“Oh, my goddddd!” Josh yelled as he was suddenly lifted into the air and was high in the sky in a matter of seconds. David and I both started laughing. We knew there would be screaming involved in this little adventure.
Pulling into our camping spot at Entiat City Park, in Entiat, Washington, a beautiful small park right on the lake, we were surprised to see right in front of us on the lawn, a man hooked by a whole lot of strings to a long, narrow parachute-type of thing. Suddenly, he was running and then yanked into the air. We realized he was attached to a boat that had just taken off. It was amazing! After he had been in the air awhile, he detached from the boat and was flying way up high all by himself. We could have just watched, as many campers were doing, but decided we needed to go talk to someone about this! We approached a young woman, her name was Kari and she was visiting from Australia. I asked if this was parasailing and she explained it is paragliding. Normally they jump off of perfectly good mountains, and a bunch of them had just participated in a tournament at Lake Chelan, but they were here at Lake Entiat to take lessons on what to do when something goes wrong in the air.
We talked for a few minutes and Josh was intensely interested, then Kari asked him, “Do you want to do a tandem ride? Doug is an instructor and he might do a ride with you.” Josh was incredulous. “Really?!” he asked, and she said, “Sure, let’s go ask.” So she took us over and introduced us to Doug Shoop, owner of Aerial Paragliding in Cashmere, Washington, and he said he could take Josh up and told us the cost. Josh looked at me with pleading eyes, “Please, Mom, can I?” We went to the bank to get the money while Josh waited and talked to the other fliers, trying to learn what he could.
When the time came, Doug had us sign all the usual disclosures, then proceeded to get Josh’s gear on him and explain what they would be doing. Josh started taking deep breaths and getting very serious and we realized he was getting nervous.
The two of them went out onto the grass where they would be taking off and got ready to go. Then when the boat driver came into the take-off area, he told them to hold it, they needed to fix a small problem. Turns out the rope had gotten a loop in it and they needed to fix it, and it would take awhile. So Josh had to take off all his gear, and we spent about the next hour waiting, and I could tell Josh was getting more and more nervous. But when it came time to try again, he still did it. I got the camera ready and we watched him take off. Just as he went up into to air, we heard him exclaim, “Oh, my goddddd!” and David and I both started laughing.
We watched him go very high up and after about 10 minutes they came back to land. Josh immediately sat down on the ground, his legs were so wobbly he couldn’t even run to land properly. I asked him if he liked it and he looked almost sick as he said, “I didn’t really like it.” Again, we laughed.
We did tell him how proud we were of him for doing it even, though he was afraid, and as the days went by and he had time to think about and process it, he was able to recall the parts he did like. He could see for miles and saw the many orchards in the area, a sandbar where the river enters the lake, and the old roads from the now-flooded town running under the lake.
We also got to meet a lot of nice people who were more than happy to share their love of the sport – all because Josh wasn’t too shy to walk up to strangers and find out what was going on. So when you are on vacation always be open to whatever comes along and take opportunities to try spontaneous new things – then your vacations will turn into new adventures, too!
Open to the Unexpected: Adventures in Paragliding