Skipping ahead to the evaluation of Byron Bay Skydiving….
Today started with a quick visit to the Cookie Composites shop where all the cool toys are designed and built. Jeremy was gracious enough to spent a couple hours showing me how they mill all their metal parts from hinges to oxygen inlets (GAS helmet) and other items. The paint booth is a unique booth, designed and built by Cookie. It’s a small shop and it’s easy to see why they’re always in a hustle there. The level of care and documentation that goes into each helmet and process is astounding, not to mention one of the keys to the success of Cookie Composites. Well done guys…now it’s time to brave the freeway construction and head south on the M1 highway.
It’s about a two and a half hour drive from Brisbane to Byron Bay, going down the coastline. Beautiful trip once the M1 is left behind and the Pacific Highway becomes the route. The construction on the M1 makes for a slow start, but it’s manageable. Driving on the “other” side of the road doesn’t bother me, nor does driving on the “other” side of the car. What’s tough is where they put the damn signal lever; I keep activating my windshield wipers when I need to make a fast lane change.
One minor complaint about Aussie radio (as I’m driving down the road, with the tuner in permanent ‘scan’ mode), who the hell programs this stuff? One moment I’m listening to “Dreamweaver” from Gary Wright and the next moment, death metal with screaming lyrics that aren’t comprehensible in normal language, let alone with the effects added. But..I digress.
Arriving in Byron Bay just at sunset, the beach is gorgeous. I can see the dropzone from the beach behind my hotel; I can’t imagine how much fun this is going to be. Off I trundle to the main street of town for a jasmine rice with chicken and peanut sauce at the local “Eclectic Australian” restaurant…and then a short walk on the beach that turned into somewhat of a longer experience.
Waking on a beach is an opportunity in life that everyone should experience at least once. I highly recommend doing it twice at Byron Bay. Between the dolphins playing in the water less than 20’ off shore, to the sounds of exotic birds, crashing waves, and quiet guitar playing at the Backpacker Inn just a few yards away…it’s a peaceful opportunity for introspection.
I met a woman on the beach this morning while she was throwing balls for her dog. We spoke briefly about skydiving (she sees the skydivers each day from the beach) and she pondered the meaning of life for people that jump from airplanes. She told me she was more of a ‘Zen’ type, (I take that to mean “Go with the flow, whatever will be will be, follow the signs, destiny, God’s plan, Karma, fate, the will of heaven, blah blah blah….) and she said “I’d be OK if I jumped out and the parachute didn’t open. If that’s how it is written in the stars, so shall it be.” I wanted to scream. “Lady….you flew up into the air in an airplane. YOU made that conscious choice. The ‘stars’ don’t will it any more than God or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man does!”
Yes, some aspects of a skydive are left to chance. Some aspects of climbing two flights of stairs without a hand rail are left to chance too.
I foolishly tried to explain that we mitigate as much of “the stars” as possible by using our brains, safety devices, and a backup system in case a primary system fails. She listened with great intent, and then proceeded to explain that “if it’s written in the cosmos, none of those devices matter anyway, and she’d be OK with that.
Well…good on you. I hope you skydive one day, and certainly hope that the editor of the stars was out that day, so that it’s a re-run of a previous edition.
Anyway…the sun has now fully risen, the dolphins are jumping out of the water and ‘surfing’ the waves. Never knew dolphins were into that sort of thing. Very cool.
Breakfast at the hostel is a simple continental-style of warm milk, pressed/squeezed coffee, and toast. The beauty of the dolphins and sunrise almost make me forget how much I hate iced butter being served with cold toast. Am I the only one that likes my butter melted into the bread?
I can hear the Caravan firing up a little way toward the north, so it’s time to “kit up” and get flying. More to come….