I jumped from a plane today! That's right, out of choice.
My sister and I have been thinking about skydiving for years. We finally decided to do it about three weeks ago. We made the reservation and next thing I know, the day is today and we're in a plane.
We drive out to the place, it's almost an hour out of town. I had already went to the bathroom about 6 times but of course, I needed to go again. So my sister and I rushed off to the bathroom before checking in. After that, we filled out waivers and watched a short orientation video on jumping and landing.
Then off to get ready. We meet our instructors. My sister's? A man about her height (she's 5'11") and not only an experienced jumper but also a pilot. What's my sister? A pilot. Skydiving was the next logical step apparently.
My tandem instructor? A tall, Danish man with over 4000 jumps under his belt. I felt like I was in very safe hands. Although he didn't let on he was experienced until much later. He certainly liked to play up some very dark humour while the plane was climbing, I digress.
Sig (my instructor) picked out a jumpsuit and helped me into the harness. At one point he asked me to spread my legs so he could tighten the harness around my crotch. Then he stood and adjusted the ones around my chest. That was all very intimate but of course absolutely necessary. I want it as tight as possible - I'm pretty sure that's the point.
After a brief explanation on the harness and what to expect, we meet our videographers and head out to the field. It's not only the two videographers, instructors, my sister and I, but three professional skydivers. Each one had their own custom jumpsuit and chute. One guy had a purple jumpsuit with the golden lettering, "Curious Chris" (a Curious George reference, no doubt).
The little plane starts up. The propeller whirrs loudly. They set up a little ladder to get inside the large bay door but it's quite steep and very windy, so I require the assistance of my instructor in order to get into the plane. I get inside and sit down, straddling a sort of long bench. A clear shutter is brought down, blocking the large exit and we start going down the runway. I haven't had any time in small planes, so the take off is quite different from a large plane. Of course, my sister is used to even smaller planes than this one, so she handles it like a pro the whole way up.
The ground shrinks away. The climbing is steep and takes a long time. My sister chats up the people around her easily, talking about learning to be a pilot and her flying experience. I watch the view, I can't help but enjoy the plane ride itself. Sig points out familiar landmarks. It was like having a tour guide, I really enjoyed that. I look at my videographer's wrist and see the altimeter rising. We're getting closer to our altitude.
Finally, we reach 12, 500 feet. The giant, clear shutter is opened up and all that's left is sky. The professional solo divers go first. I watch them. Two men and a woman. I can't believe they just did that. My videographer climbs out on to the bar, waiting for me to come out. My instructor helps march me to the door. I crouch, like taught, and look out. Oh god. My instructor reminds me to cross my arms over my chest and look at the camera guy.
Scariest moment of my entire life.
I scream. Apparently my sister says she can hear me scream after I jump (she jumps after me). I want to scream more but there's so much air filling my mouth that I can't dispel any. Instead I look around me. Holy fuck. Everything is so far and beautiful. A perspective I've never had. The weather is perfect, absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in sight and it's warm, and I'm falling. Actually falling. I can feel gravity pulling me down. The view is so awe inspiring that I don't know how to feel but to be amazed. I actually flail around a bit, kicking my legs and such - only because I'm so excited that I don't know how to express myself (since I can't talk).
Then he pulls the chute. We instantly shoot up into the sky. It was at that moment that I realized how fast we were falling because I watched as the videographer fell to the Earth like a comet. I was frightened for his life!
The first thing that happens when he pulls the chute is my legs fly up like I'm sitting. The same thing happened to my sister. The force is so great that it sucks you up.
That's when you really get to enjoy the view. Wow. I've never seen anything like that. All I could say was, "Wow" mostly. My instructor was holding on to the...oh gosh, what's the word? Well, they're handles that control the parachute. He asked me, "would you like to hold them?" I said, "sure!" Next thing I know, I'm steering the parachute! We did a couple 360s for fun (with his help of course)! Wow! So fun!
Finally, it was time for the landing. He brought us in easily and we landed softly. He unhooked me and I jumped up, incredibly excited. My first words, "I want to do it again!"
Obviously, I had the time of my life. I feel like a whole new person. Would I recommend? Oh yes I fucking would.
P.S. What did I wear? I wore my green Paris, France t-shirt my father bought when he was there years ago. I thought it was the perfect symbol.
We got really lucky on our third day in BC since the weather was perfect. It was sunny, warm and with just a little bit of wind, great for hiking. I wanted to make sure we got out of the room and explored the beautiful nature surrounding us. It's not everyday I have the opportunity to experience such wonderful weather in October or enjoy the majesty of the Okanagan Lake.
We started the hike around 2:30 in the afternoon and finished around 5, we had pretty much just lounged around until then. I mean, why not? So after spending a lot of time in the room it was nice to get out into the sunshine. One of the most noticeable things about being in the mountains is the air. The air smells clear and fresh. Somehow better than city air. Maybe it's all the trees. There are so many trees. Either way, I love trees. They are a thing of beauty.
Part of one trail lead to a little place called, "The Point". I thought it was funny seeing it on the map. Then when we arrived I understood the name. It was apt; it's a private little beach in the shape of an arrow, it's literally a "point". I really enjoyed the privacy, especially since it made it even more serene and romantic. My partner and I were able to enjoy the simple beauty of this little beach together.
One of the best parts of the entire hike was seeing some wildlife. We were climbing up this steep part of the trail when I saw movement just ahead. Then I watched several birds socializing and busying themselves. One large bird started to make what looked like a nest in the dirt. There were many little puffy birds which I assumed to be infants since they were adorable. Right away as if by instinct I knew they were Quail. I've never seen Quail before but somehow I knew. I looked it up when I got back and found out I was right! They are Quail!
On another stretch of trail leading to the shore I happened to spot some Ducks just swimming around in the water. I felt very fortunate to see some wildlife. Most animals scare easily when approached by humans making it difficult to spot them but I got lucky. I'm just glad I didn't run into any of the animals mentioned on the trail like rattlesnakes or skunks.
I really enjoyed hiking. It was fun exploring the trails and finding interesting trees or animals to look at. The best part was that no one else was hiking. It's the off season for tourism in the Okanagan so it felt like we had the entire forest to ourselves. I took so many photos. I'm glad I can share some of them.
In tomorrow's blog post I will be talking about the wine tour we went on!
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