Jim, Lisa and the World
A trip of global proportions
About Us (2)
Costa Rica (2)
New Zealand (11)
* The Red Center
* Cruising and Noodling
* The Great Ocean Road
* Melbourne part II
* Up the Coast
* Capital Good Times
* Missy the Beasty
* The Seperation of Wife and Mate
* Rugby, Navigation and Magellen
* It's a small world after all!
* Free! Free Falling!
* Attack of the Sandflies!
* A Puzzling World Indeed
* Surfing with dolphins!
* The Cook Strait
* Tangariro Crossing
* From Beaches to Caves
* Miles of Surf
March 02, 2005
Free! Free Falling!
So from Fiordland we headed north for the Wild West coast of New Zealand. We pulled off the main motorway and spent a few days in the quiet little town of Okarito (population 30). We stayed at a little "hostal" that had only three rooms and a maximum capacity of 6 people. It made us feel like we were staying with gradparents (decor and all!).
The town was right on the beach facing the Tasman Sea and had views inland of the towing snow capped Cook Mountain Range (the tallest mountains in the country). We spent our time wandering around taking in the views and marine life and doing a short day in a kayak birdwatching. Nearby is New Zealand's only white heron sanctuary (thought to have landed here by mistake because it is really too cold for the heron here).
So we woke up on Tuesday Morning (1 March) to a nice sunny day. Unbeknownst to Lisa I had booked us on a 1:30pm skdive at the nearby Fox Glacier! This was to spare her another sleepless night (I am such a thoughtful guy). Even as we arrived at the airstrip my mind was looking for excuses to bail, but soon we were dawning our jumpsuits.
The plane was SO SMALL! I had to ask twice for clarification that it was indeed the one we were supposed to take. With Lisa and I and our "jumpmasters" we barely fit in the cabin (it had no seats).
The flight alone was worth the price. We flew up over the Glaciers that descend from the mountains - unique because they descend down directly into rainforest (Fox, Franz Joseph and Tazman glaciers are the largest). We took in views of Mt Cook the tallest peak in NZ and his impressive friends as well as the striking contrast with the deep green rainforest below and the Tasman sea beyond. It was really cool that they let us take our cameras with us. It was almost enough to make me forget that we were about to jump out of the plane . . . almost.
It all happened so fast. The guy handed me the helmet, goggles and gloves to put on. Then he started checking the harnesses etc. I got a lump in my throat. Then they opened the door! Cold, loud air thundered into our little cabin. I saw the other guy move Lisa to the door.
She is hanging out of the plane!
She is gone. Just Gone! No longer in the airplane!
next thing I know the guy tells me to start moving towards the door. This is just something that my body does not want to do. I think humans must be the only creatures on this planet to intentionally will themselves into dangerous situations. I wonder: Does this make us smarter?
HOLY SH$%!!! I am now hanging out of the plane!
And now I am falling. Nothing, absolutely nothing is around me (except for this dude strapped to my back). What a bizarre and brilliant sensation. We tumble as we fall and I can see the plane departing only a few meters away. I was just inside that perfectly good airplane.
The air is rushing by at incredible speeds - it is cold and even a bit icy at this altitude (12000ft). I, of course, am wearing sandals.
But I have no time to worry about this. The mixture of fear and excitement is intoxicating - not to mention the incredible scenery. Without any window to frame it it has now exploded and become the complete sphere of my existence. We are now falling chest down. My jumpmaster turns us to view those mountain peaks - some poking through the clouds to say hello as we plummet down to earth.
The air is blowing SO fast and I am sure that my face is doing a jello jiggler number. God this 45 seconds feels like forever! Finally I look down and see another parachute. A sigh of relief and the thought, "at least Lisa will live." Now I am nervously waiting for my own . . . and soon, sure enough, I feel a tug and then a huge THUD! as I am jolted into my harness. Something that makes the atomic wedgie feel like a trip to the spa.
The contrast of being under the canopy is stunning. Suddenly everything is quiet ans peaceful. You can look around and really take a deep breath for the first time since you did that damn-fool thing of jumping out of that plane. You also feel the relief of knowing that your greatest risk now is probably only a broken leg!
It was a nice descent ans we were able to fly right by Lisa asn her jumper. Suddnely the ground starts feeling close and you realize taht you are still going down quite fast, but befire I know it I am scooting along on my butt on good old terra firma once again.
I have cheated death! What an incredible ride!
Posted by Jim & Lisa on March 2, 2005 02:46 AM
Category: New Zealand
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