Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mid-Life Crisis Averted

I've got to do something about this weekly blogging problem. My mom is going to die if I don't start posting more regularly. Too much work and too much fun--that's the problem. Today my life was filled with stuff like confirming Elizabeth's spot in a gymnastics class and getting her a gymnastics suit, talking with a city administrator about a day to bring the Webelos over for a tour of the city building, talking with another city person about getting a recycling bin, feeding people, looking for some tax forms for Brandon, working on an upcoming trip that my sister and I are planning for my other sister with cancer, arranging a car pool for soccer practice, playing family with Rachael, writing a post for the Motherhood Matters blog, doing a couple loads of laundry, communicating with teachers about some random questions, and going to the temple with Brandon this evening. Lots of little things that add up really fast. 

But earlier this week I was having too much fun to blog. For the last several months I've been telling Brandon that I was planning a mid-life crisis for the week of my 40th birthday. I was telling everyone actually, until one day a 41-year-old friend of mine said, "Don't have a mid-life crisis. Go on a trip." I thought that was a clever response so I told Brandon, and unbeknownst to me he took it seriously and started planning a "secret" trip for my 40th. That is, until he realized that trying to plan a trip without the mom being in on the planning is next to impossible, so we ended up planning it together. We didn't want to spend too much money or take too much time away, so we decided to drive up to Jackson Hole, WY and spend a long weekend. It was so much fun! (Thanks to our lovely neighbor, Mackenzie, and Brandon's mom for coming to stay with the kids.)

The other thing I've been telling Brandon is that I wanted to do something "extreme" for my big birthday. Something I've thought about doing for years: hang glide or paraglide. (You know, to prove to myself I was still young, strong, and willing to do crazy things--i.e. mid-life crisis.) There is actually a "world famous" spot for hang/para gliding near our home. Every time I drive north on the freeway I see a confetti of hang/para gliders and wonder what it must feel like to "fly" up there with the birds. It looks like so much fun! 

But it also always looks pretty crowded. When I mentioned wanting to hang glide to someone, they told me about a family member who had done it there and been in a mid-air collision with someone else, shattering their ankle. Pardon the pun, but that took the wind out of my sails a little bit, and since Brandon thought it seemed risky too I started to let the idea go and turned my focus to our trip instead.  

Until we drove into Jackson Hole and I saw the para gliders up there in that impossibly blue sky. That was it! We made a reservation for the last morning we were there. As much as I've always wanted to do it, I probably wouldn't have if Brandon hadn't been so supportive and insistent. Gotta love a husband like that! The following pictures tell the story pretty well.

This is Scott Harris, the guy who runs the company we used. I don't know how I lucked out and got the head honcho for my tandem ride, but he's been doing this since the early 90's and was a wealth of information about the history of paragliding as well as the pro's and con's/differences between paragliding/hang gliding/sky diving/base jumping, etc. He pretty well convinced me that paragliding is the way to go. (Did you know the world record for distance paragliding is over 300 miles?) Easy take off, easy landing, cushy feet first seating, and a smooth and dreamy ride. Scott kept calling it a "magic carpet ride" and that's exactly how it felt:
For some weather related reason the tram wasn't going up, so our group headed up the mountain in two trucks:

The other instructors/guides/pilots. I didn't know what to call them . . .
Finally at the top. That's a ski mountain over there:
Would you look at this view? Absolutely gorgeous:
We had to wait a little while for the sun to burn off the cloud cover so we could see where we were landing: 
How many times have I stood on the top of a mountain like this and wished I could take off? Well, I finally did:
Everyone setting up their chutes or "wings" as they called them:
A few running steps down the hill . . .
 . . . and you're off!
Everyone staggered pretty well. There really was zero chance of colliding:
Can you imagine jumping into that? I get a big smile on my face remembering the feeling:
Scott getting our chute ready: 
He was so calm, confident, and fun that I don't even remember feeling nervous:
Brandon took these pictures from below. If I'm remembering correctly, I think we went from 9000 to 6000 feet in about 15 minutes. We were mostly gliding, but near the end Scott did some pretty tight corkscrews that felt like riding Space Mountain in the sky. It was a blast! He also let me steer for a little while: 

I was worried about a hard landing because of my knee that blew out in a skiing accident a few years back, but it was like Mary Poppins coming down from the sky. So smooth and light:
I'm sure my experience was as good as it was because of Scott's expertise:
Thanks, Scott!

And thanks, Brandon, for making my big birthday one I will always remember. Mid-life crisis successfully averted!


  1. Zip-lining, paragliding -- what's next? Running with the bulls in Spain? I'll bet a new convertible is just on the horizon, too.

  2. I miss the mountains. I have always wanted to try paragliding but where is Iowa are you supposed to do that.

    Welcome to the 40's. It's much more fun than being 30.

  3. No need to go to New Zealand! And you would love hang gliding too so don't cross it off the list!


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