Week 15: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Skydiving Edition – Wut?!

What a rush!

What a week! With summer winding down, I’ve been busy trying to check off those summertime boxes. This week’s blog post is going to be focused on the two things I managed to pull off this week. Let’s start with #39, a kayak ride and picnic.

We live on a lake, so kayaking is a fairly easy proposition and one I enjoy immensely. Unfortunately this summer has been crazy busy and I haven’t managed to get out paddling before now. We picked a gorgeous day and my husband Mike and I headed out, picnic packed and paddles ready. It’s about a half an hour paddle from our house to the park. To add to the sense of adventure, we were on the look out for an alligator that has reportedly been seen in Belleville Lake. Yes, really. Here’s the link: https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/weird-news/another-day-another-alligator-resident-sees-alligator-in-belleville-lake

And IF there is indeed an alligator here somewhere, I have no doubt this is where we would find it. You get to the park by going under a low-lying bridge which means no pontoon boats can navigate this area. This is an extremely tranquil part of the lake, no houses at all, loaded with wildlife and an occasional fisherman, and quite possibly an alligator with an impaired sense of direction.

Water lilies in the background.
Look at the size of those water lilies!
Mike paddling towards the landing to beach his kayak.
Beached and ready for lunch.
Lunch is served. Simple but yummy!
Not an alligator. (photo credit: Mike Lanzetta)
Water lily up close and personal by my request (photo credit: Mike Lanzetta)
Perfect water for kayaking!

This year there happens to be an unusual amount of water lilies. It always surprises me how large they get. On our way to the park, before reaching the channel, we had to stop for a few photos. Once you reach the park, there is an area to beach your kayak. There are picnic and restroom facilities and it really is a great spot for a pleasant afternoon break. We spread our picnic under the shelter and enjoyed a leisurely lunch before heading back home. If you paddle just a bit further down, you’ll see the dam on the lake. We did not spot any alligators, just a few ducks, a heron and a turtle or two. If you have the opportunity to kayak out this way, it is an easy paddle from the DNR access located off of Rawsonville road. It makes a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Next up, bucket list item #2: Skydiving! Sunday morning started out with a light breakfast, serenaded by Sammi’s custom skydiving playlist, including Freefalling by Tom Petty and Live Like You Were Dying. Then at 9am, Mike and my daughters, Jenna and Sammi and I headed out to Jackson to Skydive Tecumseh where Jenna and I would be skydiving. I had planned to do this solo, but when Jenna volunteered to be my wing woman, I readily agreed. She was supposed to have gone skydiving with her husband last year on their honeymoon in Dubai, which is an iconic place to jump. But four hours later, after suiting up and watching several other plane-loads make their jumps, their jump was canceled due to 120 degree temperatures. When this opportunity came up, she was happy to tag along and I was happy to have the company! Unfortunately, she forgot her driver’s license and they require a state-issued ID. They would not budge on that requirement. Jenna offered a photo of her marriage license, and that was not acceptable. Thanks to Kelcie, one of her best friends who also happens to be our neighbor, for saving the day! She was able to text us a photo of Jenna’s license which was sitting on our kitchen counter. So first hurtle cleared and all systems were go!

Jenna and I waiting to get suited up.
Good luck hug from Sammi who says, “Oh, hell no!” to skydiving.
Let’s do this!
Kody being a jerk with the rabbit ears. J/K. He was awesome!
Inside the plane, approaching 14,000 feet. Jenna and I are ready to make that jump!

We met our instructors/tandem partners. Mine was a friendly young guy named Kody. He was an experienced skydiver who had a relaxed way about him that immediately put you at ease. He gave instructions in small bite-sized pieces making it easy to retain. I felt comfortable relying on his expertise to make the jump enjoyable and he didn’t disappoint. We were both suited up and a short while later headed to our ride, a King-Air, especially outfitted for skydivers. There were 10 people in all, 4 of us were sky-diving with 4 instructors and 2 videographers. It was a full plane. The plane is equipped with long bench-like seats along both sides and a plexiglass door that slides open like a garage door. You straddle the bench with your instructor behind you. We rose to an elevation of 14,000 feet, up beyond the clouds. The view was breath-taking! I happily volunteered to go first, so they slid the door open and I edged out to the slim black step that was just outside the door. Kody called out, “One, two, three” and then we jumped from the plane. The harness felt snug and I did as Kody advised, breathing through my nose, rather than my mouth. It was a free fall for what seemed like quite a while, though I’m guessing it wasn’t. We were diving head first until the chute opened, then he loosened up the rigging a bit to make it more comfortable and you could sit back like you were in a chair in the sky. Once the chute opened it was also quieter. The view was phenomenal and the floating sensation was great. I was even able to wear my glasses because they had special goggles that, while very unattractive, allowed you to keep your glasses on. I may have looked goofy, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss one second of that view! He handed me the controls and I was able to turn left, right and do a spin. The spin did make me a little queasy so I didn’t do it for more than a revolution or so. It was awesome to look around and take it all in. There was also a videographer jumping with us and she was there to capture it all. Jenna jumped right after me and we met up on the ground. The whole thing took about 2 hours total, most of that time was spent in preparation or waiting. It took maybe 8 or 9 minutes to reach the necessary altitude. Final verdict: It was AHHH-MAZING and I would totally do it again. Jenna loved her experience as well. Neither one of us were a bit nervous. If you are thinking about doing it, I would highly recommend it. I’m not sure what I could ever do to top this experience. It really is the ultimate rush!

Soaring, as close as I’ll ever come to human flight.
Heading towards the landing spot, just spotted Mike and Sammi. Giving them a wave!
Landing position, feet up!
High five for landing safely.
We made it!

If you want to watch the short video of my jump, here’s the link. https://youtu.be/wS7NGCTqha

In closing, I can’t believe it’s only been a little over 3 months since I started on this bucket-list quest. I’ve had so many amazing adventures and it’s been an absolute blast! I’m excited to discover what the rest of my 59th year holds. A heartfelt thank you to those who have come along with me for the journey. I hope you all have an amazing week. Until next week, may your chute always open and all of your landings be happy ones!

Skydiving: Check mark!