Kasey turned the big 2-6 on the eve of 2014. She has been wanting to go skydiving and said she wouldn’t go if it was over $250. I shook my head and said, “Oh yeah, sure, me too.” When Kasey mentioned her desire to our host, Judy, her eyes lit up and she shimmied over to her old fashioned phone on the wall that held coupons and old mail. She proudly handed Kasey a coupon from her entertainment book for $75 off a 12,000 feet skydiving adventure. This brought the total from Skydive Lake Wanaka to $247. Looks like she was committed. And Brittany and I couldn’t let her do this alone…
Kasey signed up for more information on the Skydive website. Then we went into town to explore the coffee shop situation, the lake, and the Alps that majestically surround it. Since the skydive place had never contacted Kasey to discuss options and times, we stopped by. With coffee in hand we casually inquired, and the skydive pro said, “Yes, Kasey. I already have you guys down for tomorrow at 11am.”
We walked back to Nana in silence. I shut the driver’s door and said, “You’re jumping out of a plane at 11am tomorrow.”
We woke up to Brittany reading fatality statistics. 19 out of 100,000 die while skydiving. We decided to tell our moms afterward.
We signed some forms saying we know it’s dangerous. I wrote down “tachycardia” under the medical history and this really freaked the employee out. “Do you…uh…have medicine you could take….if your, uh, heart starts going crazy?”
We sat outside in the beanbag area while shielding our eyes from the sun and trying to watch the other skydivers fall from the sky. We were on the next flight.
The wind picked up and we kept waiting.
Then we were told it was too windy, and we’d have to come back the next day. Real big bummer, since this was the morning of Kasey’s birthday.
And our flight was called off the next day due to rain.
And then the next day.
So finally, we saw sun in the forecast and made another reservation. In the meantime, we went by the grocery store to check out the community board for job postings. People were putting notes up about all kinds of things (a boy was staring at the board while barefoot as if he was looking for a post-it that read “Free shoes for a nice guy who wears size 10”). I decided to write one that said “WANTED: Entertainment book coupon for Skydive Lake Wanaka. 2 for $20.” And left our phone number. I got a bit made fun of for this. And then we got a phone call.
“Hello there. I saw your note on the board at New World. I have an Entertainment book…shoot me a text and I’ll bring it to ya.”
Well, we jumped out of a plane this morning. It was the most exhilarating and beautiful thing I’ve ever done. Skydive Lake Wanaka’s motto is: Strap Yourself to a Beautiful Stranger, and my beautiful stranger was named Pip. ‘Ello, Pip! It was strangely personal thing, being strapped to Pip. He put on my hat and goggles for me, then said, “Just scoot back and sit on my lap.” Then he strapped us together at the shoulders (I’m sure because of my height I was down too low while not on his lap).
I was surprisingly calm during our 15 minute plane ride to 12,000 feet. I noticed the turquoise water of the longest river in the South Island, the Clutha. I thought about coming home to mom and dad maybe having a new dog. I thought about my brother’s upcoming wedding. Then I saw Kasey jump out of the plane, flip over upside down, and do a countless amount of spins. My stomach spun and I said out loud, “Oooh, good Lord….”
Before I had time to say, “Abort!!” Pip was moving us to the open door, and yelling, “1…2….3!!”
It was stunning and scary and cold and maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever done. The Southern Alps, Lake Wanaka, and the Cultha River were unbelievably pretty and slightly nauseating from 12,000 feet up. If only I had video to show you…well, then I’d be completely broke, for those packages were about $500. Use your imagination!