Shiver me timbers!

Today I sat next to the pilot on the first load of the day. The temperature gauge was stuck to the window next me. As we slid down the runway for takeoff, I glanced at it.

50 degrees on the ground.

The higher we climbed, the lower the temperature sank. Rationally, I know this makes sense because of science and stuff. But in my mind, it always seems like we should get warmer because we're closer to the sun. But whatever. Can't be frontin' on the weather, yo.

At 13,000 feet I looked at the temperature again.

NEGATIVE TEN DEGREES.

When the door opened, the blast of arctic wind caused everyone's breath to come out in billowy clouds. It was ski weather cold. Frozen nosehair cold. Minot, North Dakota cold.

I'm usually very mentally aware during skydives, but I found myself unable to concentrate during this jump with John and Bud since I was freezing. To imagine it, take cold ... and then add a 150+ mph wind chill. Gah.

So while my body was shivering, my mind was all:

Skydive, skydive, skydive. ARGH, MY EYEBALLS ARE SUFFERING FROM FROSTBITE.

Skydive, skydive, skydive. CRAP, MY THONG IS FROZEN TO MY ASS.

Skydive, skydive, skydive. GOOD GOD. IF I DON'T PULL, I'LL GET TO THE GROUND -- AND SUBSEQUENTLY TO TOASTY WARM HELL -- FASTER.

But I did pull, obviously. And then once under canopy, I checked my teeth to make sure all of them were still there. (Every time I jump in the cold, I have this irrational fear my teeth will crackle and shatter, like ice cubes that develop fractures when you pull them out of the freezer. I'm pleased to report they're all still there.)

Under canopy, the wind was really bizarre and gusty. Turbulence curled off the airport hangars, and I could feel my canopy dip, sway and slightly collapse. But out of all the parachutes out there, mine is pretty much like an aging hooker -- she's always good no matter what you do to her.

About 10 to 15 feet off the ground, you're supposed to flare the parachute -- pull down on the toggles to slow your forward and downward speed at the same time. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who is distracted by all things pretty and/or shiny.

So when I was 15 feet off the ground, I tightly gripped my toggles and thought, "One, two, three and fl---. OOH! DANDILIONS!"

Thwump.

I ended up grass stained. Muddy. And still my fingers were too numb to pull my frozen thong from my wind-chafed cheeks.

I didn't jump again all day.
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