Sometimes, when you travel — especially when you travel with another person or a small group of people, each with different temperaments and appetites and travel endurance and the amount of sleep they managed the night before — something tends to happen.
Until yesterday, I’ve never felt the urge to laugh, cry, scream, pee, and call my mom all at the same time.
And let me just say this:
I think I’m addicted.
The hubs and I decided we wanted to try at least one extreme sport on our visit to Hawaii. We already tried scuba diving on our honeymoon in St. Lucia (loved it), and I’m not in the greatest shape for mountain climbing/biking. We were inspired by a friend who’s been stationed here to try skydiving. After all, where else are we going to get better views on the way down?
So we called up Skydive Hawaii and set up our day/time. We decided on the end of the trip so that, if the worst possible thing were to happen, at least we would’ve had a week in Hawaii before we died. Ha.
There is surprisingly little preparation required before throwing yourself out of a Cessna Caravan.
We needed to sign every page of an 8 billion (okay just 8 ) page contract:
Notice the not-so-fine print:
You can’t tell from my face, but signing this contract might have been the scariest part of the entire ordeal:
Then we waited our turn out on the deck. It didn’t take very long for Johnny, my soon-to-be tandem partner, to introduce himself and start getting me geared up. As you can see, it’s a bit of an intimate process. Luckily, I was too busy trying not to crap my pants from sheer nervousness to really notice. (Classy, no?)
My cousin Leah took advantage of this opportunity to take pictures of my butt (okay, maybe she was taking pictures of the bright orange DANGER sign on my back):
Meanwhile, the hubs was getting some quick instructions from Big Jim, his tandem partner:
Looks comfortable, huh?
Some jumpers were landing in the airfield right across from us – think the hubs looks excited?
Hubs and Big Jim:
Before we knew it, it was time to head out to the airfield.
You mean whatever is in that little backpack is going to keep me from plummeting 10,000 feet to my death?
Why does this feel like dead woman walking?
I’m trusting you, Johnny!
And we’re getting in that?
I guess we are. And we seem happy about it.
There we go!
Can’t say the view was terrible…
Are we high enough yet?
Now is a good time to say one thing: The staff at Skydive Hawaii were phenomenal. The photographers and tandem jumpers were laid-back and experts at putting us at ease.
And Johnny, if you’re out there, THANK YOU for pushing me out of that plane.
This was the most surreal moment of my life. Please excuse my butt. Thank you.
I’d like to tell you that all kinds of profound, life-changing thoughts were going through my head at this point. But in reality, all I could manage was, “holy sh*t.”
And WTF am I doing??
…then is was pretty. damn. spectacular.
And I couldn’t help but smile.
Which might have caused me to drool (occupational hazard, I’m told).
I’ll admit I lost my cool a bit when the parachute came out (could’ve used some warning on that one, Johnny). ;)
I think the hubs had fun, too:
We got to hang out in the ‘chute for awhile… Johnny even let me steer. (Sort-of… I’m glad he didn’t actually let go of the ropes.)
It was so quiet.
As if all that weren’t enough, two shirtless guys came running at me as we landed. Umm, does Skydive Hawaii rock, or what?
I was glad to get the hubs back on the ground with me. The guys ran at him too, but I don’t think he enjoyed it as much.
Did we really just do that???!!
(Please excuse the fact that I seem to be flossing my teeth with my hair. We’re lucky my legs are even holding me up at this point.)
We even got these little certificates for completing our first jump:
I would be lying if I said that after this experience I didn’t seriously contemplate shipping the little monsters over here, setting up house in a van on the North Shore, getting a job in an art gallery, and spending my free time getting my skydiving certification. The hubs would just have to get stationed over here. It could work.
But when it comes to these people – these amazing, thrill-seeking, life-loving people – I’m not sure I’d ever fit in.
Aside from getting in my car and driving to work every day, I don’t tend to tempt fate very often – let alone on a regular basis.
How do people do that? Take these huge risks over and over without freaking out every single time and wondering if the last thing they’ll ever see is the ground – the beautiful ground – plummeting towards their bodies at over 100 mph.?
Maybe I love life too much to take those kind of regular risks.
But it could also be argued by those who take them… maybe I don’t love it enough.
Monday night we decided to give my aunt and uncle a break and head out to Waikiki with my cousin Leah and her husband Scott. It was a nice change from the low-key days of drinking coffee out on the lanai, lolling around the beaches and perusing shops along the North Shore.
And the great thing about being on an island – albeit a different part of the island – is that there’s still a beach.
There’s always a beach.
And an ocean.
The evening was fun, with a couple bar hops and a delectable sushi dinner at Sansei.
It was breakfast the next morning, however, that proved to be the highlight of our over-nighter in Waikiki.
We’d heard about a restaurant called Mac 24-7 from that disgusting show on the Food Network (Man V. Food) where the guy travels around stuffing his face with as much food as he can find. It’s so gross, we can’t help but watch it. One of his challenges was to finish a stack of 3, 14-inch pancakes at Mac’s. Do that, and you earn yourself a spot on the Wall of Fame. Easier said than done.
Anyway, the 4 of us thoroughly enjoyed indulging in our various delicacies of choice:
Eggs Benedict Royale for me…
Mac Attack (with pancakes topped with pineapple, macadamia nuts and toasted coconut with coconut syrup) for the hubs…
Toasted buttermilk waffle with strawberries and whipped cream for Leah…
And the infamous 14-inch Mac Daddy pancakes for Scott (“The Elvis”, topped with bacon, bananas, and a peanut butter syrup-type substance).
Between heaping mouthfuls of pure goodness, we chatted with our server a bit about the area. He was an extremely friendly man named Jose.
Turns out Jose has worked at Mac’s since 1980!
And he had the most interesting story to share.
In 2002, Jose had a regular customer – a rather brusque man who always seemed to be in a hurry. When the customer came in to eat after neglecting to show up for his regular meal for a few weeks, Jose asked him where he’d been. The man told him he was very sick and had just been put on the list to receive a kidney donation.
Long story short, Jose learned he was a match as a doner and actually donated his own kidney to the man. Talk about superior customer service.
This is the type of person I’m always grateful to meet – warm, cheerful, and automatically puts those around him at ease. Even though I only knew him for an hour, Jose is someone I’ll never forget.