Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To jump out of a perfectly serviceable airplane!

So last time I walked all the way to Vernon to go sky-diving but had to turn back because the Solo Jump Course was only on Sundays.
I hitchhiked my way back to Kelowna and there decided to drop by a Wendy's to make use of the internet, and here I met my co-worker from the berry farm I worked at for six weeks, purely by luck.
He had moved on to a new farm and proposed to take me along to his new place, and so I did. I stayed on the farm for a few days, but left on Saturday to hitchhike back to Vernon for the skydive on Sunday. Right before leaving I walked up to the boss to ask if he could maybe use me to work for a week or so, and he said he would find a spot for me. Which is great, because this allows me to get some money back that I will spend on skydiving, and will keep me going a little bit longer when I move down into the U.S later on!
And as a bonus, he gave me a ride downtown as well, from where I started my hitch to Vernon.

It took me a little while to walk to the edge of town and then a bit longer to get a ride, but when I got one it was a car with three nice guys inside, two of them of around my own age, the third one an older man who I think might have been the father of one of the two other guys.
On the way to Vernon we had a pleasant conversation which I really enjoyed, and they dropped me off in Vernon at the intersection toward the airport.
I had decided I did not want to take another motelroom because it is expensive and I want to save some money, and so I walked down to a McDonalds and spent a few hours playing a game (I have finally found an old game that will actually run well on my little netbook haha! Knights and Merchants to the rescue!)

When the McDonalds was about to close I had to get out, and so I resumed my walk toward the airport. I got to the sky-diving company office and found a little river nearby which was conveniently out of sight, and it had a little wooden platform to keep me off of the grass too!
So I plopped down my inflatable matress and my sleeping back and settled down for a night underneath the stars, which shone quite brightly on this side of town.

The little river with the wooden platform

Early next morning I got up freezing cold. Apparently the temperature had gone down to around 2 degrees in the morning, and my sleeping bag had gotten a little wet due to the morning dew.
I packed up my stuff and climbed up the little hill and to the skydiving office, where people were looking at me a little bit weirdly (I guess they are not used to people sleeping out like this haha, and I can't blame them). I introduced myself and met the three other guys who were going to do the Solo Jump Course with me. Then the course started.

It lasted about 5 hours I think, and we were taught the basics of the equipment, what they looked like and what they were used for, and practiced getting out of the plane, the arch one has to be in when sky-diving (a large hard X-shape, which I failed miserably to maintain during the actual jumps), and also what to do should the parachute happen to falter in some way.
They taught us the signs of each possible problem and how to proceed should it occur, and how to fly and steer the parachute, and just as important: how to land. And after all this there was a test to see if we remembered all of this stuff well.

Calm and ready to go!

By now everybody except one was pretty confident in our ability to safely come down back to the ground. I was feeling excited but calm, and to be honest not very scared. I have some experience with dangerous situations in outdoor sports like rockclimbing and though it is not exactly the same thing, it is reasonably similar. I have learned to trust equipment and instructors and not doubt too much, and hence I was able to keep calm and look forward to my first ever skydive with excitement instead of fear.

Now ofcourse, it was time for the jump!
And though it usually isn't available for people in the Solo Jump Course for fear of them getting too distracted from their duties during the jump, my jumpmaster had a GoPro camera on his helmet which he uses to coach sky-divers in training and thus was filming my exit and freefall.
Thus I have a video to show you, which is awesome!

After that first jump I had the opportunity to go for a second jump, which I decided I would do because why the hell not? I am here now, and what better opportunity will I get? Let's go again!

After this second jump I had nothing else to do and was trying to make up my mind about what to do next. I was figuring I could best sleep by the creek another night before trying to go back to Kelowna, but then I learned that my jumpmaster actually lived in Kelowna, and he was able to give me a ride back that same day. And so I waited for him to finish his workday, and being a cool guy, he drove me all the way back to the apple orchard where I now work.
And as it happened, he lived in Holland for 18 years and so I was able to talk with him in Dutch, which I have not done for a pretty long time unless it was on the phone, so that was cool.
Though he spoke English with no recognizeable accent and my first instinct was to speak English to him, which we did for a little while untill I thought "Why the hell am I speaking in English? We're both Dutch!" and resumed the conversation in Dutch. It was an awesome day to be sure!

Now though I am at an apple orchard and I will stay here for around a week or maybe a bit longer before moving on. Internet is sporadic there so I fill my time watching movies and playing Knights and Merchants, and reading books as well. Which is a nice pass-time from all the work.
I will make another post when I have moved on and have something else to talk about! But to close things off, I decided to make a couple of screenshots of the video's just for fun.

Looking down at my landingzone

Calm and ready to go!

Climbing out

About to let go! And despite my expression I quite enjoyed all of this lol.

And off I go!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Moving on...

So after six weeks of work the time to move on had finally come.
During my time in Kelowna I met several nice people, at work and outside of it too, which I am really happy about! But I also got itchy feet again, and so I was feeling kind of happy and sad at the same time. Nothing to do about it but simply move on, though!
But first I'll show you a little bit of the place I was staying for so long. The first video is an overview of Kelowna by evening. The second video is me showing off my home!

So the plan I had made for myself was to go sky-diving in Vernon, where you can do a solo jump course, even if you have never done a skydive before.
The idea of a tandem jump annoyed me and is almost enough for me not to want to go skydiving at all, so I was really happy about finding out about this!
The reason I dislike the idea of a tandem jump is that you don't really have to do anything. You are strapped to an instructor who does everything for you, and you are just there to enjoy the view. In another post I think I mentioned something about outdoor sports not really being an adventure because they were guided activities. They were simply adventurous, not an adventure.
And this applies to skydiving for me as well. "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all!"
Hence the reason I want to do my first skydive solo.

The second part of this plan concerned getting to Vernon.
Up till now I have been hitchhiking pretty much everywhere, and I decided I needed a bit more exercise! So I thought I would walk to Vernon, about 50 kilometers north of Kelowna.
Which I did! I now have a sore back and sorer feet, but I did it! It took me about three days, walking 20k on the first and last day, and around 10 on the second.

Before the walk. Put on some Creedence and I'm good to go!

On the first day I managed to get to Winfield. On the way there a total of 6 (!) cars pulled over to offer me a ride, without me doing anything for it! This was on a back-road from Glenmore though, and not on the major highway (the 97), and as such I walked between a lot of farms and woods, and there were plenty of opportunities to pull over.
When I got to Winfield I decided to get a motel for the night. While finding a wifi spot to look at motel rates in town the sixth car pulled over to offer me a ride. After I explained what I was doing he turned his car around to get back on the road, stopped again and called out to me a second time.
I didn't understand what he was saying due to the noise and so I walked over to him, and he handed me a can of Heineken! Now that was a treat after a long day of walking haha!
After he drove off it turned out that none of the nearby motels had a room available because there was some kind of Art Walk in town, and so I had to walk a bit further untill I found a motel with rooms available at last. By then it was already completely dark, but that didn't matter.
After checking in I had the first hot shower in six weeks! No longer did I have to use a garden hose to shower, and boy did I enjoy it! And as an extra bonus, a real bed with a real pillow!
Needless to say I slept extremely well that night haha.

When I woke up the next day I went to the desk to check out, and found the owner with two friends sitting at a table talking and making jokes, and he offered me some coffee. I took tea instead, because I don't like coffee. I sat around for about an hour talking with them, and in this time I got the first offer of a ride for the day, which I again declined.
I started feeling as if I should start wearing a sign on my backpack that said "NOT HITCHING!"
On this day I had a choice between following the main highway 97, or take another back-route which was a bit of a detour, but taking the advice of the three men I was sitting with I dediced to follow the 97.
Regardless of following a major highway another two cars pulled over for me, one of them actually quite a bit ahead because there was no room where I was walking! So he found a spot further down the road (which I couldn't even see yet) and he waited there untill I reached him. I felt bad for declining his offer, but I had made up my mind. I shook his hand and thanked him a lot for pulling over, because needless to say I did really appreciate it.

On my way to Oyama at one of the resting places by the side of the highway.
This is Woods lake.

On this second day I reached Oyama, where I sat down at the beach for a while to enjoy the view and relax my feet and back. I bought some icecream and a new pair of sunglasses which broke the very same day and I dumped them. I apparently have no luck with sunglasses, because this is the third pair that either got lost or broke.

Oyama Beach overlooking Woods lake.

After that I walked out of Oyama and followed the highway. The view was great, and Oyama is a nice place. It is situated between Woods lake and Kalamalka lake (in the native tongue 'the lake of many colours'), which are both huge and I followed them for the second and third day of my walk!
Between Oyama and Vernon there is nothing however, just some farms and lakeside houses, and so I had to improvise a place to sleep for the night.
First I cooked some noodles by the side of an old highway a bit further down the hill which had almost no traffic while running parallel to the new highway, and after packing up again and walking further I finally found a reasonably hidden spot to pitch my tent. I actually wanted to sleep under the open sky but in my infinite wisdom I had checked the weather report and saw there was rain forecasted, and so I pitched my tent in a place that didn't actually have room for it at all.
The tent was deformed and I ended up sliding down the hill and off to the left side of my matress during the night, BUT I was dry and safe from rain!

Can you see my tent? :)

Thankfully this side had some good foliage.

Early next morning with an overcast sky, overlooking Lake Kalamalka.

I planned on getting up early the next day to pack up my stuff before it was too light and people could see my tent relatively easily, but it was still raining at 5 in the morning and so I decided to wait it out and sleep some more. I turned off my alarm clock and got out of bed at 9, having slept terribly but feeling somewhat rested regardless.
I packed up all my stuff and resumed my walk. I had a new difficulty however, as I had ran out of water and I was really thirsty. I encountered a man on a walk in the first five minutes of my own though, and he asked me where I was going. During the conversation I mentioned I ran out of water and wondered where I could get some more, and the man pointed me to a house at the bottom of the hill where some of his friends lived. So I thanked him and walked down, and rang the doorbell.
Now I don't do this stuff really easily and I was feeling kind of awkward, but I explained myself reasonably well and got some water for my troubles! I filled my Camelbak and an old Pepsi bottle I still had with me, and walked back to the highway. The old highway ran out and so I had to get back on the new one.
After a long walk I finally reached the Vernon outskirts and found a great vantage point with an amazing view, where I talked with some really nice elderly people, and where I had a nice break.
As an added bonus I found some rope lying around, so I took that with me as well.

The vantage point on the Vernon outskirts, still Lake Kalamalka.

When Vernon finally came into view I was happy and walked into a tourist information centre to inquire about motel rates, but that didn't come up with much.
But I had a back-up plan, or so I thought. See, before I left Kelowna I sent out a few requests on, and I was hoping somebody had replied positively. I needed to find some wifi spot though, and there was none around. So in my infinite wisdom (which failed me this time) I decided to walk to the Vernon airport, to ask about the skydiving course and hopefully find a spot.
There was a Tim Hortons nearby which I would use for the wifi. The road there ended up being longer than I expected though, it was around 5 kilometers. My feet already hurt terribly from the walk to Vernon, so I didn't really need that walk.
When I did finally reach a wifispot it turned out that only one request had found it's user, and unfortunately they didnt have a place for me. And to top things off, I first walked to the wrong side of the airport, and after reaching the correct place it turned out the office was closed.

Not wanting to walk the entire way back (I had reached Vernon after all, my walk was done!) I found a piece of cardboard in a container and wrote 'downtown' on it with a marker which I keep with me for the occasion, and thankfully within nine cars somebody pulled over and drove me back to where I came from. There I found a motel and booked a room for two nights, hoping to go skydiving tomorrow (wednesday).
But to further prove my luck, it turned out that the first jump solo course is only taught on sundays.
Guess I should have called first, eh? So now I will hitch my way back to Kelowna tomorrow (a mere one hour by car, as opposed to around three days on foot) and come back on saturday.
But the walk was worth it, so I can't say I'm terribly annoyed haha. I can still laugh!