Falling into Autumn in the Hamptons

What better day could there be than the autumnal equinox to skydive on Long Island?  For some reason, it seemed fitting to jump out of a plane on the first day of fall.

This particular adrenaline filled activity had long been on my bucket list.  The company, 516-Skydive, is located in East Moriches, about 60 miles and 75 minutes from NYC without traffic.  Since it’s also 30 miles from Easthampton, we decided to attempt this feat after the summer and make a weekend out of it, when the Hamptons would be cheaper, less crowded and the traffic nightmare would be over.   It was without a doubt one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received and fully worth the wait!  (Thanks Kyle!)

We were a little worried about the temperature and rain potential, but we could not have had better weather.  It was a clear, blue sky at 9 in the morning on a Saturday.  Very little wind.

Packing the parachute- key!

We signed our release forms, paid for the video and suited up.  The instruction lasted about 5 minutes.  Martin, a French-Canadian former casino manager with a ton of opinions about work-life balance, told us where to place our hands, what to do with our feet and heads.  It was not complicated, if we could remember.  He also said he’d repeat it in the plane.  Martin would be accompanying me on my tandem jump.  Joe, who would accompany Kyle, was more laid back.  He apparently had a fear of heights before skydiving.

We watched two other groups go before us and realized that the entire experience lasted 20 minutes, including the flight over the Long Island Sound.  About 15 minutes in, the skydivers became visible as they descended to the field near the airport.  It was clearly down to a science.  Tonya (I’m fairly certain that was her name), a sassy, single mom from upstate New York, put the harnesses on us, being very clear that men will feel pressure and better make sure their “friends” are in the right place.  We were warned that some people vomit.  When that happens, it tends to go on the instructor and not you.  So let them know if you don’t feel well and don’t be a hero, because you’ll just end up being a jerk.  Luckily, no one going before us lost their breakfast that morning.  Now we were ready to go.

Making our way into the plane.

The little Cessna held the pilot, Martin, Joe, me and Kyle.  There was little room for anything else.  Since Kyle and Joe went in first, I was seated between Martin’s legs while he hooked us together.  The flight to the jump site was breathtaking — in a good way.  We flew over the beaches of the Hamptons.  Visibility was amazing, and you could see all the mansions and pools.  As Martin said, it’s the prettiest view for jumping that he’s ever seen.  I have to agree.

And then it was time.  I swung my left foot out the door, then the right one.  Leaned down and out the plane we went.  I kicked my legs between his and put my head back as instructed.  Arms crossed in front of me holding onto the harness.  It was the most intense feeling I think I’ve ever felt.  Falling in the air, looking out on the water and coastline.  The view was so stunning that I didn’t even seem to realize I was plummeting to the earth.  It wasn’t remotely scary for me.  And then in what seemed like moment but was about 45 seconds, he pulled the shoot and we came to a halt.  What a rush!

Me and Martin!

He asked if my ears were ok (they were), which was a good sign for my ability to acclimate.  He pointed out that Kyle was to the right of me and had not died.  Then we started talking about my upcoming trip to Kili (his wife had climbed it) and kitesurfing.  Just hanging in the air with the most incredible scenery having a very chill conversation.  Surreal.  He let me pull the straps and spin us around to the right (that was intense and slightly nauseating) and to the left.  I wanted to just stay there forever and enjoy the moment.  But unfortunately what goes up, must come down.

A successful landing!

We landed, feet in front, sliding on my bum only for a moment.  And it was over.  For us.  Martin and Joe would take another 40 people or so up that day (everyone was using their Groupons).  Kyle and I agreed that they have one of the coolest jobs in the world.  Minus the potential for puke, of course.

Enjoying Montauk oysters and rum punch in the afternoon

After the adrenaline rush started to subside, we decided to grab some breakfast at a little diner in nearby Eastport.  Cute town, ubiquitous antique shops, friendly people.  Then we headed back to Easthampton where we were staying and made our way out to the lighthouse in Montauk.  Parking was $8 (obnoxious) so we just checked the view from the outside.  A stop at Cyril’s for a drink and some local oysters on the way back was a must.  Try their infamous BBC but be careful — their drinks are strong.

As we sat by the pool watching our videos of the jump (look for mine to be posted on the EDA FB page soon) and sipping the champagne we brought out with us to celebrate, I realized just how lucky I am.  In one day, I managed to indulge in the lap of luxury, hang at a local beach shack, then kick back and relax after an incredible adventure.  What a great life!

In keeping with our Hamptons on a budget theme, we opted for Mexican at La Fondita.  The food is cheap and good.  And they were open when several other places were closed for the season or for a private party.  Since we had the share house to ourselves (another plus for the timing), we decided to enjoy that rather than go out.  It had already been a big day.  After a peaceful night’s sleep, the next morning we stood in line for bagels at Goldberg’s.  A crispy outside and soft inside, just the way we like them.  (Try the spinach everything bagel, if they have any left.)  We debated about stopping at some of the wineries, but decided instead to head back to the city for the Columbus Avenue street fair and football watching.

It could not have been a more perfect weekend.  And now I’m ready for my next big adventure- climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro!

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