I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A little sore but a lot happy

Me being a skydiver
Here I am at Skydive Elsinore with the old farts (SOS, or Skydivers Over Sixty). It's Sunday morning, still dark outside as I sit here thinking about what to write. Unfortunately, the picture I wanted to use is in my cell phone, which is locked inside my friend John's car. I was just too tired to care last night when I came into my hotel room. I'll explain.

I ran into my friend John in the breakfast room on Friday and decided to go to the Drop Zone (DZ) with him and his roommate, Gary, instead of driving my rental car. It gets really crowded and I was anxious to take as few chances as possible that it would not be damaged in the parking lot. He has a big SUV, so it was perfect. We hung out all day on Friday, and yesterday, Saturday, we did the same, as we needed to be at the Skills Camp well before 8:00am. There are more than sixty people signed up for the camp, and we gathered and learned what groups we would be assigned to for the first day.

There are only a few women among all these men, and I was the only woman in my group of 15, other than the organizer, Carol Jones. She is not actually old enough yet to be in SOS, but this camp is designed to make sure that we are able to learn skills that can be used for the larger formation, which will begin on Wednesday, the day I return home. Most of the people in the camp will be staying for it, but I really have no interest in being on a huge formation. It usually takes at least 8 or 10 tries before they are accomplished, if they ever complete. There are five airplanes in formation, and everyone must leave at the same time from each plane and the formation builds from the inside, or the base, and each person must attach to that formation in the right spot, with the right grip, and everyone must be there for it to count as a record. You have only a little over a minute for this to happen before it's time to break.

I've learned from many earlier times I was on big formations that I don't do well with that kind of pressure. Each plane has a separate camera person, and the organizers get together after each attempt and analyze what went wrong, or, more accurately, who messed up. They do what they can to change things so that the next attempt is likely to succeed. This takes time and effort. I was told to stand down many years ago because I didn't do well, and I was crushed. I want to have fun doing this, not stress myself out!

Well, the Skills Camp is designed to allow you to improve your skills and no pressure is applied about performance. Of course, the organizers are also looking to see who is likely to be allowed to start on the large formation and who will be "on the bench" to be in smaller skydives while the others attempt to set a record. Yesterday I made four skydives with my group of 15. We started with two no-contact skydives, where we were told to fly in a particular spot and not take grips. The first one was pretty spread out, as we were supposed to be "five feet up and five feet back" from the person in front of us. The next skydive we were to fly within a grip's length but not touch anybody. It was really fun and I was pleased with my performance, and with those of my group. We looked good on video.

So on to making a formation of fifteen! The next two skydives were attempts to link up, although we didn't complete either one, I felt good about the progress we had all made from the first skydive earlier in the day. By the time I was finished with that last skydive, I was sore, tired, and ready for dinner, as it was almost 6:00pm. A dinner was scheduled at the DZ at 7:30, so John and Gary decided to go back to the hotel to freshen up. I went with them, but with an ulterior motive: I wanted to pick up my own car so I could head back earlier than them, as I knew that once I ate dinner I would want to just climb into my bed and sleep.

That's just what happened. There was a lot of festive beer and wine shared amongst everyone, and dinner was very good, as they had the sausage hot dogs separate from everything else, so I was able to have pasta, salad, and vegetables, even if they were a bit overcooked for my taste. Once I had dinner, I didn't even say goodbye to John and Gary, I just went back to the hotel. I realized that my cell phone was in John's car in my gear bag, but frankly, I just didn't care. I needed to sleep, so I lay down on my bed and didn't even open by computer to check my email. It was not even 9:00pm when I was fast asleep. Now it's almost 6:00am in the morning on Sunday, and I am so glad to be well rested, since today we will make another four skydives.

They will probably mix up the groups, but I had so much fun with Carol yesterday, and I learned a great deal, too. The other three organizers are male, as are almost all of the SOS crowd, but among the sixty or so in the camp, there are five other women. I talked with them and everyone was pleased with the way the camp is progressing. We will then have up to four attempts to make a new record on Monday of all SOS women. Eleven women are signed up for it, although not all of them are in the Skills Camp.

By the time I get to Tuesday, if I want I can either make some more skydives or just rest up for the journey home on Wednesday. The way I feel right now, I can almost guarantee that Tuesday will not be spent skydiving. Although my shoulders are a little sore, I am really pleased to be here, enjoying being with my older skydiving peers. I thought I was the only one worried about my knee, but it turns out I've seen some really interesting knee braces, and every one of us, being over sixty, has some sort of infirmity. John took out his hearing aids before donning his skydiving helmet, and I hadn't even realized he uses them. He said they are way too expensive to lose one, and he doesn't need to hear on a skydive!

Of the four jumps yesterday, all my landings were good, and I didn't stress my knee at all. I'm hoping for the same today. And tomorrow. Lordy, I know how tired I'll be tonight, but it's all good, and I'm pushing myself to the limit. And having fun. Now it's time to shower and get downstairs to the breakfast room before heading off to the DZ. Until next Sunday, be well and thanks to everyone for your good wishes about this adventure of mine!


Linda Reeder said...

I am picturing you in your purple jump suit, flying through the air. I am happy for you, knowing you are having fun!

Anonymous said...

Sorry you feel sore and tired, but I know you want to get maximum enjoyment out of your last season of skydiving. I don't blame you for wanting to skip Wednesday's large formation, because it would be too stressful. You sound like you are having a lot of fun socializing with friends.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Wow, impressed. Enjoy DJan. Hope it is a marvelous next few days.

Elephant's Child said...

Some happy smiles from the other side of the world for you this morning. I am so happy for you. And love that you are tired, sore - but not damaged. I hope the rest of the adventure is just as good - or better.

Meryl Baer said...

What a wonderful time - activity, successful dives, hearty food and sleep! Good luck with the rest of your dives.

Gigi said...

Yay! I'm glad to hear that you are having fun. Here's to more fun in the next few days.

Red said...

Yes, it's a good idea to pick and choose what you want and be in control. You can be much happier making decisions when you call the shots. It ;looks like you are having a great time.

The Furry Gnome said...

So glad you can be there and enjoy the adventure. How long does the typical skydive give you in the air?

Sally Wessely said...

Amazing. That's what you are. Enjoy the rest of your time.

#1Nana said...

I agree with Sally. You are amazing! So glad you're having fun and keeping healthy. Stay safe.

#1Nana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amanda said...

So glad you're having fun, DJan!
I like your stance on having a choice in the matter, passing on optional stress. One should choose Fun whenever possible.
Can't wait to hear how the rest of your trip goes!

Arkansas Patti said...

Aren't you smart to get the pleasure out of your passion and avoid the stress. I would sure hate to be graded on my performance but can see the point for those who are competitive.
Glad you are only sore and not really hurt.
Keep enjoying.

Bragger said...

Even though I have stopped my own blog, I get automatic updates of yours, and I delight in reading every single one. I especially enjoy the ones that pertain to skydiving, because I gave it up before I ever got a chance to progress very far. I wasn't good at relative work and took criticism too personally.

Keep up the good work. You are truly an inspiration to me! Dena (aka Bragger)

Friko said...

So far so good and so exciting.
I am glad you are having such a good time.

Happy skydiving!

(What was that about giving up? Possibly?)

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I missed out on wishing you well on this venture/adventure. I missed your March 30th posting because I had out-of-state company. So here it is Tuesday and I'm wondering how the 15-person formation worked out. I knew nothing about skydiving before I started reading your blog back in the summer of 2011. And now I just wait with baited breath to discover exactly what happened when you did your four practices on Sunday and then your formation. I never realized--just never thought about it--about the split second actions a skydiver would have to do to make these formations work. And even that 5 above/5 before seems complicated to me.

I hope all went well and that your knee suffered no twangs or twinges and that it's in good shape after all your landings. And I wish you a safe trip home tomorrow. Peace.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You sound tired but happy with yourself:)

Lorna said...

You continue to inspire me in the wisdom of your choices. Have fun, DJan. :-) :-)

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the drive! Have fun! All the best!

Sandi said...

Oh DJan, you are so amazing to me! What a testament to good health and seizing the moment you are!
Every time I read one of your posts on skydiving I am in awe. Never in a million years would I want to willingly jump out of a plane and plummet towards the ground. Yet, you almost make it sound like it would be worth it!
Thanks for commenting earlier this week. I've enjoyed my spring break - and reserved tomorrow to spend with Deb, hiking in the Gorge and having a nice lunch!