Posted by Lauren
Thursday – 2:30 pm I hit the road. Kyle’s on the phone. “Drive to the Del Taco in Watsonville,” he instructs.
Odd, because I thought I was supposed to meet him in Santa Cruz for a birthday surprise activity. He hinted earlier that it might have to do with chocolate and small food tastings…
I have a few minutes to spare since my drive is shorter, so I stop at the best fruit stand ever.
It’s right next to The Whole Enchilada, where I ate last week with Sarah and Mikaela.
Last Thanksgiving I bought almost all of the produce for the BIG DINNER here. Their prices are unreal and it’s all local (for the most part). I bought 10 avocados for $2, a huge watermelon for $2, and a spaghetti squash for $2.40.
Back on the road.
3:00 I hit Del Taco. Kerry + Fran know why I love Del Taco so much, specifically ones in souuuuthern California ;)
3:15 Kyle drives up in his blue dragon and asks me to take a seat in the passenger side, blindfolded.
3:30 We get out of the car. My eyes are shut tight, I am maneuvered around a car window, I take big inhales, trying to smell out the surprise.
Wahhh!?! A plane? Honest first thought: Are we going on a plane ride to check out the coast?
I turn to this dashing man…
“We’re going skydiving!”
Oh. My. GOSH!!! I am definitely surprised!!
Kyle tells me a little bit about why he picked Skydive Surfcity (160 Aviation Way, Watsonville, CA 95076) while we fill out our liability forms. It’s a tandem skydiving place that offers (what I think to be) the best skydiving views in the whole United States. They offer the only BEACHFRONT landing area in California and you get the best 360 view of the entire Monterey Bay, from Carmel through Seaside, Moss Landing to Aptos, Capitola Beach and even past the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!
While waiting, we watch the parachutes disappear into tightly packed, 60 lb. backpacks.
Due to some fog delays earlier in the morning, we use the extra time to ask questions, eat goldfish, enjoy a few peanut butter fingers, drink Dr. Pepper (boy knows how to satisfy my tummy!), and climb around the demo plane.
We are the 14th pair to jump that day. My guide is Eric and Kyle’s guide is Alex.
5:30 Soon enough it’s our turn to learn the rules and strap on a harness.
6:00 Both Eric and Alex were very chill. All four of us relax in the beautiful sun before the plane rumbles towards us. As the plane takes off, my jaw drops at how GORGEOUS it is. The plane ride itself is a good enough reason to go! All of the farm plots get smaller and smaller, the visible coast line expands, and then we reach an altitude around 13,000 feet. Eric tightens my harness and opens the door. I wriggle my feet out of the open door as he unhooks us from behind. I’m not sure if he is counting to three or I am, but after a fleeting moment I’m no longer in the plane – I’m freefalling.
After a backflip I don’t even remember doing, Eric taps me and I open my arms.
p.s. all of these pictures come from Skydive Surfcity’s Yelp page…
The ocean is RIGHT THERE. I am rushing towards it, screaming “OH MY GOD OHHHH MYYY” on repeat.
Another tap and I close my arms. A minute has literally FLOWN by, and Eric deploys the parachute.
Luckily for me, our fall was slower than Kyle’s and Alex’s, so I am able to see them below us.
That’s also a bit nerve-racking because it looks like they are quite a bit away from the beach and a little too close to the ocean. Eric assures me they are still about 500 feet up in the air.
As we get closer to the beach, Eric lets me fly the parachute in circles – what a RUSH! Besides the jumping out of the plane part, this is my favorite moment. The parachute gains momentum and we whip around quickly.
A minute before landing, Eric takes control and I ask how best to land (my friend Taylor broke her ankle/foot while landing and I have a half marathon to run soon!!). While he explains to keep your legs forward, I watch Kyle and Alex touch down. Eric masterfully maneuvers us to the beach. Where else can you barefoot skydive and land on soft, golden sand?
* * *
WOWWWWZA. That was exhilarating, breath-taking and heart-pounding!! I can’t get over the image of hurtling towards the earth, in between water and land. CRAZY! What a terrific birthday present!!! Thank you for taking me Doze! I secretly want to be a pilot and, like I said earlier, I think the views alone from the tiny plane are worth the trip.
Skydive Surfcity drove us back to their hangar and I went through the pictures Eric snapped. The photo package was pricey so we walked away with just absolutelycrazy memories.
Once home, I cut up the juicy watermelon I purchased earlier:
And I ate some snow-capped trees (broccoli + greek yogurt + tahini + pepper)
What a terrific Thursday!
Question: Have you ever been skydiving? If yes, where and why did you decide to go? If no, do you plan on it or are you afraid of heights?
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