Thursday, August 25, 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Did you know I have a thing for sailboats?
Well, I do, in spite of knowing fuck all about sailboats I think they're cool...
The Ocean State has a fair number of them.
They get made here, or maybe used to be made here, I don't know.
Anyway, I wandered over to a museum featuring a couple of sea loving brothers, who built boats. The Herreshoff Museum.
They built some historic America's Cup boats as well.
Torpedo boats, too.
Really, a lot of boats.
Like I said, I don't really know much about boats, so reading about the innovative rigging of an aft jibakker, or whatever, sort of goes over my head.
Regardless, it's hard not to appreciate some lithe bit of wood, stuck together to race across waves with a gust of wind.
Oh, there is family narrative, history of motivation, genius and local economy on display as well, if you pay attention.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Got a bit sidetracked with life there, sorry for the lack of posts.
I do have a good one, to make up for it...
So, back before the quiet week here, I went to jump out of a plane.
It's a strange thing, planning to jump out of a plane...
Something I always figured I would do, but with no time frame, no deadline.
When the reservation is made, the abstract idea changes to another thing that rolls around in your head.
You read about skydiving, you watch the videos on line...
You try to distract yourself from thinking about it too much.
Which sort of worked for me.
The friend I went with, reported the same sort of thing.
Notoriously late to things, she showed up here, before our drive to Newport more than an hour early.
The day of, one cannot hide from the nerves.
So we talked about being nervous and our individual research and preparation efforts.
On the drive over, we talked about politics. The terror of the current political scene was a good distraction from the terror of tossing one's self out of an airplane.
So, for details, the skydiving place was in Newport, chosen for the view (and safety record).
The skydiving was of the tandem variety, with a guy strapped to you who actually knows what he's doing.
And then, you are there.
At an airport, signing a lot of waivers...
You watch a video, a rather short video.
Somebody directs you to step into a harness and snugs it around your torso.
They direct you to go stand outside.
My friend and I stood outside, looking at tiny planes.
Watching other people meet their jump people, watching planes take off.
At that point, you know it's happening, but things are still abstract.
A couple of weathered looking guys walk over and introduce themselves, somewhat awkwardly.
My guy is Pete. I watch as he methodically runs his hands over various parts of the parachute rig, touching here, tugging there.
And OK, we're walking to the plane, a little Cessna thing like you see at every small airport.
We're told where to sit, contorted a bit, to fit four people and a pilot in the tiny space. No seats, just on the floor.
Pete and I sit, facing each other, me backwards behind the pilot, him smashed against the back of the compartment.
My friend next to me, with both her and her jump guy facing the back of the plane as well.
Sometime, during the nervous chatter on the ground, Pete mentioned he was jumping eight times that day. The other guy mentioned to my friend he had jumped some twenty thousand times.
Those numbers rattle around in my head.
We taxi to take off with the door open, which I thought was cool for some reason.
The engine rev's and the door closes and we're in the air.
Scrunched together, just able to see out the window from our floor seats and the plane started it's climb.
Too loud for any real conversation.
Here is the thing, the jump altitude was 12,000'.
That's two and a quarter miles, to put some perspective on it.
Little planes take a long time to get to that altitude.
But it's Newport, so you look at the bay, the ocean, the town, the bridge.
There was a sailboat race, so I looked at that, noted the colorful spinnaker of one of the boats.
Facing Pete, I could also see the altimeter strapped to his wrist.
Look out the window, glance at my friend for an exchange of nervous smiles, peek at the altimeter.
Another turn, more climbing.
About this time, I remembered that the harness guy told me that the jump guy would recheck and adjust my harness on the ground.
I realized Pete didn't do that and wonder about what to do, as we climb another 1000' up...
Certainly, that can't be an oversight.
And the plane keeps climbing.
Sitting across from me, Pete looks like maybe the calmest person I have ever seen.
His sunglasses conceal his eyes, tanned, a dull smile on his face.
I notice how muscular his arms were for a guy of his stature.
There on the wrist, that altimeter.
Somewhere around 10,000' Pete shifted his arms and covered that dial up.
I wonder if that is intentional...
He directs me to turn around, to clip us together, which is really hard to do in the tiny space.
Thankfully, all straps get cinched and adjusted as he sets things up, which eased my mind on the chance of my skinny frame slipping out of the harness.
Goggles on, "They should feel tighter than you think they should be." Pete shouts into my ear.
Suddenly, the door is open.
I give my friend a thumbs up, though I can hardly process what I am seeing.
She and her guy shift around, their legs swing out the door and they are gone.
Pete and I start to scootch towards the door.
I think about how hard it is to move on the carpet, two men strapped together in a tiny space, I can't quite maneuver.
Things get real as soon as my foot inches past the door frame, as suddenly the speed of the plane and cool air of altitude grab a hold.
I am supposed to place my feet on this step, but cannot. The wind pushes my legs around and I can't quite shift my ass closer to the door.
Then they are sort of there...
I feel Pete rocking back and forth.
I remember seeing the plane as we rolled through the air.
The noise, so much wind noise.
The earth below is hard to process, just blue and green.
Pete raps me on the shoulder, which means I can stick my arms out...
Assume the free fall position.
Arms out, chin up, all that stuff.
I can't even process what is happening...
Noise. Wind. Green. Noise. Wind.
Rather abruptly, there is a pop...
The harness grabs at me, snatching us from terminal velocity, to a slow glide.
A gentle breeze and fluttering canopy.
The view is finally something I can understand.
There is a horizon, shapes I can make out...
We wind our way down, ever so slowly.
I can see me friend off in the distance.
The sailboat from earlier.
As we get closer to the ground, we do some turns.
Pete lets me steer.
Swinging from side to side, like a pendulum.
Pete takes over as we near the drop zone and demonstrates how lame my turns were with a series of high arcs to line us up for landing.
Feet up, sliding to stop.
On the fucking ground.
What I wrote there, it doesn't really capture the experience. Not at all...
Thought I would make an effort, anyway.
I will absolutely go do it again.
If you've thought about it, go.
Once on the ground, it's a little weird. The transactional part of your experience with the jump place is done, they have other customers to deal with. I just had a total life changing moment, but they do this all day.
So, we left.
We sat in the parking lot for a bit, sending those "not dead" texts.
Decided some food, and more importantly, a beverage was in order and took off.
The brain though, at that time, was still in reboot mode, so wrong turns were made, decisions seemed impossible, etc...
We did find a place and I will tell you it was about three hours before the shock started to wear off.
So, yeah, jumped out of a plane...