So a lot people have bucket lists, and if you’re epic like the Bucket List Publication (Lesley Carter) you’re able to do many of your bucket list items.
If you’re like me, you might need a little push to get there.
So I made myself a promise on my 20th birthday.
If your birthday isn’t going to be exciting, MAKE it exciting!
Because let’s face it, after 21, what is there to look forward to?
So for my 20th: I cut off 20 inches of hair (the first time I’d significantly cut my hair since I was 5!).
For my 21st: I celebrated in Scotland.
For my 22nd: I went skydiving and drove a NASCAR racecar.
For my 23rd: I celebrated in Greece (and went bungee jumping later)
And this year, my 24th – I decided to go hang gliding.
Luckily for me, the hang gliding season has been quite bad, but this past weekend, the bright sunshine disappeared, and the high winds came.
We showed up at the Gliderport around 12:15, and I was planning to get in the air pretty quickly (because that’s what all the reviews said would happen).
Filled out 6 pages of “I won’t sue the company if I die” paperwork. And was told to expect an hour wait.
An hour? Ok, I’ll wait.
So I did.
But at 1 they stopped calling names.
”The winds are too high! We’re going to wait for them to calm down.”
While I didn’t disagree that it was a bit windy (ok, more than a bit – I was positively shivering and chattering my teeth), I was disappointed at the time lapse. My dad had a meeting to get to later, and we had to leave by 2:30.
We waited another hour, and 2 pm rolls around.
The guy who signed up with me walks up to us,
“I just asked them about the wait time. They said I have 4 people in front of me, and to expect another 2 to 3 hours before I go up. I’m leaving – just wanted to let you know it sounds like you have a while too!”
With a heavy heart I watched him leave.
I turned to my dad, “Well… we have to leave in a half hour, and I don’t see that I’ll be called in that time. So I guess we’ll come back another day…”
My dad just looked and me and we turned and walked towards the front office.
We reached the sidewalk, were about to step inside, when a man comes out with a clipboard.
”Well this is John, he’s your instructor. Best pilot we got, and he’ll be taking you up!”
And so I followed John to a hang glider and prepared (which involves lying on the ground and pushing your body from one side to the other, because that’s how you turn a glider).
John went down to the edge, studied the winds, came back, and asked my dad and me to help him wheel the glider down to the edge.
We went down the hill, and the winds were strong enough that holding onto the wing wire, I was being pulled off the ground!
The third time my feet left the ground, three men came running up to take over.
We finally got the glider down to the cliff edge. Clipped in. And the man holding the nose down turned to John,
”John, what do I do? Keep backing up?”
John just stared and him and yelled, “DUCK!”
And straight up we went!! No going down off the cliff edge – the winds just went Straight. Up.
We flew out towards the sea, and swung around the head back to the cliff.
We got to a hot spot and went from 600 ft above the ground to 900 ft in less than a minute.
”If you didn’t know it was windy before, you sure would now!”
And then I got to take over.
Now I may have an adventurous spirit – but I’ll admit that with that spirit comes tons of trepidation! While I’ll trust pretty much anyone to handle something (bus, hang glider, plane, etc.) when it comes to me, I’m less than trusting.
But I took the reins (eh hem, well, Handle if we’re going to be technical) and after a few
bouts of almost sending us spiraling downwards to a horrendous death minor problems, I figured out the gist of how to steer.
We sat above the world. Hanging in place like the birds do, and I appreciated how good the birds got it.
The ocean was stunning. The view was stunning. The world seemed calm. Life was good.
We slowly made our way back to the cliff – coming in at an angle that made it seem like the ocean waves were curling in place and not moving anywhere.
We swooped one last time over the ocean, and came speeding into the land.
I slid forward in the harness, going from a lying down position to an almost standing position.
We were out over the parking lot and John turned a strong 180 again.
We gained speed as the nose rushed towards the ground –
Then, Boop. The nose tilted up. Our speed abruptly slowed. And we landed gently on our feet.
I unclipped with a beaming smile on my face, shaking from the cold and the thrill of flight.
Unlike my other flying adventures, hang gliding was relaxing as well as thrilling.