Its 8 am and my alarm is sounding! I normally groan, hit the snooze button (because we all know that extra 10 minutes… or 20… or 30 is going to make all the difference in our day… NOT), but NOT TODAY! Today is the day I pick John up at the airport and start the journey to Skydive New England in Lebanon, Maine, for their legendary TIKI BAR BOOGIE!!!
There he is, bag in tow, with a huge smile on his face. It’s been several weeks since John and I have seen each other, and it takes all of me to remember to put the car in park before I hop out to give him a hug and kiss!
Well, the fact that I put the car in park and got out of the car was enough for a rent-a-cop to start eyeballing us. And as soon as John had me in his arms and gave me a kiss, the dude starts to blow his whistle! Naturally, we looked, saw that he was blowing it at us, hugged and kissed again. This time, a little bigger and a little longer. With that, came louder and longer whistle blows, me throwing my hand up and doing a “shooing” motion, a little crowd laughter, and big smiles from everyone who was watching this sweet little love scene.
Rent-a-cop is storming towards us. “Let’s get outta here!” John says with a smile. I wave at the security guy and the small crowd around us and get in the car. We laugh long and hard enough to make my cheeks hurt.
The 19 hour drive begins.
The plan for the next day- New York to visit with my good friend, Alex!!! I haven’t seen her since April when I was in California.
We arrived bearing booze; 3 bottles of wine. It’s going to be a fun night. John and Pete (Alex’s bf) had BASE jumping and parachutes to talk about while we had our wine, talked about skydiving (a little), boys, her new residency job, and fun places to visit in the city.
The hours flew by and the wine seemed to disappear. Alex had to be at the hospital at some ungodly hour in the morning and only got an hour or 2 of sleep because we were up to 3 or 4. I cant remember.
Somehow, I woke up on my own at 9. IT’S TIME TO GO INTO THE CITY! I LOVE New York City. Mostly because I LOVE food and a high pace environment. Living and jumping everyday in Rochelle, IL (2 hours from the nearest big city) has been a little stifling for this Atlanta girl!
I have been to this city several times and know enough to get around the city using the subway. Seeing that we only have 9 hours or so to visit, we went on a WHIRLWIND tour. First stop, Grand Central Station. Followed by Katz Deli for corned beef and pastrami sandwiches- SO DARN GOOD, Times Square, Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, a pedicab through Central Park, and finally Junior’s for some CHEESECAKE! This city is amazing.
One more night with good friends before the final stretch to SKYDIVE NEW ENGLAND!!!
WE’RE HERE!!!!!!! The “Welcome to your new addiction” sign makes me smile and as we turn the corner, the Tiki Bar is being assembled. It’s rugged, rustic, and beautifully imperfect- it looks like it’s made from all the scrap wood in Lebanon. Even like a Captain Hook Lost Boys hide-out, if you will. The two-story shenanigan central bar was adorned with Hawaiian leis, a teddy bear, Homer Simpson, a blowup doll, bras, a canopy up top, and several other random things; all things that are going to be burned to the ground on Sunday night once the all the alcohol has been consumed; THE GRAND FANILE!
Some dropzones take a while to warm up. You know what I mean, right? Being the new person, coming alone, trying to figure out what groups are going to do what kind of flying…. the normal stuff. During my initial visit in early May, there wasn’t a “warm-up” period. Forgive the pun, but these guys took me under their wing IMMEDIATELY! IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt right at home as soon as I walked through their door. (you can read my blog entry here http://temptphate01.tumblr.com/post/23036514146/skydiving-the-states-tour-skydive-new-england)
We made our way into the gear store to get registered for the boogie. I saw Ewok, Foggy, Jimmy, Spencer, Irish, Axle, Melissa, and Nina in the first 10 minutes of my arrival!!! GOD, I HAVE MISSED THIS PLACE!!! Hugs, well wishes, a little small talk, and laughter abound! It was like a little family reunion in the middle of the last minute boogie prep hustle and bustle. Awwwwwwww…. my heart is at home.
Knowing I needed to get out of their way, John and I headed towards camper-land to set up our tent. Once we had everything out of the car and our new residence established, we set out on a mission to find a lobster roll. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMY
Day one of the TIKI BAR BOOGIE
The day started early so John and I made our way down to the Ripcord Cafe (the on-site restaurant), for some much needed coffee. It was SO nice to see Dave again, and I got to meet the ladies who would be running the show during the boogie.
The winds were a little funky, so John and I spent the majority of the day socializing. He had several friends there; Rod, Pelon, L Dub, just to name a few. I met up with numerous people who I had jumped with throughout the country.
I think I have said this a handful of times in my blog, but I am still amazed by how small the skydiving community is… While talking to some of the staff members, I met Greg. Greg and I were having a nice conversation about his history in the sport when he mentioned he had children in the sport as well… “ They own/run the dropzone in Moab “SHUT UP!!” I say “YOU’RE Keith MacBeth’s dad!!!??? NO WAY! I visited his dropzone several months ago! Love that guy!” He chuckled and proceeded to tell me some more stories about his kids and why Skydive New England is his “American dropzone home!”
After mingling all day and traveling as much as we had in the last few days, we were both a little fatigued and called it an early night. But, while we relaxed and rested, a bonfire raged and the true boogie ramp-up began!
I’m tellin’ ya… THIS IS A DROPZONE TO VISIT! The vibe is second to none and the people are so friendly!
Back to the story…
A brisk semi-cloudy morning allowed for a little laziness, but again, we made our way down to the Ripcord to get some coffee. By this time, I had run into several people who wanted to organize a tracking dive. “Oh HECK yeah, count me in!” Plus, Luis Prinetto was load organizing freefly jumps. There was an UNLIMITED amount of fun to be had!
The boogie was in full swing by mid-day and several of my good friends had arrived. After jumping my butt off for the last few months, I decided to take my time jumping at this boogie and focus on meeting new people, making new friends, and catching up with my buddies. But, the jumping was NONSTOP (well, except for the occasional weather hold. But as they say in Maine, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes).
The Skyvan and Otter both flying back to back.
Once the jumping had concluded for the day, A lobster dinner (yeah, you read that right… LOBSTER. OMG!) was served at the Ripcord, another bonfire raged, and a band played, the tiki bar serving up their rum and vodka punch… well into the night.
Sunday- THE DAY!
Hooray! Today’s the DAY! The TIKI BAR IS GOING TO BURN TO THE GROUND!!!!!!!! Freeflying, tracking, rafts, Mr. Potato Head, Waldo, RW, head up, head down…. NAME THE JUMP- It was going on. If it wasn’t, it didn’t take any time at all to find some folks to want to take part of the shenanigans.
The day seemed to slip away!
On that note… Why do the fun times seem to make time disappear? And, Why do the dull and boring times DRAG on?!! It’s a little unfair and backwards, I think.
Jump, jump, jump… every jump meant it was 20 minutes closer to the final SNE Tiki Bar Boogie party! Besides the jumping, THIS is what the people show up for!
At sundown, once the last load landed and the beer light came on, it was dinner time. Again, (and just as every night before) dinner was served at the Ripcord. This time, it was proceeded by a Jello wrestling match.
I can’t even begin describing this… all of my descriptions will utterly fail in comparison to what was witnessed.
I can give you an idea… maybe…
First, and of course, all the wrestlers were ladies.
NO HAIR PULLING
STAY ON YOUR KNEES
The person showing the round #… a semi-hairy man (YES, MAN) in a 2 piece bikini… that was about 3 sizes too small. As a matter of fact, the bottoms hardly covered his crack.
The MC does the introductions, Bikini Man does his walk around the Jello pool (getting harassed by a handful of people) and the ladies begin.
Each round getting funnier and funnier.
Each round, Bikini Man gets harassed more and more. His top gets untied, first. Then, the bottoms get pulled down. Then, he gets tripped. He thought at one point, he had outsmarted the crowd by standing in and walking around in the Jello pool. But, unfortunately for him, the crowd didn’t appreciate his last move very much. On the next round around the pool, he was shoved into the Jello pool. Awwwwww! Poor Bikini Man! I cried from laughing so hard, I can’t even lie.
As the matches continued, the crowd insisted on throwing a couple of SNE staff members in the Jello. Eva, Ewok, and Nina all end up in the pool at some point during the evening.
The winner of the Jello Wrestling Match? My friend Samantha. Way to go, girl!!
All the while, a band rocked out under the Ripcord pavilion.
Shortly after the wrestling match concluded, a large fireworks show started. The show was BEAUTIFUL!
With all the fun, it seemed that in no time, all the alcohol was GONE. TIME FOR THE Tiki Bar burning to commence.
There was a bit of live action from 2 performers. A little fire juggling, fire eating, fire twirling, and fire breathing all took place while others added kindling to the tiki bar.
Over the course of 30 minutes, the entire bar was ablaze. The Hawaiian leis, teddy bear, Homer Simpson, bras and blowup doll had all burned or melted. The fire was HUGE! The band continued to play in the background and the individual cooler of beers that had appeared after the tiki bar was depleted… yeah, their stock levels quickly diminished, too.
The party was in FULL swing by midnight and went WELL into the morning.
NO ONE parties the way Skydive New England parties.
After sleeping in again because of slightly imperfect weather (a 500 ft ceiling), John and I decided to go ahead and pack our things before the day of jumping got started.
11am rolls around, the clouds are gone, and the jumping begins. I had enough time to get 2 more jumps in; a funky tracking dive and a freefly with Rod, L Dub, and Dave.
Oh, I didn’t want to leave. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I wish I could just STAY. Yet again, the time has come for me to take off for another adventure.
Skydive New England,
It was a PLEASURE to come back and visit. Seeing all of your beautiful faces again warmed my heart! Mike and Chawna, you two are an amazing couple and I have fallen in love with the way you love each other. You guys are so DAMN cute!
SNE staff, PLEASE DON’T CHANGE! You are the most quirky (in a good way), fun, good humored, loveable, friendly staff I have encountered. You WIN my DZ award for “Most Bad-Ass Dropzone in the Country” (Unfortunately, there isn’t an actual award to receive… just the title! :D)
Keep kickin’ ass and setting the BAR HIGH in the skydiving world!
Big HUGS (and a kiss to Foggy ;D),