1. Skydive

You guys. I have been dying wanting (when you jump out of a plane, you can’t use words like “dying”) to skydive for years. Unfortunately most of my friends had either done it, weren’t interested in doing it, we couldn’t coordinate schedules, or I didn’t have the money for it. So I decided I was going to have to do this one on my own. But skydiving alone in Chicago, where my friends and family all live so close, seemed so lame. When I headed to Utah for a friend’s wedding last month, I knew this would be my chance. Plus I had saved money for this vacation, so finding the funds to afford the jump wasn’t going to be a problem.

We were in Sundance for the wedding and the day after the wedding everyone headed home while I headed south to Zion National Park. About an hour south of Sundance is a small town called Nephi, and within Nephi is Skydive the Wasatch. Based on the website alone, I knew this was the place for me. First: it is Utah’s highest rated drop zone (as you can see from the front page on their website). Second: it was on my way from Sundance to Zion. Third: pricing and booking were all done on-line. Honestly, I don’t know why more companies don’t do that. The only thing I was worried about was jumping out of a plane the day after celebrating a friend’s nuptials (jumping out of a plane while hung over seemed like an awful idea). I decided that I could drink responsibly for one night and, after a slight hesitation, I was booked.

The hanger is about a 10 minute drive off of the I-15 highway. Once you get into the hanger, you are required to watch a movie about the dangers of skydiving and sign your entire life away. I think that was the only point that I thought maybe I shouldn’t do it. But I did sign my life away, got into my jump suit, and met the man I would be jumping with. His name was Jordan, and he had lived in Chicago so we chatted about that for a bit while he explained to me everything I needed to do to avoid falling to my death. Oddly enough, I still felt incredibly calm through all of this. Within my time slot there was a group of 4 of us that would be jumping. Only 2 were allowed on the plane at a time (plus our instructors), so the first group went up while we watched from below. I think I preferred it this way, since I was able to see what to expect once I took off.

When the first plane landed, it was our turn. Jordan went over the instructions again for me, and then we were climbing into the plane. To get to skydiving elevation, we took about a 30 minute plane ride in which we could see the incredible views around us.

These mountains are part of the Wasatch Range (hence the name “Skydive the Wasatch”). Mount Nebo is the highest peak of the Wasatch Range, and we jumped directly in front of this mountain.

This is Mount Nebo just as we were taking off:

And this is part of Mount Nebo just before we are going to jump:

Needless to say, we were pretty high up there.

Needless to say, we were pretty high up there.

Once we got close to our jump zone, I climbed onto Jordan’s lap so he could connect our suits.

This is as awkward as it looks.

This is as awkward as it looks.

At this point, I still didn’t feel nervous. Or so I thought. Until I saw this picture. That girl is ter.ri.fied.

Don't mind all those chins...

A word to the wise: don’t look down.

Just outside the door of the plane is a small 4 foot by 2 foot platform that both Jordan and I stood on. He informed me that we were going to do a flip out of the plane. And then we did a flip. Out of the plane.

Barreling towards the earth.

Barreling towards the earth.

After our flip, we fell for a few more seconds.

And then Jordan pulled the parachute and we floated the rest of the way down.

And then I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

And then I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I'm just happy I didn't die.

That look of joy is because I’m still alive.

Once the chute was opened, I learned how to control the parachute a little bit. Then Jordan took over and asked if we could get a little crazy. Of course I said yes, but when he made us spin very VERY fast, my stomach told me it was time to stop.

Learning how to control the parachute.

Learning how to control the parachute.

And just like that, we were back on the ground.

And I didn't die!

And I didn’t die!

It was at this point, when I was safely back on the ground, that things took a turn. Remember when I mentioned that Jordan spun us a little bit once the parachute opened? I think that affected me more than I had expected. Or I was more nervous than I thought and those nerves finally caught up to me. Either way, I knew I wasn’t feeling great. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to vomit. Especially on the field I just landed in, and that people would continue landing on throughout the day. Not to mention, everyone at this skydiving place was super cool. And I wanted to be super cool, so I knew I needed to hold it together. I headed to the hanger, took off my suit, said my goodbyes and got back into my car. I was hoping that maybe the iced tea I had in the car would help to settle my stomach but about 30 minutes away I had to stop at a gas station. And then I vomited. (Lucky for you, there’s not a picture of that). As soon as I threw up I felt a million times better, so I have a feeling it was a little bit of motion sickness. Hopefully admitting this now doesn’t make me lose my street cred.

It was a great experience. Everyone at Skydive the Wasatch was friendly and excited for my first jump. If you’re out in Utah and want to go skydiving, definitely head over to this place and ask to jump with Jordan. He’s jumped hundreds of times and he’ll make it a memorable experience.  Just take a look at the hilarious pictures I found when I got back home! This is a man that loves his job:

Always great to learn that the person in charge of your safety has his eyes closed...

Always great to learn that the person in charge of your safety has his eyes closed…