Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Skydiving with Friends from Slovenia

Monday, March 12, 2012

OLA: Skydiving with Friends from Slovenia

a daredevil exhibition jump at Skydive City in Zephrhills, Florida
Vicariously, that is!

Jure and Katarina at the ProShop in Skydive City, Zephyrhills, Florida
We have become great friends with many couples, seniors like us, whom we met in various campgrounds across the country. But it is a young couple from Slovenia whom we met in Palawan, Philippines last year (please see and with whom we went to Banaue and Sagada (please see who have become our best ‘couple’ friend! Jure, 33 and newspaper sales executive, and Katarina, 26 andl bar owner, might as well be our children but they are now our best travel friends! It certainly ‘isn’t about age…it is about lifestyle’!

the Slovenian dinner at our RV, courtesy of the couple
They arrived February 27 from Slovenia to spend a few days with us, before meeting their Slovenian friends at Sky Dive City in Zephyrhills, Florida. Bill and I had disembarked from the Majesty of the Seas at 9 am and proceeded to our hotel and got lucky. We were able to check in at 10 and rested before we drove to the Miami International Airport to pick them up. We quickly brought their luggage to the hotel then proceeded for dinner at one of South Beach’s hugely popular sidewalk cafes.

the couple at South Beach, Florida
The following day we took the long route to Lake Magic, our Orlando RV Resort, driving along A1A, the scenic coastal byway through the 350-mile long Miami and Fort Lauderdale beaches.  This is Katarina’s first trip to the US and she was really wowed by the seemingly unending white sands, the mansions of the rich and famous, and the miles and miles of wide multi-lane highways. Their eyes further widened when they saw our RV is (Europe has small RVs for its narrow roads) as we took it from storage. 
the couple on Merritt Island
four travelers on the road
Jure and Katarina thoroughly enjoyed the non-commercial aspects of America: going through Walmart shelves, cooking at the RV, participating at the Pot Roast Dinner at the clubhouse, buying oranges and strawberries from the roadside farmers, buying hot dogs from a sidewalk kiosk, etc. But they also enjoyed our day trip to Titusville, taking pictures of alligators, birds, turtles, manatees, and racoons at Merritt Island, Kennedy Space Center’s Wildlife Refuge Center (where they demonstrate that technology and nature can co-exist). 
one of the alligators Jure found

Skydive City entrance
But soon they had to leave for their sky diving adventure. Jure has had 170+ and Katarina 70+ jumps. Bill would have joined them had he not had arthroscopic surgery on his knees last August and a heart attack last December! Very curious, we visited them one afternoon at Sky Dive City, less than an hour away from Orlando, annexed to the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.  We also observed their practice sessions at iFly Orlando, a wind tunnel for indoor skydiving.

Nylon City and its canopy compression engineers packing parachute systems back for next jumsp

handsome Jure preparing for flight
Sky Dive City is Florida’s best known Drop Zone with about 80,000 jumps a year. It is a virtual little city with 14 acres of property and lots of free tent camping and partial and full-hookup RV parking slots. Sky divers from all over the world meet here. Besides the runways for the different planes that airlift the divers to their desired heights (Sky Vans or Otters) and wide fields and a Swoop Pond for safe landing, there is the Sunshine Factory Pro-Shop, Nylon City, a tent for canopy compression engineers, an outdoor Tiki Bar and indoor Recreation center, plenty of bathhouses, and a Hard Dock Cafe. We had great fun photographing Jure’s jumps while Bill was trying to learn the tricks of the trade from him!

Katarina in practice flight
We also took a hundred pictures of Katarina practicing her maneuvers at iFly Orlando, a wind tunnel that moves air up in a vertical column, creating a great indoor skydiving experience.  The facility uses superior technology with multiple fans located at the top of the flight chamber producing a wall-to-wall airflow that is fun to fly in. Combined with experienced professional instructors, the air flow is totally controllable, so flyers do not need any previous experience! It's the closest possible thing to true human flight, in full view of family and friends at the observation deck.
iFly Orlando, indoor skydiving

Jure among the clouds
back on the ground as new ones board
We are so glad we were given the opportunity to experience skydiving vicariously through our young travel friends.  True, ‘it is not about age, it is about lifestyle’ but there are a few interests that I do not share…being less adventurous!  But Bill is getting his mind ready for this!