Surfer's Paradise

Day 23, Wednesday, 1/29/03
Today was a huge day and definitely a highlight of the trip.

We got up and were out in the lobby area by the vending machines by 8:00 AM, where the people from the Learn to Surf option were waiting with a bus to take us to the beach. Someone had to go get Dennis because he was still sleeping. Once everyone was aboard, we were off. I really wasnt all that excited about learning to surf. In the beginning, I didnt even want to sign up for it, but everyone else was, so I decided to go ahead and sign up for it. It was only $40 and it turned out to be on of the most fun things Ive done on this trip.

The van drove us to the beach and we all hopped off and walked a little way to where all the instructors and surfboards were. There were three instructors. We had to fill out some paperwork signing our lives away (we seem to do a lot of that on this trip). Then, we put on these blue long sleeved Lycra shirts, so the instructors could always tell who we were. We each grabbed a board and walked down the beach, through very hot sand on our bare feet. We all lined our boards up in a semicircle and practiced the basic moves, following the instructors movements. We paddled in the sand then moved out into the ocean for some real practice. I had forgotten how much fun it is to jump waves and catch them. I used to do it in North Carolina with boogie boards. It was harder to stay on the surfboard because its longer and harder to balance and control.

After a while of catching waves, they brought us back to the sand to learn how to stand up on the surfboard. Im sure we all looked pretty funny laying on our surfboards then slowly creeping to our feet and ending with a surf pose all while safe and sound on dry land. It sure wasnt as easy as it seemed when we were actually in the water. I kept nose-diving or falling off the side and drinking gallons of salt water. One of the instructors held onto the nose of my board till a good wave came, then I caught it and actually stood up. A short time, surely, but I was standing. I stood up 3 times after that. I think Cory even got a picture of me standing on the board.

We only had an hour after we got back to the hotel to shower and change before it was time to go skydiving. Nanique had such a good time jumping yesterday, that she decided to jump again with us. So it was me, Cory, Nanique, Dennis and Kenny.

I checked my email before the van came to pick us up and KU won, so that put me in a good mood.

We drove out to the airplane hanger and filled out more paperwork signing away our life. Another group got back from jumping as we were just walking in. One of the guys had thrown up. We watched their video and I got more and more excited. Nanique and I were going to jump first. We got into the harnesses and climbed in a TINY plane. It took a long time to get up to 10,000 ft., which was our jumping height. One of the instructors started singing Going to Kansas City when he heard where I was from. The plane had some turbulence and Nanique and I had to grab on to each other. We were both a little nervous, even though she had done it just one day before. When we finally got to 10,000 ft (I dont know why everything in Australia is the metric system and this is feet), the door was opened. It was cold, strong wind that came rushing into the plane. The guy I was jumping with, Damian, put my hand out the door to feel the wind. Then I got really nervous. Nanique was jumping first, so she moved to the door with her guy. All of a sudden, they just fell out of the door. It was crazy. Then we moved to the doorway.

I stuck my feet out the door and over the wheel. Luckily, I didnt have time to really look or think about what I was doing. I just grabbed a hold of my straps and leaned my head back on Damians shoulder. The wind was loud and roaring. Then, we jumped.

The feeling was absolutely incredible. Hard to describe even, because theres nothing to really compare it to. We were falling through the air at 260 km/hr. I didnt really have time to look around. I was just concentrating on the feeling. After a short time, Damian tapped me on the shoulder to let me know that I could hold my arms out. We were just flying through the sky, yelling and cheering. It actually lasted longer that I thought.

When he pulled the parachute, we careened to a stop. At least, thats what it felt like. It hurt quite a bit on my legs because of the harness. It was then, that I could actually enjoy the scenery. We were jumping in Surfers Paradise and we were right over the beach. You could see so many colors in the ocean. Damian showed me our shadow in the ocean. He said he likes to try and put his shadow over sunbathers. We went into a turn to go faster and it was then that I got queasy. Im just not good at spinning. We stopped when I told him I wasnt doing great after it. We pulled up right next to Nanique and her guy. They were probably only 10 feet away. I was amazed at how easily you could talk while you were going down. For some reason, I thought it would be really loud, but we could just talk normally and he heard just fine. Nanique and I could talk to each other as we were falling out of the sky.

As we were headed to the landing spot, you could see all the cars and people on the beach. When we finally landed, my feet were about numb and I had to sit on the ground for a while to recover from the dizziness. Cory was down on the ground taking pictures. We went back in a truck and Kenny and Dennis went up. When they got back, Cory went up. Nanique and I went to watch them come down. Nanique got some good pictures. Cory didnt have to sit down to recover, but he did say his hands went numb. We had a coke waiting for him when he got down.

I took a nap when we got back to the hotel and eight of us who didnt go to Draculas met at eight to go out to dinner. We went into Surfers and ate at a restaurant outside. It was beautiful just to sit out with the palm trees and the breeze. Too bad the cruising cars ruined the peace with their revving engines.

We went to Melbas and met up with the rest of the group there. We had tickets for free drinks and stayed until about 1:00. Then we got a taxi back with the Germans.

Nanique and Amy getting ready to go skydiving in Surfer's Paradise

Amy coming in for a landing

Dennis and Kenny ready for their turn

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