This is the Queen Mary, in its adoptive home in Long Beach, California. Just off the port side of the bow is...
A fellow named Ron Voorhees, an entrepreneur with 46 years of experience in building oil rigs, got the bungee bug in a big way. Using his rigging expertise, he built the tallest (220 feet) free-standing bungee jump tower in North America, right next to the Queen Mary. When I saw it, I knew what I had to do...
The first rebound sends you back up almost as high as when you started. You rebound 50 meters (165 feet). When you finally stop bouncing around like a rubber band, this recovery platform swings out, and they grab ahold of your hands (though it takes a few bounces before they can successfully grab you).
I've still got the harness on, which they remove later. With my feet untied, I'm now right-side up, but I feel kind of upside-down. The world seems to be spinning, for some reason.
A few seconds later, adrenaline wins out against dizziness.
A few years later, in a different hemisphere...
This is the world-infamous Pipeline Bungy bridge near Queenstown, New Zealand. It's one of the highest and scariest jumps in the world. I recently learned from my friend Petri that the absolute-highest commercial jump in the world is a full 160-meter (525-foot) fall from the 216-meter Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa. Wow!
The Kiwis spell the sport "Bungy." In South Africa, they spell it "Bungi." We Yanks spell it "Bungee." When you're gonna fall 102 meters (335 feet), no matter how you spell it-- it's a long way down! Gulp! This is what "The Pipe" looks like on a sunny day. When I got there, it was cold and rainy.
With my feet tied together, I hopped out to the tip of the plank.
To put this in an understated way, I'm
I am so scared right now, that I've lost most of the strength in my knees. In the midst of feeling this fear, they ask you to smile and wave to the camera!
Lemme tell you-- trying to smile when you're ready to die of terror is an awkward blend of emotions.
Here's the view from the bridge. I'm smiling because they told me to. I guess I made it convincing enough, but it's 100% forced. Smiling was the last thing that my facial muscles wanted to do at that moment.
I was trembling, partially from the rain and cold, but mostly because of animal terror.
Why do I love this sort of thing?!?
When you jump, they tell you to push off with your legs as hard as you can, so you sail away from the bridge. I'm guessing that they want you away from the bridge so that you can't get tangled in the bungy cord. I tried, but my knees were so rubbery from terror that my leap was barely a push. At least my form on the way down was ok. Skydiving teaches you to arch your back like crazy, which helps a lot here. Bungy feels similar to skydiving. In bungy, though, you get to see the "ground rush" effect, which most skydivers never see. In skydiving, if you ever see ground rush, it's time to pull the cord-- fast!
I'm a quiet guy, but not when I'm full of adrenaline. The next day, my voice was pretty hoarse, because this is the loudest I've ever yelled,