The Better Than Expected Tour
Volume 4 Book 5 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 9)
Steve Schalchlin parasailing.
Harness me up!
(Photo by Colleen Mullins)

[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6
[ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [
Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] - [ Book 4-6 ]

January 16-23, 2006.
Parasailing & Singing With A Band.
Ernie came over again to help me rebuild my music computer but we kept on getting that same beep, so it's just not happening. Now we think it might be the RAM, that it's bad. There are two chips on the mother board. He tested them on his equipment and got the same beeping. I just hate to go out and buy new memory chips only to have the thing still not work. Very frustrating.

Meanwhile, I've been using my trusty, but aging,  laptop for everything. After reinstalling the operating sytem a couple of months ago, it's humming along nicely. So, all is well on that front.

I took that opportunity to finish up a couple more video blogs, so this diary entry is about those vlogs.

The first one (which I formatted in both Windows Media and Quicktime) is of me flying high over a Mexican beach, parasailing. It's something I've always wanted to do. Partly because I'm deathly afraid of heights (so going up like that increases the thrill factor) and partly because I love doing new things. I just wanted to see what it felt like.

So, after we docked in Mazatlan, Mexico, a group of us grabbed a local van and had the driver take us down to the beach. I never knew Mazatlan was such a resort. On previous cruises, we would arrive there and not leave the ship because the docking area is so ugly, we didn't really know what else was out there. Now I feel like an idiot. It has a long, beautiful stretch of beach filled with resort hotels on crystal clear water. It's a stunningly beautiful place.

Our driver, whose name was Pistola (that's "Pistol" in English) told us who to find on the beach. We told him we wanted to parasail. So, he drove us up to a fancy hotel. We walked through to the beach, found our guy and, soon there was a speedboat just offshore waiting for us. Our friend, Kirsten, went first.

She suited up and, after listening to the unfathomable instructions from the guy on the beach -- something about reaching up and pulling down on the yellow part of the parachute's straps when you see a yellow flag being waved down on the beach -- three guys held up the parachute as the boat started up, she began squat-running down toward and water and, whoosh, up she went straight in to the air. It was beautiful.

She was so high up, my stomach was turning flippy flops just watching. Then, after a few minutes, as she circled the little bay, the boat turned and began a race along the shoreline, bringing her over the beach. The yellow flag went up and she began pulling down. This had the effect of bring her over the beach as the boat slowed. Soon, she descended and they caught her perfectly as she landed.

My turn.

Steve Schalchlin, parasailing.Steve Schalchlin
Here I am getting harnessed up.
(Photos by Colleen Mullins)
They outfitted me with the harness as Beach Guy started giving me the unfathomable instructions again, but by watching Kirsten I got the idea. The boat seemed a long way away, but someone sent a signal and soon the three guys were holding up the parachute as we began moving, the wind filled the sail, Beach Guy told me to squat down and run. Huh? See, the harness turns into a little chair! So, though it's completely and utterly the dorkiest feeling in the world, I squat-ran until suddenly, DOUBLE WHOOSH, I was, within seconds, FLYING!

Steve Schalchlin
Up, up and...
(Photo by Colleen Mullins)

The beach dropped away so quickly, it was startling and I was aloft! I wanted so badly to take my video camera, but was too afraid of dropping it into the ocean. So, instead, I just floated above the bay.

Steve Schalchlin parasailing.
(Photo by Colleen Mullins)

The feeling is one of just that: floating. Though the boat might be speeding along below -- way below! -- you don't get a sense of speed that high up. The ocean moves slowly beneath you. What it is is quiet. Very quiet. And beautiful.

I relaxed into the little harness-seat and just allowed the experience to happen as I saw all the little people down on the beach. Oh, and I could see around the atoll where there were more hotels we couldn't see from our spot on the beach. This was quite a spot!

Soon, I could see the boat moving toward the beach and I strained to look down to find Beach Guy and his yellow flag. I saw a flag waving, but it looked more yellow-green than yellow, so I figured it must be another parasailer being signaled. I couldn't really see Jim or anyone and I was starting to feel a bit nervous that I'd miss my landing.

Then, there it was! The yellow flag waving! I reached up behind me and began pulling on the yellow part of the harness. I pulled really hard. Then I heard Beach Guy yelling, "Harder! Harder!" I pulled even harder. He looked a bit panicky, so I pulled as hard as I could!

Steve Schalchlin parasailing
Coming in!
(Photo by Colleen Mullins)

The point of pulling was to get the parachute over to the beach, to the spot where they could catch me. Suddenly, he threw down the flag and then he and the other guy caught me. Perfectly. It was great!

Just look at those legs! All that running is paying off!
(Photo by Colleen Mullins)

I ran over to Jim who was taping this and just started saying how much fun it was, that I landed like a gazelle, and how it wasn't scary at all to be up there.

This past Sunday, Jim and I sang at the NoHo Arts Center where there is a church of religious science whose founding pastor, Rev. James J. Mellon, is an old friend of ours. The four-piece band is terrific and they said they wanted to back us up. So, I sent the lead sheet to Doug LeBow, the music director and we went in on Sunday morning.

And we totally kicked ass!!

I had friends shooting us surreptitiously from two angles and then edited those two videos into a single take.

Both of the above videos can be found at

[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] - [ Book 4-6 ]
© 1996-2005 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.