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Posted in January 2013

Base Jumping In Twin Falls, Idaho

I have had some experiences that have been intense as part of my 49 Before 50; skydiving, jumping from the Stratosphere, hang-gliding….however, BASE jumping from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho has got to be at the top of the intensity list. Thanks to me friends at Red Lion Hotels, I was able to participate in this first time, NEW adventure.

I arrived at the bridge over the beautiful Snake River Canyon and was awestruck by the beauty. I was also smacked upside the head with what 486 feet looks like when standing on a bridge over the beautiful Snake River Canyon. Unfortunately, the winds were too strong to make the jump on my first attempt so I had to settle with a delightful dinner with a spectacular view and try again in the morning.

The morning of the actual jump the winds were calm, the sky was clear and I was ready to go for it. My confidant and capable instructor met me at The Perrine Visitor’s Center, reviewed what we were going to do and strapped me into a harness that would be attached to him. We hiked up to the top of the bridge where he tethered me to it with a cable while attaching me to him. It all happened kind of fast and before I knew it, he was counting down 3-2-1…

Skydiving!

49 Before 50 isn’t a bucket list. However, if it was, this would definitely be on it. I have wanted to skydive as long as I can remember. My family has never been quite as excited as I have about jumping from a plane but that didn’t stop me from enlisting my daughter to be my sidekick in this adventure. Gabby finished her semester at college and I flew to Arizona to drive back with her for the summer. I sprung it on her during the road trip ;)

Skydive Elsinore was willing to help me achieve this first time experience. They are world famous for both their skydiving lessons and world class training. People come from all over to dive here. Their instructors are passionate about thrill-seeking but when it comes to safety, they are super serious.

Upon arrival, the amount of paperwork is a bit intimidating. There is a required viewing of a video that reminds participants that they are embarking on a very risky adventure that could result in death. It’s kinda weird though, because my mind never went to the “bad place”.

Gabby and I were introduced to our instructors; two young, fun and very cute gentlemen from Columbia and Brazil. They reviewed, step by step, what would happen for us. We suited up and stepped into our harnesses. There was a mock airplane in which to practice the act of jumping out of the plane. Our skydiving teachers were confident, silly and lots of fun, however when it came down to getting to business, they were very focused.

We boarded a small plane and sat on the floor in front of our instructors. The plane climbed to about 14,000 feet and the door opened. Before I realized it, the solo jumpers in our group were out of the plane and I was making my way towards the edge of the plane. Since I was attached to my instructor, I really was just a passenger on the journey at this point and I genuinely was comfortable that he would guide me through the jump.

I felt so alive standing in that door way. But that was nothing compared to the sensory stimulation of the free fall. I expected that my stomach would travel up, like it does on a roller coaster. However, there was nothing even close to that feeling. I felt the chill of the high altitude and the wind in my face and it was magical. We stayed in free fall for about a minute and then I pulled the parachute open. I anticipated there would be a big jerk pulling us back up because of all of the videos I had watched. I learned that it appears that there is an upward motion because the videographers continue with their free fall and the open chute slows down the descent. It was very graceful and fluid.

The glide down was pretty amazing. My instructor gave me control of steering the canopy and we were able to fly over the beautiful Lake Elsinore area. The landing was as simple as taking a few quick steps on the ground.

There are not enough words for me to describe how powerful this was for me; exhilarating, stimulating, empowering and magical immediately come to mind. I can’t thank Skydive Elsinore enough for helping me to realize this dream and helping me to achieve another one of my 49 before 50.

Taking On Your Fears- With a little help from the Phoenix Herpetological Society ;)

My house is nestled in the hills of the Santa Monica Mountains and often times we get little visitors. Some times they are mice, some times they are spiders and some times they are SNAKES! I am good with mice, ok with spiders and completely freaked out by the snakes. I seriously have nightmares about them.

49 before 50 is more than me just having fun. It’s about me growing as a person and it’s with that spirit that I visited the Phoenix Herpetological Society. ( Herpetology is the fancy description of the study of reptiles). Since my family lives in Arizona, I dragged them along for moral support and kinda figured if my eight year old nieces are comfortable with snakes, then I needed to step up my game. My dad reluctantly tagged along as well – but more about him later…

Our group was greeted by Nate the serpent curator. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anyone this at ease with snakes. Nate really, truly loves snakes. He handles them with so much loving care and respect. Nate took the time to explain the behavior of the snakes so we would understand what they were doing and ultimately be less afraid. A few posts ago I shared something that my firearms instructor taught me – “we fear what we don’t understand”. I have always been terrified of snakes.

Nate had three different snakes for me to hold. He got me comfortable with a very small one before graduating to the medium type I have in my yard from time to time. I actually held this one and was genuinely ok with it. Once Nate saw I was ok with the little guys, he busted out the whopper and believe it or not, until it slithered up to my face, I was good with it wrapped around my body ;)

This was a really powerful experience for me. Nate’s demeanor made all the difference in the world with this. He was patient, calm and so wise.

PS – Now about my dad. My father still tells the story of being at Scout Camp when he was a little boy and in order to get a merit badge he had to hold a snake. He tried and tried, but could never muster up the courage to actually take the reptile in his hands. The fact that my dad actually conquered his fear is a true testament to how amazing Nate the serpent curator was with us. Also, a true testament to what a wonderful father I have! He would go to the ends of the Earth to make his kids and grandchildren happy. I am very lucky.

Freestyle Ski Jump

Last winter, I had the pleasure of visiting Utah Olympic Park in Park City where I got to ride in a bobsled down the ice track. It was awesome. I toured the facility and was thrilled to discover that during the summer months, people are able to learn to freestyle ski jump. So naturally, as part of my 49 Before 50 experiences, I made plans to come back :)

Scuba Diving!

I am someone that really, truly, enjoys a good adrenaline rush. I can jump from airplanes, leap from bridges and swing on a trapeze. However, when it came to scuba diving I had a really tough time getting past the panic and simply enjoying it. For my 49before50 challenge, I pushed what WAS passed comfortable and learned to scuba dive.

The lesson began in a classroom and it required paying attention to a lot of info. I got a little overwhelmed in the demo when my instructor was showing me how to connect all the air tubes and equipment so I started off a little off my game before I even got wet. Once I got in the pool, I was able to relax enough to actually breath but still felt a little shaky. The PADI certified instructor assured me that I was capable of doing the shallow water dive of 25 feet so I trusted him.

We went out to a small shipwreck for the first real dive. I jumped in, eager to put my scuba skills to work, but had a really tough time getting comfortable with going under the water. Once I settled down and engaged with the rhythm of breathing, I managed to allow myself to let go and enjoy. As long as I focused on the inhale, then “glub, glub, glub” of the bubbles coming out, I was able to swim around and look at everything up close. I am really proud of myself because this one was definitely a real challenge.