We were in love. We had a wedding. Some might say we had a bicycle-themed wedding but that was an accident. The groom (GVP from the Puerto Rico posts) created a photo display from an old bike wheel and things spiraled from there. It was like a fish bathroom; once you have the fish shower curtain, the matching toothbrush holder, Kleenex box, soap dish, towels, rugs, etc. aren’t far behind.
Any-who. The wedding happened. It was lovely. Then it was time for the honeymoon: three weeks in France, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. It wouldn’t be a bike trip; maybe a rental here or there but nothing of consequence.
Yes, biking in other countries would be dope. But we wanted to try new things. Cue GVP reaching out to Bernie the Birdman to book hang gliding in Interlaken, Switzerland! Bernie warned us the flight could last as short as 10 minutes; at approximately $500 for two of us, it would be the most expensive 10 minutes of our lives (so far…I’m sure later on we’ll have to pay a higher price for some medical procedure or a kid deciding to go to college…well, basically anywhere).
I checked the weather more for hang gliding day than our (outdoor) wedding day. It looked like rain. GVP called up the Birdman who said the weather gets trapped in the mountains or something (cut me some slack on the explanation of mountainous weather; I’m from the Midwest) and he’d pick us up at the train station. Before we knew it, the van pulled up and we piled in as the Birdman asked, “Did you take a big crap this morning?”
We picked up some more folks and headed to the landing field. We’d be on the second flight of the day and the wait would be about 40 minutes. They loaded up the first set of flyers and the gliders and headed to the top of a mountain. The wait seemed like forever, definitely longer than 40 minutes. Normally I’m a very impatient waiter but, 1) I was on vacation, 2) it was a beautiful day, and 3) I was relaxing under a tree with a gorgeous mountain view. I guess that’s what’s missing from grocery store lines, security lines, and those ridiculous blob lines that form at airport gates.
Then it was our turn! I was excited and nervous. Okay, very nervous. I would be flying with Ed and we were slated to go first. We set up the hang glider (I helped!), did a practice run, and then approached the takeoff spot.
We stood for a while. Then he set the glider down. Then he picked it up. Then set it down. I don’t know how exactly he was reading the wind but somehow he knew it wasn’t ready. Eventually Ed turned to me and said, “Run til I tell you to stop.” Six steps later, I was running on air! Good thing I had already taken a crap that morning or I might’ve needed a new pair of shorts.
It was breathtaking. For all my nerves, it wasn’t scary. It was too exhilarating to be anything but magical. I soared over the tall pine trees and the tops of mountains. I saw a waterfall. I went over the glacial lake. Ed watched the birds to see where we could catch the wind to go up higher. My nose was running and my hands started getting cold. He kept telling me how high up we were in the air but I was too busy appreciating the bird’s eye view to care. I learned how to steer. I felt a little queasy but knew the flight would be over much too soon, so I kept that to myself.
I watched GVP take-off from above. Success! Relief. I was so worried the wind would shift and prohibit him from flying.
My flight continued.
When Ed finally steered us towards landing (which for a second felt like we were careening to our death amongst the trees), about an hour had passed. We landed and I disconnected my harness, in a state of pure bliss. GVP had already landed and asked me how it was. I said something lame like, “That was cool.” I didn’t have the right words.
Bernie asked if we wanted to buy our photos and videos. We were on a budget so we passed. Then he said, “You guys are on your honeymoon, right?” And he gave them to us for FREE!
Because being a bird is an incredible feeling, that’s why I love hang gliding.