Sunday, December 16, 2012

From 14,000ft To Under The Sea

Six days into our adventure, the moment that many of us had been eagerly looking forward to finally. That moment event was jumping out of a plane over the beautiful mountains surrounding Cairns. Anyone who has ever flown with me can attest to the fact that I have an incredible fear of heights, which spurred my decision to face that fear and go skydiving. Kyra Hansson '13 (a seasoned skydiver jumping for the third time), Ellie Clayton '13, Courtney Bennett '13, Kyleigh Williams '14, Chrissy Lushefski '15 and I were picked up by the company shuttle at our hotel in Cairns early this morning. We arrived to their main office and immediately completed our first task- signing the consent form. After about an hour wait, which included a debate about whether to purchase extra insurance, we met the men who would be flying with us that day and guiding us to safety.
Liz Calby '14 - Jumping from 14,000 ft.
As soon as we arrived at the airstrip, we were all quickly given harnesses to wear and shuttled into the small airplane that was awaiting us. The plane ride to 14,000 feet was uneventful, barring the jokes from the men that they had forgotten something, or that we were not strapped in properly (which is not a comforting thing to hear when you are about to jump out of the plane with them). The views from the plane were absolutely breathtaking, and we were able to see Cairns from a completely different perspective.

When the time to jump came, there was no time to let fear creep in, let alone think about what we were all about to do. As soon as the plane door opened, Kyra Hansson '13 valiantly leaped out in about 5 seconds. The rest of us quickly followed, exiting the plane and beginning our free fall in just about a minute. Despite the initial terror of the free fall, it turned out to be one of the most thrilling and surreal experiences I have ever had; a feeling that is difficult to describe unless you have experienced it. At times, it was difficult to remember that we were in a complete free fall, with nothing between us and the earth except for air. After 60 seconds (a time that felt like maybe 20 seconds), our guides pulled the parachutes and we coasted to the ground. It was incredible to see the amount of control that they had over the parachute, which we experienced because we were allowed to steer! After a bumpy landing, we all headed back into the van and were taken back to their main office in central Cairns.

This entire adventure only took about an hour, but it was truly one of the most exhilarating things that I have ever done. I could not have asked for a better group of people to conquer this fear with! When looking back on this trip, I will always remember my skydiving adventure. After an unbelievable week in Sydney and Cairns, we are headed over to Adelaide today, where we will be practicing and playing against the Australian national team later this week.


Liz Calby '14

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As our brave and adventurous teammates headed off to sky dive, the rest of us took an excursion of our own. We sailed to Green Island, a remote but gorgeous place with clear blue waters and white sand beaches. As we approached Green Island, we could see through the glassy water to much of the coral reef and marine life below. Upon disembarking the ferry, we immediately headed to the beach and applied more sunscreen for the day full of sun, scuba diving and snorkeling. After spotting a beach volleyball court nearby, our competitive sides drove us to pick up and play. We retrieved a ball from the beach pavilion, swept away some seaweed, picked teams and drew out the boundaries. We soon learned about Sarah Byrne's nasty spike and Hana Bower's tenacious serve returns. The battle was ruthless and the game grew intense. As a slew of tourists walked by our game, they began taking pictures and watching the action. It was almost as if they thought we were the Australian Volleyball Team practicing on the beaches of Green Island. They even came up to Kara Lehman to pose with her after her perfectly placed shot to the left back corner to put her team up by a point. The game concluded with a picture of both teams together, celebrating the competition. We watched as the scuba divers returned from their amazing dive and went to meet them for lunch. The afternoon was filled with poolside reading, sunbathing as well as further exploration of the other beaches on the island. We headed back to Cairns mainland in the afternoon with stories and memories to share. Reconvening at dinner with the sky divers, we heard about their once-in-a-lifetime experiences and were treated to authentic Australian cuisine. Dinner included kangaroo filets, barramundi and prawns as well as various other seafood and traditional Aussie dishes. After a rousing "Happy Birthday" sung for Bailey Johnson '14 in celebration of her 21st birthday we took our final stroll thru town back to the hotel. This last day in Cairns was a beautiful and unforgettable one that we won't soon forget.

Jess Freder '15