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Jess’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 28 Oct 2008

Location: Japan

MapHey there!!

It's been a while and things have been quite hectic here. The months are just flying by. SO this year I turned 25 and seeing as how it is a milestone birthday I decided to do something memorable and unforgettable. I decided to go skydiving. Well I've always wanted to go this was just an excuse to fork over so much money for something that lasts only an hour or so. I'm probably going to need to take out a loan to celebrate my 50th at this rate (and I"ll need a whole year to recover from it too)!! It might have happened so quickly but it'll definitely last a lifetime in my mind!!

So the week leading up to my birthday was pretty shit...busy as hell with work. I started back at the college so no more lax mornings or sleeping in past 9!!! Vacation is over!! Dammit!!! Friday I had to get up early to go the mechanics by 9am and then taught from 11-8:30pm. After work I met up with Mary and we went and watched indoor soccer for a bit...cause I wanted to check out the pick up league to see if I could play but I wanted to make sure I wasn't out of my league before I signed up. 1:30-2am I was in bed cause Saturday i had to work from 8:30-1:30. Work went really fast and great...even the 2year old I teach who had a huge tantrum for 30minutes last time I taught her was an angel and was actually understanding things and laughing...it was GREAT!! After work I had to drive all the way back home to pick up my car cause on friday then found a small problem with the wheel and had to order a part. So basically I wasted 2 hours driving up and back but hey it was a beautiful day and the leaves are all changing colors so I didn't mind. I got to Mary's and we hung out there for a bit...Mary was getting her costume for the halloween party at Spiders ready. Atsushi (an old student...new friend who also went bungee jumping with us last month) calls me at this point letting me know that he got sunday off and can go skydiving. So I get him to call the place and confirm that's it's ok for him to jump and it's all cleared and set for sunday morning. We then went to Ueda but had an hour to kill before Michiko's wedding party/bachelorette shindig. So we got into our costumes and took purikura at the jusco...we got a lot of stares but it was a blast!! AFter like 30minutes with michiko and a few girls we took off to go to Miyota. We went to the bar - 3000 all you can drink and hung out there until 3:15ish ... such a great time cause I haven't seen most of those people in over 6 months!! My first time going there was halloween 2 years ago and it was a blast so anytime they had a DJ even I went (which was pretty much once a month). I started to get to know everyone even though nobody speaks english. It's always a fun time cause it's like Cheers (the tv show) when I walk in... Everybody knows your name...literally everyone there knows me and there's hugs all around and quick formalities. I always feel really bad cause I know maybe only half of the people but everyone seems to know me. I'm pretty easy to remember...I stand out being the only foreigner!! Like last year this year there was cake and a happy birthday song for me from the guys!! They are such great people!

at 3:15am I decided it was probably time to head out cause we had to be in Saku by 4. So we leave and I drive to saku IC. where we are meeting matt, chris, kaori and atsushi. 4am arrives and Atsushi, Mary and I are there but Matt, Kaori and Chris are late cause they went out drinking the night before in Ueda and had only woken up at 3:45 when I messaged them. So they arrive...drunk and hungover ... by 4:30-5ish and we head out to Tochigi. I'm driving Chris, Matt, Mary and Atsushi is driving his Harley!! Which I totally want now!! haha ...that'll be my 30th bday present to myself a harley and trip someplace on it!! Kaori didn't come cause she changed her mind after she got to saku. By 8am we are in Tochigi and after many conbini stops for food and toilet...and money we are at the skydiving place. which is just an open field with a couple of tarps on the ground some cars parked and random people hanging about. We watch a 2min. video on the jump and sign our life away on a japanese only liability release form. After a 1 minute instruction on what to do when we jump we wait about for a while until we get called to put a suit on. Since only 2 people can jump at a time (the helicopter can only hold 4 ppl -2 jumpers and 2 teachers) one of us had to go alone...it ended up being me. Which was no problem cause I also could go first!!! Me and another guy got suited up strapped in and met our tandem buddy...but we had to wait around cause it was spitting a little but in the sky it was raining pretty hard apparently. Incredibly nervous that we might not be able to go up we hang about and chat for a bit. Finally it's cleared up a little and we can go but we can't get photos or video. I was a little disappointed but also absolutely ecstatic cause we were going. the heli arrives and I jump in with the other 3 guys. I was nervous at this point but mostly just thankful that I was able to go. The heli flies forward for a while then shoots straight up in the air (no joke it was a 90 degree angle!!) Such a fun ride...I wish I sat in the front tho cause the guy that did got to fly for a bit...just a second or two but he still got to do it!! After 10 minutes we arrived at 3800m roughly and it was time to get strapped into our jumping buddy. So i knelt down and Ryo (my tandem buddy) strapped himself in. It's funny how close you get (both physically and emotionally) ... I just met him but I felt like he was an old friend...probably cause I was trusting him with my life and I was now sitting on his lap. The door is opened up and I put on my goggles and gloves. I shake hands with the other 2 guys and wish them a safe jump. I shake Ryo's hand and say thank you...he says to wait to we touch ground (this makes me laugh but also a little nervous). I look at the other jumper...out the window ... double check my gloves...back at the other guy...WHAT...he's gone!! ALREADY! that quick...just a second ago I was shaking his hand. NOt even a sound or a goodbye...just disappeared in the blink of an eye. That made my heart skip a beat. Then Ryo says ok lets go and we half crawl half slide to the edge of the heli. I put a foot out on the ledge and look out into the white rain...I can see some ground if I look really hard but basically it's pure rain!! flying by...or down...i'm not sure which way it was going at this point cause Ryo was already at 2 in his count to jump. Hands holding onto the straps on my chest and chin up like they instructed I lean forward pulling Ryo with me out the heli. it's pure white then all of a sudden we flip over and I see the helicopter shrinking as we fall to the ground...then within a blink of the eye we were facing the ground (aka white hole) I feel a tap on my shoulder which signals I can put my hands out and stop holding the strap on my chest. With a giant grin from ear to ear we fall....and I think to myself ... holy crap the rain is killing my face and I can't breathe cause when I open my mouth it fills so quickly with air I can't fill my lungs and my cheeks/lips are flapping around like a dogs when it hangs out the window of a car. The rain felt like bullets so I covered up my face but made sure I could still see. Then before I knew it...we were out of the rain and it was clear skies and you could see the ground clearly. Looking around and enjoying the view for a bit when Ryo shouts that he's going to let the parachute out. There's a jolt (much more painful than bungee jumping) and I slip down a bit...not sure if this is what's suppose to happen or the harness was looser than it was suppose to but one of the straps actually hurt my neck when I slipped down. either way it was a little rough but not something I wouldn't be willing to endure again!! haha Ryo then asks me if I want to fly...(not that he had to ask)...He gives me the ropes/straps to the parachute and instructs me on what do and how far to pull my hands down. We sail around in circles for a while and I realized how much upper arm strength you need to control the parachute...so from today on I will be working my arms out so that one day soon I'll be able to do it all myself!! I hand over the straps to Ryo and we coast slowly to the ground then before I know it we are getting ready to land and we are on the ground!! I was so thrilled after landing it was awesome the adrenalin...I just wanted hug Ryo or run someplace but didn't know where and hugging him might freak him out so after getting my certificate and shaking hands with him and the other jumper...saying thank you and bowing a million times like an idiot I head to chris and atsushi cause mary and matt are already on their way up for their jump!! Skydiving is the GREATEST thing I've done by a long shot. PURE joy ...Bungee is SCARY but awesome feeling afterwards...skydiving doesn't have that scary aspect like Bungee...just pure, complete, utter satisfaction!!! The others went and I became the photographer who was one a 100% natural high!! I just can't wait to go again!! After everyone jumped and recounted their take off and jump, around 12...we head to the outlet store to get some food and chillax before the drive back. by 2:30 we are on our way home. Slightly exhausted having had no sleep since friday night I down some coffee to help me stay awake for the drive ahead while Mary chats to me the guys pass out in the back. We make it back to Komoro with only a few wrong turns and depart ways with Atsushi!! It was so great having him there... he's such a fun guy to hang out with!! We continue on to Ueda and drop Chris and Matt off...Then to Chikuma to drop Mary off. then the final stop...Kurohime. By 10pm I am parked in front of my house and gathering my trunk full of shit to bring into the house. by 10:30 I was in bed..completely and utterly exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. I didn't even bother unpacking just dropped my bags in the middle of the floor...washed my face brushed my teeth and dropped happily into bed. How great was it to close my eyes. As fast as the guy disappeared from the heli I fell asleep (probably with a smile on my face even)!!! It was by far my best birthday!! I thought last year paragliding and canyoning with Yuki (my best friend) was going to be hard to beat but this year ended up slightly higher (probably mostly because while driving back this year I didn't get a phone saying that I was out of work cause my company went bankrupt and wasn't going to pay us the 3 months in back wages!!). It's absolutely insane how much has changed in a year! So that's how I spent the week of my bday!! I have to say that Mary has been such a great friend and I'm SO happy it was her that was there sharing this experience with me!! It made a world of a difference and she definitely made my 25th bday a memorable one!!

Monday morning reality buzzes...my alarm is going and I have to get to work but this week just seems so much easier to through than last week and I feel slightly more relaxed and at ease with things despite the fact that this week is worse than last week for work Meh...I have to face life head on....can't just jump out of planes for the rest of my life. Or can I......(note to self...research becoming a skydiving tandem dude).

So thats my story...and I'm sticking to it!! This week is filled with candy and halloween lessons so hopefully there aren't any major problems that arise!

Over and Out!!
MIss you all and hope everyone is well!! I'll be seeing you soon!!