Taking a Leap at Skydive Elsinore [First Time Tandem Skydiving & What to Expect]

Skydiving
I went Skydiving with my Mamma and our friend Tena in celebration of my 29th! Woohooo last year of my 20’s. You ladies are troopers and I’m so grateful you said yes. And thanks to my Hub for pushing me to fulfill my life-to-do’s… I had many sleepless nights before this day and you never stopped encouraging me. You’re the best babe. I know jumping out of a plane is not your idea of fun, but you knew it was mine and you gave me endless support and I love you for that and so much more. Here’s to stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new things and living life to the fullest. Love you guys.

Here’s how my day went and what to expect on your first tandem jump.

Anticipation is the worst part. I’d suggest making your appointment a few days before you go…no need to make it weeks before like I did. There were too many days filled with watching YouTube videos of skydiving gone wrong. Don’t do that! Check the weekly weather report for your drop zone and pick a day that is sunny with low wind.

Morning of, we drove out to Skydive Elsinore and checked-in at the office. We watched a funny outdated video – an older guy with a majestic beard discussing the dangers of skydiving. Brilliant, they already have me laughing…I can’t take ZZ Top-in-a-suit seriously, so I’m just going to sign these release forms. We signed about 10 different papers stating that we wouldn’t sue anyone if we ended up hurt or dead. And then we were filmed as we read a short statement out loud and signed one last document.  Done and done. Try not to let this deter you from the experience – it’s merely protocol. Tandem jumps are preformed by professionals that have hundreds, if not thousands of jumps under their belts. Sign away and it’s time to get stoked!

We were some of the first tandem jumpers that day so we didn’t have to wait long. I heard if you pick a later time slot that you might have to wait around the drop zone longer, because earlier jumps are postponed for whatever reason (weather, plane maintenance, late arrivals etc). Plan on being at the drop zone for 3-4 hours. Bring some items to help you pass the time or just hangout and watch other skydivers land. It’s pretty fascinating watching them zip down so quickly.

We had about 45 minutes of downtime. I walked out to the Skylark and watched a military plane takeoff with a bunch of camouflaged divers packed in like sardines. Training maybe? I sat on log near the runway by the old Airstream trailer and Winnebago and called my friend Julia who had jumped a few months before.

“So Jul’s I jump in just a few minutes…any tips?”

“Just smile and enjoy it.”

“Oh God, OK. I can do this!”

I was the first to meet my instructor – Marcelo Zoni, who came up to greet me with a smile and the tandem harness in hand. I got suited up and he made sure everything fit correctly. I remember feeling that the harness wasn’t tight enough… “don’t worry I’ll tighten it later in the plane.” He gave me the lowdown on what I needed to do – “keep your arms in close to your body and hold onto your shoulder straps. Keep your head up and tilted back while we jump out. Once we’re out I’ll tap to signal when you can put your arms out to the side. Don’t forget to arch your back while we fall.” So I listened and replayed his instructions over and over in my head…and then my thoughts turned to how I would frantically attempt to save both of us if something happened to him because of all those damn youtube videos that I had watched days before. I bet I would qualify for an AFF 1 jump, with the amount of skydiving research I read over the past weeks. Oh Lord. Think happy thoughts Britt. You can do this. You’ve always wanted to do this. Everything will be fine. This is an exciting, happy day…

I found myself asking stupid questions like, “so how many times have you jumped (which I’m sure every instructor gets asked multiple times a day)? How old are you? Do you have a family? Children? You need to be there for someone right?  Just checking.”

Uggghhh.

Sorry for the mild interrogation Marcelo, but that’s what comes out of my mouth when I’m terrified. Check, check and check. OK, I’m feeling better. I also discovered that it was his birthday that week as well, so that was neat.

My videographer interviewed me on the ground and in the plane… he asked several questions about whether I was nervous and if it was my first jump etc. I said something like…”oh I hope we make it, I love you family. Send my love to my hub.”
Skydiving
Before I knew it, it was time to go. I’m sure every plane is different, but ours held 14 people with two benches and a few floor spots. The plane took off and we climbed higher and higher until we reached about 12,500 ft. It was cold and loud inside our tiny plane. I was the closest to the door when the single jumpers rolled it back. My heart raced and I grabbed my shoulder straps while looking out the door. Wow this is really happening! And then the first team of 3 singles jumped out. They just fell out door in a cute little party pack and disappeared. Weird. My mind seemed to disconnect at this point. This is all so funny. People jumping out of planes…how is this OK? Then the next guy literally swan dived out the door. I remember watching him get smaller and smaller. Well, I’m up.
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
We scooted up to the door. I knelt down on one knee looked out and saw the curve of the horizon.  Amazing! My photographer put his hand on my shoulder (I’d like to think he was praying for us), I think it was just a technique to stay level with us when we jumped. Haha. I smiled at him, but couldn’t see his face clearly under his helmet. I hoped he was smiling back. And then I felt a hand on my forehead – a reminder to keep my head back before he threw me out of the plane.  I was definitely in shock of what was about to happen…just grinning from ear to ear and feeling out-of-body. It felt like a dream. Then he gave two swings and pushed away from the door.
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Skydiving
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Oh my God…

Those first 3 seconds took my breath away in the best possible way. It’s wasn’t scary or painful. I didn’t panic.

It’s pure magic.

It’s out of this world one of the most amazing feelings. You’re falling but you don’t feel like falling. You feel like you’re flying on a windy day. It’s very odd, peaceful, thrilling, happy and freeing all at once. There was no anxiety, no tension, no worry about plummeting towards the ground. I know this description is eye-roll-worthy but it felt comforting in a spiritual way. What was I afraid of? This is beautiful. (side note…I bet a solo dive is completely different. The best part about a tandem is you get to sit back and relax).
Skydiving
Skydiving
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^^^A message to my Love at home who took over my work shift and told me to jump out of a plane…so sweet of him. I think 😉 Love you babe.
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Then there was a quick jerk up and a moment of heaviness. Our chute had opened and the wind had stopped. Back to reality. I think I yelled “It opened!” and he said “Of course it opened!” He showed me how to direct the parachute, pull left for left turns and right for right. Pull both to slow down and let loose for full speed. It was surprisingly easy. Happy Birthday Brittany! Thanks, Marcelo! Happy Birthday to you too! Then we just cruised and enjoyed the view. Still slightly in shock, I must have said thank you a thousand times.

The landing was fairly easy. He pulled a few quick S turns to position ourselves for the drop zone. At the last moment he flared the chute and we landed graceful on our bums! Not even a grass stain on my jeans. Nice job! Very impressed. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a fun experience.
Skydiving
Skydiving
My mom and Tena landed right after me. All three of us had an amazing time, one that I will never forget.

Later that night after googling more jumps I stumbled across the Fresh Prince himself who had some wise words to share and I quote, “at the point of maximum danger [that first second you jump out] is the point of minimum fear. God places the best things in life on the other side of fear.” I couldn’t agree more. Anything worthwhile in this life will make you nervous – all those big decisions and moments. The rewards are so spectacular once you have the courage to commit. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut (or in this case a complete stranger) and take that leap. I’m so glad I did and you will be too. It’s fun to see what we are capable of. Life is good. Everyone needs to experience this at least once in their life – or maybe more. Sign me up again!


Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)

British Virgin Islands
BVI
The 3rd and final post of the BVI trip — I blame the severe lateness of this post on Captain Evan for holding his BVI pictures hostage….and maybe me for being a bad blogger. But guess who just gave me a little sailboat memory stick full of priceless pics!? Thanks Ev and Monica. These are amazing! And without further ado…here are days 7, 8 and 9 of our British Virgin Islands Trip. If you are new to A Bit of Bees Knees and want to catch up, here are parts One and Two.
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Day 7
We sailed away from Norman Island that morning and started our way to the east side of Jost Van Dyke for the Bubbly Pool. I woke up to the rocking of the boat and Enya’s Caribbean Blue being played on the loud speaker. My jam! I climbed out of the bedroom hatch and a plate of eggs Benedict was waiting for me. The Wannamaker’s don’t mess around – vacation perfection. We moored the catamaran and motored the dinghy to the dock. The hike to the pool is about a mile, it’s fairly easy, but beware of the poisonous plants along the trail. If you stay on the path you’ll be fine. It’s a wildly fun spot (I wouldn’t suggest it for the kiddies), at high tide it can be dangerous, so make sure you don’t go beyond the funnel or stay high up on the rocks if you want to venture further. When a big wave rolls in, it will burst through the narrow passage leading to the pool. There are a few rocks that you can hold onto while the wave passes overhead. Please be careful that you don’t let the current pull you out to sea. Hold on tight! It can be a blast if you’re smart about it.
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Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
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Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Doing what I do best ^^^
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
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After the bubbly pool we crammed everyone into a dinghy and ventured out to a little island called Sandy Spit  (18°26’59.83″N 64°42’31.46″W) just off Jost Van Dyke. The whole island is less than 1/2 an acre with a ring of white sand, a few plants and palms – the most picturesque deserted island you could ever dream of.
Sandy Spit, British Virgin Islands
^^^ Dan jumped out of the dinghy and swam the rest of the way. He wanted the island all to himself .
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BVI
Slightly ecstatic crew 😉 Funny thing… we meet a group with @natgeocreative on assignment in the BVI’s at Willy T’s the night before. Nat Geo’s can party ;)! They followed our route a day later and took some fantastic pictures of the island from above. Check them out here.
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BVI
That night we moored off Jost, made garlic shrimp for dinner and sipped on OJ, cream of coconut and rummmmm to our hearts content.

Day 8
We sailed to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke for ice cream and walked the beach, put our reservation in for Vinny’s that night. Then sailed to White Bay just around the point, swam, checked out The Soggy Dollar, napped on the boom (Ry’s favorite sleeping spot) and watched the sunset. We sailed back to Vinny’s and had conch fritters for dinner. I wrote our names inside the E of “Be Happy Don’t Worry” on the back wall of the restaurant. Lots of visitors leave there mark here – for future travelers to read or with hopes to revisit someday. We danced the night away at Foxy’s and enjoyed our last night on the boat.
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White Bay, BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
^Bruised up, bit up by skeeters and still loving every second.
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Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
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Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
Sailing the British Virgin Islands | White Bay
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
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Day 9
We woke up early around 6:00AM to sail back to Soper’s Hole on Tortola to return the boat. We grabbed some coffee and breakfast at D’Best Cup Coffee Shop and stocked up on Harbor Market’s ginger hot sauce and fresh nutmeg for family back home. We took a ferry back to St. Thomas for our flight to NYC for the weekend before flying back home to California.
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
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^^^Dan walking the streets of Charlotte Amalie. Lunch at Glady’s Cafe –  stewed oxtails, w/ peas, rice, plantains and sweet potato.
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
BVI
BVI
Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Part Three)
The last hurrah. I could get used to vacations like this. A once in a life time trip with the best crew of buds.
Daniel BVI
What a fantastic trip! We prepared to switch weather from 85F to 35F and population from 10 to 8,500,000…off to NYC for a few days! Bye bye BVI’s you were so good to us!
BVI


Oregon – Over the River and Through the Woods

A few weeks ago, my mom, brother and and I flew to Oregon to spend a long weekend with my Grandmother. We arrived in Medford and drove through the redwoods to Brookings where my Grandma lives on the coast. We spent most of the time talking, watching her favorite shows and looking through old pictures of when she was young. Brookings is a bit of sleepy town, but the slower pace was welcomed break from life at home. My brother and I went for a morning run everyday. It was nice to spend some quality sibling time together…even if he ran ahead of me (too cool to run with his little sis). We watched the waves, drove out to Lobe Park to skip rocks in the calm river, ate burgers at Fely’s Cafe and spent some time at the public library. It felt like a weekend from the 90’s and I loved it.

Flying over Mt. Shasta in all its glory.

I went for a morning run on the beach infront of Grandma’s house. She had a big storm roll in few weeks prior and massive waves brought giant logs onto the beach….just a 100ft or so from the houses along the beach.

OR Run
Morning runs with my brother. That tiny black figure on the road in-between the trees is Bran. I can’t keep up with the speed demon (or I’m not cool enough to run with). He amazes me how fast and far he can run without taking a break. He showed me McVay Rock, a place he would run to when he live up here. I loved this moment… me and my bro running on that long stretch of road – cows and grassy fields on one side and the foggy Oregon coast on the other.
Brookings, Oregon
Red pyracantha
Brookings OR coffee shop
The Bell & Whistle Coffee House
We picked up some coffee-to-go before we drove out to Loeb Park. It’s a cute little coffee house near the docks in Brooking harbor. I tried the toasted coconut mocha and Grandma had the kahlua latte. Both were fantastic.

Loeb Park ^^^The park is nestled in a grove of myrtlewoods and evergreens, many of which are well over 200 years old.  The icy blue Chetco River run through it – crystal clear and prefect for skipping stones with Grandma 😉

^^^Back to Grandma’s beach to enjoy a sunset walk with mom.

^^^My mom admiring the view of the mossiest tree we ever did see. We were on our way back to Medford, when we pulled over to check out a little trail leading to the river. We found this beauty at the bottom of it.


Baby It’s Cold Outside – New Year’s Eve at the Cabin

Idyllwild CA
We spent New Year’s Eve at the cabin this year. We invited a few of our friends and caravanned up the mountain just in time for a mini snowstorm. ^^^My favorite spot in Idyllwild (pic taken by a sneaky photographer – thank’s Dany, u da best). With hot cider in our mugs and a few brews stashed in the boys pockets (oh those boys), we hiked up to the lookout rock to enjoying the view of the canyon before the rain and snow came that evening.
Idyllwild CA
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dany-and-ev
^Our lovebird friends that are moving to Nashville to finish pharmacy school. We are so stoked for you guys, but we’ll miss our weekly hangs and tasty excursions. I hope we can keep a yearly vacation going… just 3 more years until you move back to us! And we can’t wait to see you in Nashville for that White Coat ceremony!
Idyllwild
^^^Babes
Idyllwild CA
I woke up early on New Years day to check out the snow before it melted away. What a gorgeous morning – the perfect way to start my 2017. Then D and I made buttermilk pancakes, eggs and bacon for the crew.
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I pray that you have a wonderful New Year filled with all the best that life can bring. Health, happiness and love to you and your families.
Idyllwild


Vegas Road Trip: Calico Ghost Town


We took a last minute road trip to Vegas to meet up with some friends. On the way home we thought it would be fun to check out Calico Ghost town!

36600 Ghost Town Road
Yermo, CA 92398

Calico is an old West mining town that has been around since 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. With its 500 mines, Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12-year span. When silver lost its value in the mid-1890’s, Calico lost its population. The miner’s packed up, loaded their mules and moved away abandoning the town that once gave them a good living. It became a “ghost town.”