:: eye of the storm ::


About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

zaterdag 28 januari 2006

Well, I went skydiving and I survived! (My mom didn't bat an eye when I said I was going, just said, 'Don't tell your grandfather.') It was awesome. We had to wait a pretty long time, since a lot of people wanted to jump that day, but it was worth the wait. We had to watch a ten-minute video, fill out a lot of legal paperwork, put on jumpsuits and harnesses, and get a quick briefing from our instructors (mine's name was Chuck) about how to hold our harnesses, stick our pelvises out, and put our legs between theirs as we fell.

Then we got into this tiny little plane with one long bench seat on either side. We all sat facing the back, one leg on each side of the bench, and the plane took off and flew just like any other, albeit a lot more noisily. I was shaking so hard at this point that I could look down at my legs (through my jeans and garbage-man-looking jumpsuit) and see them trembling. But once we got above the clouds, I started remembering all the other plane flights I'd taken, all the other long, boring international voyages during which I'd thought, I wonder what it would feel like to sit on those clouds? I was about to find out.

Once we got to 10,000 feet, Chuck, who was tethered to my back, started tightening the straps and checking the buckles one last time. The guys closest to the (clear plastic roll-down) door shoved it open, bringing in a rush of cold air. Everyone pulled down their goggles, and all the other guys on our plane - all experienced solo jumpers - whooped and vaulted out like they'd been lassoed.

Then it was our turn. We slid down the bench till we were right by the door. Looking down, all I could see was a thick white blanket of clouds. My cameraman, Jeff, was clinging to the outside of the plane, awaiting Chuck's signal. I grasped the shoulder straps of my harness and watched Chuck's fingers flash in front of my goggles, three! two! one! Then we were out the door.

I shrieked. I am not a shrieker, but my throat hurt for the next half hour from that pitch. I heard myself for just a second, and then it died away as the winds came up to whip past us at over 120 miles an hour. My stomach gave one big swoop, like on the first downhill of a roller coaster, and then settled into the fall. I remembered to tuck my legs between Chuck's, we stablilized, and, amazingly, it started to be fun. Experimentally, I tried screaming again, but I couldn't hear myself over the wind. Jeff was falling across from us, waving at me and grinning. I grinned and laughed and gave two thumbs up. It was difficult to breathe, with air moving that fast, but I barely noticed, there was so much adrenaline charging through me.

We sped down through the clouds. It was cold; the air whipped my face and hands. All I could see was white. Then, suddenly, the clouds began to part. For a split second, I saw shapes through a white mist. Then, just as suddenly, the clouds were gone and we were flying high above the greens, blues, and browns of a Florida winter. Chuck pulled our rip cord, and our descent abruptly slowed. The wind ceased its roaring. Waving, Jeff fell away from us, pulling his own cord a couple thousand feet later.

"Whoa," I breathed, looking around. It was amazingly clear; I could see everything with no obscuring clouds or airplane window glass. "Where are we? I mean, which way are we looking?"

"Well, there's the airport," Chuck indicated, "so we're facing west."

It was closer than I would have thought; apparently a free fall takes you only about six seconds per thousand feet. Amazing.

We flew for a couple more minutes, and then Chuck asked, "Do you get airsick?"
"No."
"You puke easy?"
"No."
"Okay."
"...What are you gonna do?"
"Oh, nothing."

A minute later, he offered me the tethers. "Don't pull them; just extend your arms all the way up and hang on to them." I did, and I was controlling the parachute! A minute later, he said casually, "Hey - don't pull the right tether, but pull that left one all the way down to your waist." He put his hands up to guide me.

I did, and whoosh! We began to spin, the green-brown world rotating below us. I laughed at first, but after three revolutions or so, I told him to stop. Spinning made us descend faster, and I wanted to stay up as long as we could. We drifted along, floating this way and that, looking at everything below us.

All too soon, it was time to land. Suddenly, the field was right in front of us. "Pick your feet up," Chuck said, and I did. We landed softly on our bottoms, and two people rushed over to control and protect the parachute.

I said a last farewell to Jeff's camera, and went back over to my dad to see the footage he'd gotten. After a few minutes, Chuck asked what we were looking at. "We're on video," I said, and held it out for him to see.

"Yeah, but is it as good as this?" Jeff asked, holding out an 8x10.

Needless to say, the video was NOT as good as that. Wow. The scan looks kind of grainy, and it's cropped because it didn't pick up the clouds-and-sky background very well, but the original is beautiful - almost crystal clear, and you can see all the detail on the clouds below us. There's a whole CD full of pictures being mailed to me, plus a DVD, but for right now, that one is all I have. I'll show you more when I get them, assuming they're good.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robin said...

OMG,Jess!!! What an awesome picture. This is such a great story. I felt like I was with you but thank goodness I wasn't. I would've puked my brains out and cried and cried from fear.

I'll have to show Lillianna this picture. She will be amazed!

28/1/06 19:14  
Blogger Lillianna said...

My mom said I would be amazed. She was right.

Did you dye your hair? It looks different.

How high up were you when you jumped off?

29/1/06 19:00  
Anonymous Claudia said...

Bet Flat Stanley would have liked that jump....and it's not like he could have gotten any flatter...

30/1/06 15:38  

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