Monday, October 29, 2012

Indoor Skydiving - Riding the Wind Tunnel (Perris, CA)

Tori and I went Indoor Skydiving up in Perris, CA on Sunday for Kenny's birthday with Jill, Corinna, Lisa, Wayne, Lindsay and Jennine. When we arrived in the morning, the 96 foot tall wind tunnel looked like a rocket ship about to blast off into space with the huge intake vent at the bottom spreading out like an exhaust nozzle. Since it was a busy weekend, we could only purchase the First Time Flyers Package of two flights each for $55. (One minute per flight.)

While Kenny and Jill have done this before, the rest of us first-timers had to take the short training class to learn all of the hand signals and practice the Stable Position. (Arched back with legs bent at a 45 degree angle and elbows at 90 degrees. Hands cupped down and chin up.) Without the force of the wind, it was hard to maintain the position for very long, especially with my sore muscles from Saturday trapeze. After the training, they gave us a jumpsuit, earplugs, goggles, and helmet.

Since they booked ahead, Kenny and Jill shared 15 minutes, two minute flights interspersed with the rest of ours. With all that extra time, the instructor taught them new positions with each flight. (Spinning like a top, flying upside-down and a horizontal corkscrew.) During one flight, Kenny entered standing upright on the net with both hands in the air. He looked like the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman with his arms flapping out-of-control over his head. Ha!

Out of the newbies, I was the first one into the chamber. Walking in, the instructor had me lie on the net before they raised the wind speed. I was able to maintain the Stable Position fairly easily but my bent spine hurt and the jumpsuit dug into my crouch. When the instructor gave me the signal to relax, I shot up high in the air. It was a bit of a surprise, but I remembered to drop my hips to get back down again. On my second flight, I leaped through the doorway onto the air column with my hands under my chin before spreading out into the position. It was less painful this time and he taught me how to spin in place by slightly tilting my arms. That was fun.

All the wind tunnels I have seen on television have an open padded area surrounding the column of air, but the one in Perris has a pressurized chamber surrounded by steel and glass walls. The only padding was lining two narrow doorways leading into the narrow antechamber where we sat between turns. It sounds more dangerous, but it actually provides more stability since you don't have to worry about slipping out the side of the updraft and falling to the floor. This means that the 120 miles per hour wind is consistent throughout the chamber so you can shoot up high without worry. Lisa shocked us on her first flight when she disappeared completely out-of-view through the windows over our heads.

Since Jennine sat this experience out, she took our pictures through the glass with three different cameras while watching and holding Tucker. At the end of our session, the instructor showed off all his coolest tricks. (Launching super high up, several flips, twirls, and a sweet maneuver where he floated vertically upside-down 8 feet up and lowered his body in both directions while keeping his head still.)

Afterwards, we walked over to the airfield where I tandem-skydived back in 1998. Eating lunch at the Bombshelter, we watched the skydivers jump out of the planes overhead. Most came in quickly under their chutes with sliding or running landings, but we saw one big wipeout where a guy hit the dirt with his feet and then face-planted forward. While it was a great day, my chiropractor told me this morning that I strained the hell out of my middle vertebra. He popped them back in place and I'm now good to go.

Link to 2016 Indoor Skydiving Post at iFly San Diego

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Aged Wine & Cheese with My Love

Back in 1999, I bought a bottle of my favorite wine, a 1995 Grgich Hills Zinfandel, and stored it away, waiting until I could share it with someone special. Thirteen years later, I finally pulled it out to share with Tori for our Sixth Month Anniversary.

Friday night, we drank it with some delicious five-year aged Cheddar we brought back from our trip to Wisconsin. The cork disintegrated when I first tried to open the bottle, but we decanted the wine through a sieve to separate out the loose bits. I had been worried about how the wine would taste since I read that this particular vintage was best from 2000 to 2010, but it was very good even though it was more acidic and the strong fruity flavors I remembered had lessened. We had a wonderful evening and finished off the whole bottle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Camping in Idyllwild (Brrrrr!)

A group of us from work went camping in Idyllwild this weekend. Friday night, Tori and I drove up to the Marion Mountain Campgrounds (6,400 feet) in the San Bernardino National Forest to meet up with Suzie, Joe, Kurt and Shelli. It was very cold when we arrived at 10pm (I still can't believe I forgot gloves and a beanie) but we warmed up by the fire and ate grilled cheese sandwiches and s'mores. Right before we went to sleep around midnight, I took the photo below of our illuminated tents sitting under the brights stars.

Even with the air pads and extra blankets on top of our sleeping bags, it was barely warm enough to sleep as Tori and I cuddled up for the shared body heat. It was still freezing after we woke up at 7am until the sun rose over the mountain ridge in the morning. After stopping at the Mile High Cafe for breakfast, we met the rest of our group (Dave, Keith, Russ and their families) coming up for the weekend and headed over to the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail in Humber Park. The 2.5 mile trail starts right under the imposing Tahquitz Rock that I rock-climbed back in 1999. During the hike, we could spot Suicide Rock across the valley filled with Jeffrey, Ponderosa and Coulter Pines.

After the newcomers set up their tents back at camp, we all hung out, drinking beers and playing some Ladder Toss. It's a lot like horseshoes except we tossed bolos back and forth between two 3-rung ladders. I also took another short hike up the boulder-strewn hill overlooking our camp for a better view of the surrounding mountains.

Since Suzie loves camp cooking, she made dinner for all of us. Her main course was chicken burritos while Joe tended the fire that roasted her green chilies stuffed with cornbread. Both were delicious and I ended up having seconds. I was stuffed, but still had room for s'mores afterward.

We had a beautiful sunset that seemed to last forever, flooding the camp with rich red and orange light. With a roaring fire and slightly warmer temperatures, it was not as freezing as Friday night. While Tori and I passed out around 10, the rest stayed up around the fire, drinking and talking until after 1am.

Sunday morning, we woke up to Russ cooking bacon over the fire. Sizzling bacon on a crisp morning, perfect! After breaking down camp around 10am, we took the scenic route home on the 'Pines to Palms Highway'. The long valley around Lake Hemet along East 74 is gorgeous.