Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Can Fly!!!

In the words of Peter Pan, “I can fly!” For a very long time now I have had the desire to fly. It began with a yearning to learn to fly planes. Then skydiving piqued my interest. For years now I have been planning to skydive; it is after all cheaper than taking flying lessons.

Skydiving is on the calendar for sometime in August this year. In my quest for adventure and new experiences this year I have decided it was time. Still, at the end of May I was able to get a little taste of not only skydiving, but the freedom of floating on air.

Most people have never heard of indoor skydiving. I hadn’t either when I received an email from a friend. Maggie had been invited to a birthday party but wasn’t able to make it. She suggested to the birthday girl that I take her place. Ironically enough birthday girl and I work for the same company as Maggie does and had never met. The company isn’t that large, I just work in a remote office and so our paths haven’t crossed. Christina was very gracious and let me crash her birthday party. “The more the merrier,” she said! Thanks, Christina, it was one of the most fun birthday parties I have ever been to!

Skyventure is located in Lone Tree, Colorado. According to the web site ( this is “a 12 foot, recirculating 1200 HP wind tunnel.” According to me it is just a big barrel of fun!

Our adventure began with a lesson in flying. This short video showed us the proper body position. We also learned hand signals since hearing the instructor inside the tunnel was virtually impossible. Our main form of communication involved signals to bend or straighten our legs, chin up, and relax. However, once I was in the tunnel it took me a while to be able to relax and remember what the signals meant.

During our instructions we were told to take everything out of our pockets and to take off our jewelry. Derrick, our instructor, told us he had a flyer who didn’t believe him when he said if it was in your pockets it would be sucked out once in the tunnel. Apparently this man had about $500 in twenty dollar bills that he didn’t want to part with. He kept them zippered in a pocket inside his jumpsuit; that is until he got into the chamber. The bills were sucked out and sent flying around the wind tunnel. I decided not to test it for myself and took my earrings and necklace off.

We were then suited up in jumpsuits that covered us from neck to ankle. We were given helmets, ear plugs and goggles. Then it was time to make our way into the wind tunnel. The tunnel is an octagonal shaped room with a small room along one side for the flyers to wait their turn. The floor is a metal mesh net and beneath it we could see the equipment that helped power the tunnel. There are two doors, one for entering and one for exiting the tunnel. The chamber is about 12 feet in diameter and I would guess about 15 feet high (at least in the space we were flying in.)

When it was my turn for my first flight I approached the door, brought my arms to my chest and raised my chin. The raised chin was important for helping control flight, but it also was a great reminder to look around and enjoy the experience. I leaned into the chamber and began to move into the proper flying position. Thankfully Derrick was in the chamber with each of us to help because I promptly forgot everything I had learned in our training session.

With his help I was able to experience some flight. That first time though I had a lot of trouble controlling myself. I have to laugh because Derrick was very expressive with his hand signals as he emphatically gave me the sign to relax over and over. I have always had trouble relaxing my muscles like normal people! Toward the end I did get a little better and began to enjoy myself.

The second minute in the chamber I did much better, but still have a way to go before I can really control my own flight. I got to experience some true flight and was really beginning to like it. Then in the last few seconds Derrick grabbed hold of the handles on my jump suit and the instructor in the control booth turned up the air. With Derrick’s help we rose and then descended spinning round over and over. This was sheer ecstasy! I could have stayed there forever soaring and spinning! All too soon the flight was over and it was time to get out.

Indoor skydiving was an awesome time and has totally fueled my desire to do the real thing soon! I also came away with an important lesson for life. No matter what happens, keep your chin up and relax!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm going to share a little secret with you all. I am a daddy's girl. Yes, it's true, have been as long as I can remember.

My earliest memories are from the time when we lived in Izmir, Turkey. I was about 3 years old, let's just say it was sometime in the 60s and leave it at that. I remember the games my brother and I used to play. I remember when my sister came along I was reluctant to let her have the crib. I remember playing on our fourth floor balcony and watching the Turkish world go by below.

I also remember a Saturday or Sunday morning helping Mom in the kitchen. She gave me the orange juice can to throw away. It bugged me that the lid was still partially attached to the can so I decided to twist it off before throwing it away. In the process I sliced my finger. This would be the first of many finger slicings in the kitchen for me.

Mom took me to the emergency room that morning while Dad stayed home with Tom and Tina. I remember the ER doctor telling me that I now had a spider on my finger where he put the stitches and that I should tell my daddy about my spider. I even remember going home and sitting in my Daddy?s lap and showing him my spider.

Growing up the thing I remember most about Dad is how hard he worked and yet still found time for his family. He was the first man in my life and he has set the bar high.

Dad always taught me (and my siblings) to work hard at whatever we decided to do. Truth is this was a lesson both Mom and Dad instilled in us. This has served me well over the years. Of course, I often tell Dad it?s his fault that I have to work so hard. He instilled that darn work ethic in me!

My Dad is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He doesn?t have many degrees or initials to put behind his name, but he still knows a lot! He worked many years taking classes one at a time to finish his bachelor's degree. Dad knows more than any degree could have taught him.

When I bought my first car he went along. I had picked out the car I wanted and I had fallen in love already. We sat with the finance person at the dealership and they quoted a monthly payment amount. All I heard was the amount and knew it was double what I could afford. Dad on the other hand said, "That's 23% interest. She is not paying that!" I was stunned; he knew the sticker amount and was able to do the math so quickly to come up with the percentage rate. I drove away that night in the car I wanted and had a manageable monthly payment with a reasonable interest rate.

Over the years as I have had to make decisions about financial matters, home ownership and other important happenings I tend to consult my Daddy first. He is my financial planner and my sounding board for these decisions. He can fix just about anything. Over the years I have called on him many times. I remember calling him one morning and telling him, "My car is deader than Elvis!" He came from work. It was bitterly cold out. Dressed in a suit with a nice trench coat over the top to try to keep warm he jump started my car so I could go to work also.

He has been called to help with floods in the laundry room and broken laundry room doors. When my front window leaked he came and fixed that before I realized it should have been fixed by the homeowners association.

I think Dad is a teacher at heart. While he is always quick to help, he is also quick to teach so that I can be self sufficient.

When I was sixteen and eager to have the freedom that driving allows, I wasn't able to take the car on my own until I knew how to change a tire. That came in handy with that first car I had; it was forever having flat tires and I changed my own tires in a variety of weather circumstances. I also had to learn how to change the oil. I didn't have to change my own oil, but Dad wanted me to understand the process.

Dad is a largely self taught computer geek. When I was first learning computers he helped me learn. Still, he was quick to ask, "Did you read the book?" when I call with a question.

My Dad tells great stories from his growing up years. He once drove home with bubble gum in his tire because the tire had developed a leak and the bubblegum was all he had to fix it. Recently he told me of working for my maternal grandfather during the summers. He says his mom wasn't happy with the fact that Grandpa gave him beer, but Grandpa's thought was if Daddy was going to work like a man, he should drink like a man also.

My maternal grandmother told me a story about how Dad was showing her how indestructible the coffee mugs he was selling from the dairy truck were. He threw the mug against the summer kitchen and it broke into many pieces. He said, "Hmmm, it's not supposed to do that."

Last summer he told me the story of his and Mom's first date. That became a blog entry. You can find it back in the archives for July 2007.

I think of all the things that amaze me about my Dad is his unconditional love for his family. This has been so very evident in the last ten years while Mom was struggling with Lewy Body Dementia. As she began to have problems he stepped in, quietly, without a big fuss. He did what needed to be done.

As Mom could do less and less for herself Dad put everything in his world on hold and did for Mom. He searched for ways to keep her comfortable, happy and secure. I remember him giving her a doll because she never really had one as a child. He brought her flowers, stuffed animals; anything he thought would make her smile.

He bought movies and videos he thought she would like. He read to her, comforted her, and walked the floor with her at night when she couldn't sleep. Even when Lewy caused Mom to be angry at Dad he kept his cool and kept going. He knew it wasn't Mom, but Lewy at those times. I know that it must have torn his heart out to see this happening to his sweetheart, but he never gave up. He kept her safe and happy until the end. Now that Mom has passed away Daddy still keeps giving to her. He chose a beautiful grave stone and he makes regular visits to her grave. He chooses silk flowers that she would like and that reflect the season or holiday.

My Dad is an amazing man. I could go on for a long time about all that I have learned from him.

I am a Daddy's girl! I am not ashamed to admit it. I can't imagine life with any other Daddy 'cause mine is truly the best.