I’m pretty sure we all have that list stashed away somewhere up in our mind of things that we’d love to do but never really get around to doing them. Essentially we all have our bucket list. Well, last year I made a New Year’s resolution to start taking things off my bucket list. I figure, why wait? You only live once, so you have to pull a carpe diem kind of thing every once in a while. And so last year I ran my first half-marathon with Team Challenge to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and also stepped it up and ran my first full-length marathon (26.2 miles is really, really far). So I decided this year to keep that momentum going and keep checking things off my list.
Now I’m what you may call a little bit of an adrenaline junky, and I’ll do anything to get that rush holy-crap-my-life-is-in-danger feeling. I like doing things that make my heart rate skyrocket and make me really question, “What the HELL am I doing right now?” So last year when there was a BuyWithMe offer for Skydive New England to go on a tandem skydive for $160 (down from $240 or so) I, along with my roommate ER and my fellow co-worker ET, decided to pull the trigger and buy it.
Best. Decision. Ever.
We picked the most beautiful Saturday in early June to road trip up to Maine and jump out of a plane. (Does that sound a little ridiculous, because it probably should.) It was warm, sunny, and only a few puffy clouds in the sky. The whole place was very hippie-esque, with regular skydivers lounging around outside on couches, a chick with deadlocks behind the counter running the whole operation, and a peace sign built out of stone in the back. We checked in for our class, watched our little safety video, signed and initialed a bunch of waivers (and I mean a bunch), and next thing we knew we were getting suited up, strapped in, and loaded onto a plane.
It took about twenty minutes for us to get to altitude. Twenty minutes to keep climbing up higher and higher, watching the ground out the window getting further and further away. At some point on the ascent to our now impending skydive, my camera guy commented on how great the view was from up there and also informed me that we still had about 10,000 feet to go. (Gulp.) Finally, after twenty long minutes with my heart pumping faster and faster, our plane leveled off and we got the green light to jump. The door opened up, wind rushed into our plane, and we all started to scoot forward on our seats to get ready to jump. The girl jumping before me approached the door with her guy, there was a quick count of 1, 2, 3, and she was gone. My eyes widened. It literally looked like she got sucked out of the plane.
“What the HELL am I doing right now?” I looked out the door and let out a muffled nervous laugh. The wind was blowing loud and hard and we were definitely 14,000 feet up in the air. We squatted down, got the count of 1, 2, 3, and jumped.
In seconds we hit our max speed of some 100-something miles an hour, and I let out a brief, “HOLY SH*T!” The rush of air blowing past us as we fell, without any real support, for over a mile in a matter of seconds was intense. I mean, you’re falling at high speeds approaching a very hard ground without any safety net. Sure, you have your parachute, but that’s not open yet. You’re just FALLING. And falling and falling. I mean, really think about that. You just jumped out of a plane. Yeah, normally you don’t do things like that.
When we reached the right altitude my guy pulled the shoot and we had a nice coushy deceleration. Luckily he prefaced me with, “What you’re about to feel is totally normal,” before he loosened the straps on the harness which caused me to drop an inch or two and gave me a mild sense of be released to my doom. Luckily, however, the float down to the ground was pleasant and quaint and I was able to consciously take in the view of the mountains and amazing scenery that Maine has to offer from a few thousand feet up. Although I couldn’t stop laughing at what I just did. I kept thinking, “Holy crap I just went skydiving!”
Bucket list activity, go skydiving: Check.
We landed, safe and sound, and so did my roommate and co-worker. We felt like such badasses, and rightfully so. Once we got our suits off I called home to let Mom know that a) I just went skydiving (she didn’t know beforehand), and b) that I was safe and back on the ground. All in all, it was totally worth it. Now I just need to think of what I should do next.
Bungee jumping anyone?
View full-size images of these pictures on my Flickr page.