the controls and so I do. I turn the glider in circles heading ever closer to the ground. About 200 feet off the deck Wyatt takes over and we land on the button. The landing is softer than jumping off a bar stool. There are 2 guys there to grab the chute and unhitch me from Wyatt. My feet are back on the ground and I am forever changed. I did it, I actually did it. I jumped out of an airplane.

Now 2 weeks have passed since this experience. I pull out the photos and go through the slideshow reliving every moment still in awe that I actually accomplished this and yes it was really me parachuting out of an airplane. I am not sure what my next personal challenge will be, but this will be hard to top.

I will end this by saying go out there and take the risk do whatever it is that you have dreamed of doing, seize the moment and go for it and yes I would do it all over again.

It has now been over a year and this really was a life changing experience. I have continued to challenge myself and gone on many adventures which I will be sharing with you as I lead up to my departure for Rome. This is a story that is still to be told so I hope that you will continue to follow along with me as I walk this path of adventure.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Part 2 I can FLY

As I reread this story and looked through the pictures of that day now more than a year ago, I can still remember the excitment and the tension and yes the sense of flying. When you jump above the clouds there is no reference to up or down you are just in a place and time that has movement, but no true sense of direction. I guess that is what a leap of faith is about, tyring something that challenges you but you have no points of reference and no sense of where you will end up. The question is, is it worth it?

Part 2 The Jump

Saturday morning comes early, and another overcast day. I am leaving tomorrow and this has become an obsession. Another small coffee and a bagel and off we head with my Last Will and Testament and code status in my backpack and my determination growing. This time there are no driving mistakes and we make good time and arrive at the airfield at . There are a few clouds, but it looks like it is going to be a very nice day. My friend turns to me in the car and says I don’t have to do this that I can walk away any time, but in my heart I know I have to do this and it will be a life changing experience.

Parked beside us is a van of young Chinese tourists from yesterday who have the same idea as me. 3 boys and a girl and they are all trying to bolster each others courage. We all head into the club house to wait. Soon the master divers begin to arrive and more people wanting to try this skydiving thing. The energy is infectious and soon I am visiting with the pros who keep saying once you do this you will be back for more.

A dive schedule for the first jump is posted on the office window and I casually walk over to see who I am jumping with and who will be my photographer. The Chinese group is now getting suited up with their harnesses and heading to a truck to take them to the plane. I am still waiting wondering when my turn will come. I find out I am in the second load with the pros who are going to be doing a hot hop and some who are going to be doing some acrobatics. We will jump last after they exit the plane.

Soon my diver master arrives and drops a harness in my hands and says jokingly, put that on and I will be right back. Little did he know I have worn a climbing harness for years as a scaffolder. He and the other pros are surprised that I know how to put it on and next thing you know I am one step closer to my jump. Just then the loud speaker crackles to life jumpers in 5 and everyone looks to the heavens. This is the Chinese group, but they are no where in sight. All heads are turned skyward as some of the colourful chutes break through the clouds. They did it. I watch them land and see the smiles on their faces just as Wyatt nudges me and says its time to go.

Wyatt is going to be my tandem partner, the person who I have to trust to get us safely back to the ground. I walk through the fence into the restricted area as my friend waves goodbye and readies her camera. The plane is waiting at the end of the runway and there is a small set of steps. The pros are clamoring to get into the plane and off the ground; they can’t wait to get airborne! I am straddling a bench right beside the door and have an amazing view of the ground. Once everyone is inside, the pilots reeve up the engines and speed down the taxiway headed for the end of the runway. A quick turn onto the runway and the next thing I know we are airborne and the thought of what the hell am I doing starts to race through my head. There is also a tangible excitement coursing through my body.

One pro jumps at a low elevation, about 6,000 feet, this is the hot hop. We circle and watch him fall and the guys start to say why is he not opening his chute??? Finally his parachute opens and we begin to climb again. This time it will be to 14,000 feet which is the height I will be jumping from. We climb through the clouds and all landmasses disappear. All that remains is a white fluffy blanket of clouds below us. The pilot informs us that there will only be one pass and everyone must get out of the plane the pros first then Wyatt, Farmer, the camera man and of course me. The pros line up on the door ledge 4 people holding onto each other then they just fall and are gone from my view. Before I have time to think 3 more people run through the plane and dive out the door and are gone. Now it is my turn! Farmer is standing outside the plane on a ledge waiting for Wyatt and me, so he can get the pictures of me exiting the plane. I duck walk to the door with Wyatt attached to my back and look down at nothing, but clouds and the next thing I know I am falling. 14,000 feet and 120 miles per hours. My heart is in my shoes. The wind is screaming by me. The thoughts going through my head are “what the hell were you thinking”. Wyatt taps me on the shoulder and tells me to spread my arms. I AM FLYING!!!!!

Getting ready to jump

OMG what was I thinking

Which way is up!

I can FLY!!!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Well this is the very first time I have ever blogged, let alone had my own blog. So I was thinking how should I start this, what is it that I should say and then it came to me. A very good friend bugged me for years to write a blog post for her blog about one of my adventures. The little article I wrote ended up 4 pages long and I was told this was not acceptable for a blog. Long story short she posted the entire story, but in 3 separate postings. I decided I was going to resurrect this story as I feel it is a great lead in to the adventures that are going to follow. This is the adventure of taking a leap of faith....literally. The story that I am going to share is my experience of jumping out of a plane and how that felt. I hope that you will follow along on this adventure and maybe one day you will also try taking a leap faith.

Oh My God I Can Fly

“So what possesses a person to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” “No one in their right mind would do such a thing.” Well I did and it was an experience that has no words to truly express the feelings of flying.

So, here is the story of a jump that changed my life and made me stronger and more determined to enjoy life to its fullest and keep challenging myself to push beyond the safe and known into the unfamiliar and scary places we don’t like to go.

Just to get away from the rat race of work I headed to Oahu with a friend to lie on a beach, read books and just relax, or so I thought. There were no thoughts in my head about skydiving I just wanted some quiet time. I had never been to Waikiki so had no idea what to expect, beautiful weather, a great view of the ocean, beautiful flowers and peace and quiet. However, everywhere I went I found a brochure for tandem skydiving on the North Shore and a long buried desired started to stir. I dutifully picked up and read pamphlets and brochures on what to do and where to go, but kept coming back to jumping out of a plane in paradise.

For years now I thought that I would do this at home in Saskatchewan, over the prairies, when I was ready! It was just one of those things that sticks in your brain that never goes away and you know at some point you will do it. There was one particular brochure that I kept coming back to and re-reading the article about a tandem jump and looking at the pictures of the peoples faces as they flew through the air. Next I was checking out Skydive Hawaii’s web site and before I knew it I was planning my jump.

Yes I did write out a Last Will and Testament. I even wrote out my code status should something terrible happen. . My hotel was right beside the International Market so I headed there to get more information and possibly book a jump. I spoke to a tour facilitator and before I knew what was happening I was on the phone to Kevin and booking a jump for Friday April 16th at . Fear began to grip me and I started thinking what in hell are you thinking you could die or break a leg, but deep down I knew this was something that I just had to do.

My travel champion who had lived on the island was willing to get up early and drive out to the North Shore and offer support, but there was no way she was going to be jumping out of an airplane. Friday morning came way too early; I have a small coffee and a bagel and begin to prepare for this insane experience. Oh course all that could go wrong, does go wrong. My friend for whatever reason gets lost, which makes us late for my scheduled jump time, so I call Kevin and push the time out. Next we run into a rain storm with strong winds as we crest the mountain to look down over the North Shore. The white caps on the ocean are huge, but I am determined not to chicken out, but fear is beginning to grip my heart and I am questioning whether I should go through with this especially now that I have written my Will.

Finally we arrive at Dillingham Field. There are only a few people there to jump and 85% of them are women. I speak to the owner and find out that there is a front moving in and that there would be no jumps today, did I want to rebook for tomorrow. The thought crosses my mind that I can get out of this, I can say I tried, but the weather did not cooperate, but I know that is not what is going to happen. I rebook for April 17th at and begin filling out the liability paperwork. At the bottom of every page in big bold black letters is the statement skydiving is a high risk sport you could be injured or die! I complete the paperwork, confirm my jump time and head back to the car. My friend and I leave the airfield and head off to do some site seeing, but really my mind is only on one thing….the jump.

TOO BE CONTINUED...................