Saturday, April 5, 2014

Skills camp begins today

Gary, me, John
Well, I got my knees in the breeze with these two gentlemen yesterday, one I knew from last year (John), and a new friend, Gary from Italy. We went up in Skydive Elsinore's Twin Otter and played in the sky together, although I realized that it would have been much easier for me on this jump if I had had some weights to allow me to fall faster. But it was still a good jump and we had fun.

I found a packer and got ready to make another skydive, but it was almost noon so I skipped the second jump being organized with the SOS (Skydivers Over Sixty) crowd so that John and I could get some lunch (he was hungry too, while Gary was just hungry for another jump). When we returned, the jumpers were just packing up after having made an 11-way that they enjoyed very much, so I agreed to make another skydive with the group.

However, it had grown so large (16 of us, all men, and some very much larger than me) that I decided not to go. They went and had a so-so skydive, with some problems that continue to happen when skydives get bigger and people don't know each other very well. I was glad to sit it out, because today the Skills Camp begins, and I will make four skydives with organizers who will be working with our skill levels in small groups, appropriate to each person's needs.

After the day's skydiving, we returned to the hotel and John, who bought an incredible amount of beer and wine yesterday, had put some of the beer on ice. We gathered in the breakfast room to enjoy it, about ten of us, all guys except for me, from all over the world. As music was mentioned, one fellow, Joe, left the room and returned in a few minutes with... music!
Joe playing the bagpipes
If you can call it that; I have a hard time hearing the nuances of bagpipes. He played us two songs before putting his precious instrument on a nearby table and rejoining us with cheese and crackers. He also brought in two large sandwiches which he cut into pieces and shared. After awhile, some were interested in having a real dinner, so we made our goodbyes and went our separate ways for the evening.

These are great people, and I am glad to be here, looking forward to learning a lot with my friends. I've already told several old skydiving friends that this will be my last visit to Skydive Elsinore, as this, my twenty-fourth year of skydiving, will be my final season of playing in the sky. Most understood and some even felt honored that I chose to spend this time with them, here.

I'm a little superstitious about saying "last" and "final" in relation to skydiving, just as I'm beginning two days of making four jumps a day, and then there's the women's record attempt on Monday, which will probably be another four. I get tired just thinking about it, but really, I have every expectation that it will be an incredibly wonderful experience with some of the best people in the world, and everybody will be safe.

Although I will return home on Wednesday, most of the group will be staying for the rest of the week to attempt to make the largest formation of SOS skydivers ever. The record right now stands at 60, set in 2012, since last year they failed to make a new record. The organizers will have video of many of the skydives, so that they can pick and choose those who are most likely to be able to perform well. The rest will be "on the bench" and will make skydives together as well. I know from experience that these record attempts are stressful times for everybody, and I'm glad I'll be going home and skipping all the stress. It will be hard enough to make the women's record attempt, but there will only be 11 of us, not 80.

So that's it from my part of the world, sitting here in the dark with my laptop. I'll need to be at the Drop Zone by 8:00am, and there's breakfast here at the hotel. Time for a shower to begin my day. I'll be making another post on my other blog tomorrow morning. It's going to be a great day in southern California! Hope you will all have a wonderful day, too. Signing off from the world of palm trees and blue skies.
:-)

25 comments:

  1. smiles. i am glad you are having a great time...have fun out there today...

    sounds like you might be a little work out by the end but i bet the memories are worth it...

    i love the bagpipes too, so that would have been awesome...

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  2. How wonderful! I enjoyed reading this post, DJan. You sound so hopeful and yet nostalgic, knowing this will be your last season. It will be nice to reminisce later about your life as a skydiver. Take care and God bless!

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  3. i know folks will be sad that you are stopping, but i'm glad you're being safe and enjoying it instead of stressing too much.

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  4. ...just stay away from the beer and wine 'til AFTER your other jumps. I know you will.

    So, the weight thing...you being smaller, does that make a difference in this experience? I'm not a jumper so I'm not sure.

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  5. Aww I feel the bittersweet tone in this post. You have such a healthy sense of adventure and I admire the heck out of you for jumping out of planes and enjoying your gutsy descents. I also admire your wisdom in knowing when to call it quits. We want you safe and healthy and taking us on new adventures. Enjoy your jumps. I have zero doubt that you will. :)

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  6. enjoy those blue skies and your knees in the breeze:)

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  7. They seem a great bunch of people to be diving with. I think the bagpipes should only ever be played outside and preferably a long way from me.

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  8. Enjoyed the update, DJan!
    Hope today is another beautiful day to adventure with your friends!

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  9. Have a wonderful, wonderful day. Bagpipe music always makes me cry for some reason...

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  10. What? You're going to quit? And here you almost had me convinced to start, at 70! Life is just so uncertain, isn't it?

    Glad you have had a good training school for this season. And I hope you have a wonderful time jumping out of perfectly good airplanes in 2014!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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  11. I don't know that there IS any nuance with bagpipes. Anyway, enjoy playing in the sky!

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  12. Hi DJan, Reading your post today I'm *guessing* that it's possibly easier to make large formations if the weight (and of course the expertise) of the participants is at least *close*?
    Sounds like you're having fun! Enjoy and be safe! (I flew home from San Antonio today and it IS beautiful up there in the skies...)

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  13. Well aren't you the belle of the ball. Only girl with all those guys.
    Interesting, I never thought about weight being a factor in diving. Guess they could weight you down like a race horse but to even you up with the likes of John, you wouldn't be able to walk to the plane.
    Have fun tomorrow and am glad you are not trying to be one of 80.

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  14. I read your trip in first class! You started your trip right. Now with all these kindred spirits around you, you certainly will have a great time. Enjoy yourself to the limit DJan!

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  15. Enjoy your sunshine. the rain returned here today and there will be off and on showers for the next few days.
    All guys, huh. When do the gals arrive? I'm glad you are playing it safe and just doing what you want to do. Hope you are having fun!

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  16. Decisions, decisions. It sounds like you've been making the right decisions so that you have a great experience at Elsinore.

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  17. Wishing you safe, clear skies as you jump today DJan. So many decisions and stress - I hope you "11" are just fine and look forward to hearing all about your day today. Take care my friend - may the wind spirits soar with you.

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  18. I thought of you as I read of a skydiving accident involving a large group. I pray you're safe as you jump with your girl friends. What a great adventure you've had!

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  19. I'm so impressed. I've had courage for many things, but skydiving wasn't ever one of them. I always thought if I did that, nothing would ever excite me again.

    Enjoy these last dives.

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  20. Wine, beer and bagpipes...you folks really know how to party after jumps. I love the sound of bagpipes.
    Have fun and enjoy the rest of your stay DJan.

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  21. Glad you're having fun on your "last" trip down there.

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  22. Hi Jan, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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  23. Wonderful plans. All for the memories of good times and good friends...:)

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