Well, I did it! And nothing in my 87 years on Mother Earth nor the more than half century exploring North America’s highways and byways could have prepared me for the experience. And anyone who has done it says the same thing. Nothing, no nothing in life prepares one for the actual event when one leaps through the open door of an aircraft at 12,000 feet. The exhilaration is remarkable & unforgettable. The anticipation during the 15-minute flight to reach jumping altitude is almost unbearable. It was little comfort that my son-in-law sat next to me and jumped first or that my daughter was behind me and followed me into the abyss but once launched into space for the 2,000 feet of free fall, the mind was overwhelmed with the actual episode and the vastness of one’s surroundings. I even forgot that I was attached to the instructor behind me. I could not see him and only knew he was there when occasionally, the camera on his wrist recording the entire incident was thrust in front of me for proof that it was me doing this. And then the chute opened, the goggles necessary at 120 mph were no longer needed, and conversation with the human on my back resumed. With dipsying and doodling, the drop to terra firma took a mere 8 minutes total, but it seemed to have no time-span since it was a completely new adventure. I want to do it again - and soon! I recommend the occasion for everyone. It reminds us of how insignificant we are in nature and the universe. The views were magnificent. The jump was done in Abbotsford, so Mount Baker, Garibaldi Park, Harrison Lake, the Fraser River, and surrounding territory were clearly visible.
The remainder of my daughter and her husband’s one week in Paradise was spent white water rafting and exploring the J.D. Murdoch Center, my father’s legacy in Richmond, the stained glass windows in the Minoru Chapel and Murdoch Avenue near the Richmond Center. Enjoying the beauty of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a stop in Whistler, then overnight in Pemberton. Then over the scenic Duffy Lake Road and witnessing the new fire and last year’s damage at Lytton. And, oh, of course, a blown tire near Pritchard on the north side of the South Thompson River and the limp home doing 60-70 kph with 4-ways going while the donut tire supported the rear left side of the car! It was a short but eventful week, and so nice to have family within hugging distance.
I cannot end this posting without mentioning the heat. I have experienced some brutal heat in Nevada, Arizona and California but always knew that more moderate values were awaiting as I moved northward toward home. Today it is different. The heat dome extends over the entire continent. It is being experienced worldwide along with biblical wildfires and droughts not seen before in nations that traditionally do not have air-conditioning or sophisticated fire-fighting equipment and crews to manage it. Please stay hydrated. Fill containers with local water before leaving home, and ensure your air-conditioning unit and engine coolant are in tip-top condition. And when outside your cab, slow down your movements, take your time to complete work-related activities and conserve your energy. Eat lots of green salads and get proper rest which you will need to endure the long, hot days.
If you have not already adjusted your driving habits, consider leaving more money in your pocket than putting it in those of the billionaire oil companies by slowing down and driving more economically. Is it really crucial for you to be first up the hill? If possible, sleep near water and shut ‘er down when the temperature drops during the night, but always stop where other units congregate for protection from opportunists.
If one is politically motivated, let your reps know that CLIMATE CHANGE is the most serious problem currently facing humanity and that it is regressive to treat it as a political football since it affects every living creature on earth. Many of whom are going extinct even as I write these words. Because scientists do not know how many species exist on our planet, it is difficult to know how many go extinct yearly. However, it is safe to say that a minimum of 150 species disappear every single day, and man is in danger of following the trend if he (generically speaking) does not change from a profit-driven civilization to a people-driven one and preferably yesterday or the day before!!
Drive with care, stay well and be safe and practice performing at least one random act of kindness every day. And please turn off your jake brakes in residential zones. Remember, mostly old folks like me live next to the highway because that’s where real estate is cheaper … 10-4!