Saturday, July 15, 2017

iFly and Flowrider

This past Saturday we met up with Amy and Justin in Ogden to finally use our iFly/Flowrider/iRock Groupon. We'd tried to plan it at various times over the last several months, but it has been busy! So, this Saturday is where it landed.

We arrive in Ogden early afternoon, around 2:45, only to discover that we'd actually been supposed to show up at 2:30 for our 3:00 PM appointment. But, things were light enough that they easily bumped us to the next time slot and we only had to wait about fifteen minutes. I was very glad that they were flexible and could accommodate us. But also maybe slightly annoyed that no where on the confirmation or website had specified to arrive thirty minutes early. I'd checked the day before as well as tried to call but no one had answered. Anyway, it all worked out. :)

As we waited we watched the group before us in the wind tunnel for awhile and then headed into a small side room to watch their little educational video. And then it was time to get suited up! Jump suits for everyone (I was pretty obsessed with my purple jumpsuit - it fit very well and was quite comfortable), closed toed shoes for those of us who didn't have them (another thing I'd checked for online and found no information about), goggles, earplugs, and helmets.  And we were set!

We were with a small party of five or six kids who were there for a birthday party. They had lots of energy and were partly excited and partly nervous. We shuffled into the benched corridor just outside the openings to the wind tunnel, with the kids seated to go in first. And then they turned up the wind! I think the biggest surprise was how hot the wind was. It was a warm day outside and I think they must have just pumped it in directly from outside. Quite warm - particularly in our jumpsuits. The kids all did great on their first cycle through, and we did too. It was fun to be able to compare it to our recent experience with sky diving and compare/contrast. After we'd all gone through once for about one minute per person, we cycled through again. This time the goal was to turn up the wind speed enough that the instructor could take us higher into the tunnel. The first of the kids did it, and then the rest were very clear that they did not want to go up that high. They missed out because that was one of the best parts - second only, perhaps, to watching two of the instructors jump around for us after we'd finished up - they were pretty incredible.

After we were out we took photos, returned our gear, and headed down to Flowrider to check in on how early before our appointment they needed us ("Five minutes."). Free for about an hour we headed across the street to the Sonora Grill. We started with three different desserts and completely ruined our appetites for our entrees. But it was worth it. ;)

Following lunch we headed back to the Flowrider, checked in, and got changed.

The Flowrider is pretty cool. It's essentially a soft padded ramp where the water shoots out from the base and creates a strong current of water that goes up the ramp. Options on the ramp where body boards and small surf boards. Of the two, the body boards were definitely easier, but I honestly found both tricky. With the body boards we could either enter from the front of the ramp (sliding backwards into the flow of water), or jump down from the top. With the surf boards, the easiest way to start was to have someone lead you out from the front on a rope, somewhat similar to water skiing. No matter what you did, when you went out - the water took you out - fiercely. I think most of us came home a little sore from various falls. 

After spending an hour on the Flowrider, we decided to wait on iRock. It's a small climbing gym, and while it is nice to have a free pass there now, we'll see if we're ever up there to use it. We were tired enough for the day that we didn't need the extra thing added to our fun for the evening.

Of the two activities, I probably liked iFly more (if it weren't such an expensive hobby, I'd really be seriously interested in it and skydiving). However, it was controlled enough that the later freedom of the Flowrider was refreshing. Definitely glad we did both!


For the last several years, Brandon and I have talked about going skydiving - mostly in passing, but it had been brought up several times. Brandon went about ten years ago, but I'd expressed interest in going as well, so it was something we'd considered, but never pushed too hard at. Meanwhile, whenever the subject was brought up around Duane and Shauna, they'd jokingly added that they'd come along and go with us. Brandon had laid the groundwork by often telling them he'd take them skydiving.

Thus, the set up for Christmas morning 2016.

Because we'd just spent most of our travel savings and time in Thailand, we decided to spend Christmas in Utah, traveling down to St. George. My parents had inquired as to where we'd be for Christmas and sent a small package to St. George. Opening this on Christmas morning, we discovered that they'd gotten us tickets for skydiving in Tooele (about an hour from where we live). And whether it was the excitement of the moment or our recent adventure in Thailand, Duane and Shauna chimed in immediately that if we were ok having company, they'd love to go skydiving with us. And we held them to that!

They stayed the night at our place and we got up not-too-early on the morning of, had a quick smoothie breakfast, and took off for Tooele. I had a small moment of panic in the car on the way there, worried that we'd needed our tickets (I'd read that somewhere), but when I called they said not to worry about it.

And before you know it, we were there! The little airport is located out in the middle of seemingly nowhere, and the Skydive Utah building is a weird little hanger/half dome with a foldable wall on one side. We arrived, checked in, and then proceeded to wait until they were ready for us. With the building completely open to the air strip, we could watch as the planes took off and landed, as well as when the other skydivers landed.

At first we were hurried to try and get us ready (harness, goggles) before the plane landed, so they wouldn't have to shut off the engine, but they decided to go ahead and turn off the engine and we went and watched a short warning/introduction video. We then finishing gearing up and did some interviews with our photographers/videographers. Duane, Shauna, and I had all signed up for the photos/videos, so there was some duplication in what we needed to do. But after we finished our interviews, we pretty much headed straight to get on our little plane. Brandon and his tandem Skydiver got in first, then Shauna and hers, then Duane and his, with Hartman (by tandem jumper) and I getting in last, followed up by our three camera crew. This would essentially be the reverse of the order we'd jump in.

As the engine started up, the door on the plane remained open until just before we took off. It was then opened again for a little while when we were in the air, and then finally when we were ready to jump.

From a small signal light on the end of the space inside the plane, a red light initially lit to indicate a minute ready time, or when it was time to put on the goggles. The a yellow light for one minute, then green for go! Hartman had slowly scooted us forward and we (me in front) were on the threshold of the door for just a few seconds before we jumped. Our camera guy was hanging out the door in front of us, hanging on to the side of the plane to get a good shot of us as we jumped. And then we were in the air falling!

There was an initial rush of falling, but I'll admit that I was fairly focused on trying to have the form that Hartman had talked about while we were in the plane. The actual falling was really cool, but such that it was hard not to notice the wind pressure against your skin and face (also very obvious in the pictures). It made me slightly envious after the fact of the full face mask that Hartman was wearing. The fall was about sixty seconds - an incredible view - and then the shoot was pulled! Once it was pulled and the initial "umph" of that quick decrease in speed had passed, we loosened up the harnesses (somewhat counter intuitively) so they were more comfortable, and then spent the rest of our decent playing with the chute controls. As we were first floating down, I could see the other three as their chutes were pulled in the distance. We did some fun spins which created the most mentally uncomfortable sensations (but also very fun) of the entire thing. And then we were near the ground, feet pulled up, and landed just right that we could stand instead of slide.

I came down first, followed a minute later by Duane. He seemed to be doing alright, though a little dizzy. Brandon landed then, followed soon after by Shauna. I ran over to Shauna just as Duane turned to throw up (unbeknownst to me until later). And then we were all down - safe and sound (for the most part).

Our skydiving pros had mostly run off at this point to go up for another jump right away (they sometimes do as many as 12 jumps in a day!). We walked back to the building, took our harnesses off, and spent the next hour or so hanging out while they worked on our photos and videos. It took longer than anticipated, but it allowed some time for Duane to settle and feel a little better (still not great, but good enough for the drive home).

From the minute we'd landed, I'd discovered that I was starving. When we got back to the house Duane threw up again, but Shauna ran to the store for soda and bread and between that and laying down, he seemed to feel better after a rest. Ironically, of the four of us that had jumped, he'd been the one to have a slightly twisted parachute when it had been pulled, which had resulted in them spinning under the chute until it had straightened out. This likely did not help!

Brandon, Shauna, and I headed over to Bake 360 for some breakfast/lunch and then we enjoyed much of the rest of the afternoon at home looking over our photos and videos.

And because you can't have too much fun in one day (apparently), Brandon and I spent most of the evening at his summer work party at TopGolf. We were on the ground floor this time which is surprisingly more difficult, but it was still fun and we got to enjoy the company of some of his coworkers.