For Scott’s birthday this year, I organized a week-long trip for us to the Adirondacks. Despite living just a few hours south of this amazing park, we’d only been there once before, for a long weekend with my family. It was enough of a taste of the wilderness to get us hooked (and Scott caught an enormous small-mouth bass, which was all he really needed). We talked about going back many times, but I knew unless we actually committed to it and organized it, it would always be one of those things “we should do someday.”
We planned to split the week in two, staying five days in Lake Placid and then traveling to the Lake George area for three nights. And as our week away got closer and closer, we began talking about the many places we wanted to go. Our plan was to spend 99% of the time in vast wilderness areas where not another soul could be found. It would be glorious.
But that other 1% of the time? With 40 before 40 ever on my mind (it’s 12 months away now!), I looked for something I could add to the list.
One of the challenging things about being someone who is addicted to adventures is that I’ve racked up a lot in my life already. I’ve gone parasailing and windsurfing and skydiving and hot air ballooning and zip-lining. All of those would be fun to share with Scott and can be found all over the Adirondacks… but they wouldn’t qualify for the 40 before 40 list.
So basically, you jump off a 40′ platform into a giant pillow of air. Yes. Yes. Yes! I asked Scott if he wanted to do it with me. I sent him the website link. I talked about it for weeks. (This is an important detail for later in the story.) To be fair, he never said it sounded like fun. But he also never said “no.”
The airbag is open on spring weekends at Whiteface Mountain, which is near Lake Placid. Our trip had us in that area for one full weekend day, which also happened to be our very first full day. So this is how we would start our vacation.
We arrived. We couldn’t see the air bag as we made our way into the resort and to the ticket window. It was $10 for one jump, or $25 for three. I convinced Scott we should do it three times, under the assumption that we would be so freaked out by the first jump that we wouldn’t actually “experience” it, so jumps two and three would be the “fun” ones. He reluctantly agreed. Tickets in hand, we went outside and finally saw the thing in real life.
And oh my… it was big.
A man stood at the top of the platform. Multiple times, he peered over the edge, made a motion to jump, hesitated at the last second and then asked the operator to lower the platform a few feet. His wife, from the safety of the ground, viciously berated him for being a wuss. (I mean, this woman was BRUTAL for someone who wasn’t doing the jump herself… I know I mock Scott a lot, but I promise you it’s a two way street and we’re both laughing — this woman took it to an uncomfortable level.) During her onslaught of horrible insults, we learned that the man spent 7 years as a paratrooper. I mention this because this guy is clearly badass, and he was having trouble. Scott and I looked at each other and grimaced. What had we gotten ourselves into?
The paratrooper finally jumped after about 5 minutes of hesitation. By that time, he had asked to have the platform lowered to a point that it was almost touching the top of the air bag. He and his nasty wife slinked by us, and we could tell he was traumatized by the entire experience.
Then it was our turn.
This was my thing, so it only seemed fair that I go first.
I’m going to let the photos that Scott took tell the rest of this story:
At this point, the following conversation took place:
Lift operator: This is about as high as we go. Take a look and let me know if you want me to lower it.
I thought long and hard.
Me: No. If we lower it, I won’t hear the end of it from my husband. Also, I don’t want to give HIM the excuse to lower it when it’s his turn.
Lift operator: Ok then. Go for it!
(He later told us that almost no one jumps from the top height on their first attempt — he estimated maybe 5 people out of 100 do it. So we’re either amazing or stupid.)
A lot went through my mind in the few seconds I peered over the edge. First of all, it looks a LOT higher when you’re standing on that platform than it does from the ground, or in photos. I thought about the paratrooper and how we watched him get so far inside his own head that he froze. I considered how far I was outside of my comfort zone, and felt a twinge of pride because that’s one of the goals of 40 before 40. I thought about how I should probably make a conscious decision to shut my brain off, not think about it, not consider the consequences, and just put one foot in front of the other and leap.
So I did.
I caught Scott’s first jump on video.
And here’s his midair shot:
We did our next two jumps, and despite what I thought when we purchased our tickets, it did not get easier. In fact, the lift operator felt like he needed to give us a bigger thrill for the last jump, so he raised the platform to its maximum height. Which really wasn’t that much more than the original height… but it sure felt like it.
It took at least an hour for us to recover from the adrenaline rush, and to be able to fully process what we’d done. I’m not sure I can fully articulate it here — but I guess what I took away most was a new understanding for what it means to take a leap of faith.
Now, remember when I said that I had been talking about this activity for weeks before our trip, and had sent Scott the website? Well, he admitted to me in the car ride back to Lake Placid that he hadn’t actually looked at it, having assumed that when I said we would be “jumping into an air pillow,” I actually meant “we’ll be going to an adult-sized bouncy house.”
While I laughed hysterically at the misunderstanding, I have to give the man a lot of credit for going through with this insanity! If I thought I was going to a McDonald’s playground and instead found myself up on a 45′ platform, expected to jump into the unknown, I’m not sure I would have gone through with it. But as Scott said, “You wanted to do this, and it seemed important. So, when I finally saw what it was, I knew I had to do it.”
And that, friends, is how I know he’s my perfect match.