One for the Bucket List

I’ve never been a brave person.  In kindergarten I was afraid to go down the slippery slide.  Wild carnival rides make me sick, and, although I live near world-class snow resorts, I’m too chicken to ski. 

So what on earth possessed me to try a sky dive?  After passing a milestone birthday, maybe I wanted to spit in the eye of old age.  Or maybe I just need to prove something to myself–and it was on my mental bucket list.  Whatever the reason, I went on line, found the perfect place and booked a tandem jump for the morning of October 13.

Sky Dive Zion is located in Southern Utah’s spectacular red rock country.  It’s a small operation, one plane, one pilot, one great instructor named Rick, and an excellent safety record.   Driving to the site, I was jittery.  It didn’t help to know that a double skydiving fatality had occurred days earlier in nearby Mesquite, Nevada—with a woman close to my age.  But my hero, who’d come along to give me courage, assured me that I could do this.

The weather was gorgeous, the sky a clear, bright blue.  Three of us were jumping that morning—a cute young couple and me, all first-timers.  Rick, who’d made nearly 8,000 jumps, spent an hour instructing us.  We signed legal releases, watched a video, drilled getting in and out of the plane and practiced the “arch” position, which would be used in free fall (free fall—the very words gave me shivers).

I watched  the youngsters make  perfect jumps, touching down on the nice, crunchy pea gravel that served as a landing strip.  Then it was my turn.  Harnessed in, we drilled again, sitting on the floor of the plane, sliding forward climbing out the door and crouching on the tiny metal platform above the wheel.  “Like cannonballing off the high dive,” Rick said.  It was easy on the ground.  But at 11,000 feet…?

On my harness was a red knob—the handle of the rip cord that would open our parachute.  On the way down, at 5,000 feet, I was to pull it.  If I didn’t pull it by 4,000 feet, Rick would do it for me.  Good to know.  I was to learn how good.

The little Cessna roared skyward.  The view was breathtaking—red cliffs and flats, lakes like clear turquoise jewels.  Rick tightened my harness as the altimeter climbed to 11,000 feet.  The door popped open, wind roaring past, the ground so far away it looked like a map.  No time to be scared.  I had to do this.  I climbed out onto the platform and hunkered down, giving Rick room to climb out behind me.

“Go!” he shouted.  We came off in a back flip.  As we tumbled over, I glimpsed the tail of the plane.  I arched, with Rick above me—surprisingly easy.  Free fall is…unimaginable.  With the ground so far away, you don’t have the sensation of falling.  It’s more like floating, with a 120 mph wind blasting up at you.  I’d expected to be terrified.  Instead I was stunned.  Rick nudged me and pointed to something.  My mind was blank.  Only when the chute popped open, yanking me upright, did I remember the rip cord.  I hadn’t pulled it.

What a rush!  I was yelling, “OMG!  OMG!”   Rick was laughing at me.  The ride down was the best–floating in the sky above the desert, feeling safe and relieved.  We practiced the landing position, legs up, feet flexed, hands ready to pull down on the parachute straps.  I could see the gravel strip.  The landing would be easy, I thought.  Then Murphy’s Law raised its ugly head.  At the last second, we lost our tail wind and came in short.  I smacked down butt first on the hard-packed dirt and skidded to a stop with Rick behind me. 

The first words out of my mouth were, “I’m OK!”  And I was.  I limped away with a twisted knee and a few bruises, but I was grinning like a fool.

Should I do it again?  Given my age and my injury-prone body, probably not.

WOULD I do it again?  Oh, yeah…in a heartbeat!

Do you have a bucket list?  What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

30 thoughts on “One for the Bucket List”

  1. Oh I am the first to post again. I must get a virtual cowboy or something for this.

    Well Elizabeth you have more guts then I do because there is no way I would sky dive. I don’t like heights, maybe years ago in my younger days I might have but not anymore. I did a lot of things in my younger days I wouldn’t do today.I guess the scariest thing I ever done was going down a country road doing 140 miles an hour in a car. The crazy thing you do when your young.

  2. You must be an early riser, Quilt Lady. Wish I had a virtual cowboy to give you.
    🙂
    And I’ve never done 140 miles an hour in a car. Sounds like quite a story. Glad you lived to tell the tale. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I havent had a bucket list yet,but been thinking about it,,the scariest thing ive done was confort a rental house I owned,I found out that the cops had searched it an that the 2 men there were selling drugs out of it,,I walked there alone an confronted them,,my car was in the shop an I was sooooooo mad that i just took off walking,I didnt go in the house stood outside in the road an made them come outside an it wasnt pretty at all,,,actually threw them out gave them 24hrs to pack an leave an then just quietly walked away,,,my knees didnt start shaking until I had got around the corner,nor did I look back,,,im postive they had weapons,what drug dealer doesnt,My anger overtook my fear an of course my husband,brother,son an everyone was at work,soooooo,I did it alone,,,so afterward it was scary,but not while it was going on,I was fierce,lmao,,,bout wet my pants later thinking about it

  4. Wow Elizabeth, your sky dive sounds awesome! Way to go! I don’t have a bucket list and I really haven’t done too many scary things. I’m not very fond of heights, but I did make it to the top of the Washington Monument.

  5. Wow, Vickie, now that was brave! With the jump, I was pretty sure I’d be ok. But you could’ve been seriously hurt or even killed. If I ever meet you, remind me not to make you mad.
    🙂

  6. Thanks, Lori. And I know people who’d be scared to go up the Washington monument.
    Actually, life is pretty scary. Think about getting married, having children, driving on the freeway, etc. etc.
    Have a great fear-free day.
    🙂

  7. You are one brave lady.. I can’t think of anything this brave that I have ever done. Riding on the back of a motorcycle is probably the most brave thing I have everydone.
    My hats off to you..
    The one thing on my bucket list I want to do is go up in a hot air balloon…

  8. I’ve never ridden on the back of a motorcycle, Kathleen, or the front either, but it looks like fun. What would scare me would be doing it on the freeway at 80 mph.
    I have gone up in a balloon–it was wonderful. Hope you get to do it one of these days.

  9. Elizabeth what a wonderful experience for you. I don’t have an adventurous bone in my body, but my youngest daughters, twins, definitely do. For their 18th birthdays they spent the night in a haunted B&B, for their 19th they jumped out of a plane and for their 20th they went bungee jumping. Nowadays they mostly travel or ski, and they’ve gone to some pretty exotic places on their own.

  10. Your daughters sound amazing Winnie. Even if you claim no adventurous genes, you raised them to be curious and self-confident. Great job, Mom.
    I can just imagine your daughters as book heroines. Maybe you should think about it.

  11. Hi Elizabeth, what a gal! I am having cold shivers just thinking about this. Our neighbors (family of four) all went skydiving in Hawaii last summer and said it was marvelous and surreal….our daughter base-jumped off an Alp, scared mt to death but because of the time difference, it was already over with before I got the e-mail. Whew.

    I am a weenie about everything. I’m terrified of down escalators. Hubby would LOVE to go on a hot air balloon ride, but he’ll have to go along. I too have no adventurous genes LOL.

    Great post, Elizabeth. You go, girl. oxoox

  12. How exciting! I just read this to my husband and grandson. This is on my husbands bucket list. I am sure it is a kick, but I just don’t think I could do it. I am sure I would feel the same way you do if I ever managed to do it.
    My bucket list is more along the lines of travel. We have visited many of the National Parks, but I would like to do them all, especially Chaco Canyon and Canyon De Chelly. I really want to go to Ireland and Scotland and spend a few months exploring and finishing tracing our family tree.

    We will be doing one thing on our bucket list next year. We are going to take an Alaskan cruise in June to celebrate our 40th anniversary (where did all the time go?). We are planning to do Denali National Park on the trip. We are still on the planning stage. We’ll see how much we can save in the meantime.

    I am glad you had such a great time. I have a milestone birthday coming up next year, but don’t think I’ll do anything that exciting. I am going to look into it for a birthday present for my husband though. Maybe next time we go out West, I’ll check into Sky Dive Zion and see what I can arrange.

    thanks for a wonderful post.

  13. Elizabeth, you are definitely braver than I am. Someone would have to pry my fingers loose from the airplane to get me to jump. I would be hanging on for dear life to anything I could. I don’t do carnival rides either. No way. I want both my feet planted firmly on the ground. But, I’ll be the first to wish you congratulations on being able to mark one thing off your bucket list. 🙂

    I really don’t have a bucket list. I figure I’ll do whatever I want when I want to do it and hopefully I’ll have a satisfying life by the time I’m done. Probably sounds boring to you. But I’ll take boring over not breathing any day.

    Fun post.

  14. Base jumping off an Alp?? Now that would scare me, Tanya. At least when you jump out of a plane there’s nothing you’re going to hit on the way down. But what a thrill that must’ve been. (And I’m glad you didn’t know till it was over.)
    My daughter did a couple of sky dives in California. She told me it was easy. For me, it wasn’t. But I’m still glad I did it.

  15. Sounds like a great bucket list, Patricia. I have yet to visit the parks you mentioned, even though they’re not far from me. My hero and I did the Alaska cruise last year. Wonderful experience, although we just did the ship, not Denali. Go for it.
    Sky Dive Zion was great–you can find their site on line. One word of warning, the older you are the more likely you are to be injured even by a small bump. It’s taken me several weeks to get back to normal after my rough landing. Still, as I said, I’d do it again (Rick promised me a soft landing next time).
    🙂

  16. I love your version of the bucket list, Linda. Just do what you want when you want to. Not everyone needs to be an adrenalin junkie. You are a very wise and level headed lady.
    Hugs.

  17. My husband courted me on a motorcycle. I loved it. Though now when I even think of riding a motorcycle I immediately imaging my skin being scoured off as I slide along the unforgiving pavement.
    So since we don’t HAVE a motorcycle anymore, I think my biker chick days are over.

  18. I’m with you when it comes to motorcycles, Mary. I’ve known too many promising young people who’ve had their lives changed forever when they crashed on them.
    Still, being courted on a motorcycle sounds very romantic. Sigh…

  19. You are super brave and I doff my hat to you. I myself want to take a hot air balloon ride and perhaps one day I will get the opportunity!

    I have done loads of ‘crasy’ things but I think climbing into a treestand placed at the edge of a 80′ foot drop had to be among the craziest. I am 5’4 and the stakes that I was climbing were placed by a 6’4 male. There were times when I was pulling my own weight upwards. I am not a small woman and not particularily strong but being there was while my husband was hunting bear was important to me. One evening as I was climbing I missed the step and grabbed a branch and pulled. The branch broke. As I slid a few inches downward, I thought for sure that my children were going to end up motherless. When I could finally breathe, I climbed the rest of the 15 feet. There was no bear comming in that night as the tree shook from my trembling and I still had to climb down.

  20. Hello Elizabeth –
    Congratulations again on your skydive! Looks like you have some great friends with their own special experiences.
    Now that you have some experience with skydiving I expect that our future landings will be very smooth.
    Thanks again for coming out and experiencing skydiving!

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