Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pacific Skydivers

Today (Sunday) Skratch and I crossed the border into Canada to visit Pacific Skydivers in Pitt Meadows, Canada (just down the road a piece from Vancouver). We went to avoid the crowds coming into Bellingham for its signature outdoor event, the Ski to Sea race, held today. This amazing 90-mile relay race has teams of eight people who execute one of 7 legs: it starts at the Mt. Baker ski area, with a cross-country ski leg, a downhill segment (ski or snowboard after slogging UP the slope), a racing bike segment, a mountain bike segment, road running, a canoe team (this is the only place where there are two participants), and finally finishing with a kayaker who comes into Marine Park in Fairhaven, here in Bellingham. Wow! Since we were not participating, we decided to avoid the spectators and the 400-plus teams.

We made two jumps each out of the fast King Air that has just returned from California to the Pacific Skydivers Drop Zone. We zipped up to altitude (13,000 feet) in maybe ten minutes and jumped out into the air over the beautiful Fraser River Valley. How could we be so lucky as to have TWO wonderful drop zones within about an hour's drive? Bellingham has many virtues, and this is a meaningful one for us.

When I lived in Boulder, the Bolder Boulder was the primo outdoor event held every Memorial Day, with more than 40,000 runners finishing last year. There is a wonderful memorial that includes a skydive into the event by the Mile-Hi Skydivers, where I spent the vast majority of my skydiving career. This year is the 31st running of the event, and I think I might have run in 8 or 10 of them myself. When I first started skydiving, I would run the Bolder Boulder and then get in my car and drive to the Drop Zone so I could watch my friends jump into the stadium.

Today, however, I was hosted by Pacific Skydivers for my jumps (say hello to Debbie and Ian Flanagan, DZOs). It's almost incredible to me that although today's skydives with Skratch were fun, and landing was fun, nowhere can I resurrect the thrill that coursed through me during my first 100, 500, even 1,000 jumps. At this point, although I enjoy the experience, it's just not life changing like it was. I go over my emergency procedures, ready for whatever might happen that is out of the ordinary, and then nothing out of the ordinary happens, and I become complacent again.

Next week I'll probably go south to visit Snohomish, because Linny will be there, my favorite person to jump with these days. But today, I had a super wonderful time with my partner, following him down to the landing area after playing in the sky together. The incredible blue sky (where are the clouds?), the mountains, the water, friends, and satisfaction after a day well spent.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. So many things and people for me to remember. Those who are gone from this life, those who mean so much to me who are alive and kicking today (especially my family, some of whom are gathered in Texas for Megan's wedding), those who gather together in the place in my heart, I honor you all on this Memorial Day.


  1. I admire people who are passionate about what they do, and it seems that you are passionate about your sport. My husband Jim was drafted into the Army and sky dived while there in Yuma, Arizona in 1962-63, at that time he said it was called the Yuma Test Station and it is now called Yuma Proving Grounds. When I met him in San Francisco he jumped in the valley with a club for a while.

  2. Vagabonde, Would that be in Pope Valley? I have heard many stories about that wonderful place before it was disbanded. I'll bet our husbands DO know each other. Skratch Garrison (my husband) still talks about Pope Valley like it was heaven on earth.

  3. I'm happy to see how 'at home' you are in Bellingham. It seems to be the perfect place for you to be. Good that you can travel a little way and see things, which are obviously perfect for you and Skratch.
    Blessings, Star


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