Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Real June 29th

It's July 4th, I realize that. I realize that too much time has gone by between posts. Just because we are in Texas does not mean the blog stops.

My excuses are tri-fold: 1. Too much fun with the Mathis people in France and Switzerland 2. Twenty plus hours in transit from Switzerland to Texas (and maybe 10 plus Xanax - yes I know that's too much) and 3. Sleeping for 30 hours straight after said drug overdose.

As Chris says, it's kind of hard to put your mind back to June 29 and write like it's that day. Almost impossible to bring back the exact feelings I had, so I'm going to write this today, in the past tense, as best I can.

Instead of driving from France to Switzerland, my dad found a car train. This train is unlike any train I've ever seen before. You simply drive your car up to the line of cars, wait for the train to arrive, then drive your car onto the train and away you go. It's like watching a herd of cattle queing up to be milked. After all the cars were on, we took a 20 minute ride over to Switzerland.

I thought it might have been a somewhat scenic journey, but I was sorely mistaken.

My dad is one of a kind. When we started planning this trip back in March, he told me that he had a surprise for the Switzerland leg of the journey.

My dad likes adventures and trying new things. He's been known to go white-water rafting, horseback riding, snow skiing - he'll try most anything once.

We all took guesses as to what it could be. I said zip-lining, my mom said a helicopter ride, and Chris guessed grape stomping.

We were all wrong.

On the morning of June 29th, my dad's 58th birthday, we drove to Interlaken, Switzerland and straight into a park where hang-glider after hang-glider were landing in a huge green field.

Chris's jaw dropped and a huge smile spread across his face, I started jumping with excitement and my mom immediately started popping Xanax (we may have a problem - we'll work on it.)

I might be afraid of flying, but afraid of jumping off a mountainside on a kite-like contraption is fine with me. I needed no drugs and no persuading.

I have been trying for a few days to think of the words to describe this experience. It is truly unbelievable.

Chris is going to write his own post about it as well as it was such a neat experience I think all 4 of us would be able to write pages about it.

The first thing you have to do is climb into this old van that makes a sound like a horse when it starts up "neigh!!", then the crew of 4 (Bernie, Didu, Ed and Minda) drive you up the mountain side. At one point Ed told me to look at the view and when I looked, I nearly threw up. It's one high mountain.

When you get to the top you have to help the crew put your hang-glider together. I asked Ed to make sure and check my work as this was my first time. He said you could bet your a$% he was going to check it.

Next step is to get into your bag-like harness, put on your helmet, and practice running.

This isn't normal running. You have to place your right hand on your pilot's right shoulder, your left hand on their hip and run. With a kite attached to you. Downhill. As fast as you can. The faster you go, the better lift you get.

It's not easy.

And you have to have the exact perfect amount of wind. In the exact right direction.

Also not easy.

After you've practiced running, you're standing on the ledge, you take 3 deep breaths and your pilot (for me, Ed), asks "ready for a good strong run?" And your answer must be "yes", otherwise they won't go.

I said "yes!" and before I knew it I was sprinting down the hill, feeling the tug of the glider slowly lift me off of the Earth.

I'm sitting here staring at the screen thinking of all the metaphors and adjectives that I can but nothing comes close to how flying through the sky like this feels.

I felt like a bird. I felt like a peaceful bird just cruising the air maybe looking for a stick or two to fluff up my nest with.

It wasn't bumpy, it wasn't scary, it wasn't cold or windy. All I could think of was how I wanted to do it for another 3 hours. Ed said the most he'd done it was 4 before he had to come down to go to the bathroom.

I had a view of the lake, of the city, of the mountains. It was a dream come true and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The first day we had to go later than planned because the guests before us were late, so only Chris, mom and I got enough wind to go. Irony of ironies, the man who's been planning this for 3 months was the only one that didn't get to go that day. But he got his turn the next morning.

I don't have the patience or the wherewithall to perfectly incorporate all the videos and pictures. After all, I now have a house, a car, a cell phone, etc. to figure out. But they're all online. Enjoy.

Jan's Flight Pattern

Tim's Birthday Flight

Sarah Soaring

Chris Flies High

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