Remember that time I got that awesome experience package in the mail from Cloud 9 Living – the company dedicated to changing gift giving by “enhancing people’s lives through memorable experiences”? Remember how I told you guys not to tell my mom that I was going to fly a plane? Remember how one of you spilled the beans, because my mom totally knew when I called her later that day?
I bet you’ve been wondering if I went through with it.
I bet you’ve been wondering if I let my anxiety, lack of free time, or incredible sleepiness stand in the way of claiming my experience gift.
You know I’ve been trying to be brave lately. You know part of me wants to grab life by the big smelly balls and really live. You also know that for me sometimes shutting down and doing nothing feels way safer than living.
Here’s how that Saturday went for me:
I had to leave before the sun was up to make the drive, but because I have a preschooler and a teething baby the early hour felt completely normal.
I fought with my husband. He was missing his morning to sleep in, and was grouchy and unhelpful. I was anxious and bristly.
I left late and decided to speed in order to make up for lost time.
Thirty seconds later I was sure I was courting danger by speeding, and felt it would not be prudent to do that on a day I would be learning to fly a teeny tiny glider plane.
It just so happened to be the windiest day of the year so far, and as I felt the high winds pushing against the side of my car on the highway, I decided to turn around.
Thirty seconds later I knew that turning around would be dumb because I never get two hours by myself in a car. I turned up the music, belted out some light rock, and vowed to at least make it to my destination to take a picture of the plane.
I headed up into the mountains where numerous signs were posted telling me I was in a “daylight headlight zone”.
Numerous other signs told me to look out for cows crossing.
Soon my GPS told me I was almost at my destination, so I took one of these:
The back of the box told me not to operate heavy machinery…
but a glider plane doesn’t have an engine, so I figured I was okay.
A half hour later I arrived at Warner Springs Ranch.
I parked in the dirt parking lot, stepped out of the car, and let the wind blow me into the office.
On my way through the door I passed a man on his phone sounding incredulous. All I could hear as he passed by were the words, “… actually flying in this wind…”. I decided to just ask if I could take pictures of the plane… but then…
I was greeted by this guy:
and this guy:
There was also a very amiable two year old little girl running around, and another cat drinking out of their kitchen sink. This combined with smiling faces, lack of nearby Starbucks, and unreliable toilet gave the place a very mom-and-pop feel.
Surprisingly, the low-tech mom-and-pop-ness of Sky Sailing made me feel less and not more nervous.
So, I took a deep breath…
signed my life away:
Walked out onto the “runway”…
saw my plane:
and decided to do a little bit of living and get inside it.
By the time I changed my mind again, the instructor and I were already being towed by another plane a mile into the sky.
It was a bumpy-ass ride. It was loud. It was scary.
Then, the instructor asked me to pull the lever that releases our tow line to the other plane.
I didn’t do it.
He very calmly asked me again to pull the lever.
I didn’t do it.
Then he said, “Pull the lever. Pull the lever. Pull the lever.”
and it was quiet…
and it was still…
and it was beautiful.
I had never been in a plane with no engine before. It truly was like soaring.
What I didn’t expect was how peaceful it would be – the kind of peace a mother of two boys under five only dreams of.
I didn’t speak much for the first twenty minutes, and the instructor was kind enough to follow my lead.
Until he asked me if I’d like to take over the controls.
My head said, “Nah, no thank you”, but my mouth said, “Okay”!
The rest of the ride was equal parts this:
That Saturday was terrifying…
My stomach got a little woozy towards the end of my flight and lasted the entire drive home, bu all in all – the gift of flight is a way better gift than a book, or dangly earrings, or a gourmet fruit basket.
I’d do it again in a mini-rabbit’s heartbeat.
I’ll take an experience gift over a regular ole’ present any day. Cloud 9 Living is America’s leader in experience gift giving, and it’s a breeze to claim and schedule your experience gift. I found their representatives to be incredibly helpful and even enthusiastic about my adventure. If you’re looking to really give a worthwhile gift to someone you care about, I recommend choosing one of over 1,700 experiential gifts that Cloud 9 Living has to offer.
I need more living and less stuff.
Most of us do.
PS – Some of you have been so very not shy about expressing your jealousy over my glider plane experience. Well now you’re in luck. Cloud 9 Living is having a “9 Days Of Christmas Contest”. You can enter to win one of nine prizes, with a grand prize of being a fighter pilot for a day!
*Cloud 9 Living gifted me with this experience. All opinions are my own… and of course, priceless.