72 Hours: San Diego

I’m Alive is a series about traveling to 14 cities to film a two-and-a-half minute YouTube video. We spent 72 hours in each city. In San Diego, we went skydiving with the crazies and kayaked in caves.

We took our third Amtrak train of the trip from Santa Ana to San Diego. Looking back, I should’ve been enrolled in the miles program to get some kickback from all the train travel we did. Rail travel in North America is underrated. San Diego is a city where a number of our friends live. We arrived in the evening to stop by my friend Patrick’s office party, where we found they had migrated to a private room veiled as a karaoke studio. I had never seen these before, but apparently they’re pretty popular. It’s kind of like walking into a sketchy massage studio where the hostess greets you and says, “What are you doing here?,” as if you’ve just entered the wrong territory. This place wasn’t the least bit crowded, but she really wasn’t sure who ‘Patrick’ was. She suggested we take a gander into the rooms to find this fabled ‘Patrick’ we spoke of. Turns out, it’s quite awkward to look into a small window of someone’s private party. I’m not entirely sure how to explain exactly what I saw, but I heard the sounds of muffled party screams and saw people jumping on each other… that’s all I’ve got for you. The last room at the end of the hall ended up being Patrick’s. We received a warm welcome by being forced to sing [insert name of obscure blues song only your uncle would know.] …Great way to start off the night.

Our plan for San Diego had been set in stone. Other than getting the usual shots we needed, the plan was to go skydiving. We had called a number of places throughout our trip to work out a PR trade for a jump, but as it turns out, skydiving is really popular. We made the decision before that if we still hadn’t gone skydiving by San Diego, we would just pay for it. We pleaded our case to the nice lady on the phone at Pacific Coast Skydiving, and they did actually consider our proposition: We put your company in our adventure video credits for this major company, and you let us jump. Still, it didn’t work out. We decided to pull the trigger and just pay the price. For the record, the money it costs for your first jump really shouldn’t even matter. You’re jumping out of an airplane; it’s worth a couple hundred bucks.

We arrived at Pacific Coast Skydiving and were greeted by the crazies who ushered us to sign several page waivers on a plastic table by the hangar. I say that affectionately, as they were some of the most fun people I’d been around in a long time. It wouldn’t be surprising if I ended up repeatedly jumping out of planes and developed an already more loony character for myself than I already have. There was a taller, more stoic gentleman and a shorter, more crazed gentleman. These are the folks we’d be jumping with. There was virtually no instruction outside of, “When I tap your shoulder, put your arms out.” Really, that was it.

We hung out on the couches in the hangar choosing songs for our jump videos. I believe mine had combined “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Climb To Safety”. Once our turn rolled around, they had us follow them to a janky little two seater airplane that had the storage area behind the front seats cut out to accompany pants-soaked jumpers. Nic and I, plus our two tandem instructors, hung out, shooting insane-faced videos of each other. John, my instructor, even told me about taking his daughter skydiving once she was 16 and how it’s a big part of their family. The views from above are incredible. With the view of all of Southern California and Mexico, I thought to myself , “The coolest thing about this is that everyone else is on the ground right now, and I’m one of four people who are in the sky, about to jump out of an airplane, and experience the feeling of a lifetime.” I was ready.

Gloriously, we rolled  out of the plane doing tuck and roll flips for a while. I could barely say, “Ohhhhh myyyyyy gooddddddddd thissssss isssssss fuuuuuuccccckkkkkiiiiingggg incredible.” The feeling really isn’t describable. Free-falling is just simply one of a kind. I fell in love with it before I landed. Once the parachute opened, John asked me what I’d say to people about it. My answer was simply,”It’s better than you could ever imagine.” Nic and I landed a few minutes apart, and once on the ground, agreed it was easily the highlight activity of our entire trip. Must. Go. Again. Afterwards, we hung out with the crew and took in the hangar lifestyle. Yeah, I could get into that.

We celebrated with some fried chicken and began planning the rest of our time in San Diego. We hit the usual suspects. We drove the Car2Go around Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, The USS Midway, North Park, Balboa Park, etc. and got tons of great b-roll, great food, and talked to great people. I guess you could say it was great.

Our other noteworthy adventure was another activity from our action list, ocean kayaking. We called up some companies and finally struck a deal with La Jolla’s Bike & Kayak Tours. The staff was super friendly and very willing to take us out on a private tour on short notice (as everything on our trip was little to no notice, most activities we pull together same-day). There was a lot to see in the area. Kayaking inside the La Jolla Caves was a pretty amazing way to spend an afternoon. Nic even approached a large group on another tour, and we all came together for a mid-ocean-kayak-flash-mob-dance that made the final cut.

We took a flight from San Diego to Austin, where we toured a cave, jet ski’d Lake Travis, and rode horses with a beautiful girl.