Last spring my sister called me up wanting to go skydiving for her birthday. I was pretty jazzed (doing a celebratory dance with jazz hands) as I’ve wanted to skydive for years, but my son was all, “Um, dad, I want to go…” Unfortunately, he’s only 12 and since you’ve got to be 18, it wasn’t going to happen unless we went all D.B. Cooper. So, we decided on what we thought was the next best X Games alternative, bungee jumping.
We scoured the Earth (googled “bungee jumping oregon”) to find the most intense experience we could (something relatively close where death is considered uncool), which led us to bungee.com. The fine (friendly, competent, and not shady) folks at bungee.com own and operate the highest privately-held bungee bridge in North America, the Pacific Northwest Bridge. So, we made reservations (highly recommended) for the summer.
The bridge is about 45 minutes north of Portland in Washington on some old timber land. From the bridge, you stare 200-feet to the river below. The Jump Master helps you into your harness and gives you a safety briefing, which you forget the second you’re ready to jump. As you’re waiting, other people are jumping off the bridge, some look calm, cool, and collected and others not so much.
When it’s your turn, they attach the bungee, run through a safety check, run through a safety check of the safety check, and have you climb over the bridge rail. Your first jump is forward and your second, if you choose to cheat death a second time, is backward. These guys mean business, too. As soon as you’re on the platform, they count to three and you jump, no hesitation.
Now, you’re plummeting towards the Earth at around 68 miles per hour. And within seconds, you are shooting back towards the bridge faster (around 70 miles per hour). Then you bounce around, most people are laughing, but others like screaming “HOLY SH*T!” over and over.
My sister jumped forward and then quickly put a check next to bungee jumping on her bucket list. My son, more adventurous, jumped twice and would have probably jumped three or four hundred more times if I he could have. Since he jumped twice, I had to jump twice, too. I think its’ a law or something.
They have a photographer about 15-feet below the bridge taking pictures of each jump. Although you have to buy them, it’s totally worth it. We got about 30 images per jump. And, no matter how cool I thought I looked when I jumped, the pictures proved I was on the verge of crying.
Having owned and operated a recreational business (scuba diving) in the past, I was really impressed by how they ran their operation. They were friendly and funny and safe and didn’t let us die. They are also opening a zip-line Spring ’13 if you are into that kind of thing.