Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fantastic Week! - Trip 4

I just had the most chaotic trip yet, but it turned out to be an amazing trip overall.

It started out great, I had 20 people heading into Shuswap Lake and then the same coming into Banff the following day.

It didn't get chaotic until the fourth day. We got to Parker Ridge, a 1.5 hour hike and just as we were leaving another Moose bus pulled in. Bryan, the driver and two of his passengers jumped on my bus to say hi. It was super cold out so we didn't want to stand around talking outside. Rhee, one of Bryans passengers, was still sitting on his bus because he had a pretty badly sprained ankle, so Bryan left the keys on the bus with him. Rhee decided that he was going to hobble onto my bus as well, hitting the auto lock button on the way out, leaving the keys on the seat.

As soon as he did it Bryan started freaking out and he jumped off my bus just to get outside and yell. Parker Ridge is on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper and there is no cell phone reception there.

So I waited for him to have a tantrum, then got his passengers on my bus and drove to the Icefields Center so that he could use the payphone. Finally he found another bus driver who had a slim jim and we drove back to Parker Ridge to unlock it. This was all done to avoid paying the cost of a tow truck, which would have come right out of Bryan's pocket.

Anyway, an hour and a half later my group was back finishing the day and heading into Banff. We got in a little later than expected, but everyone was really patient so we were all ok. I arrived at the Same Sun Hostel and right away I had a message from the Moose office to call them right away. When I did they told me that I might have to drive to a place called Field, about 1.5 hours from Banff that night to pick up a driver and his 21 passengers who were stranded with a broken down bus. At the time that I was called they weren't sure that I'd have to and said that it wasn't likely, but to be on standby.

I went out with some passengers for dinner and around 8:30pm I got another call, I was told that I had to go, that the bus had been towed and that people were waiting for me. I decided that I would call the other drivers that live in Banff to see if they wanted to come for a drive with me. Bryan, the guy I rescued earlier in the day, Saramaya and two of Bryan's passengers decided to come with me and a cooler full of beer for the three hour round trip of extra work that I had tacked on to my already 12 hour work day.

It was crazy and the passengers that we picked up were so pissed off for being left for so long and they had the nerve to start bitching to me about how pissed off they were. I think that they were forgetting that my usual twelve hour day had just turned into a fifteen hour day and that it was me who drove out to pick their asses up. Regardless, I was happy to kick them off my bus when I got to Banff.

The rest of the drivers decided to go out and keep the party alive. I mean, I guess when you're already tired and have had to 'rescue' two drivers in the same day, why not just live it up and have some fun for a couple of hours. I didn't end up getting to bed until 5am and I was up at 7 to drive to Revelstoke. It was a ridiculous day and I don't think I've ever been that tired or that happy to get into Revelstoke.

Lets fast foward to the last day of my trip...

I knew coming into this trip that the chances were high that I'd be skydiving at the end of the week. The way it works for me is that if I get six passengers to skydive, I get to go for free. I knew that from last time I had five, so that all I needed was one more person to go and I'd get up there. On day one of my trip one of my passengers was expressing interest, so I knew it was coming this week. When we got into Kelowna it was still just him that wanted to go, and I was in, so I started talking it up at dinner and I ended up with three passengers who wanted to go, making four of us for the following day. Then, an hour away from the skydive center, one more passenger said he wanted to go, so I called it in. Five. Then we roll into Abbotsford for our skydive, and Pep one of the two passengers from Spain says to me (in a heavy accent), "Andrea, I would like to skydive. But, I have one problem...I don't understand English. If they say something important to me, I don't understand...." The look of concern on his face for his saftey made me just burst out laughing. He was a hillarious guy, always struggling with understanding what was going on, but I asked the instructors to speak slowly for him and he got right in there.

So in total there were six of us diving out of an airplane at 12,000 feet. How ridiculous is the idea of plummeting toward the earth with another person and a parachute strapped to your back?

Once I was up in the plane I was silent, unable to speak or think. As I edged toward the ledge and the instructor was yelling "READY!?!" I started thinking, "Hell no! I dont even like rollercoasters, what am I doing??"

And then he dove...

I screamed absolute bloody murder as soon as my body left the plane, and afterwards one of my passengers who was jumping after me was like, "Uh yeah thanks for that, that really made me wanna jump after you..."

Anyway, the first 10 seconds or so of the freefall was terrifying. I flipped over a bit because I didn't relax into the jump and I was apparently trying to stick myself to the plane. Once I was tapped on the shoulder and I spread my arms out it was this crazy incredible feeling of floating. It was as if I wasn't falling anymore. I can't even explain it. I was told that it felt like this before, but it's hard to really get it unless you do it.

Once the chute was pulled it was just a chill ride with an incredible view down. It was a beautiful day, so we were able to see as far as we could. The guide also started spinning us around super fast each way, just for fun. It was crazy.

I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to do it again. And this is coming from the girl who said that she would never ever, it's amazing.


Blogger hil n' adge said...

ANDREA!!! I can't believe you did that!!! So cool and so sweet and we're both really glad you're still alive. Your job and its many adventures sound quite the sweetnessosity duder: definitely a nice perk-filled employment!!! We'd wish a good time for you but you're kinda already having that, so um, we wish you chocolate!!

4:04 PM  

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