- Category: Family
- Written by Jim Dee
Would you ever skydive?
I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, I get in these moods sometimes when I think to myself, I'd definitely do it; I want to do it right friggin' now!!! After all, I do rather love the more adrenaline-oriented rides at amusement parks. Roller coasters?The higher and faster the better.Twist and turn, flip backwards, stick to the wall stuff? Definitely. Ten-story free-fall rides? Awesome. The only other kindred spirit in my family is my brother-in-law, Budman (blogged about many times back in April or so). On the few rare occasions we found ourselves together at an amusement park, I recall our having to excuse ourselves from the rest of the family in order to hit the thrill rides. We even tried to ride that huge Skycoaster contraption once -- the one you have to sign a waiver and pay extra for -- but it was sold out that day.
As a kid, I even worked at an amusement park one summer (see the "Amusement Park Summer" posts, linked to at the right). One day when the park was nearly empty, I stayed on one of the large coasters for about 45 minutes.
But (yes, I realize) even the most insane roller coaster is probably an order of magnitude less intense than jumping out of an airplane. I like to think I'd be all "fuckin-a" about it.But, in truth, I'm not so sure.I was just watching this insane video on YouTube -- a year in the life of some completely mental base jumper. Christ, it was a rush just to watch the video -- ten-plus minutes of base jumping highlights from around the world. There was a moment at around seven minutes into the thing when my stomach did a somersault. Maybe I should stick to roller coasters. If you watch the video, make sure to stick around until the end; the guy's night time jump out of his Palace Hotel window (inNew York City!) is way cool.I especially love the landing. A cabbie pulls up and says, "Where'd you come from."The guy just laughs and says, "The sky!"
If I ever did do it, I think it'd have to be more or less on a whim. That's how I do most of the dumber things in my life.Once, at 16 or so, my friend Alec Baldwin drove a few of us to a place inSouthern Missouricalled Johnson's Shut-Ins.I was just searching the web in hopes of finding a photo of the place when I came upon this guy's blog, which had the following excellent snippet:"The shut-ins consisted of a rocky area that the Black River flowed through, full of wild rock formations and a cliff where you could leap into the river, but only if you cleared the rocks close to shore. Only morons attempted it - I was one of them."
Yeah, me too.Let me search a little more for a photo. Okay,I'm not sure if this is the exact place, but take a look:
Somehow, I remember it being higher. That cliff's, what, 40 feet? In any case, you can clearly see how you had to jump way out to clear those rocks at the bottom.Not only that, but you had to clear them by a good two feet or more because they stuck out a little under the surface. (You could see from the top how far out you needed to get.)Knowing you had to jump outward meant making damn sure that you'd have good traction at the cliff's edge; if you didn't push off enough (or even if you simply slipped), you'd plummet straight down onto the rocks. And, this was ruralMissouri -- no handy ambulances (if you were still living, that is).
Anyway, a few friends and I hiked up along that ridge and looked off. Almost everyone else hiked right back down. But, two of us stayed. We psyched ourselves up for the big jump, then got nervous and sat down under one of those trees.After a few minutes, I looked at my friend (and, I can't remember who it was -- my buddy Oral Roberts, perhaps) and said, "You know, I figure if you're going to do this, you can't think about it too much."
"What do you mean?" he said.
"I mean, you just have to get up and do it. "Before I finished the sentence, I sprang to my feet and sprinted toward the edge, yelling "Holy Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!" as I pushed off (my tennis shoe gripping the cliff edge well, thank god). I seem to remember taking a few breaths on the way down, which was unusual because, for most other dives, you'd simply hold your breath almost from the start. And then I felt the undeniably awesome pull downward, barely clear of the rocky "zone of death."I entered the water shoes first -- hard, fast, and sloppily (stinging the hell out of my arms, which I'd neglected to hold tightly to my side). Somehow, while in the air, I'd instantly convinced myself that, once I go under, I'd better fight my way back to the surface as quickly as possible; I wasn't sure how deep I'd go, or what currents my lurk toward the bottom.
All in all, it was uneventful.I emerged from the deep, shook my hair out of my eyes, and looked back up at the cliff (still a little buzzed from the whole thing). My friend was standing there, and called me an idiot or something. He was probably right.
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On October 27, 2006, wrote:
I would never skydive, but I enjoy reading about people who would.