The Sebastian Invasion Boogie doesn’t start for another day or two, but a lot of people have shown up to fly…it’s already exciting. The party last night might not have been huge, but Harry Parker’s newly remodeled Tiki Bar was a hit, and no one left on Christmas Eve disappointed. The disappointments came later…
I went to bed with visions of sugar plum fairies, Salma Heyak, Jennifer Anniston, and Julianne Moore all dancing in my head. Hey…it’s my dream, I’ll have it any damn way I choose, OK?
Santa didn’t visit, there were no stockings filled with sugar nor coal, yet the cookies and chocolate milk left on the counter in my motel room did disappear in the middle of the night.
I’ll chalk that up to the midnight munchies. Strange, I didn’t feel like I’d eaten ten cookies and a bottle of milk when I woke up….Either way, it was disappointing that Santa didn’t make it to my room.
Equally disappointing were the clouds and raindrops falling from the sky when I crawled out of bed in anticipation of an awesome day, filled with friends and wingsuits over the gorgeous landscape that Skydive Sebastian offers. I crawled back in bed to sleep some more when my email dinged at me with that sometimes welcome, but usually irritating “ping.” It was Andreea, wanting to know if I was coming to the DZ to jump. We exchanged several emails in which I was the pessimist and she played the optimist. She continually told me the clouds would break and we’d get a couple jumps in. Maybe she knew something that Wunderground and The Weather Channel didn’t.
My knees and hands somehow found their way to the shower where the initial blast of cold water put me on my feet. Of course, a little caffeine didn’t hurt either, as I drank a can of Dr. Pepper (my new year’s resolution is to swear off coffee).
On the way out I grabbed a bag of Snickers that a well-meaning friend had shipped to me as a gift. I quit Snickers last New Year….and the skydivers at Sebastian were grateful to both of us for the chocolate buzz laid on the counter. Someone else had brought peanut-butter pie (never had heard of it before) and yet another person had brought a white cake with butter creme frosting. The sugar buzz at the DZ was palpable, even though the clouds were still impenetrable.
Then it came.
“Load One, this is your 15 minute call…” We raced to the wingsuit room like Batman to his pole, and Jeff Nebelkopf slid down the stairs like the super-hero some folks think he is (OK, the guy flies better on his back than on his belly, so what? Who cares if he can flat-spin in 11 different directions? That just serves as an indication of how twisted his mind is, nothing more). Just look at Jeff’s eyes in the photo below. I swear, this guy is a madman….
Even though Andreea is making weird faces, it’s hard for her to hide her enthusiasm for the upcoming jump. Jeff just looks…. like Jeff.
Andreea was like a school girl. Her eyes lit up like Santa just brought her the big pink dollhouse she’d always wanted (In truth, she probably wanted a quad-I7 system more than the doll house), and she was giddy as she skipped to the plane. Elana’s eyes were equally bright yet Paul walked with the staid Brit strength and bored face we’ve come to know and love through watching James Bond movies.
Who cares? We were skydiving on this day….It was a gift, whether it came from Santa, the weatherman, green gremlins and pity, or Amanda in manifest…
Christmas Day at Skydive Sebastian from VASST/Sundance Media Group on Vimeo.
And then we got the bad news. We could only get out at 6.7K due to clouds above. That’s OK, it was plenty of time for Jeff, Andreea, and Elana to put together a three-way dock while Paul and I brought up the rear. There are worse sights than that of two very beautiful women in wingsuits viewed from the backside (of course, Jeff sorta ruined the scene…)
We waited…and waited….and waited. During the wait, Elana tried on wingsuits as if she were shopping at Saks. Wowzah! If it was cold and windy outside, it was hot and blustery inside. Elana makes a wingsuit look like it was designed by Carmen Marc Valvo, not Jeff Nebelkopf and Tony Uragallo. Check it out!
An hour after the first load, we got the second load off. Joined by more wingsuiters, we did the same jump and nearly nailed a four-way dock. Bear in mind, none of the wingsuiters have more than 100 jumps, other than Jeff and myself on this load. Impressive indeed….
The third load was a repeat of the second, and we went to altitude again…nice jump. It’s always a pleasure to watch Jeff roll over on his back, stick his tongue out, and take off like a bat out of hell (keeping the whole Batman persona thing happening, of course). Elana got a kick out of seeing me under canopy so close, we flew relative for a moment or two before I took off to land.
After load three, Manifest notified me that Santa FedEx had delivered a package the previous day, but no one had given it to me. In fairness, I’d left early due to winds…Inside was a bunch of clean clothing, some mints, and a new pair of Gator glasses…matching colors to my wingsuit. And…I discovered a dear friend had left a package for me as well, containing some nice-smelling soaps and shampoos (is that a hint?) and some Jesus Bandaids (you gotta see em’ to believe em’). Yes, Santa indeed was good to me, although I’m not sure I deserve the friends he employed to make this Christmas a special one.
Load four, we were joined by TJ, a tandem instructor at Sebastian. He flew the base, and rocked it out. Heavy guy, but he kept it smooth and sweet. It was a ball, yet the four-way dock was still a bit elusive. I didn’t care; I got the burble footage I was looking for. This jump definitely contained some combat-wingsuiting, but no one was hurt and we all had a good laugh.
Brian packed me up while I dumped video, and it was time to head home. The DZ closed at 3 today. Who do these people think they are, anyway, wanting Christmas Day to be shorter so they could spend time with their families?? Don’t they realize we’re all addicts and they’re our junkie? Without a plane…never mind.
I returned to the Ferndale Lodge for the night, and decided to take a canoe out to one of the islands in the Indian River waterway. It’s a beautiful place, secluded and quiet. In fact, the Ferndale Lodge has become my favorite hideaway in the Sebastian area. Rooms are clean, quiet, and most importantly, very inexpensive. They have kayaks, canoes, a beautiful dock, and the owners are super sweet. Ed and JoAnn offered me Christmas eats, including Peanut Butter Pie. If you’re looking for an inexpensive but high-quality place to stay…this place rocks. The only drawback I’ve found is that they don’t have high-speed internet, but that didn’t matter much, as I tether my Blackberry to my laptop.
Speaking of Christmas eats…Paul and Elana cooked a traditional Christmas dinner at the DZ….
The water was glassy and smooth. It only took a few minutes of paddling to get me to the island that I’ve come to know so well. Armed with my iPod, I went seashell hunting, and wasn’t disappointed. On the north end of this little island are hundreds of beautiful shells, more than enough to fill my pockets.
A gorgeous sunset is beginning in Sebastian
Tonight’s sunset was stunning. The photos here don’t begin to do the scene justice, but it was beautiful nonetheless. All in all, a beautiful Christmas day. I’m not a fan of Christmas, and spending it alone and at a dropzone are a new experience for me, but one I came to enjoy as I was surrounded with friends and a beautiful day/evening. Thank you Jeff, Paul, Elena, Andreea, Scotty…you guys made the day bearable and even enjoyable. I saw Josh in the sunset this evening, and it all felt right.
Sunset on the sandbar across from the Ferndale Lodge/motel
**All photos seen were captured by my Blackberry Storm.