Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Ok, I finally have pictures from my various adventures.

I'll start with what I normally do on Saturdays: hiking in Monte Sano State Park. The pictures are from when my mom came down to visit several weeks ago. Incidentally, it was the hottest day of the summer.

Me atop a bluff:
The view from the top. The bluff looked down into a quarry with limestone excavation caves:
Me atop "Dry Falls":
The dry river:
Quite different from the hot, dry river bed that my mom and I hiked along was the cold and very wet white-water rafting trip that my company sponsored last Saturday.

General rafting (I'm in the front left seat of the raft, next to the guy in the orange shirt):
Class 5:Launching the raft:
"Riding the bull":
Staying up...:...Or not:

And, of course, my exhilarating skydiving trip. Unfortunately, in-air pictures were an extra $70, so I didn't get any of those. Instead, my boss had a friend on the ground taking pictures.

Joking with my instructor:Matt and I suited up:
The plane ride up (That's my leg; I was sitting right next to the door.):
Gliding down:The crew afterward:Skydive hair:

Oh, and one more thing...

Very Yes:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adrenaline Junkie

Sooooo, these last two weekends have been rather exciting for me. In order to combat the slow days at work and the doldrums of living alone, I seem to have taken to extreme activities.

Last Saturday I went skydiving.


120 mph free-fall from 13,000 ft.

My boss suggested it, and I arranged a jump for him, me, and Matt Szelistowski (Former member of my Senior Design team who now also works at RMCI). Pretty much all the other guys at work were married or engaged, so their significant others wouldn't let them go. Since the three of us were relatively inexperienced, we did tandem dives with a dive instructor strapped to our backs who would release and controll the parachute.

On the plane ride up, Matt was quiet and somewhat pale, my boss was calmly conversing with his instructor, and my instructor and I were joking back and forth about who would hit the ground first if the chute didn't open. (I think that my coping mechanism for nervousness it to turn it into crazed anticipation.) I got a slight leg cramp when getting up to jump out, but it wasn't too bad and definately didn't interfere with the following experience.

The most exhilarating part of the jump was first coming out of the plane. The instructor counted down and jumped for you, after which you started falling. For a few seconds I was stunned by the sheer adrenaline shock. The track of my thoughts was somewhat along the line of:
"I'm falling!!! I'm falling!! Ok, wait, I'm supposed to be falling. This is insane!"
After I got used to the fact that I was plummeting toward the fields below, I laughed maniacally the rest of the free-fall. There were scattered cumulus clouds, and if I looked forward, I could see them whizzing past as we fell.

A little above 1,000 ft., the instructor deployed the parachute. Here I learned the funner points of parachute guidance. For example, if you pull the chute into a sharp turn, you will do donuts, with the chute in the center and you being flung in a circle like a sling. After a few such maneuvers, the instructor landed us safely on the ground. This is actually the part where the most injuries occur, because if you don't lift up your legs and slide in, you might break an ankle.

It was great fun.

Then yesterday was the company outing: whitewater rafting.

The location was a 10-mile stretch of the Ocoee River in Tennesee. It contained natural class 2, 3, and 4 rapids with a section of class 5 rapids that was constructed for the 1996 Olympics. (For reference, the rapids rating scale goes from 1-6, with 6 meaning the possibility of not surviving.) I was in one of the two front seats of the raft, which meant that I got the brunt of the rapids. There were even some class 3 rapids where I could sit up on the front of the raft, hold onto a piece of rope, and ride it like a bull as it bucked up and down in the waves.

No one fell out of our raft, but there was another raft with people from work that flipped, another one in the tour group that got stuck up on a rock, and one that got sucked down into a hydraulic (a water sinkhole). All but two of the people in that raft decided to bail out halfway down the river, after which the two survivors and the guide had an insane(ly fun) time spinning around and pulling crazy maneuvers through the remaining rapids. There were several times that our guide had us paddle back up into the rapids we had just passed, at which point we would get drenched as the raft got repeatedly dunked.

The whole experience was rather cold due to the skies being overcast and the water having a temperature of about 50 degrees. Several people were concerned that I would get hypothermia, but I was fine. All in all, it was very fun.

I would easily do both of these activities again, given the funds.

Pictures are pending.